Yoga to acupuncture: Alternative therapies to prevent diabetic neuropathy

Topics Diabetes | yoga | health

Yoga helps improve blood flow to the extremities, improves the body’s glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity
High levels of glucose in the blood can damage the peripheral nerves in your body, causing decreased sensation in the feet and hands as well as problems to the urinary tract, digestive system, and heart. With over 60 per cent of diabetics eventually developing peripheral neuropathy, it is one of the main secondary complications they face. Mild to moderate symptoms include pain, numbness and tingling sensation in the feet and legs. Fortunately, diabetic neuropathy can be prevented if strict control is maintained on blood sugar levels on a daily basis. Lifestyle changes and complementary therapies can help achieve this effectively. Three of the most commonly practiced alternative therapies to help prevent diabetic neuropathy are naturopathy, yoga and acupuncture. 


Acupuncture uses the science of inserting long, fine needles at various points in the body to stimulate the sensory receptors and stimulate them. A study published in the Journal of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine found that acupuncture drastically improves the positive effects of diabetes medication and alleviates the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Once they started the acupuncture regimen, the success rate of the symptom score went up from 8 percent to 90 per cent. The neuropathic disability score also went up from 37.45 to 90 once acupuncture was introduced into the treatment regimen. 

Naturopathic and yogic interventions to improve diabetic neuropathy

Diet and exercise: The best defense against progressive damage from diabetic neuropathy is to manage the disease itself. Keep your blood sugar levels in check by eating healthy. Ensure that your diet includes a lot of fiber rich foods and whole grains, and very little saturated and trans fats. Structured physical interventions also play an important role in keeping blood sugar levels in check. Make sure you get at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day. Meditation and deep breathing can help you manage chronic stress. 

Supplements: Winter ginseng is very effective at keeping the blood sugar in control and managing the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Not only does it help increase the level of serum insulin, it also improves the insulin sensitivity of muscle cells as well as the body’s glucose tolerance, thereby easing the severity of diabetic neuropathy.

Yoga poses for the management of neuropathy

Yoga helps improve blood flow to the extremities, improves the body’s glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.

Exercise for feet and hands: Sit down in padmasana and extend your arms fully in front of your chest. This pose will help stretch both fingers and toes. It will help improve blood flow to the periphery and strengthen your nerves. If you can do it for a few minutes every day, you will start to experience relief. 

Poses for diabetic neuropathy: If the condition is not severe, then traditional hatha yoga poses like dhanurasana will do. If the neuropathy is more advanced, it needs gentler practice under the guidance of a trained instructor. However, you can still benefit from gentle twist exercises, meditation and closely supervised backbends.

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