Researchers explore the potential of acupuncture in diabetes treatments

Diabetes is a chronic disease that’s now considered a global epidemic. It is one of the fastest growing diseases in the U.S. and ranks seventh in the World Health Organization‘s (WHO) top 10 global causes of deaths.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), nearly half a billion people worldwide aged 20 to 79 were suffering from diabetes in 2019, and this number is expected to rise to 700 million by 2045.

Over the years, researchers have found extensive, robust and consistent evidence supporting the efficacy of lifestyle interventions in preventing the development of diabetes. Strategies like switching to a well-balanced diet and increasing physical activity have shown that they could reduce the risk of diabetes in at-risk individuals, such as those with obesity, by more than 50 percent.

But aside from lifestyle interventions, complementary therapies have also shown a positive effect on several biomarkers of diabetes. For instance, a recent study showed that acupuncture, when used in combination with conventional diabetes treatments, can cause significant improvements in the blood sugar levels, blood pressure and body weights of people with Type 2 diabetes.

The study, conducted by researchers at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and the World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies, was published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice.

Acupuncture for the management of Type 2 diabetes

Acupuncture has been used in China to treat Type 2 diabetes for 2,000 years. Today, hundreds of studies present strong evidence of its efficacy as an alternative or complementary therapy to various conventional treatments.


To assess the effects and safety of acupuncture as a treatment for Type 2 diabetes, the researchers searched five databases and two clinical registry platforms for studies on acupuncture.

They chose randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared the efficacy of acupuncture or its variants as a complementary treatment for Type 2 diabetes with that of sham acupuncture or no acupuncture controls. They considered blood sugar control and adverse events as primary outcomes.

The researchers found 21 RCTs that involved a total of 1,943 participants and included those in their meta-analysis. Compared with sham acupuncture or no acupuncture plus baseline treatments, they reported that the combination of acupuncture and baseline treatments reduced fasting blood glucose, blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c (glycated hemoglobin) levels in diabetic participants.

Acupuncture also helped improve blood lipid levels and blood pressure, as well as reduced weight. (Related: Can mulberry treat diabetes?)

Based on these findings, the researchers concluded that acupuncture is a good complementary treatment for the management of Type 2 diabetes, especially for those who are obese or suffer from other metabolic disorders.

Acupuncture: Safe and effective treatment for various conditions

Acupuncture is a centuries-old technique developed by the Ancient Chinese to promote the body’s natural self-healing capabilities. This involves the manual stimulation of specific points along the body called acupuncture points.

Acupuncturists typically use fine, sterile needles, which are inserted into the skin, to activate these points. It is believed that doing so helps unblock channels or meridians through which vital energy should flow freely. The Ancient Chinese believed that disruptions to the flow of energy are the root cause of all health problems.

According to clinical evaluations, acupuncture is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions and symptoms, particularly those that cause pain. Some of these include:

  • Headaches
  • Pain in the knee, lower back and neck
  • Facial pain
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Morning sickness
  • Dental pain
  • Postoperative pain
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sprain
  • Hypo- and hypertension
  • Stroke
  • Sciatica
  • Dysentery or colon inflammation

The health benefits of acupuncture don’t stop here — visit to learn more.

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