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TCM and DIABETES - Can TCM help diabetics?

January 8, 2018

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Diabetes - A Serious Health Concern

January 8, 2018


Diabetes is a chronic disease and, if not managed well, can deteriorate steadily to cause devastating complications such as blindness, nerve damage, kidney failure, heart disease and limb amputation. Studies show that the number of adults living with diabetes has increased drastically because of "the way people eat, move and live


What is diabetes?

Diabetes is generally known as uncontrolled sugar levels in the blood. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood glucose levels. There are 2 types of diabetes, mainly Type 1 and Type 2.


Type 1: Genetic. Pancreas does not produce enough insulin


Type 2: Mainly caused by lifestyle and dietary factors. Pancreas gets resistant to glucose and does not convert the glucose in the blood into glycogen (energy storage for the body). Obese people are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Over 90 per cent of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes.


What are some of the symptoms of diabetes?

Symptoms of diabetes can be very subtle and is often mistaken for other diseases. Common symptoms include:

  • Increased hunger + Weight loss

  • Frequent urination + Excessive thirst

  • Increased fatigue

  • Wounds take longer time to heal

  • Blurred Vision

It is important to keep in mind that many people with type 2 diabetes have no noticeable symptoms, and very often, when such symptoms start to surface, the extent of diabetes would have reached mid/late stage.


Why is diabetes such a terrifying disease?

On its own, diabetes is not terrifying. It is often when diabetes is coupled with complications that makes diabetes one of the most worrisome disease. Common complications include


Cardiovascular disease. Often coupled with high cholesterol and/or high blood pressure, diabetes increases tendencies of coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.


Nerve damage (neuropathy). Increased blood sugar can damage tiny blood vessel (capillaries) that provides nutrients to one’s nerves, especially in the extremities (hands and feet). This increases the risk of pins-and-needles sensation and/or numbness at the extremities. In cases of cuts/blisters, this can lead to serious infections If left untreated. Ultimately, amputation of the affected area may be required.


Kidney damage (nephropathy). With diabetes, the small blood vessels in the body are injured. When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, kidneys will then slowly lose its function resulting in kidney failure.


Eye damage (retinopathy). Tiny blood vessels in the eye may be affected if the blood sugar level is constantly high. This could lead to rupturing of the blood vessels in the eye, leading to blindness. Diabetes can also increase the risk of certain vision conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration or cataracts.


Preventing Diabetes

Changes to lifestyle and dietary preferences can reduce one’s risk of getting diabetes. 



Consume carbohydrates in moderation:

 White Rice, Noodles, Fruits, Starchy Vegetables, Dairy Products


Increase portions of slow-releasing carbohydrates (Low Glycemic Index food)

Brown rice/Black rice, Sweet potato, Yam, Corn, Oatmeal, Muesli, 

Non-starchy vegetables (eg. Carrots, Mushrooms, Broccoli etc)


Cut back on sugary food such as cakes, pastries, ice-cream, fizzy drinks


Consume fruits before meal


Take more meals in smaller quantity




Recommended types of exercise

- Brisk walking

- Swimming

- Cycling

- Jogging


Recommended duration

- At least 3 times a week

- Each time around 30-45minutes

- Heart rate to reach 120 (100 for elderly) for the duration of exercise


Things to note

- Wear comfortable shoes to exercise

- Test blood sugar before and after exercise

(Some diabetes medication causes sudden drop in blood sugar which leads to fainting)

- Warm up/warm down before and after the exercise regime to prevent injuries


Mental Health

An often-forgotten part, the mental/emotional health also plays a huge part in managing one’s blood sugar. This is because hormonal imbalances can take place in the instance of an unhealthy mental health. If you feel stressful constantly, depressed, continued physical and mental tiredness, or guilt, do feel free to consult a physician.



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