Diabetes Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome, a precursor to Diabetes affects 25% of the U.S. population. This cluster disorder includes elevated blood pressure, chronic inflammation, elevated insulin levels, and elevated blood sugar among others. This disorder makes weight loss almost impossible, and weight is usually in excess around the middle trunk area.

Elevated insulin in the blood results in elevated blood triglycerides and other fats. This chronically elevated insulin instructs the body to store energy as fat (from the food we consume), causing fatigue and weight gain. Insulin also affects the normal function of the Kidneys which results in elevated blood pressure.

High levels of sugar in the blood will scratch the lining of the blood vessels, which increases the likelihood of plaque formation. Systemic inflammation also occurs as evidenced by elevated inflammatory markers in the body. Chronic inflammation results in many undesirable health outcomes including pain and fatigue. It can affect mood, appetite and ability to concentrate.

Metabolic Syndrome, if left untreated, will likely turn into Diabetes, a serious disorder where blood sugar is high, while cells are unable to metabolize glucose. Generally diet is to blame, as younger and younger people are being diagnosed with Type 2 (formerly known as Adult Onset Diabetes). Diabetes is a degenerative disorder that prevents the cells from using glucose for fuel, and eventually result in complications including retinal (eye) deterioration, kidney disease, neuropathy, muscular pain, fatigue, and many other symptoms.

Diet and exercise are the most powerful steps you can take in managing blood sugar. Consuming a low glycemic diet will greatly decrease the amount of sugar your body must process, and decrease the load on the pancreas to produce insulin. When exercising, the body needs extra energy or fuel (in the form of glucose) for the exercising muscles. For short bursts of exercise, such as a quick sprint to catch the bus, the muscles and the liver can release stores of glucose for fuel. With continued moderate exercising, however, your muscles take up glucose at almost 20 times the normal rate. This lowers blood glucose levels, and can increase cell receptor sensitivity to insulin. Be careful with extremely intense exercise lasting longer than 1 hour, as this can actually increase blood sugar.

Acupuncture works to balance blood sugar and promote weight loss by directly stimulating the pancreas, decreasing systemic inflammation, and regulating the digestive system. Depending on the symptoms present, acupuncture will balance the organ system dysfunction that resulted in the blood sugar disregulation. Many Chinese and Western herbs have been proven to be extremely effective in balancing blood sugar and reducing sugar cravings. Gymenma, cinnamon, ginseng and others have profound blood sugar lowering effects, but be sure to consult with your health care practioner prior to beginning supplementation.

Research has shown that acupuncture effectively lowers blood sugar and C-peptide levels in diabetic patients. Acupuncture combined with heat therapy (moxabustion) has also been demonstrated to decrease fasting blood glucose levels, 24-hour urine glucose levels, glycosylated hemoglobin, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and increase good cholesterol (HDL) in research studies. Studies also show acupuncture can alleviate nervous system complications of diabetes including nerve damage, numbness (neuropathy), and decrease the viscosity of blood (thickness of blood).

[1] Cabio?lu MT, Ergene N.Changes in levels of serum insulin, C-Peptide and glucose after electroacupuncture and diet therapy in obese women. Am J Chin Med. 2006;34(3):367-76.

[2] Zhao HL, Gao X, Gao YB.Clinical observation on effect of acupuncture in treating diabetic peripheral neuropathy] Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. 2007 Apr;27(4):312-4

[3] Liao H, Xi P, Chen Q, Yi L, Zhao Y. [Clinical study on acupuncture, moxibustion, acupuncture plus moxibustion at Weiwanxiashu (EX-B3) for treatment of diabetes]Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007 Jul;27(7):482-4.