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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Andre Budihardjo on November 29, 2022

Diabetes Mellitus Treatment Options That Will Change Your Life

These TCM treatments can help manage your diabetes mellitus symptoms and boost your quality of life. Plus, you can do them right at home.

Diabetes min scaled

Did you know that approximately one in 10 Americans have diabetes mellitus? Among those with the condition, about one in five don’t even know they have it.

Despite being a disease that affects your blood sugar levels, diabetes can also put you at an increased risk of other conditions. This includes kidney problems, heart disease, and obesity.

Luckily, there are many ways to treat it using lifestyle modifications and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Read on to learn more.

What Is Diabetes Mellitus?

A man with a headache sitting on the couch holding his head with his hand
Fluctuating blood sugar levels can cause fatigue, headaches, blurry vision, and low energy.

When you eat, your body breaks down digestible foods into sugar, which enters the blood. Insulin aids in transporting sugar from the blood into the cells. Sugar can be used as energy immediately or stored for later use.

Diabetes directly affects insulin, impairing its ability and production by the pancreas. It also elevates blood sugar levels, causing the following symptoms: 

  • Blurry vision 
  • Abnormal weight loss 
  • Frequent urination 
  • Frequent hunger and thirst 
  • Slow healing of sores 
  • Higher rate of infections 
  • Numbness or tingling sensation in the hands or feet 

Causes And Types Of Diabetes Mellitus

TCM states that diabetes falls under the Xiao Ke Syndrome, which stems from a Yin (passive energy) Deficiency or dry Heat in the body.

SubsequentlyYin and Yang Deficiencies can arise in the Spleen and Kidney. Over time, it’ll provoke Qi and Blood Stagnation that exacerbates to become Blood Stasis. 

Type 1 diabetes 

An autoimmune disease, type 1 diabetes destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. The cause and steps to prevent the disease’s onset are, to date, still unknown.

Type 2 diabetes 

The development of type 2 diabetes relates directly to the ineffective use of insulin by the body and accounts for 95% of diabetes cases worldwide. The most common reasons behind its onset are a sedentary lifestyle and excessive weight gain.

Previously, it was only seen in adults but has become increasingly prevalent among children in recent years.

Gestational diabetes 

Hyperglycemia – blood sugar levels above normal – can make women susceptible to health complications during pregnancy and childbirth. It may happen during any pregnancy, but mostly develops between the second or third trimester and usually disappears after giving birth.

Complications of Diabetes Mellitus

Image of a doctor applying a bandage to someone with a diabetic foot ulcer
People with diabetes are at an increased risk of foot ulcers.

Fasting blood sugar higher than 7mmol/L after eight hours of fasting, or blood sugar greater than 11.0mmol/L two hours after drinking 75gm of glucose water during an oral glucose tolerance test, indicates that you have diabetes. If your fasting blood sugar is between 5.6mmol/L and 6.9mmol/L, you would be considered prediabetic. 

Higher-than-usual blood sugar levels can lead to various health complications:

Diabetic ketoacidosis

The most severe complication is diabetic ketoacidosis, which can lead to death. This occurs when there is not enough insulin for the body to use and produces excess blood acids called ketones.

Diabetic neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy can also ensue and trigger distinct sets of symptoms, depending on the type of neuropathy occurring. The few different types are: 

  • Autonomic neuropathy: Damages the nerves that connect to the internal organs 
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Damages nerves in the feet and leg and sometimes the hands and arms. Symptoms are often worse at night such as numbness and a tingling or burning feeling. 
  • Proximal neuropathy: Damages nerves in the hips, buttocks or thighs. It can also affect the abdominal and chest area. 
  • Focal neuropathies: Damages single, specific nerves in the face, hand, torso or leg. Diabetics need to ensure proper care of their feet and focus on observing any occurrences of wounds and ulcers, preventing injuries and seeking early medical care if an injury occurs. This is to avoid amputation in severe cases.

Other complications

Diabetes also increases the risk of heart disease if it damages blood vessels and the nerves that regulate heart rate.

Damage to cells and blood vessels in the kidney can bring about poor organ function or organ failure. The condition can also lead to erectile dysfunction.

Kidney failure is another complication of diabetes.

TCM Diabetes Mellitus Treatment Options

Lifestyle modifications can ease the symptoms of diabetes and reduce the risk of health complications. Diet control, specifically, plays an integral role. 

For instance, people with diabetes should minimize sugar intake and eat fewer carbohydrates or oily, processed, and fatty foods. Likewise, they should cut their consumption of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

Eat more whole foods, such as lean meat, fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables, and exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Exercise is equally as important for controlling both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. In addition to diet and exercise, you can add TCM remedies to your diet.

Here are some you can try:

Herbal remedies

The combination of herbs and decoctions can help you manage symptoms. If a Yin Deficiency and Dry Heat are present in a person’s body, a licensed TCM practitioner may prescribe Anemarrhena (Zhi Mu) and Rehmannia (Sheng Di Huang) to clear Heat and nourish yin. It can be used alongside other ingredients to alleviate Blood Stasis, invigorate the Spleen, and enhance Kidney yin and yang.

Pure black garlic has been shown to control anti-diabetic properties. One study found that taking a garlic supplement significantly reduced fasting blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. It also improved blood liquids of total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein, and low-density lipoprotein.

Acupressure

Acupuncture treatment can lower fasting and post-prandial blood sugar, boost insulin production and ease insulin resistance.

The selection of acupressure points can also subdue neuropathy-associated pain and symptoms like blurry vision and a tingling sensation in the fingers and toes.

If you don’t have access to treatment from an acupuncturist, you can self-stimulate the Di Ji (SP8) and Tai Xi (KI3) points to purge infection, boost immunity, and calm diabetes symptoms.

Use Multiple Approaches

A multi-treatment regimen is required to address symptoms during the different stages of diabetes mellitus. If a person is consistent and maintains a healthy lifestyle, they’ll be able to keep them under control.

Seeking consultation with clinical and licensed TCM practitioners will also allow people with diabetes to adhere to a suitable treatment plan.

Care to share how you manage your diabetes symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

This is an adaptation of an article called “What is diabetes?” that first appeared on Health123’s website.   

References

  1. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. 2022. The Facts, Stats, and Impacts of Diabetes. 
  2. American Diabetes Association. Blood Sugar and Insulin at Work.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes Symptoms
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetic Neuropathy
  5. World Health Organization. 2021. Diabetes
  6. Food and Nutrition Research. 2017. Effect of garlic supplement in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM): a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
  7. StatPearls. 2022. Diabetes Mellitus Type 2.

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