New research finds acupuncture may help prevent diabetes

According to new research, acupuncture therapy could be a useful tool to prevent type 2 diabetes.

A new study has found that acupuncture therapy can be a helpful tool in people with prediabetes.

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments – and now it could also help with one of 21st the greatest health challenges of the century.

New research from Edith Cowan University has found that acupuncture therapy can be a helpful tool in warding off type 2 diabetes.

The team of scientists investigated dozens of studies looking at the effects of acupuncture on more than 3,600 people with prediabetes. It is a condition characterized by higher than normal blood sugar levels without being high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

According to the results, acupuncture therapy significantly improved key markers, such as fasting plasma glucose, two-hour plasma glucose and glycated hemoglobin. Additionally, acupuncture therapy resulted in a greater decline in the incidence of prediabetes.

No adverse effects were reported in patients.

PhD candidate and lead researcher Min Zhang said this holds great promise for acupuncture therapy as an additional option to ward off diabetes, which is estimated to affect 11% of the world’s adult population.

The International Diabetes Federation estimates that nearly 1.3 billion people will have diabetes or prediabetes by 2045.

“Without intervention, 93% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 20 years,” Zhang said. “But unlike diabetes, prediabetes is reversible with lifestyle interventions such as improved diet and increased exercise.

“But many people find it difficult to adhere to long-term lifestyle changes, so non-pharmacological treatments such as acupuncture could prove helpful.”

A holistic approach

Although diabetes is often associated with lifestyle factors, other aspects of life can also have an impact, and that’s where acupuncture comes in.

“It’s not just about blood sugar levels,” Ms. Zhang said.

“If you’re having trouble sleeping, high blood pressure, a lot of stress, that can also contribute. So acupuncture can help with those factors and work holistically to help people balance their lives.

Ms. Zhang said it is important to note that acupuncture therapy is not limited to the use of needles – it refers to a large family of techniques for stimulating acupuncture points, such as light and electrical pulses, and includes other traditional Chinese medicine therapies such as moxibustion.

“It’s important because people with diabetes can have skin issues, so it might not always be ideal to use needles,” she said.

“We need to do more research on acupuncture and diabetes because we need to find more ways to prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes.

“Many people with prediabetes have no symptoms and feel fine, but some people progress through diabetes no more than 6 months after their prediabetes diagnosis.

“In fact, prediabetes intervention is an investment rather than an expense.

“So the best time to prevent type 2 diabetes is now.”

Reference: “Should acupuncture-related therapies be considered in the control of prediabetes?” Results of a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials” by Min Zhang, MSc; Carol Chunfeng Wang, PhD and Johnny Lo, PhD, July 2022, Holistic nursing practice.
DOI: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000530

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