Type 2 diabetes: How acupuncture could help prevent the condition – new study

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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Diabetes is a condition that causes someone’s blood sugar to become too high. Type 2 is the most common form of the condition, accounting for around 90 percent of cases in the UK. It means that your body does not produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not react to insulin.

It is well known that type 2 diabetes is often affected by lifestyle, such as the type of food you eat, drinking too much alcohol, smoking and being overweight.

A family history of the condition can also put you more at risk.

However, research published in the Holistic Nursing Practice journal in July, suggested acupuncture can decrease the chance of developing prediabetes – a condition that can result in type 2 diabetes.

The meta-analysis by a team at the Edith Cowan University in Australia also showed that the practice could help improve glycaemic control in those with prediabetes.

As part of the investigation, researchers considered dozens of studies that covered the effects of acupuncture on more than 3,600 people with prediabetes.

The findings showed the therapy “significantly” improved fasting plasma glucose, two-hour plasma glucose, and glycated haemoglobin, and there were no adverse reactions.

In a statement lead author and PhD candidate, Min Zhang, said the treatment could “prove valuable”.

“Without intervention, 93 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 20 years,” she said.

“But unlike diabetes, prediabetes is reversible with lifestyle interventions such as improved diet and increase in exercise.

“But many people struggle to adhere to lifestyle changes long-term, so non-pharmacological treatments such as acupuncture could prove valuable.”

She believed acupuncture could help with other factors linked with diabetes.

Ms Zhang explained: “It’s not only about blood sugar levels.

“If you experience sleep problems, high blood pressure, a lot of stress, these can contribute, too.

“So, acupuncture can help with these factors and work holistically to help people balance their life.”

Needles are not always required for acupuncture, as soft electrical pulses can now be used, or other Chinese treatments such as moxibustion could be used as an alternative.

She added: “This is important because people with diabetes can have problems with their skin, so perhaps using needles may not always be ideal.

“We need to do more research into acupuncture and diabetes, as 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 do not progress to a diabetic period for more than six months after their prediabetes diagnosis.

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

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

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