Traditional Chinese Medicines In Treatment Of Type 2 Diabetes


Type 2 Diabetes In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), diabetes is classified into three categories, namely, upper, middle and lower type diabetes. Upper type diabetes causes excess thirst. Diabetics who experience excess hunger are said to suffer from middle type diabetes. Excessive urination is associated with lower type diabetes.

According to TCM, Yin deficiency combined with inappropriate diet and psychological disturbance causes diabetes. Treatment varies, depending upon the individual symptoms. In TCM, diabetes is treated with herbal medications, acupuncture, diet therapy, meditation and massage.

Traditional Chinese Medicines For Type 2 Diabetes

Herbal Medicine

Type 2 diabetes is treated with either a single herb or herbal formulations. Herbs in Chinese medicine are classified according to their natures, tastes and specific functions. Typical herbal formulas contain a principal anti-diabetic ingredient, which is combined with an associate ingredient that enhances the function of the principal ingredient or treats a key symptom.

An adjutant ingredient is added to the formula to improve the effectiveness of the principal ingredient and reduce or eliminate adverse side effects of the principal and associate ingredients. An envoy or guide ingredient is included in the formula that helps the formula to target the desired area of the body. The principal anti-diabetic herbs commonly used in TCM include ginseng, bottle gourd, balsam pear, psidium gnajava, golden thread, fenugreek and cinnamon.



Ginseng is a powerful anti-diabetic agent. It contains at least five compounds with hypoglycemic properties. It reduces insulin resistance and reduces fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels. Diabetics can take 100 to 200 mg of Panax or Korean ginseng per day.

Bottle Gourd

Pills and decoctions containing 3 grams of bottle gourd are recommended in TCM for reducing the blood sugar level.

Balsam Pear

Balsam pear

Balsam pear, also called bitter melon, is a potent anti-hyperglycemic agent. It contains charantin, cucurbitane, vicine, polypeptide-p and triterpenoids that mimic insulin and support regeneration of beta cells in the pancreas. About 18 grams of balsam pear extract can be taken daily to lower the blood sugar level.

Psidium Gnajava

Decoctions prepared with the leaves of Psidium gnajava is recommended in TCM for lowering the blood sugar level. The hypoglycemic components of the herb alleviate the symptoms of diabetes.

Golden Thread

Berberine, the key active component in golden thread, is a powerful anti-hyperglycemic compound. It stimulates insulin production and improves glucose uptake.


Fenugreek is recommended in TCM for reducing insulin resistance and improving blood sugar control.


Decoction prepared with fenugreek seeds soaked in hot water boosts insulin secretion, improves insulin sensitivity and reduces digestion and absorption of carbohydrates in the intestines.



The insulin-like effect of cinnamon inhibits abnormal increase in the blood sugar level. Moreover, by improving sensitivity to insulin, cinnamon provides relief from type 2 diabetes.


Acupuncture is an option for normalizing the blood sugar level in TCM. Acupuncture sessions every two to six months are recommended for keeping the glucose level under control. Auricular acupuncture is usually combined with body acupuncture for treating type 2 diabetes. According to TCM, the prominent points of the entire human body are represented in the ears. Hence, inserting needles in the master point and endocrine, stomach, bladder, kidney, lung and pancreas points in the ears helps to decrease the blood sugar level.

Diet Therapy

Healthy Diet

Foods that help to cool the body such as grains, spinach, celery, soybean, vegetables such as pumpkin, turnip, yam, sweet potato, strong beans and tomatoes and fruits such as strawberry, guava, mulberry, plum and crab apple are recommended for fighting diabetes.


Chinese massage, known as Tui Na, is recommended in TCM for restoring energy balance. The massage therapy works by stimulating the acupuncture points.

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