By Danisha Bogue, L.Ac. - November 21, 2022
Categories: General

Acupuncture can bring patients with chronic illnesses much-needed relief and diabetes is no exception. As one of the leading chronic illnesses in the world today, diabetes affects over 34 million people of all ages in the United States. So, the odds are high that either you or someone you know will have or develop diabetes in your lifetime. Luckily, Traditional Chinese Medicine has been treating this ailment for thousands of years.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes comes from the complications of continuous hyperglycemia. This is when the sugar levels in the blood gets too high and the body becomes insulin resistant. The body uses insulin to process sugar in the foods we eat and get it to where it needs to go in the body. When the body becomes insulin resistant, we don’t properly process sugar, and damage is done to the cardiovascular system and nerve cells leading to heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and permanent nerve damage.

The symptoms of diabetes are:

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Dry mouth and throat
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Palpitations
  • Feverish sensations in palms, soles, and chest
  • Tidal fever
  • Flushed cheeks
  • Night sweating
  • Constipation
  • Thin and fast pulse

Western medicine focuses on regulating blood sugar through drugs and insulin shots along with a change of diet and regular exercise. And by concentrating all its effort on only the illness and its root cause, western medicine misses the chance to see the big picture and fix the whole and not just the problem.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, diabetes is known as xiao ke caused by yin deficiency. It is described as a sickness of heat and dampness in the internal organs. When yin is out of harmony, it also affects the yang. In order to treat diabetes, the different energies within the person must be brought back into harmony.

Xiao ke has three key contributing factors:

  • Improper diet includes consuming large quantities of sugary or fatty foods, alcohol, and hot drinks including coffee and tea.
  • Emotional disturbances such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Yin deficiency is shown by fatigue, weakness, lethargy, and pale complexion.

There are many forms of TCM treatments for diabetes including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and diet therapy.


TCM uses acupuncture to help promote improved pancreas function. This reduces blood glucose levels and normalizes endocrine function in diabetic patients. The benefits of lowering serum glucose levels have been shown in both clinical and experimental studies.


One of the major complications of diabetes is neuropathy, which is damage to the nerve endings in the body. There are different kinds of neuropathy affecting different parts of the body.

  • Peripheral neuropathy is the damage to nerve endings that can cause tingling, pain, and/or numbness in the hands and feet.
  • Autonomic neuropathy deteriorates fundamental functions like the heart pumping blood and removal of waste from the body.
  • Proximal neuropathy usually only affects one side of the body causing pain and numbness around the hips and buttocks. 
  • Focal neuropathy is damage to single nerves mostly likely in your hand, leg, torso, or head.

Studies have shown that acupuncture over an extended period such as ten weeks, can help improve the systems of neuropathy in most patients. According to TCM, it works in lessening the pain by unblocking the dampness that is obstructing the qi from flowing throughout the body. 

Chinese Herbs

Herbs are important to bring the patient nutrients they are missing from their diet. These herbs have special functions including warming, heat-clearing, dampness removal, and cooling. The herbs can be prescribed in combination or separately to relieve your symptoms. 

Commonly used herbs for diabetes with TCM

  • Panax Ginseng, or Korean ginseng, has hypoglycemic properties that can lower blood sugar levels along with improving mood and mental performance.
  • Momordica charantia (balsam pear) has also been shown to reduce blood sugar levels.
  • Lagenaria siceraria (bottle gourd) is another herb that reduces blood sugar levels.
  • Psidium gnajava can be used in the form of fresh leaves or steeped as a tea to reduce blood sugar levels. 

These herbs do not seem to increase insulin levels but help carbohydrate use in the body. 

Diet Therapy

And finally, TCM uses diet therapy as another important part of managing diabetes. Weight loss and a reduction in sugar consumption are important parts of the treatment of diabetes but extreme diets and dramatically fast weight loss are not the answer. I will help create the best plan for you but here are some important guidelines.

Adding these foods to your diet will slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream.

  • Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon and sardines are high in protein and good fats which help reduce inflammation.
  • Dark leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach are full of Vitamin C and antioxidants that are cooling which strengthens the organs.
  • Avocados are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber and healthy fats that reduce inflammation.
  • Beans and seeds including chia and flax provide not only protein and fiber but complex carbohydrates with minerals and vitamins which are also cooling.
  • Fermented foods without added sugar provide natural probiotics to repair the Qi of the stomach and intestines.

Diabetes doesn’t have to be a sentence to a life full of pain. Reach out to me today and see how we can build a program that can bring pain relief and insulin resistance reduction to get you feeling better. When you help manage your diabetes with TCM, you will be happier and healthier.

Be well.



This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or illness. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to the use of this product if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medications or have a medical condition. Individual results may vary.