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  • Writer's pictureMarieke Pieterman, L.Ac.

Chinese herbs + acupuncture = Improvement in diabetic retinopathy

By Marieke A. Pieterman

More than 100 million adults in the U.S. live with either prediabetes or diabetes.

Unmanaged blood sugar levels may damage your retina, increasing the risk of losing your eyesight. Diabetic retinopathy is the number one cause of vision loss.

Your vision is far too important to go unaddressed. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine herbal formulas could offer some alternatives.

In a clinical trial, researchers at Hubei Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine’s ophthalmology department found that Chinese herbal medicine by itself improved vision. However, when they added acupuncture to the treatment protocol, the combined therapy produced significantly improved results with their patient’s vision and overall health of the retina.

Visual acuity (sharpness of vision) tests, intraocular pressure, and slit lamp exams were performed both before and after treatment. Additional vision parameters were measured with imaging techniques, specifically fluorescein angiography (FFA) and optical coherence tomography (OCT). For the diabetes, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and blood glucose levels were measured and monitored.

Both groups with a total of 71 participants were given five 1.5 g tablets of the Chinese herbal medicine, He Xue Ming Mu, three times daily. Each herbal treatment course lasted 15 days, separated by a three-day period. Follow-up appointments were administered two months after the treatment course had started, as well at six months.

For the acupuncture plus Chinese herb group, which included 36 participants, acupuncture treatments included two separate treatments: one with local eye acupuncture points and one with distal body points. These distal points supported both the liver and the kidney -- the organs in Chinese medicine that we say nourish the blood to the eyes. These acupuncture treatments were administered every other day for 60 days, with a total of 30 acupuncture treatments.

Diabetic retinopathy presents with six different clinic signs, and each patient’s severity was evaluated with the number they presented, and then the number where there was improvement. Treatment was deemed “markedly effective” if four or more of the six areas improved. If two or more areas were improved, treatment was deemed “effective”.

In the Chinese herbal medicine only group, there was a total effective rate of 71.4 percent, with markedly effective (10 patients) and effective (15 patients) .

In the acupuncture plus Chinese herbal medicine combined therapy, there was a total effective rate of 83.3 percent. Visual acuity test results, assessing both eyes on each patient, showed both the combined therapy, and the Chinese herbal medicine only group improved by the end of the treatment period, 84.7 percent and 82.9 percent respectively.

The results indicated that both the combined therapy, as well as Chinese herbal medicine alone, are effective in treating and slowing down the progression of diabetic neuropathy.

Living with diabetes is hard enough. Don’t put yourself at risk for diabetic retinopathy if you begin to notice changes in your vision. Schedule your appointment with Holistic Heart Acupuncture for acupuncture and Chinese herbs to assist with your treatment.

Acupuncture Improves Eyesight For Diabetics



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