Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Diabetic Neuopathy & Acupuncture

Billy Shonez Singh of Red Rooster Acupuncture in Commack, NY wrote a comprehensive article in his newsletter on treating diabetic complications with acupuncture, particularly diabetic neuropathy. I am posting it all here.

"It is a disease that is defined as a metabolic disorder that is characterized by either abnormally low or high blood sugar levels that lead to a variety of metabolic derangements. It is commonly characterized by fatigue, excessive urination, excessive thirst, and excessive hunger. In this country, it is the biggest cause of death or disability. In developed countries, the incidence of diabetes has doubled in the last 15 years and its going to double in the next 15 years.

The worst part of this situation is that one out of three people do not know they have diabetes. For those that are diagnosed have had it for much longer amount of time and wind up with complications such as neuropathies. According to Clinton J. Choate's article "Diabetes Mellitus (Part One)", it is estimated that 60% to 70% of diabetics have mild to severe forms of nervous system damage.

The symptoms range from:
  • Pain in the feet and legs.
  • Cramping, tenderness, and muscle weakness. They can occur in the legs and feet along with the arms and hands.
  • Paraesthesias- pricking, tingling, or numbness along the skin.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Impotence

In allopathic medicine, the treatment for diabetic neuropathies involve physical therapy, medications and in severe circumstances, surgical intervention. Some of the medications used to treat paraesthetic pain and other neuropathies are tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Even though these specific medications are used in the treatment of depression, they are also used in treating peripheral neuropathies. However the side-effects are numerous and seem counterintuitive when one looks at them. For example, the antidepressant Imiprine (Tofronil) treats peripheral neuropathies by releasing norepinephrine in the central pain modulating pathways located in the brainstem and spinal cord. However a side-effect of Imiprine is impairment of mental or physical abilities and cardiovascular disease. When you look at those side-effects and compare them to the risk that diabetics have with cardiovascular disease, it seems rather counterproductive.

According to Subhuti Dharmanada, "Acupuncture therapy is a common approach to treating diabetes in China. Many Americans assume that acupuncture is only suitable for treating pain, perhaps because the initial introduction of acupuncture was mainly for this application. Increasingly, people with pain and other health problems for which acupuncture is selected also have diabetes." Acupuncture can treat neuropathies by bringing blood flow and nerve conduction to the skin to treat numbness and tingling in the extremities. Another point to mention is that blood flow and nerve restoration can also be accomplished in regards to the treatment of blurred vision and impotence. Unlike the medications mentioned, acupuncture has no side-effects.

Dharmanda Ph.D., Subhuti "Treatment of Diabetes with Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture" web posting date: January 2005 www.it monline.org pg.14

Choate, Clinton J. "Modern Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine: Diabetes Mellitus (Part One)" Journal of Chinese Medicine Number 58 September 1998 pg.4

Echeverry, MD, MPH, Diana M. "Diabetic Neuropathy: Treatment and Medication" updated April 4th, 2007 http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/315434-treatment