Study Finds Acupuncture Could Reduce Your Risk For Type 2 Diabetes

Glucose is an integral part of the body's energy-production process, according to the Mayo Clinic. When the pancreas is unable to produce an adequate amount of insulin and cells are unable to absorb it as they should, the result is type 2 diabetes. Oftentimes, having high blood sugar levels can be a precursor to prediabetes and potentially type 2 diabetes later down the line.

Having been used for nearly three thousand years in traditional Chinese medicinal practices, acupuncture has been linked with various health benefits (via UC San Diego School of Medicine). The practice involves the insertion of narrow needles into various pressure points on the body to release stagnant energy. Lasting anywhere from five minutes to half an hour, the practice has shown to support immunity, nervous system health, cardiovascular health, digestive health, and more. Acupuncture may also improve sleep, as well as alleviate chronic pain, migraines, nausea, and symptoms of mental health disorders, including anxiety and depression.

Now, a recent study published in Holistic Nursing Practice has found that acupuncture may also help reduce one's risk for prediabetes and the subsequent development of type 2 diabetes.

Acupuncture may address multiple diabetes risk factors

In a retrospective analysis of more than 12 acupuncture-related studies involving diabetic patients, researchers found that acupuncture may help regulate glycemic levels in those facing prediabetes. "Without intervention, 93% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 20 years," stated lead author of the research, Min Zhang, in a public statement. Therefore, by managing one's health to reduce the risk of prediabetes, patients subsequently reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, explains Healthline.

The study team theorized that the reason acupuncture may be beneficial for prediabetic patients could be because it addresses many different areas of our physical and mental health. "It's not only about blood sugar levels," Zhang further explained in the press release. "If you experience sleep problems, high blood pressure, a lot of stress, these can contribute too. So, acupuncture can help with these factors and work holistically to help people balance their life."

While the research was based on credible studies and no patient side effects were reported, the researchers emphasized that further scientific investigation is warranted, per the study. Ideally, it would use a larger, more diverse sample size. Additional research is also needed regarding the benefits of acupuncture for diabetic patients in the long run.