A new study by Edith Cowan University has discovered that acupuncture could be useful for people with prediabetes.
Prediabetes means that your blood sugars are higher than usual, but not high enough to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Techniques to improve blood sugar levels commonly include managing weight, eating a healthy diet, and having an active lifestyle. Now, acupuncture could be the solution to improving prediabetes.
The new study found that acupuncture therapy may be useful for patients with prediabetes, trying to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. The findings were published in Holistic Nursing Practice.
What is acupuncture?
The British Acupuncture Council outlined that acupuncture is one of the longest established forms of healthcare in the world. It involves the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body. It is commonly used to treat pain, but it is now being utilised as a wellness technique.
Treating prediabetes with acupuncture
The researchers investigated multiple studies outlining the effects of acupuncture on over 3600 people with prediabetes. They found that this therapy significantly improves key markers of type 2 diabetes, such as fasting plasma glucose, two-hour plasma glucose, and glycated haemoglobin, plus a greater decline in the incidence of prediabetes.
The researchers found no reports of adverse reactions in the patients.
The International Diabetes Federation estimates nearly 1.3 billion people will have either diabetes or prediabetes by 2045.
“Without intervention, 93% 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.”
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 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 six months after their prediabetes diagnosis. Prediabetes intervention is an investment rather than an expenditure. So, the best time to prevent type 2 diabetes is now.”