Updated: May 8, 2020
What do you know about Diabetes?
Type 1 Diabetes
Type 1 Diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent Diabetes often begins in childhood. It is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own pancreas and impairs its ability to create enough insulin. The cause of Type 1 Diabetes is not yet known but there is evidence of strong genetic links. The onset of Type 1 Diabetes is not linked to modifiable lifestyle factors however this is a common incorrect assumption about this illness. People who suffer from Type 1 Diabetes depend on insulin injections up to several times a day or even an insulin pump to maintain the correct levels of insulin in their system. Whilst lifestyle choices do not cause Type 1 Diabetes, they certainly are critical to the management of Diabetes symptoms and living in optimal health throughout life.
The onset of Type 1 Diabetes is often sudden and the symptoms acute.
Common Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes are:
Being excessively thirsty
Passing more urine
Feeling tired and lethargic
Always feeling hungry
Having cuts that heal slowly
Itching, skin infections
Unexplained weight loss
Type 2 Diabetes
In contrast Type 2 Diabetes is a progressively developed condition. Over time the body becomes resistant to the effects of naturally produced insulin or changes the way it produces insulin.
Did you know that some people can live with Type 2 Diabetes for up to 7 years before they are diagnosed? The damage done in this time can be significant and that is why education, awareness and these national health weeks are crucial.
Whilst Type 2 Diabetes also has links to genetics and family there is a strong connection with modifiable lifestyle factors. Typically Type 2 Diabetes develops in adults over the age of 45 however the incidence of Type 2 Diabetes in younger Australians is becoming more prevalent. Often the first signs and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes are dramatic, it might be something as significant as vision issues or even a heart attack that leads to the discovery of the illness. Initially management of Type 2 Diabetes is often by incorporating physical activity, dietary modifications, weight loss and other healthy lifestyle choices into life. Eventually however most people do end up requiring oral medication or insulin injections.
The Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach the treatment of dis-ease by supporting and resolving imbalances in the body. If I was to be addressing a patient presenting with Diabetes, I would be interpreting it as the TCM diagnosis of Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome (keeping in mind that every different patient will have variances that are unique to their experience of any imbalance) My recommendation would be for Traditional Chinese Medicine care and support to be provided alongside continued use of insulin and care from the patients Diabetes specialist.
Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome is typically a deficiency of Yin in the body impacted further by the presence of a heat pathogen. A constitutional Yin deficiency is common in people with Wasting-Thirst Syndrome however this deficiency may also be something that develops slowly over time.
Common manifestations of Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome include:
Excessive Hunger, particularly of fatty or sweet flavoured foods
How do these manifestations arise?
The Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lungs and Kidneys are Yin organs and are soft and weak, prone to damage from excessive heat.
According to TCM theory the functions of Spleen and the Stomach are impacted by an excessive intake of fatty, greasy, pungent and sweet foods. The intake of these foods generates internal heat. Long term subjection of internal heat on our system consumes the fluid that should be nourishing our Lungs and Kidneys. When dry heat consumes the Lung fluid excessive thirst is experienced. When heat is retained in the Stomach and Spleen excessive appetite is the result. Worry and constant over thinking also damages the Spleen and digestive function, whilst the experience of anger, frustration and resentment impacts on the Liver creating Liver Qi fire. This Liver Qi fire from can overwhelm the Lung and Stomach. Our Qi (vital energy) becomes consumed by the combination of Yin deficiency and excess heat resulting in Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome.
In a patient who is already constitutionally Yin deficient the system can easily become significantly impacted. Long term stress, exhaustion, excessive sexual activity and pregnancy can all consume the vital essence depleting Kidney Yin and resulting in Kidney fire.
Treatment of Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome
Treatment of Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome is usually focused around nourishing the Yin and clearing the heat along with resolving any other imbalances unique to the individual patient. It is extremely common in the case of Wasting and Thirsting Syndrome for many imbalances to be in play at the same time and many treatment strategies to be involved.
In both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes lifestyle choices are critical for ongoing health.
Although we know that Type 1 Diabetes is not caused by poor dietary and lifestyle choices by actively implementing TCM care, Chinese dietary therapy, gentle exercise and improving your knowledge about good health hygiene you will only benefit.
The first line of treatment for Type 2 Diabetes is always lifestyle related. In this case it is extremely beneficial to have good support in this area making TCM care an excellent model of care.
To get in touch with us at Red Bridge Family Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in Healesville call on (03)59061494 or send us a message via out contact page