A new study from has found that acupuncture therapy may be a useful tool in people with prediabetes.
Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of illnesses — and now it could also help fight one of the 21st century’s biggest health challenges.
New research from Edith Cowan University has found acupuncture therapy may be a useful tool in avoiding type 2 diabetes.
The team of scientists investigated dozens of studies covering the effects of acupuncture on more than 3600 people with prediabetes. This is a condition marked by higher-than-normal blood glucose levels without being high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.
According to the findings, 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.
There were no reports of adverse reactions among patients.
PhD candidate and lead researcher Min Zhang said this showed great promise for acupuncture therapy as an additional option to ward off diabetes, which is estimated to affect 11 percent of the world’s adult population.
The International Diabetes Federation estimates nearly 1.3 billion people will have either diabetes or prediabetes by 2045.
“Without intervention, 93 percent of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 20 years,” Ms. Zhang 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.”
A holistic approach
Though diabetes is often associated with lifestyle factors, other aspects of life may also have an impact — which is where acupuncture comes in.
“It’s not only about blood sugar levels,” Ms. Zhang said.
“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.”
Ms. Zhang said it’s important to note acupuncture therapy is more than just using needles — it refers to a big family of acupoint stimulation techniques, such as light and electric pulses, and includes other traditional Chinese medicine therapies such as moxibustion.
“This is important because diabetic people can have issues with their skin, so perhaps it may not always be ideal to be using needles,” she said.
“We need to do more research into acupuncture and diabetes, because we need to find more ways to prevent prediabetes from developing into type 2 diabetes.
“Many people with prediabetes don’t have any symptoms and feel fine, but some people progress into the diabetes period no more than 6 months after their prediabetes diagnosis.
“In fact, prediabetes intervention is an investment rather than an expenditure.
“So, the best time to prevent type 2 diabetes is now.”
Reference: “Should Acupuncture-Related Therapies be considered in Prediabetes Control? Results from 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.