Treating Diabetes With Acupressure: Theory and Practice

In recent years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has experienced a surge of popularity in the West. While as little as ten or fifteen years ago you would receive a skeptical glance if you said you were going in for an acupuncture or acupressure treatment, today such procedures are much more widely accepted as safe and effective for a number diseases ranging from chronic pain and arthritis to organ disorders and diabetes.

One of the great appeals of TCM is that it, like much of Western medicine, follows very formal guidelines of what treatment should be used for which diagnosis. It is not, as some still believe, simply a matter of sticking some pins into the place that hurts. Because of this, acupuncture and acupressure seem more like a science that can be learned, and this gives people confidence in their ability to understand the practice, and even to attempt it themselves. While you may not want to jump in with acupuncture needles just yet, there are a few basic techniques anyone can learn.

Acupressure as Complementary Medicine

Before you begin, you should understand that TCM and acupressure, although they have a history of practice stretching back hundreds of years, are still not entirely supported by scientific investigation. Scientists can't tell for sure why the practices are effective, or even if they are at all. They do seem to work for many people, though; the best option might be to try it for yourself and see if your diabetes responds favorably.

This is not to say, however, that acupressure should ever be your only method of coping with the disease. Instead, think of TCM as a complement to Western medicine, something that can be practiced in tandem with protocols like glucose monitoring and insulin injections. Research has been done showing that both techniques practiced together may be more powerful than either technique practiced on its own.

A Simple Exercise

The first thing you should do is talk with your doctor about adding acupressure to your self-care routine. This is both a courtesy to him and a chance to catch any potentially harmful interactions (rare though they may be) before you begin.

The following is a brief but effective practice that can be performed anywhere you have access to a flat, comfortable surface.

  1. Lie down on your back. Place four fingers just below your navel and press inward in a circular motion. Repeat until you feel energized.
  2. Using four fingers, gently massage the area of your shin right beneath your kneecap. Be gentle, as this area can be sensitive.
  3. Moving your hand to your ankle, find the pressure point on the inside of your foot, just below the ankle bone. Press this point inward gently.

These three exercises are designed primarily to stimulate digestive function, so it's important to also pay attention to your diet while doing this, and watch the effect it has on your blood sugar and energy level.

Finding Additional Resources

Your doctor may be able to help in your quest to treat diabetes with acupressure by referring you to Chinese Medicine specialists. There may also be classes offered in your area for patients as well as healers. Finally, your local library and the Internet are both great places to look for additional exercises, as well as information on the history and philosophy between acupressure and other Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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