Truth to be told, diabetes cannot be found in ancient TCM literatures.
However, a condition called “Xiao Ke” (Wasting-Thirst) was mentioned in the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine written in Han Dynasty (黄帝内经), which has records of the following symptoms: frequent thirst, excessive hunger, sweet-tasting urine, and weight loss. Doesn’t it sound exactly like the diabetes that we know?
Therefore, diabetes may be treated under “Xiao Ke” which arises due to a deficiency in body fluids with production of dry heat.
Read also: How Acupuncture Can Help With Diabetes
A person may inherit this body constitution from his/her parents (congenital or Type 1 diabetes) or acquire it through improper diet such as high in sugar, greasy, fried food, lack of physical exercises and excessive emotional activities such as stress (type 2 diabetes).
In TCM, the lungs, spleen and kidney are responsible for water regulation, overseeing metabolism, distribution and excretion of fluids throughout the body, while the dry heat often exhibits in the stomach system as excessive hunger.
Thus, TCM manages diabetes through the replenishment of body fluids (Yin) to subdue the excessive production of dry heat. This is usually achieved through herbal prescription and/or acupuncture. Some commonly used herbs are kudzu root (葛根), Chinese yam (山药), or a formula called Jade Woman Decoction (玉女煎).
Acupoints include SP6 San Yin Jiao (三阴交) to replenish Yin and ST44 Nei Ting (内庭) to expel stomach fire. Patients are advised to adopt a healthy lifestyle - engage in physical exercise, refrain from cigarette smoking and alcohol, watch their dietary habits and regulate their emotional status.
Also read: The Complete Guide to Seeing a TCM Physician in Singapore (2021)