Acupuncture in Diabetes Management

Why consider acupuncture as part of a comprehensive diabetes treatment and management plan? Uncontrolled diabetes negatively affects quality of life and is the fourth leading cause of death by disease in the world. Current biomedical treatment of diabetes is often inadequate in achieving optimal glycemic control without unpleasant side effects.

Pharmaceutical therapy involving sulfonylureas, insulin and thiazolidinediones may result in weight gain. Biguanide therapy can cause unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects and may lead to lactic acidosis in high-risk patients. Incretin mimetics, designed to assist with glycemic control and weight loss, may cause nausea and vomiting.

Acupuncture is a holistic healing modality without unpleasant side effects. Treatment of diabetes with acupuncture has been effective in reducing blood sugar levels, especially in individuals with type 2, non-insulin dependent diabetes, the most common form of diabetes.

Treatment may involve acupuncture applied to up to a dozen acupoints for a single session. A course of acupuncture therapy for diabetes is typically long-term, as acupuncture can treat symptoms but not cure diabetes. The treatment course may consist of one to two sessions per week, with number of weekly sessions dependent upon improvement in symptoms and decline in blood sugar levels.