According Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), diabetes can be attributed to three main factors, namely, improper diet, emotional disturbances and constitutional yin deficiency, which is characterized by fatigue, weakness, lethargy and pale complexion. Acupuncture combined with moxibustion is said to be effective for diabetes as they can reduce blood sugar levels and normalize endocrine function.
Indeed, modern research has found that acupuncture can help regulate pancreatic function and insulin levels. Clinical trials also suggest that age-old healing art has anti-obesity effects which can enhance the effectiveness of modern diabetes treatments.
To further explore the effects of acupuncture, researchers at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and the World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) involving the use of acupuncture -- or any of its variants -- as diabetes treatment. They assessed the safety of acupuncture for patients with Type 2 diabetes.
The researchers reported their findings in an article published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.
According to numerous animal studies, the efficacy of acupuncture as diabetes treatment is undeniable. However, researchers have yet to fully explore the effectiveness and safety of this highly regarded TCM technique.
To address this, the researchers systematically searched five databases and two clinical registry platforms from inception until August 04, 2018 for RCTs that involve acupuncture or any of its variants (i.e., oral, scalp, foot, tongue or ear acupuncture).
They selected studies that not only investigated their effectiveness against Type 2 diabetes, but also compared their effects with those of sham acupuncture or no acupuncture controls. Blood sugar control and adverse events were considered as primary outcomes.
The researchers included a total of 21 studies (1,943 participants) in the final meta-analysis. Compared with sham acupuncture or no acupuncture + baseline treatments, the combination of acupuncture and baseline treatments was found to reduce fasting blood sugar, blood sugar levels two hours after drinking a glucose solution and glycated hemoglobin levels. The latter is tested to monitor the long-term control of diabetes.
Besides reducing blood sugar, acupuncture also improved blood lipid levels and blood pressure control and helped reduce the participants' body weight.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that acupuncture can be used as a supplementary treatment for the management of Type 2 diabetes.
Besides acupuncture, there are other simple yet effective ways of reducing your blood sugar without relying on medications. Here are some tips that you can try with or without the acupuncture therapy: (h/t to Healthline.com)
Healthy lifestyle changes, such as becoming physically active and avoiding high-sugar, high-carbohydrate foods, can help a great deal when it comes to managing symptoms of diabetes. If you wish to combine them with herbal supplements and natural therapies like acupuncture, first consult with a natural health practitioner so you can minimize any risks that might come with your condition or any medication you are taking.