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Over 34 million people in America have diabetes. It is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States (stats via the Center for Disease Control). The number of cases has doubled in the last 20 years. There are three different types of diabetes: Type 1, Type 2, and gestational diabetes. Learn the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 here. There currently is no cure, but there are ways to maintain the disease, including use of acupuncture. Before we look at acupuncture and diabetes let’s explore the disease itself.

About Diabetes

In simple terms, diabetes affects how your body uses blood sugar (glucose). The other factor is insulin- which circulates through your body enabling sugar to enter the cells. According to the Mayo Clinic, glucose is vital to your health because it’s an important source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It’s also your brain’s main source of fuel.

The symptoms depend on the elevation of your blood sugar levels. Sometimes, those with Type 2 diabetes may not experience symptoms. Symptoms for those with Type 1 may come on faster and stronger. Here are some of the symptoms:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections


The two most important factors in treatment is a healthy diet and physical activity. If it is Type 1 diabetes there will probably be the need for insulin, blood sugar checks, and carbohydrate counting. Type 2 may just need a lifestyle change.

Other treatments may include oral or other medications, transplantation, or bariatric surgery. 


Lifestyle Change

If you’ve been diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes it will require a lifestyle change. The first is to make a commitment to managing the disease. The second is to develop a healthy diet. Losing just 5% of your body fat can make a tremendous impact on your sugar levels. And finally, make exercise part of your daily routine. Try for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day.  


Acupuncture and Diabetes

In addition to making the necessary lifestyle changes, you can also find help from acupuncture and herbal medicine. As the basis of diabetes is the imbalance caused by glucose and insulin, the basis of acupuncture is creating balance in the body. 


What is diabetes caused by in Oriental Medicine?

Originally, there was no disease known as diabetes in oriental medicine. Diabetes is a disease that came to be identified in the present age. Oriental medicine, however, identified a disease known as Sogal, in which diagnosed individuals experience thirst and drink large amounts of water. Individuals also experience a lack of energy. Today, oriental medicine identifies the cause of diabetes as the following: genetics, irregular eating habits, and unbalanced lifestyles. While genetics can be a main cause of Diabetes, unhealthy lifestyles such as binge eating or irregular sleeping habits could contribute to the disease. Therefore, many circumstantial behaviors can disrupt the Qi balance which can lead to diabetes.


What are some ways acupuncture can help?

There is no cure for diabetes in modern medicine. What modern medicine could help with is in lowering and keeping blood sugar levels within a healthy range. However, there is always the possibility that these treatments will cease to help. This is dangerous, as being out of balance could lead to medical complications and even death.

Acupuncture and herbal medicine helps with lowering and keeping blood sugar levels in check. It could also help with keeping your body balanced and healthy. In addition to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, acupuncture can help individuals adapt to and cope with their blood sugar levels, so that they could lead healthy lives.

How does Herbal Medicine help?

Herbal medicine can help with lowering and controlling blood sugar levels. Western medication that helps with diabetes is derived from herbal medicine.


What are some examples of things that Dr. Ko might prescribe?

Shu Di Huang (Rehmanniae Praeparata, Radix), Shan Yao (Dioscoreae, Radix), Shan Zhu Yu (Corni, Fructus), Ku Gua (Momordica Charantia)


Get Started with Acupuncture

If you are ready to explore acupuncture, oriental medicine, and herbal remedies as a treatment for your diabetes book your initial consultation with 120 Acupuncture today. In your initial visit, Dr. Ko will work with you to create a custom plan that will support your path to wellness and guide you towards living a great life while having diabetes.


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