Acupuncture for Diabetes

“In recent studies on physiological mechanisms, both with humans and laboratory animals, scientists have found that acupuncture provided significant improvements for diabetes with few or no side effects.”… 

According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of diabetes for all age-groups worldwide was 2.8% in 2000, or 171 million people. This is expected to climb to 366 million people in 2030.

There are three main types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes involves a lack of insulin because of damage of the cells in the pancreas that release insulin. This accounts for 5 to 10% of people who have diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease, connected often with obesity. The body isn’t able to use insulin the correct way. This is called insulin resistance.  As type 2 diabetes progresses, the pancreas may make less and less insulin leading to insulin deficiency and high blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95% of people who have diabetes.

Diabetes insipidus – is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst despite drinking fluids (polydipsia), and the excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria).

People with diabetes have an increased risk of serious health conditions. Complications related to diabetes include:

  • Cardiovascular disease and hypertension
  • Nerve and foot damage (neuropathy)
  • Kidney damage(nephropathy)
  • Eye damage (retinopathy) and hearing impairment
  • Skin conditions
  • Higher risk of infections
  • Fatigue and depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease

In recent studies on physiological mechanisms, both with humans and laboratory animals, scientists have found that acupuncture provided significant improvements for diabetes with few or no side effects. Studies have demonstrated that acupuncture can:

  • Improve insulin resistance through regulating the expression of key insulin signalling molecules (1)
  • Help to lower serum glucose levels by increasing serum insulin and C-peptide levels (4)
  • Improve lipid and carbohydrate metabolism through the increase of insulin secretion from pancreatic beta cells (2)
  • Correct various metabolic disorders to lower the risk of diabetic complications (3)
  • Increase beta endorphins (BE) in the blood and nervous system, thus reducing stress and peripheral neuropathy (5)

In Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, diabetes is caused by an imbalance of the flow of Qi within the meridians of the body. This particular imbalance causes heat that depletes the body’s fluids.

Acupuncture therapy is a common approach to treating diabetes and it has been used for over 2000 years in China. The treatment focuses on regulating the circulation of blood and Qi in the meridians and balancing the organ systems to improve pancreatic function. It addresses each patient individually to eliminate symptoms associated with diabetes and to reduce the need for insulin. Acupuncture is not only effective in treating diabetes, but also in alleviating complications of diabetes.

Acupuncture is a technique used by practitioners of Chinese medicine. The hair-thin needles are inserted at specific and superficial anatomical points, known as acupuncture points that are mainly found at specified locations along the meridians. The practitioner may choose to use a variety of techniques during acupuncture treatment. With regular treatments, you can expect an increase in energy, calmer moods, a stronger immune system, better sleep, a reduction in food cravings, better digestion of foods, and a better overall balance in the body. Typically acupuncture treatments start with one to three times per week depending on the severity of your condition, then shift to bi-weekly and monthly for maintaining balance of your body.

Most people with diabetes are already taking Western medications prior to seeking acupuncture therapy. As a part of an integrated diabetes treatment plan, acupuncture can be safely and effectively combined with Western medications, along with diet changes, natural health supplements and healthy lifestyle changes. If you are interested in acupuncture therapy please contact KIHC today to find out how we can help you to manage your health.


1.Xin-Yu Huang, Liang Zhang, […], and Wei Yi, Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, China

  1. Vettor et al., 1993; Fu, 2000; Takeshige et al., 1992; Takeshige et al., 1993; Petti et al., 1998; Pintov et al., 1997
  2. F. Liang1,2 & D. Koya1 1,Department of Endocrinology & Metabolism, Kanazawa Medical University, Ishikawa, Japan 2, Department of Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Hubei University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Hubei, Wuhan, China
  3. Mehmet Tugrul Cabıo ˇ glu ˇ Cabıoglu Acupuncture Treatment Clinic, Selçuklu 42040, Konya, Turkey Neyhan Ergene Department of Physiology, Meram Medical Faculty, Selçuk University Meram 42080, Konya, Turkey
  4. Qian-Qian Li, Guang-Xia Shi, Qian Xu, Jing Wang, Cun-Zhi Liu, and Lin-Peng Wang Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine affiliated to Capital Medical University, 2013

acupuncture, Diabetes


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