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Acupuncture therapy may help prevent diabetes

A person receives a test for diabetes during Care Harbor LA free medical clinic in Los Angeles, California September 11, 2014. — Reuters/File
A person receives a test for diabetes during Care Harbor LA free medical clinic in Los Angeles, California September 11, 2014. — Reuters/File 

With diabetes one of the biggest health problems of the 21st century, Australian researchers may have found a tool to prevent type 2 diabetes — acupuncture therapy, a component of Chinese medicine.

For the treatment, thin needles are inserted in the body and the therapy is said to help with many problems such as insomnia, infertility, anxiety, nausea, musculoskeletal problems, and many more.

“Without intervention, 93% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 20 years,” said Min Zhang, a PhD candidate at Edith Cowan University and lead researcher, in a university release.

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“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.”

To conduct the study, a team of researchers at Edith Cowan University investigated dozens of studies that covered the effects of acupuncture therapy on more than 3,600 people diagnosed with prediabetes — a condition which sees unusually high blood glucose levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

As a result, the team discovered that acupuncture did significantly improve key markers and showed a significant decline in incidences of prediabetes.

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Zhang says she wants to further explore the connection between acupuncture and 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,” said Zhang. 

“In fact, prediabetes intervention is an investment rather than an expenditure. So, the best time to prevent type 2 diabetes is now.”

The findings were published in Holistic Nursing Practice.

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