Health Tips

TCM Tips for Diabetics

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Diabetes is a familiar and yet sometimes overlooked condition that can have grave consequences for sufferers.

The International Diabetes Federation Atlas (8th Edition) mentioned that about 82 million adults aged 20 to 79 live with diabetes in South East Asia in 2017, with about half (48.8%) of all adult sufferers in this region living in urban areas. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.

TCM’s view of diabetes

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) views diabetes as a malfunction of the “Lungs*”, “Spleen*”, and/or “Kidneys*”. In most early onset diabetes, there is a deficiency of “Yin” in these organs coupled with a lack of vital energy.

There are some simple steps to supplement diabetes treatments, to help yourself if you have diabetes. Both allopathic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) stress the importance of a controlled diet and regular exercise in controlling diabetes. A diet comprising of mostly vegetables with a regulated portion of complex carbohydrates is recommended. Simple sugars and carbohydrates should be kept in check, while high fat and high meat diets are also to be avoided.

For TCM, herbal medicine and regular acupuncture are often used to help regulate the function of internal organs and control blood sugar. Although synergistic herbal prescriptions work best, some single herbs can also be used, such as:

  1. Bitter melon
  2. Aloe vera
  3. Asian ginseng
  4. American ginseng
  5. Siberian solomon’s seal
  6. Goji berry

Here is a simple formula that can be taken every day and is generally suitable for people with early or pre-diabetes. It strengthens the organs, enhances energy, and helps to regulate blood sugar and blood lipid levels.

Ingredients:

  • Siberian solomon’s seal (Huang Jing) 10 grams
  • Goji berry (Gou Qi Zi) 6 grams
  • Astragalus (Huang Qi) 6 to 10 grams
  • American ginseng slices (Xi Yang Shen) 3 grams

Preparation:

Wash all ingredients. Cut Siberian solomon’s seal and astragalus into small pieces. Put in a large cup or glass flask and pour in hot water. Cover for at least 5 minutes before drinking. The tea can be re-filled with hot water for another 2 times, after which the ingredients may be chewed and swallowed. This formula is not suitable if you have bloatedness, soft stools, or diarrhoea.

According to TCM, Siberian solomon’s seal may nourish the Yin of all these three organ systems. Goji berry and American Ginseng may enhance the function of the “Kidneys”. Astragalus enters the “Lungs” and “Spleen” energy channels, and together with American Ginseng, helps to invigorate vital energy. All 4 ingredients have the ability to regulate blood sugar and work synergistically to alleviate symptoms of fatigue, excessive thirst, hunger and/or frequent urination.

While diabetes may be increasingly prevalent in South East Asia, sufferers should never wait till drastic medical procedures are necessary. A controlled diet, frequent exercise, and a light dose of herbs, all can help diabetic sufferers, slowly and steadily.

* In TCM nomenclature, the organs referred to are systemic in nature rather than the organs usually referred to in allopathic medicine, so they are capitalized.


Article contributed by Tan Shiau Tse, registered TCM practitioner, Heritage TCM Clinic.

If in doubt, please check with your TCM practitioner or doctor/GP before starting on any new diet or supplements.

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