Preliminary Chinese research suggests that combining acupuncture with metformin treatment may be more effective than metformin alone for improving weight loss and insulin sensitivity in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Thirty-nine diabetic participants received metformin alone or metformin plus electro-acupuncture (EA) and auricular acupuncture (AA). Ten body acupoints were needled (Zhongwan REN-12, Tianshu ST-25, Zusanli ST-36, Sanyinjiao SP-6, Shuifen REN-9, Hegu L.I.-4, Daheng SP-15, Shuidao ST-28, Quchi L.I.-11 and Qihai REN-6, with electric current applied to eight needles), along with six ear points (Sanjiao, Hunger, Stomach, Shenmen, Endocrine and Spleen). Acupuncture was carried out 10 times (every other day) over three weeks. The results showed improvement in all parameters measured in both groups, but the changes were significant only in the acupuncture group.
The combination of metformin and acupuncture significantly improved body weight and body mass index, as well as levels of fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin, serum levels of adipokines and markers of inflammation and lipid metabolism (interleukin-6 tumor necrosis factor-α, leptin, adiponectin, glucagon-like peptide-1, resistin, serotonin, free fatty acids, triglyceride, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and ceramides). The authors conclude that that acupuncture can act as a type of insulin sensitiser.
Comparative evaluation of the therapeutic effect of metformin monotherapy with metformin and acupuncture combined therapy on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in diabetic patients.
Nutr Diabetes. 2016 May 2;6:e209.