Acupuncture for Diabetes

Diabetes Management and Pain Relief

Acupuncture diabetes treatment improves metabolism of blood sugar and blood lipids, lowers blood viscosity, and restores the functions of peripheral nerve cells. Thus acupuncture is an effective treatment for peripheral neuritis and diabetes pain, as well as improving diabetes sugar metabolism.

A randomized controlled trial was performed by Chinese scientists to study the mechanisms of acupuncture diabetes treatment for peripheral neuropathy pain. They assessed therapeutic effects and laboratory results for 90 patients randomly divided into 3 groups and treated respectively with wrist-ankle acupuncture, body-acupuncture, and the western routine medical treatment, with 30 cases in each of the groups.

The study showed that for these patients with diabetes, the neuropathy pain relief effects of the wrist-ankle acupuncture group and body acupuncture group were significantly superior to those of the control group (1).

Another Chinese clinical study evaluated the therapeutic effects of acupuncture diabetes treatment on 64 senile diabetes patients. The control group was treated with dietary therapy, while the observation group was given acupuncture in addition to dietary therapy. The researchers observed that after 2 courses of treatment, the postprandial blood sugar level was decreased in patients received acupuncture treatment more significantly than in patients of the control group (P < 0.05) indicating that acupuncture in combination with dietary therapy has a reliable therapeutic effect on diabetes patients (2).

An animal study performed by Taiwanese scientists evaluated the influence of electroacupuncture (EA) on insulin sensitivity in rats by intravenous glucose tolerance test (ivGTT) and insulin challenge test (ICT). Hypoglycemic activity was confirmed on normal Wistar rats (36+/-12%) and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats (13+/-8%) after 60 min of 15 Hz EA on bilateral Zusanli acupoints.

The rats were divided into the experimental group and control group randomly. After fasting, plasma glucose and insulin levels were tested. As the data showed, acupuncture improved the glucose tolerance from 15 to 90 min (p<0.005 compared with the plasma glucose levels of the control group) during ivGTT. In addition, significant improvement in the Homeostasis Model Assessment (HOMA) index was found in the acupuncture group from 15 to 90 min (p<0.005 compared with the control group).

The conclusion of the study: electro-acupuncture significantly improved glucose tolerance in the rats with diabetes, and could be considered as an alternative method for improving insulin sensitivity and/or increase insulin-hypoglycemic activity (3).


1. 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.

2. Wu Y., Fei M., He Y., Zhang C., Zheng W, Wu Y., Li W. Clinical observation on senile patients with impaired glucose tolerance treated by point application. J. Tradit Chin Med. 2006 Jun; 26(2):110-2.

3. Chang SL, Lin KJ, Lin RT, Hung PH, Lin JG, Cheng JT. Enhanced insulin sensitivity using electroacupuncture on bilateral Zusanli acupoints (ST36) in rats. Life Sci. 2006 Aug1; 79(10):967-71. Epub 2006 May 17.

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