More than 2.2 million people in Britain suffer from type 2 diabetes*, a chronic progressive disease which usually affects the over 40s. The number of people diagnosed with the disease has increased dramatically in recent years and this has been linked to the increase in sedentary lifestyles and obesity. Caught early enough, lifestyle changes that promote good blood sugar control may be enough to stop the development of diabetic complications, which can potentially be as serious as blindness and heart disease. However maintaining these changes can be challenging Traditional acupuncture, which has been shown by research to be effective in alleviating diabetic symptoms, can be easily implemented into a person's routine and can form an effective part of an overall diabetes management plan. Because type 2 diabetes starts out with mild symptoms, many people (estimated at up to a million in the UK) have the condition without knowing it. The first noticeable symptoms are typically constant thirst, needing to urinate frequently, tiredness and weight loss. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder, which develops when the body can no longer make enough insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly any more (insulin resistance). Although insulin injections may be needed in the later stages of the disease, it is initially treated by diet and lifestyle modifications or by oral drugs. Acupuncture, which involves inserting fine needles into different parts of the body, has been found to increase insulin production, regulate blood sugar and improve blood circulation, as well as helping treat obesity.
Lisa Sherman, acupuncturist and British Acupuncture Council member says: "Acupuncture can be safely and effectively combined with Western medicine and can play an effective role in an integrated diabetes treatment plan. "As well as applying the technique of needling, which has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on blood sugar control, an acupuncturist will often suggest beneficial lifestyle changes such as changing to a healthier diet, losing weight and increasing physical activity. Maintaining these changes is important; to prevent type 2 diabetes from getting worse and working with a supportive acupuncturist can help people commit to taking positive steps. "The main aim of treatment for type 2 diabetes is to achieve blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels as near to normal as possible. This prevents development of diabetic complications which damage the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels," she concluded. Acupuncture is a tried and tested system of traditional medicine, which has been used in China and other eastern cultures for thousands of years to restore, promote and maintain good health. It aims to treat the root cause of a condition and promote long-term wellness, rather than just alleviating symptoms. Its benefits are now widely acknowledged all over the world and, in the past decade, traditional acupuncture has begun to feature more prominently in mainstream healthcare in the UK. *There are two types of diabetes, of which type 2 makes up about 90%. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, typically diagnosed in young people, in which the immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.
About the BAcC.
The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of over 2,800 professionally qualified acupuncturists. It is the UK's largest professional body for the practice of acupuncture. BAcC members practise a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on a system developed and refined over 2,000 years. To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in traditional acupuncture (minimum three years full-time or part-time equivalent), which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture.
Traditional acupuncture is a complete system of medicine, which uses a holistic Eastern diagnostic system. Traditional acupuncture promotes the maintenance of good health and wellbeing, rather than just dealing with symptoms. Western or medical acupuncture is a more recent development practised predominantly by doctors and physiotherapists, who use acupuncture techniques within their existing scope of practice on the basis of a western medical diagnosis.