What is the TCM basis behind an individual having diabetes?TCM Endocrinology
In western medicine, diabetes is due to either the lack of or the build up of insulin. What is the TCM explanation?
In TCM, we actually do not have the term diabetes, but it is closely associated with a condition known as ‘Xiao Ke’. ‘Xiao’ literally means emaciation (being abnormally thin) and ‘Ke’ means thirst. This condition is characterized by excessive thirst, excessive hunger, excessive urination and unexplained weight loss.
These symptoms can also be observed in diabetic patients, hence we commonly refer diabetes as ‘Xiao Ke’ in TCM. A person’s health is determined by the balance of Yin and Yang in the body.
When Yin and Yang are not balanced, diseases arise. The primary cause of ‘Xiao Ke’ is Yin deficiency in the Lungs, Stomach and Kidneys. It is caused by both genetic and environmental factors such as an unhealthy diet (overconsumption of sweet, greasy food), emotional disturbances (stress, anxiety) and a constitutional Yin deficiency.
Yin deficiency results in Yang being relatively in excess and the excess Yang manifests as Heat in the body. Heat affects the Lungs, Stomach and Kidneys, hence producing excessive thirst, excessive hunger and excessive urination respectively. Individuals with ‘Xiao Ke’ mostly have all these symptoms in varying degrees and the predominant symptom reflects the main organ – Lungs, Stomach or Kidneys – that is Yin deficient.
Heat in the body continues to deplete Yin and Yin deficiency creates more Heat, leading to a vicious cycle. Treatment would aim to replenish Yin in the body, treating the root cause of the condition, while clearing Heat at the same time, resolving the symptoms.
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