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Wasting and Thirsting

In Chinese medicine, diabetes is called “Wasting and Thirsting Disorder”, which signifies the depletion of vital substances in the body regardless of food or water intake, and the inability to replenish fluid through drinking. There are four different diagnoses: lung heat injuring the fluid, excess stomach heat, kidney yin deficiency, and deficiency of both the yin and yang.

Chinese medicine separates the body into three zones, referred to as xiaos, and 11 organs (lung, large intestine, spleen, stomach, kidney, bladder, heart, small intestine, liver, gall bladder, and triple warmer or triple burners—connective tissue of the chest, abdomen and pelvis, which, taken together, is seen as an organ by Chinese medicine). Because we are all unique in our genetic constitution, manifestation of symptoms is unique as well, which is why there are four different root diagnoses.

Generally speaking, the upper zone manifests as heat in the lung, with intense thirst and frequent drinking. The middle zone manifests as heat in the stomach, with excessive hunger and increased food intake. The lower zone manifests as dryness and heat in the kidneys, with intense thirst and excessive urination. As the dis-ease settles into the body, it becomes more complex and begins to affect more than one zone.

There are four basic stages that diabetes can progress into without treatment, and many lifestyle factors that have an impact on the manifestation of the disease, including improper diet, emotional stress and overexertion. It usually begins with stomach heat caused by improper diet (greasy, sweet, rich food and alcohol), which causes food stagnation and leads to heat. If there is unresolved emotional stress, the disease moves into the lungs where it disturbs the flow of energy and causes additional stagnation and heat, leading to fluid consumption in the lung and stomach.

The next phase includes kidney yin deficiency due to overexertion. In Chinese medicine, the kidneys house vital energy, and when overworked they become deficient and depleted of fluid. Long-standing heat in the body can turn into more extreme symptoms, referred to as fire, which flares upwards in the body. When kidney yin deficiency flares upwards it will include the consumption of fluid in the stomach and lungs, therefore leading to symptoms within each zone. Long-standing kidney deficiency will lead to yang deficiency, which means that the fire goes out, and the extreme of hot symptoms turn into cold symptoms. This is when the disease state becomes extremely complex, and is much more difficult to remedy.

The resolution of these symptoms with Chinese medicine begins first with proper diagnosis, found through tongue, pulse and health history intake. Second, acupuncture and herbal remedies are prescribed to begin clearing heat and nourishing the body to achieve balance. Organ and detoxification systems are regulated with consistent treatment, along with prescribed nutrition, movement, and stress reduction tools.

Diabetes is highly complex and affects all organ systems of the body. To see results, significant discipline is required in order to change lifestyle habits and show up for consistent care. Awareness of the body, mind and spirit becomes finely tuned with regular treatment, leading to greater fulfillment and long-lasting vitality.

Aubrey Poglajen is an oriental medicine practitioner at Ananda Acupuncture & Healing Center, which provides acupuncture, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, psychotherapy, Morphogenic Field Technique, and herbal, homeopathic and essential oil-prescribed remedies. The office is located at 4528 N. Oakland Ave., in Shorewood, and can be contacted at 414-791-0303 or For more information, visit

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