Home > Knowledge > Knowledge > ACUPUNCTURE FOR DIABETES
Kinds:Knowledge   Time:08/12/2012   By:Tracy Wu

Acupuncture therapy is a common approach totreating diabetes in China.Many Americans assume that acupuncture is only suitable for treating pain,perhaps because the initial introduction of acupuncture was mainly for thisapplication. Indeed, the general opinion here appears to be that acupunctureought to be used mainly for treating chronic back pain. Therefore, relativelyfew people have turned to acupuncture for treating the disease. Increasingly,people with pain and other health problems for which acupuncture is selectedalso have diabetes.


A report in the 1994 Journal of TraditionalChinese Medicine (37) serves as a model of Chinese research on acupuncture. Theresearchers recruited 60 patients with diabetes and divided them randomly intotwo groups: the acupuncture group (38 patients) and the control group (22patients); the two groups were found to be well matched for symptoms andlaboratory results (blood and urine tests). Both groups followed a regulateddiet during the study, but one group received acupuncture. Electricalstimulation of the needles was used (this method replaces twirling the needleby hand and provides a pulsating stimulus that can be continued for the entiretreatment period). Acupuncture was administered once a day for 30 days. Themain acupuncture points used were quchi (LI-11), sanyinjiao (SP-6), zusanli(ST-36), and yishu (special diabetes point located at 1.5 cun lateral to thelower border of the spinous process of the 8th thoracic vertebra). Supplementalpoints include yuji (LU-10), guanyuan (CV-4), and baihui (GV-20).


For the control group, a well-known herbalpill,  Diabetes Pill, was administered.This pill had been the subject of earlier study and the level of effectivenesswas already established. The patients were not using diabetes drugs during thetrial except for 8 patients who required insulin injections.


To evaluate the effects of treatment, threelevels of responses were defined. Patients who experienced markedly effectiveresults were those who had their initial symptoms essentially disappear by theend of the one month treatment and their fasting blood-sugar levels had droppedbelow 130 (or the blood sugar two hours after a meal would be below 150).Further, the 24-hour, urine-sugar content was reduced by 30% or more at the endof treatment compared to beginning of treatment. These patients were not"cured" of diabetes but they showed very evident improvements. Forthose deemed effectively treated (not markedly effective), symptoms were improvedbut not gone, and fasting blood-sugar levels dropped to below 150 (or two hoursafter meals below 180), and the 24-hour, urinary-sugar excretion declined by atleast 10% from initial values (but not up to 30%). If these standards could notbe met, then the treatment was deemed ineffective. All but two of the patientsshowed declines in blood sugar and urinary sugar excretion and improvements insymptoms. More than one-third of the patients had marked improvement.


For the 38 participants in the acupuncturegroup, there were 25 cases rated markedly effective and 10 cases ratedeffective: nearly 2/3 of the patients treated showed marked improvement andonly three patients failed to respond. Further, it was reported that thepatients receiving acupuncture experienced a statistically significant declinein cholesterol, triglycerides, and beta-lipoproteins. The drop in triglycerideswas most substantial, with a decline from an average value of 151 at the startto 117 one month later (a decline of more than 20%). There were significantimprovements in "nail-fold microcirculation," which is a measurementof blood circulation through capillary beds (poor circulation through thesebeds is one reason persons with diabetes suffer from skin ulceration), whichhas also been observed in other diabetes studies (11, 12). Among those who wereusing insulin, the amount needed after the 30 days of acupuncture declined insix of the eight individuals; in two of those cases, the insulin could bestopped altogether.


The objective of the study was to show thebenefits of acupuncture, using a common patent pill for the control group.Among the 22 participants who took the diabetes pill, there were 8 cases ratedas markedly effective and 12 cases as effective (2 ineffective). In both theacupuncture and herb pill groups, most patients responded well. The authors ofthe study concluded: "the therapeutic effects of acupuncture on diabetesare similar to those of the diabetes pills, however, acupuncture excels in theprevention of complications, especially cardiovascular diseases."


In another study, the acupoint sanyinjiao(SP-6) was used as the primary treatment, with adjunctive points according tosyndrome differentiation for 30 patients with diabetes (38). Among the commonadjunct points were feishu (BL-13) plus sanjiaoshu (BL-22) for thirst anddryness of the mouth; zusanli (ST-36) for hunger; and taixi (KI-3) plus shenshu(BL-23) for polyuria. Treatment was administered once daily for 12 days as acourse of treatment, then a 2-3 day break before starting another course.Needle retention was for 30 minutes following getting the qi sensation. Theauthor noted that the effectiveness of treatment (evaluated as reduction ofblood sugar to normal or near normal) was better for younger patients than forolder patients and that it generally took 2-3 courses of treatment to getoptimal results. He pointed out that diabetes may be due to a combination ofdeficiency syndrome of qi and yin complexed with blood stasis: "Sanyinjiaois the crossing point of the liver channel, spleen channel, and kidney channel,which has the actions of supplementing qi, nourishing yin, and removing bloodstasis. Acupuncture of sanyinjiao can therefore regulate the level of bloodsugar in the body."

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