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Acupuncture treatment for diabetes complications

Updated: Nov 2, 2022

Primary symptoms and complications of Diabetes

Primary symptoms and complications of Diabetes

The Diabetes Center in the Teaching Hospital of the Chengdu University of TCM a.k.a. Sichuan Provincial TCM Hospital, is one of the most popular diabetes departments in China. It is also a national top diabetes center for clinical research. When I was an intern, I saw the great effects of herbal medicine and acupuncture treatment for complications e.g. retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, diabetic foot, etc. Many people avoided blindness and amputation.

As Western medicine has achieved a profound understanding of diabetes at the level of the cells and the genes and has made it possible to control blood sugar by means of insulin and anti-diabetic drugs. Yet the options that Western medicine offers with regard to the treatment of diabetic complications are rather limited. This is true of diabetic nephropathy, arteriosclerosis, polyneuropathy, and of diabetic foot syndrome (Hummelsberger and Qi 2012).

A research team from the Department of Medicine, University of Manchester, reported that acupuncture was a safe and effective therapy for the long-term management of painful diabetic neuropathy, although its mechanism of action remains speculative. Acupuncture may effectively ameliorate selected diabetes neuropathy symptoms in these American Indian patients (Bailey et al., 2017). A systematic review revealed the potential benefit of acupuncture in treating diabetes retinopathy (Ang et al., 2020). Acupuncture in the form of combined therapy with standard medication or acupuncture alone may be more effective in the treatment of diabetic retinopathy than standard medication alone. According to a clinical study with 54 patients, acupuncture can improve lipid metabolism and protect the renal function of patients with early metaphase diabetes (Chu et al., 2007).


Abuaisha BB, Costanzi JB, Boulton AJ. Acupuncture for the treatment of chronic painful peripheral diabetic neuropathy: a long-term study. Diabetes research and clinical practice. 1998 Feb 1;39(2):115-21.

Ang L, Song E, Jun JH, Choi TY, Lee MS. Acupuncture for treating diabetic retinopathy: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2020 Aug 1;52:102490.

Bailey A, Wingard D, Allison M, Summers P, Calac D. Acupuncture treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy in an American Indian community. Journal of acupuncture and meridian studies. 2017 Apr 1;10(2):90-5.

Chu Q, Wang L, Liu GZ. Clinical observation on acupuncture for treatment of diabetic nephropathy. Zhongguo Zhen jiu= Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion. 2007 Jul 1;27(7):488-90.

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