Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes

What is Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a condition where your body can no longer produce the hormone called insulin.  Normally, cells in your pancreas produce insulin.  Type 1 diabetes occurs when these pancreas cells are destroyed.  This means that your body won’t be able to produce any insulin.

When you eat, sugar from your food is released into the blood as glucose.  Insulin allows the glucose to pass from the blood into the cells.  When there is no insulin, the glucose builds up in the blood, causing type 1 diabetes to occur.

Type 1 Diabetes

Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes:

If you have type 1 diabetes you may experience symptoms like excessive hunger and thirst, and fatigue.  You may also have blurry vision and may need to urinate very frequently.  Another symptom of type 1 diabetes is dramatic weight loss in a short period of time.  If you have any of these symptoms you should seek medical attention.

Type 1 diabetes can also cause a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis(DKA).  This is when there is too much glucose in the blood (high blood sugar), and not enough glucose being delivered to cells.  As a result, the liver starts transforming fat into energy for cells to use, and ketones are subsequently released into the blood.  High levels of ketones in the blood can be dangerous.

Symptoms of DKA include dry mouth, rapid breathing, fruity smelling breath, flushed face and nausea.  DKA is a medical emergency, and can lead to coma and death if left untreated.

Type 1 Diabetes Causes:

Type 1 diabetes occurs when the cells in the pancreas which produce insulin are destroyed.  This may be because the body attacks these insulin-producing cells by accident, possibly due to an autoimmune reaction.  However, researchers aren’t sure exactly why this happens.  A combination of factors like genetics, viruses and environmental factors like diet may also play a role in triggering type 1 diabetes.

Type 1 Diabetes Risk Factors:

Risk factors like cold climate and some viruses may increase your risk of developing type 1 diabetes.  Similarly, some genes may also increase your risk, especially if you have a family history of the disease.

Type 1 Diabetes

How Can Chinese Medicine Help?

Type 1 diabetes occurs due to the inability of the pancreas to produce insulin.  That means insulin injections are necessary treatments for type 1 diabetes patients.  However, Chinese Medicine may also be able to help treat and manage type 1 diabetes.  Techniques like acupuncture can help lower the blood sugar levels and simultaneously reduce symptoms.  Diet is also a big part of type 1 diabetes management.  Foods such as strawberries, broccoli and olive oil may help you manage the condition.  

Chinese Medicine can also be used in a preventative way.  Acupuncture can help to maintain the health of organs like the pancreas, and may also be beneficial in strengthening the immune system to help fight off viruses.


Overall, type 1 diabetes occurs when the body no longer produces insulin.  This causes high blood sugar as well as a lack of energy for cells to use.  Type 1 diabetes symptoms include fatigue, extreme hunger and thirst, and may cause a dangerous condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.  Researchers aren’t sure exactly what causes type 1 diabetes, but risk factors like diet, genetics and climate may play a role in triggering the condition.  Insulin injections are the main treatment option for type 1 diabetes, but Chinese Medicine techniques like acupuncture may help with diabetes management and prevention.

For more information about how Chinese Medicine can help, please see our website at https://balancetcm.co.nz/traditional-chinese-medicine-hamilton/.

For videos about diabetes and Chinese Medicine, see our webpage at https://balancetcm.co.nz/category/diabetes/.  

Type 1 Diabetes

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Centre of Balance Hamilton: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine (n.d.). Archive for category: Diabetes. https://balancetcm.co.nz/category/diabetes/

Kivi, R. (2021, October 20).  What Is Type 1 Diabetes? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/type-1-diabetes-causes-symtoms-treatments

Phua, S. (n.d.). What Is Traditional Chinese Medicine? Centre of Balance Hamilton: Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine. https://balancetcm.co.nz/traditional-chinese-medicine-hamilton/

Swanberg, S. (2020, May 7).  Acupuncture and Type 1 Diabetes. Beyond Type 1.  https://beyondtype1.org/acupuncture-type-1-diabetes/#:~:text=Several%20research%20studies%20have%20shown,function%5B3%5D%5B4%5D 

Wint, C. (2022, January 21). What You Should Know About Diabetic Ketoacidosis. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes/ketoacidosis