What is diabetes? Type 2 diabetes is an epidemic in the west and is usually caused by the production of too much insulin. Why is there too much insulin? Simply put, the insulin is there to combat the amount of glucose in the blood. Carbohydrate foods are quickly turned into glucose in the bloodstream. A diabetic’s blood is tested over a period of 90 days. A popular treatment protocol is using medication with more insulin to bring blood glucose down, but dramatically reducing the amount of carbohydrates consumed actually treats it from a ‘Ben’ level.
In Chinese medicine we talk about the ‘Ben’ and ‘Biao’. The Ben is the root of the issue and the Biao is the manifestation. In this case the Ben would be the amount of carbohydrate consumed and the Biao would be the body overproducing insulin to combat it. When looked at in this way it becomes obvious that to medicate with more insulin may not only be unnecessary, but it could potentially do more harm by perpetuating the long-term progression of the disease, which can lead to more dire symptoms.
Acupuncture treatment can help us to treat the ‘Ben’ by strengthening the organ systems of the Stomach and Spleen. In Chinese medicine, the function of the Spleen system also includes the Pancreas and is often called the Spleen/Pancreas Official. The pancreas is the organ which western medicine understands to produce insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. When the Spleen organ system is out of balance, it tends towards deficiency and weakness. When the Spleen system is no longer functioning properly, we tend to crave sugary foods. The more sugar we eat, the more we can weaken the function of the Spleen, and then the more we crave.
According to Chinese medical thought, almost all addictions stem from some sort of meridian and organ imbalance. The cure for addiction is to strengthen the Qi of the affected organ, the most effective way to do that is through acupuncture treatment which works on the Qi level.
Chinese medicine diagnostics for disease are very different: differentiations of patterns are looked at – meaning different patients present with different patterns of diagnosis according to their varying constitutional types and lifestyle factors. Chinese medicine says that Yin is always deficient, whether that is Lung Yin in the case of diagnosis with excessive thirst. Stomach Yin in the case of diagnosis with excessive hunger, or Kidney Yin in the case of diagnosis with excessive urination. Ways Chinese medicine treatment can bring the Yin back into balance is acupuncture, herbs and rest. In a nutshell, Yin is stillness, rest, sleep. Yang is our active mode. The reason many westerners are imbalanced in their internal Yin is that they do not rest enough. This is something simple we can all do more of for greater health.
So in summary the best ways to treat your type 2 diabetes diagnosis are diet – reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake to a minimum. Seek out alternatives that can help – acupuncture can help to strengthen organs of digestion helping to reduce sugar cravings. The integration of acupuncture with herbs, can quickly rebalance the internal Yin and Yang of affected organs. More rest – be more Yin!
Foods to address diabetes (Type 2)
- Dairy products
- Dietary fiber
- Dried fruits
- Plant protein (decreases the risk of type 2 diabetes in females)
- Polyunsaturated fats
- Seafood omega-3s
- Whole grains
Foods to avoid to reduce the risk of diabetes
- High glycemic index and high glycemic load foods
- Nonnutritive sweeteners
- Processed meats
- Red meat and processed meat
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
- Total protein and animal protein
- Unprocessed red meats