TCM Classification of Diabetes

The Chinese language includes two terms for diabetes. The traditional name, Xiao-ke, correlates closely with diabetes in most instances. Xiao-ke syndrome means “wasting and thirsting.” The more modern term, Tang-niao-bing, means “sugar urine illness.” Reference to diabetes by the traditional term appears in the earliest texts, including the first medical text in Chinese history, Huang Di Nei Jing, or The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic.
Diabetes is classically divided into three types: upper, middle, and lower Xiao-ke. Each has characteristic symptoms. The upper type is characterized by excessive thirst, the middle by excessive hunger, and the lower by excessive urination. These types are closely associated with the lungs, stomach, and kidneys, respectively, and all three are associated with Yin deficiency. At some point during the course of their illness, most people with diabetes manifest symptoms of all three types.
According to TCM, Xiao-ke is attributed to three main factors: improper diet (consuming large quantities of sweets, fatty or greasy foods, alcohol, and hot drinks such as hot coffee or tea), emotional disturbances (stress, anxiety, depression,) and a constitutional Yin deficiency (fatigue, weakness, lethargy, pale complexion). To the Western ear, TCM diagnoses sound esoteric, even poetic. In the case of a person with diabetes presenting with symptoms of excessive thirst, the diagnosis can be described as kidney Yin deficiency along with lung Yin deficiency and “internal heat that consumes fluids, thus bringing on wasting and thirsting.”


Acupuncture Points for Diabetes

Acupuncture points are chosen based on the medical history, and specific stage of diabetes advancement. Treatments and acupuncture points selected are highly differentiated from individual to individual.

The main acupuncture points effective in treatment of diabetic symptoms and conditions include acupuncture point quchi, acupuncture point sanyinjiao, acupuncture point zusanli, and acupuncture point yishu. Supplemental acupuncture points, combined with these main acupuncture points to produce increased symptom improvements, are acupuncture point yuju, acupuncture point guanyuan and acupuncture point baihui.

Though a vast assortments of points are used according to the individual case, tonifying points are chosen to support the weakened organ(s).
Some examples are:

acupuncture point Zu San Li • Stomach 36 Leg Three Li. He Sea Point on the Stomach Channel. Special Command Point for the Abdomen. Earth Point on the Earth Meridian.
Location: On the leg, one finger breadth lateral to the tibia’s anterior crest, 3 cun inferior to ST 35 in the depression to the lateral side of the patella.

acupuncture point Kidney 3 Great Ravine. Shu Stream Point on the Kidney Channel. Yuan Source on the Kidney Channel.
Location: On the medial ankle, at the midpoint between the prominence of the medial malleolus and Achilles’ Tendon.

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