There is a continuing rate in which type II diabetes mellitus is being diagnosed in America. Research estimates that 1 in 3 Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes by 2050.[1] That is an alarming statistic, even though diabetes itself can be controlled with a variety of medications. Early diabetes directly damages the nerves, eyes, hands, and feet. As the disease progresses it will damage the brain, heart, and kidneys contributing to kidney disease, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.[2] Over the next 40 years, there will be an increase in patients seeking treatment for both stabilizing their glucose levels and treating the damaged tissues from diabetes.

For diabetic nerve damage, called neuropathy, there is a limited amount of medications available. Diabetic neuropathy can be a debilitating disease and often the medications make patients feel groggy or severely nauseated. For the management of neuropathy electro-acupuncture, as a therapeutic intervention, has a unique effect. Electro-acupuncture stimulates nerve growth factor which reduces neuropathic pain.[3] In fact, nerve growth factor was formulated into a medication because of it’s known benefits with neuropathic pain. Patient’s couldn’t tolerate nerve growth factor as a medication because it caused extreme nausea. Fortunately, when electro-acupuncture stimulates nerve growth factor it reduces pain levels and does not cause nausea. Patients with diabetic neuropathy can use electro-acupuncture as part of their pain management regimen especially when pharmaceutical interventions do not work.[4]

Article Authored by
Dr. Mark VanOtterloo LAc
Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine