Managing Diabetes with Eastern Medicine
Healthy Living Blog By Dr. Rachelle DAOM, L,Ac
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or cannot utilize the insulin that is produced. Insulin is a hormone which regulates blood sugar. Type I diabetes is also known as insulin dependent or childhood onset and is more of autoimmune origin but the etiology is really unknown. This is where the pancreas stops producing insulin altogether. Type 2 diabetes has insulin production but yet the body resists it. Type 2 is becoming far more prevalent in children than ever before and this upward trend has been followed more closely since 2015. Diabetes is the cause of over 4.2 million deaths worldwide and by 2045 it is estimated that 700 million adults alone will be affected. According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) of 2020 shows 1.5 new cases reported each year alone in the United States. Type 2 diabetes also known as non-insulin dependent is a disease that can greatly be prevented by lifestyle changes.
Chronic diabetes, if left untreated, will have increased blood sugar levels which ultimately can damage the kidneys leading to kidney failure. The circulation is also affected and affects the cardiovascular system in which there is an increase in comorbidities such as heart failure and stroke. The emphasis is placed on diet, exercise, regular medical screening for any complications and pharmaceuticals. We know that improper diet, emotional stress, and overexertion can be the underlying cause for Type 2 diabetes. Having an improper diet creates a dysfunction in the spleen and stomach which impairs digestion creating stagnation. This stagnation generates heat which is drying and injures yin which is where the descriptive wasting and thirsting disorder is the original name of diabetes. Stress, as we know now, increases the inflammatory cytokines in our body, and the liver stagnation from stress further consumes yin and fluid . The organs involved are mainly kidney, lung, and stomach yin which have a role in the fluid transport of the body and metabolic function. Though, you do not think of your lungs being involved with diabetes, one may develop dry mouth and tongue, polyuria from frequent drinking, extensive thirst in the beginning onset. This is due to lung heat injuring the fluid creating yin deficiency. Excess stomach heat may be present with signs of increased hunger, polyphagia, and dry stool. Overall, kidney yin deficiency is present which is the main pathogenesis of diabetes. Herbals are required to both effectively clear heat and generate fluid throughout the body.
The main therapeutic goals in managing diabetes is to stabilize blood sugar by lowering the plasma glucose levels by increasing both the production and release of insulin. Alleviating insulin resistance, protecting the nerves, kidneys, and improving overall circulation throughout the periphery of the body to avoid or treat neuropathy. Eastern medicine perspective of these goals is nourishing lung, stomach, and kidney yin while clearing deficiency heat and drying dampness. Other symptoms which often coincide with diabetes are high cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, fatty liver with obesity, and/or hypertension. Other conditions like infection, compromised kidney function, or neuropathy will also be addressed. Visual disturbances, prolonged delay in wound healing, and even impotence from improper circulation are often seen. Certain acupoints and herbal formulas are used to help bring the body back to balance once again.
Dr. XiaoPing Zhang of Anhui Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine had developed a formula that has been used well over 30 years in China and has helped many patients suffering with diabetes by regulating the blood glucose levels and reducing long-term risks and comorbidities of this disease. This formula is based off of a classical Traditional Chinese herbal formula used many years ago when wasting and thirsting was how the disease itself as termed due to the upper xiao ke syndrome revealing stomach heat damaging fluid and lower xiao ke revealing kidney deficiency. Eastern medicine has diagnosed diabetes as yin deficiency with both dampness and heat and has had amazing results balancing the body.
Food therapy goes beyond avoiding the consumption on simple sugars but also implementing a variety of specific foods in the diet. A low-fat, high fiber diet full of fruits and vegetables is the best choice. Pumpkin is a food choice used for diabetics without any sugar added. Having a slice with each meal actually is recommended due to research revealing that pumpkin extract had effects of naturally lowering blood glucose levels, allowing more insulin secretion, and even allows an influx of more insulin-producing beta cells. Increasing foods that are more nourishing and cooling are beneficial in managing diabetes. These include yam, radishes, melons, beets, taro, and rutabaga and many other root vegetables. Avoid too much spice such as chili pepper or wasabi. Avoid smoking of any kind or alcohol due to the influence of increased nerve damage with both. Excessive amounts of vitamin C can actually inactivate insulin so use cautiously, as well as supplements containing cysteine (amino acid) may interfere with the cellular absorption of insulin. The best foods beside pumpkin are mung beans, winter melon, spinach, root vegetables, squash, cabbage, and mulberries. A heart soup would be mung beans, peas, and barley. Beans naturally regulate blood sugar. Having daikon, celery, carrot, and spinach juice daily is also recommended. Lastly, hot baths are beneficial to regulate pancreatic function along with regular exercise, proper diet, and weight management can improve quality of life and manage diabetes very well.
Each individual may present differently whether more whether one has more heat signs or yin deficiency signs but regardless, Eastern Medicine has been used successfully for management of diabetes and improving quality of life as well as preventing progression and the comorbidities that often accompany this growing disease. Call today for your assessment and start your journey to better health. 772-626-6419