Chinese Medicine and Diabetes

November is Diabetes Awareness Month and Chinese Medicine has much to offer when it comes to treating this complex disorder.


In TCM terms, diabetes is generally classified as "Yin deficiency with heat and damp", affecting mainly the lungs, stomach and kidney systems. In the lungs, heat dries up moisture leading to excessive thirst; in the stomach, heat damages fluids creating excessive hunger; and deficiency in the kidneys leads to frequent urination. Treatment will be designed to nourish the lungs, stomach and kidney fluids and clear heat and damp.

From Western science we know that diabetes is caused by the body’s inability to either produce sufficient levels of insulin (type I diabetes) or when cells are unresponsive to the presence of insulin (type II diabetes). Both pathologies result in an increase in blood glucose levels which causes a host of other complications including neuropathy, poor healing of wounds, impotence, vision impairment and chronic infections.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are effective ways to address both the underlying cause, as well as the symptoms and complications of diabetes. However it is important to understand that in the case of type I diabetes, patients must always continue with their insulin therapy in addition to herbs and acupuncture. The good news is that they may be able to lower the amount of insulin they need in a day, so careful monitoring of blood sugar levels continues to be important after starting any alternative care. 

Herbs especially have proven effective to stimulate the endocrine system and increase insulin levels. Further, a course of acupuncture treatment will boost the body’s own healing ability, and so wounds begin to heal faster and other chronic infections will start healing. Both acupuncture and herbal therapy will support circulation and thereby protect against or lessen the symptoms of neuropathy.

Because diabetes can have so many health consequences, my wish would be for anyone struggling with this diagnosis to get some extra support in the form of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. If you or a family member would like more information, please call me for a free telephone consult and we can figure out whether acupuncture is right for you.