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Does acupuncture for diabetes work? 2

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Acupuncture techniques used to treat diabetes might be different than those for treating pain. There are many different styles and technique practices in medical acupuncture, but it appears only three of these have been researched for diabetes treatment.


Wrist-ankle treatment is a form of acupuncture that involves deep needle stimulation of the ankle and wrist nerves.

One 2006 Chinese study reported in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine, found wrist-ankle acupuncture treatments to be helpful in treating diabetic peripheral neuritis (nerve damage resulting from diabetes).

The study's researchers looked at three different treatment options for diabetic peripheral neuritis: wrist-ankle acupuncture, body-acupuncture, and traditional Western medical treatment and found that the wrist-ankle treatments were the most effective for managing nerve pain in diabetic patients.

Research reported in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that wrist-ankle acupuncture treatment is safe and it is also an effective procedure for treating pain, including diabetic peripheral neuritis.


Electroacupuncture is the most common type of acupuncture used in diabetes treatment. Electroacupuncture involves inserting a pair of needles in each acupuncture point and passing an electrical impulse from one needle to the other. Numerous studies have found it effective in treating pain from diabetic neuropathy and for controlling blood glucose levels.

Herbal acupuncture

Herbal acupuncture involves a modern technique where herbs are injected into acupuncture points. According to one review from the journal Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, herbal acupuncture may offer some benefits for maintaining blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Person pointing acupuncture needle at model of human body with pressure points on.

Anyone considering acupuncture should be aware of some general side effects. These include:


Before having acupuncture, a person should check:
The needles are sterile and are used only once.
The acupuncturist is licensed to practice. Many traditional Chinese medical doctors are also MDs in the U.S., practicing both approaches to health but always check their credentials.
It is safe for them to have acupuncture treatments. Sometimes, a doctor may discourage a person who is taking blood thinners or has a blood clotting disease from having acupuncture.

Acupuncture can be a safe and effective treatment as long as a licensed and experienced practitioner performs it. It has become far more accepted in western medicine over the past 20 years.

The WHO recognizes acupuncture as effective or a range of conditions. Moreover, it can be combined with other therapies traditionally used to treat diabetes, including medication, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.

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