Acupuncture and Diabetes

Diabetes and Acupuncture

While it is interesting to speculate on a traditional, non-invasive, non-pharmacological solution to disease, it is important to understand there are innumerable factors that go into diagnosis, observation and determinations relating to a system that is out of alignment. This is to say, it is inappropriate to suggest herbal, direct needling, cupping, etc., as a remedy for a western disease diagnosis, i.e., diabetes. 

There have been efforts between eastern and western scientists to use evidence based science to reconcile 3,000 year old traditional Chinese medicine and philosophy with the recent 200 years of western medicine application. 

According to the International Diabetes Foundation, 41.5 million adults suffer from diabetes, type 2 (T2DM) globally and it is expected to increase to 642 million by 2040. Those with a diagnosis of T2DM have primary complication of cardiovascular disease and a 33% increased risk of heart failure. Diabetic health expenditure is 11 – 20% using conventional western treatment. Observing historical data, it is expected to escalate.

Several studies have already demonstrated the efficacy of acupuncture in the treatment of diabetes. Acupuncture can be used to affect metabolic and endocrine systems which means thyroid diseases, obesity, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and T2DM can benefit from acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture significantly reduced insulin resistance in a study on rats. 

Because of the adverse long term effects and dependence of hypoglycemic pharmaceuticals, such as weight gain, gastrointestinal side effects, limb fractures and heart failure to name a few, more evidenced based research is going into acupuncture as an alternative to conventional costly western treatment.

In selecting an acupuncturist, you will want to have the following considerations:

  1. Ensure they are active members of an industry body that validates standards of competency;
  2. Take note of how they establish rapport. Do you ‘trust’ them;
  3. Have a history of your systems along with other health conditions;
  4. Ask for evidence of continuing professional development;
  5. Ask for research or papers they have contributed to;

The human body is a whole organism. In the same way certain soils and climates are more suitable for different plants to thrive in, there are many considerations in the treatment of any condition that would cause the body to be out of alignment. Diabetes is a symptom of an alignment issue that can and has been treated by acupuncture for thousands of years.


  1. American Diabetes Association Classification and diagnosis of diabetes: standards of medical care in diabetes – 2018. Diabetes Care 2017;41 (Suppl 1):S13–27.
  2. Cavender MA, Steg PG, Smith SC, et al. Impact of diabetes mellitus on hospitalization for heart failure, cardiovascular events, and death. Circulation 2015;132:923–31.
  3. Liang F, Koya D. Acupuncture: is it effective for treatment of insulin resistance? Diabetes Obes Metab 2010;12:555–69.
  4. Zollman C, Vickers A. ABC of complementary medicine. Users and practitioners of complementary medicine. BMJ 1999;319:836–8.
  5. Ishizaki N,Okushi N, Yano T, et al. Improvement in glucose tolerance as a result of enhanced insulin sensitivity during electroacupuncture in spontaneously diabetic Goto-Kakizaki rats. Metabolism 2009;58:1372–8.
  6. Acupuncture and related techniques for type 2 diabetes mellitus; A systematic review protocol Meilu Liu, MBa, Jianrong Chen, MDb, Qing Ren, MMc, Weifeng Zhu, PhDa, Dongmei Yan, PhDa, Heyun Nie, MMa, Xiaofan Chen, MDa, Xu Zhou, MDa,∗
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