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How TCM works for diabetes

Traditional Chinese Medicine treatments for diabetes focus on nourishing Yin, clearing the Heat, and resolving the Patterns of Disharmony in each of the Triple Burners. Because it is common for more than one Burner to be affected at the same time, treatment may be complex. While resolving the underlying condition, secondary treatment strategies for accompanying patterns such as Qi deficiency and Blood Stasis are carried out as well.

Traditional Chinese Medicine does not offer a cure for diabetes, and it is necessary for patients with diabetes to continue taking their medication and follow the diet prescribed by their physician. However, in many cases, TCM can help lower glucose levels in the body and thus reduce the need for medication. This reduction must be monitored carefully in a joint effort by conventional physicians and practitioners of TCM. Of the three modalities, herbal medicine is the modality of choice and offers the most potential benefit. Acupuncture and Qi Gong also may offer some benefit to diabetes patients.

Herbal Medicine

Herbal medicine treatment for diabetes focuses on creating formulas that treat the underlying Zang Fu Patterns of Disharmony in the Triple Burners, while treating symptoms as well.

Lung Heat: Formulas employ herbs such as Sheng Di Huang (Radix rehmannia Recens) and Tian Hua Fen (Radix Trichosanthis) to nourish Yin, clear Heat, and relieve thirst.

Stomach Fire: Formulas use herbs such as Shi Gao (gypsum) and Zhi Mu (Rhizoma anemmarrhenae) to clear Stomach Fire, nourish Yin, and thus reduce the excess hunger Stomach Fire generates.

Kidney Yin Deficiency: Formulas use herbs such as Shu Di Huang (Radix rehmannia Glutinosae), Zhi Mu (Rhizoma anemmarrhenae), and Shan Zhu Yu (Fructus Corni) to nourish Kidney Yin, clear Heat, and reduce excessive urination.

Herbs such as Xi Yang Shen (American ginseng) and Dan Shen (salvia) may be added to formulas as well to tonify the Qi and prevent Blood Stasis.

From the perspective of conventional research, specific herbs for other symptoms, in particular Xi Yang Shen (American ginseng) and Zhi Mu (Rhizoma anemmarrhenae) have a powerful effect in lowering blood glucose levels. The addition of herbs such as Dan Shen (salvia) is important in these formulas, as prevention of Blood Stasis has a beneficial effect on the circulatory disorders that are often a complication of diabetes.


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