Diabetes is a condition that affects nearly 3 million people in the UK (Diabetes UK), and may be undiagnosed in as many as a million more. There are two types: type 1 (early onset diabetes) and the more common type 2 (often known as adult-onset diabetes). In both, the body is unable to regulate the amount of glucose in the blood, resulting in the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood becoming higher than normal. Type 1 diabetes, though not inherited, usually has a strong genetic factor, develops quickly over days or weeks as the pancreas stops making insulin, and is treated with insulin injections and a healthy diet.
Type 2 diabetes is on the increase, with children and young people increasingly developing the disease, though the most at-risk group for diabetes remains those who are over 40 and overweight. The four common symptoms of type-2 diabetes are: excessive thirst, passing large amounts of urine, tiredness and weight loss. Over time, it’s a debilitating disease: the high blood sugar levels caused by type-2 diabetes can result in short and long term complications, including atheroma (furring or hardening of the arteries), eye disorders, nerve damage, foot problems, kidney disease and impotence. Weight loss (plus increased physical activity) is more effective than drug therapy for preventing or delaying the development of type-2 diabetes (Knowler 2002). Controlling stress and depression are also important, as they may also play a role in the development of the metabolic syndrome (Rosmond 2005), (Carnethon 2007).
Can acupuncture help? Although acupuncture is not suitable as a treatment for Type-1 Diabetes itself, “There may be a case to be made for using acupuncture to enhance the whole system in an attempt to reduce the long-term impact of circulatory problems which tend to develop in later years” (British Acupuncture Council). For Type-2 diabetes, non-insulin dependent diabetes, acupuncture can be useful as part of an overall strategy for long term care, as part of improving lifestyle, along with diet and exercise. After all, if you are less stressed, have depression under control and are living healthily – in short, being the best you that you can be – then you reduce the risk of so-called lifestyle diseases.
If you’re worried about diabetes, or want to know how best to support someone you know who has been diagnosed with it http://www.diabetes.org.uk/ has masses of information about the disease, and how to manage your daily life if you have been diagnosed with it.
If you’d like to know how acupuncture can improve your health – do get in touch (there’s an email link at the bottom of the page on my website)
- Tesco joins war on diabetes with drive to raise £10m funds (express.co.uk)
- Rise in type 2 diabetes among young (bbc.co.uk)