Diabetes is defined as a disease characterized by an increased level of glucose in blood. It stems from the fact that body is not able to transport glucose to the inside of cells. Thus, the level of glucose in blood is too high, while cells are starving to death. There are two types of diabetes:
- Type 1 diabetes – insulin dependent – is caused by actual lack of insulin because of damage of β cells of Langerhans Islets.
- Type 2 diabetes – insulin-independent – is a metabolic disease, connected often with obesity. Primarily, it is characterized by resistance to insulin, relative lack of insulin and hyperglycemia.
It is one of the most common diseases in the modern world. World Health Organization estimates that there are 347 million people suffering from diabetes(source)1. According to the report prepared by pharmaceutical company Novonordisk from 2013, there are 3 million diabetics in Poland(source)2.
It will not come as a surprise that prevention and treatment of diabetes constitute a serious challenge for modern medicine. In the case of type 1 diabetes, patients are treated with insulin, which is not produced by damaged cells of pancreas. For a number of patients, everyday injections and diet are a problem. However, it has to be emphasized, that the production of insulin constituted a breakthrough in the treatment of this potentially lethal disease. In patients with type 2 diabetes, a change of life is recommended. The use of insulin is not recommended until it is necessary. It is commonly held that diabetes is incurable. Desperate patients sometimes resort to non-standard methods of treatment, such as Chinese medicine and acupuncture
“Acupuncture is effective method of treatment of insulin resistance”
“Acupuncture is more effective than pharmacotherapy in the treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy”
- In the group of obese women, electro-acupuncture resulted in increasing of insulin level in plasma. Additionally, the increased level of C-peptide –cut from a particle of proinsulin during the release of insulin from pancreas to blood, was tested.
- In the older study by Szczudlik, at first a slight decrease of insulin level five minutes after the procedure, and then the increasing of insulin level after 30 minutes was observed.
What is more, in a contemporary study by Turkish researchers, a significant decrease of glucose level in blood was observed.
To the discussed review, fourteen studies conducted on animals, mostly rats, were included. Because of a large discrepancy of used interventions and technical parameters of simulations, it is difficult to draw any conclusions. However:
- Electro-acupuncture in healthy rats resulted in the decreasing of glucose level, increasing of insulin and β-endorphin level.
- In studies on rats with type-2 diabetes, electro-acupuncture caused a decrease of glicemy and increased level of insulin in blood.
- Studies on rats with type-1 diabetes provided divergent results, which may be partially justified by insufficient stimulation of points. In a study, in which current of intensity 10 mA and frequency of tension 15 hz in point st-36 for 30 minutes was applied, caused a significant reduction of glicemia level.
Acupuncture and insulin resistance
Increasing resistance to insulin is one of the causes of type-2 diabetes. In 2010, a review of literature studying the influence of acupuncture on insulin resistance was published. After analyzing 234 articles, the authors concluded that there are proofs confirming efficacy of acupuncture as a method of treatment of insulin resistance; although, they are limited.
Increasing resistance to insulin is one of the causes of type-2 diabetes. In 2010, a review of literature studying the influence of acupuncture on insulin resistance was published(source)3. After analyzing 234 articles, the authors concluded that there are proofs confirming efficacy of acupuncture as a method of treatment of insulin resistance; although, they are limited.
Further information regarding the influence of acupuncture on metabolism in patients with diabetes is based on clinical studies of efficacy of this method in treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy.
In published in 2006 study, efficacy of two different acupuncture protocols and pharmacological therapy in treatment of polyneuropathy stemming from diabetes was compared(source)4. In both groups, acupuncture provides better results than pharmacotherapy. Moreover, the decrease of glucose level in blood in all groups and decrease of total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in both acupuncture groups were observed.
The efficacy of acupuncture in treatment diabetic polyneuropathy was signaled also in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice(source)5. The study included 46 patients; the spell of observation was relatively long and amounted to one year. In 77% of patients, a significant improvement was noted. In seven of them (21%) symptoms disappeared completely. In patients who at the beginning used medications, 67 % could stop using them entirely, or significantly reduced amount of them. During the studies, no complications were signaled.
One of the possible mechanisms of such a high efficacy of acupuncture in treatment of diabetic polyneuropathy may be its influence on local levels of nitrogen and improvement of circulation(source)6.
Because of popularity of this therapy in Eastern Asia’s countries, a review of literature on this issue was prepared(source)7. The results of 5 studies were discussed. Because of its heterogenity, it is impossible to draw clear conclusions. However, results of particular studies indicate that moxa treatment may have a positive influence on the level of glycemy. Combined with acupuncture, moxa treatment constitutes an efficient method regulating level of glucose in blood and urine, and also the level of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c).
„Moxa added to acupuncture is effective method of regulating blood levels of glucose as well as glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c)”
1 Liang F, Koya D. “Acupuncture: is it effective for treatment of insulin resistance?” Diabetes Obes Metab. 2010 Jul;12(7):555-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1326.2009.01192.x.
2 Jiang H, Shi K, Li X, Zhou W, Cao Y. “ Clinical study on the wrist-ankle acupuncture treatment for 30 cases of diabetic peripheral neuritis.” J Tradit Chin Med. 2006 Mar;26(1):8-12
3 Lee WB1, Woo SH, Min BI, Cho SH. „Acupuncture for gouty arthritis: a concise report of a systematic and meta-analysis approach.” Rheumatology (Oxford). 2013 Jul;52(7):1225-32. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket013. Epub 2013 Feb 18.
4 Wen SL, Liu YJ, Yin HL, Zhang L, Xiao J, Zhu HY, Xue JT, Ye LM. „Effect of acupuncture on rats with acute gouty arthritis inflammation: a metabonomic method for profiling of both urine and plasma metabolic perturbation” Am J Chin Med. 2011;39(2):287-300.
5 Chen Y, Wu LP, Liu YJ, Deng PC, Yin HL, Wen SL, Chen C, Ye LM „Urinary Study on the Biochemical Effect of Acupuncture on Monosodium Urate Crystals-Induced Acute Gouty Arthritis in Rats using 600MHz 1H NMR” J Bioequiv Availab 2012, 4:7 http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/jbb.1000122
6 Dickman R, Schiff E, Holland A, Wright C, Sarela SR, Han B, Fass R „Clinical trial: acupuncture vs. doubling the proton pump inhibitor dose in refractory heartburn” Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Nov 15;26(10):1333-44. Epub 2007 Sep 17.
7 Xing W, Li Q. “Effects of different manipulations of acupuncture on electrical activity of stomach in humans.” J Tradit Chin Med. 1998 Mar;18(1):39-42