June 7, 2022
Many people have asked me if I treat diabetes over the years. I tell them I haven't had much experience but do know how to treat it. They go "what???". Yes in Chinese Medicine, experience and know-how are not exactly related. Most people think, you have to have experience to know how to do something. That is downplaying the human mind. If that were true, we are no better than monkeys. It's isn't really like this in TCM because of A. you ahve sufficient knowledge of what the issue is, B the same principles in Chinese Medicine are often applicable throughout many disease categories, and C you have prior experience from treating previous related or even somewhat related and sometimes even completely non-related conditions in which the same principles can be and have been cross-applied, successfully. This is what many people don't quite know about the scientific method. It is as much science as it is intuition. Science is limited where there is no intuition apparently. I think inspiration of one sort or another is very crucial and have been documented as a spark in many scientific discoveries of the past. So, things are not as hard as people think. So what is the point of experience? Experience is important because it is the final judge that determines whether this paradigm of thought is actually true, and really in my opinion, a way of refining the outcome. But given that it is true for already many conditions treated, so it must be true to a high degree for diabetes.
The reason why I haven't had much experience with this is because this is a very common condition and because it is so common people take drugs for it. I say 'haven't had much experience' is to say I am not completely oblivious to this because many patient's I've treated have this problem but they didn't come to treat this but even given that, how this affects the body is quite clear to me. So do I have 'experience': you be the judge. Now the thing is, drugs are free or covered for the most part. People don't want to treat something if there is a cost-free drug that does it for you. Cost-free is a half-truth, perhaps even a misnomer. While there is no outright financial costs, diabetes drugs could lose strength over time. I won't go into the details based on what I've seen later on as that is too controversial but the gist is, it's better to treat it(not by drugs) than to leave it, whether with a healthcare professional or by yourself through diet. Unfortunately the majority will leave it to drugs; same can be said with many other health issues.
The reason why I'm writing this column is because one of my patients came to ask if I treat this and I gave them the short form the answer stated at the beginning of this column. Can't guarantee but should have a pretty high grasp, given his unique circumstances at the time and because I deal with similar things frequently(my focus is on actual medical issues rather than sports and muscle pain injuries). Honestly, diabetes and its related conditions have been treated by Chinese Medicine even before the days of the Roman Empire---a very long time. We have, even without the later addition of Western medical knowledge, a lot of prior documented experiences, theories and treatment protocols. So for me, I only have to apply these things to see if they are true. The patient's situation is also unique, he noticed he was unusually tired recently and decided to check his sugar(why he thought of doing this, I don't know). It was over 8, which is over the 6 cut-off line. He went to this GP, who told him to monitor it for the time-being, make some lifestyle changes if possible and didn't immediately prescribe medication. He then came to see if I could help him. I think this is worthy of mentioning because not many GPs will do that since it is a general consensus among many healthcare providers that once you get diabetes you get diabetes, no going back and you have to take drugs pretty much forever because it isn't believed to be treatable. The drugs, while seemingly only to delay the inevitable, would still have to be taken. I think, it will be very hard for me to encounter another case like this in my career.