Treating Diabetes with Chinese Medicine
Alternative & Complementary Care for a Rising Epidemic
According to the Center for Disease Control, cases of diabetes have doubled in the past 15 years and are projected to double again in the next 15 years. Ninety percent of these cases are type 2 or non-insulin-dependent diabetes. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder involving insulin and the body’s use of glucose or sugar. People with diabetes have too much sugar in their blood. Over time, this excess sugar causes a number of different problems in various organs and systems of the body. Among the numerous complications of diabetes are coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, cerebral vascular disease, peripheral and other types of neuropathy, retinopathy, nephropathy, a host of dermatological conditions, and various opportunistic infections.
Who gets diabetes & how does Western medicine treat it?
Type 1 or insulin-dependent diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the person’s own immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in their pancreas. Such patients must receive some external source of insulin or they will die. This type of diabetes most often is diagnosed during childhood. Therefore, it used to be called juvenile diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a result of some combination of genetic susceptibility, poor diet, age, and obesity. Other factors may include insufficient sleep and chronic viral infection. Ninety percent of those with type 2 diabetes are overweight, and the majority are over 40 years of age. Hence, this type of diabetes used to be called adult-onset diabetes. Typically, type 2 diabetes is diagnosed as a result of routine blood and urine examinations. The Western medical treatment of type 2 diabetes consists of dietary control, weight loss, and oral hypoglycemic drugs. In some cases, those with type 2 diabetes may also need to receive supplementary insulin. Unfortunately, these drugs are expensive, often have side effects, and do not always control the patient’s blood sugar.
Chinese Medicine & Diabetes
Chinese Medicine has recognized and treated diabetes as a specific disease for at least 2.500 years. Over those two millennia, Chinese doctors have continually refined their understanding and their treatment of this condition. Because of changes of diet and lifestyle, China is also experiencing a surge in the number of cases of diabetes. Therefore, a huge amount of energy has gone into research on the Chinese medical treatment of diabetes and a large literature now exists on this subject. The good news for sufferers of this condition is that Chinese medicine ( including both acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine) can effectively treat this condition and, in some cases, actually cure it.
Can Chinese Medicine be used at the same time as Western Medicine?
Yes, most definitely. There have been many, many research protocols done in China on the combined use of Chinese and Western medicines for the treatment of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. This research suggests that the combination of Chinese and Western medicine for this condition is better and more effective than either alone. When one combines Chinese and Western medicines, one gets all the power and speed of the Western drugs while typically requiring a lower dose and fewer different medications. In addition, the Chinese medicine is commonly able to eliminate any side effects of the Western medications. Since such side effects are typically a function of dose and number of medications, reducing the doses and numbers of Western drugs is a major benefit.
Can Chinese medicine also treat the complications of diabetes?
Yes again. There are Chinese medical treatments for diabetes hypertension, diabetic high cholesterol, diabetic coronary heart disease, diabetic cerebral vascular disease, diabetic neuropathy of all sorts, diabetic retinopathy, diabetic nephropathy, diabetic skin conditions, and diabetic opportunistic infections. Positive research has been done in China on each and every one of these either using Chinese medicine alone or a combination of Chinese and Western medicines.