Acupuncture as an Alternative Way to Fight Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance occurs when your body is not capable of using insulin in a proper way anymore. This hormone (insulin), usually has the function of making your cells process the glucose in your blood, and transform it into the energy. When this process is not done in a proper way, the glucose accumulates in your blood, causing high blood sugar levels. This problem leads to the condition known as diabetes.

Insulin resistance can develop as result of unhealthy lifestyle habits. Some of the reasons can include the lack of physical activity in your life, smoking and sleeping problems. In some cases, the condition can be inherited. Changing your lifestyle and adopting some healthy habits like exercising and following a balanced diet, is essential in order to avoid the risk of insulin resistance. Acupuncture has also been proposed as an alternative method to improve your body’s ability to process insulin in a proper and effective way.

Unfortunately, there is no scientific information enough to support the theory of acupuncture being a real and effective solution to treat diabetes. This comes from the lack of actual research on the subject.

One of the few studies related to acupuncture as a potential diabetes treatment was conducted in 2010. In this study, a group of scientists analyzed some previous reports on acupuncture and how it affects your insulin resistance. They came to the conclusion that acupuncture can actually become an effective treatment to promote insulin sensitivity, but on the other hand, more research still has to be made to confirm this.

Can Acupuncture Help to Treat Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy can be a side-effect of diabetes, but not all diabetes patients suffer from this condition. Only 70% of people with diabetes will develop diabetic neuropathy. This disorder mainly results in damage of the nerves, caused the body’s inability to regulate blood sugar. Diabetic neuropathy can occur in the form of peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy. In the first case, the main symptoms are pain or loss of sensitivity in the legs, hands, fingers, toes, and arms. The symptoms in the second case include dysfunction of the bladder, bowels, heart, eyes, lungs and digestive system.

Recent studies indicate that the ancient technique of acupuncture, might be effective in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy. A study made in 2014 involved a total of 45 different diabetes patients who were treated with acupuncture in two different ways. The first group of participants received a real acupuncture treatment conducted by a specialist, using the genuine traditional Chinese method and inserting the needles on the actual energetic points on the body; while the other group was treated in a “fake” manner, which means the acupuncturist didn’t use a proper acupuncture technique.

For the next 10 weeks, the participants were undergoing the treatments, a real and a fake one. The results showed that those who received the genuine acupuncture treatment experienced a decrease of many symptoms caused by diabetic neuropathy. The rest of participants that received the fake treatment, also had some small improvements.

Another study made in 2013, that was published in the PLoS One journal, suggested that no definite conclusion can be made about the effectiveness of acupuncture as an alternative treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. In this research, specialists analyzed 25 clinical trials conducted in the previous years, which in total involved 1,649 different patients that had been suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The research determined that this holistic treatment actually helped to control the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy better than other treatments (such as vitamin B1 and vitamin B12). Although this is unlikely to provide enough information for the final conclusion, since the quality of the reviewed trials was poor.

Acupuncture as a Real Solution for Diabetes

Acupuncture is known to be a safe practice, but there are two very important aspect to take into consideration. First, always make sure you are getting the treatment from a real certificated acupuncturist. These days you can easily be treated by some pseudo specialists that sometimes don’t even follow the correct methods or techniques of acupuncture practice. Second, you should never replace a standard and certified treatment for diabetes with any alternative treatment, as this can lead to serious consequences. You always need to consult a specialist before making any change in your diabetes treatment.