- Electroacupuncture has been found to improve blood sugar regulation in obese women who cannot voluntarily engage in exercise.
- The electroacupuncture works by passing electric current through the needles placed in the muscle and adipose tissue, thus activating the adipose tissue metabolism.
- This stimulates muscle contraction and improves the regulation of blood glucose levels.
A combination of acupuncture with electric current, known as electroacupuncture, has been found to be beneficial for overweight or obese women who are unable to exercise.
The electroacupuncture uses electric stimulation of needles placed in muscle and adipose tissue. This activates adipose tissue metabolism and stimulates muscle contraction, which led to improved blood sugar regulation.
‘Electroacupuncture helps in improving quality of life in overweight or obese patients with prediabetes and reduced capacity to regulate blood sugar levels, especially among those who have difficulties performing voluntary exercise.’
This research may also benefit women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the most common hormonal disorder among women, which is associated with prediabetes and an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
"This study has the potential to gain better quality of life for patients with prediabetes and reduced capacity to regulate blood sugar levels, especially for those who have difficulties performing voluntary exercise," said Elisabet Stener-Victorin, Ph.D., associate professor and study author at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and Reproductive Endocrinology and Metabolism, Karolinska Institutet, in Stockholm, Sweden.
For the study, a cohort of overweight and obese women with and without PCOS were recruited.
Changes in blood sugar levels were measured during and after 45 minutes of acupuncture. Blood glucose regulation was improved in both women with and without PCOS after 45 minutes of treatment.
The mechanism leading to blood glucose uptake was also investigated in a group of rats. In rats, it was found that the electroacupuncture causing muscle contractions activates the autonomic nervous system. The blood glucose-regulating effect was reversed by administering drugs that block the autonomic receptors.
The findings have important clinical implications for patients with prediabetes and a reduced ability to regulate blood sugar levels.
"Acupuncture is tried and true, for at least certain symptoms," said Thoru Pederson, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Here we have a new possibility centered on a disease of massive morbidity."
The new study appears online in The FASEB Journal
- Elisabet Stener-Victorin et al. Autonomic nervous system activation mediates the increase in whole-body glucose uptake in response to electroacupuncture. The FASEB Journal ; (2012)