Diabetes Awareness

Diabetes, a chronic medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide, has become a global health concern when one’s blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Chronic diabetes conditions include type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The exact cause of most types of diabetes is unknown. In all cases, sugar builds up in the bloodstream. This is because the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes may be caused by a combination of genetic or environmental factors.

According to CDC data, the number of people who have diabetes in the US is alarming, with approximately 1 in 10 people having diabetes and 1 in 3 people experiencing prediabetes. If you experience any of the following symptoms associated with diabetes, it is advisable to consult your doctor for a blood sugar test:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Persistent thirst
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Excessive hunger
  • Blurry vision
  • Numbness or tingling in your hands or feet
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Extremely dry skin
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections

Diabetes is also a leading cause of death in the US. Long-term complications of diabetes develop gradually. The longer diabetes remains uncontrolled, the greater the risk of developing complications that can eventually become disabling or even life-threatening. Early detection, seeking appropriate medical help, and preventive measures are essential for effectively managing and controlling diabetes.

Understanding Diabetes in TCM

While conventional Western medicine provides effective treatment options, an increasing number of individuals are turning to alternative therapies like Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to complement their diabetes management. TCM offers a holistic approach to healthcare that provide a unique perspective on diabetes prevention and treatment.

In TCM, diabetes is often categorized as “Xiao Ke” or “wasting and thirsting” disease. According to TCM principles, diabetes results from imbalances in the body, primarily related to the spleen, pancreas, liver, and kidney. These imbalances disrupt the flow of Qi (energy) and lead to the accumulation of dampness and heat within the body.

The Role of Acupuncture in Diabetes Management

For the management of diabetes, acupuncture is thought to be effective in regulating blood sugar levels and enhancing insulin sensitivity. Research studies have indicated that acupuncture may reduce insulin resistance and inflammation, leading to improved glycemic control.

At ACA, our practitioners begin by applying Chinese medicine principles to diagnose diabetes and assess each patient’s specific treatment needs. This includes considering their symptoms, such as increased thirst, hunger, frequent urination, and any associated complications like encephalopathy or kidney disease. For instance, in the case of high blood sugar, we may employ specific acupuncture points to lower it. For certain conditions, we provide patients with acupressure points to apply at home. Typically, patients can see the treatment’s effectiveness by measuring glycosylated hemoglobin levels after three months of treatment.


Dr. Zheng Washington Heights

Herbal Medicine in Treating Diabetes

TCM practitioners frequently recommend personalized herbal remedies for their patients. Chinese herbs, when administered by qualified TCM practitioners, can be valuable supplements to conventional diabetes treatment. It’s important to note that not all diabetes patients experience the same symptoms. At ACA, our practitioners tailor herbal prescriptions to each patient’s specific symptoms and physical condition. For instance, we might prescribe Xiao Ke pills to address thirst-related symptoms and Liuwei Dihuang pills to alleviate issues of frequent and urgent urination.

Herbal Medicine: Boosting Vitality

Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations

TCM places a strong emphasis on the prevention of diabetes and advocates for a diabetic-friendly diet. While it’s challenging to prevent Type 1 diabetes as it is relatively rare, TCM dietary recommendations for Type 2 Diabetes prevention often revolve around consuming foods that promote Qi balance and reduce dampness. These foods typically include whole grains, vegetables, and lean sources of protein like eggs and fish. Lowering sugar intake is also a key step in reducing the risk of diabetes. Furthermore, incorporating mindful practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong can greatly contribute to overall health improvement and stress reduction, both of which are crucial for effective diabetes management.

Diabetes and TCM

Consulting a TCM Practitioner

 Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) should be used in conjunction with conventional diabetes treatment, rather than as a replacement for it. Consulting with a qualified TCM practitioner is essential to customize treatments according to individual needs and to ensure their alignment with existing medical regimens. This integrative approach permits the development of a comprehensive and personalized strategy for diabetes care. Feel free to contact any of our ACA locations to schedule your consultation.

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