Throughout the world, diabetes is on the rise. Various factors, including lack of exercise (a sedentary lifestyle), poor diet and related obesity complications have led to enormous increases in type 2 diabetics globally. Some ethnic groups are more naturally susceptible to diabetes, including African-American and Hispanic people. American Indians are one of the hardest hit, with the disease described as being ‘rampant’ by some sources.
Of the Cherokee tribe, it is estimated that 17% of the 13,400 member tribe is affected. Traditionally, diabetes is treated by a healthcare team who provide advice about diet and exercise. In some instances, it is necessary for type 2 diabetics to resort to insulin. Now, however, the Cherokee Indians are offering alternative treatments to help sufferers with the physical problems caused by diabetes.
The alternatives offered include acupuncture, massage, stress counselling and yoga. The treatment programme for the Cherokee is split into three different arms. Cherokee Choices aims to prevent the disease, the Cherokee Diabetes Program deals with routine checks. The Wound Care Treatment and Prevention Program aims to lower the incidence of amputations by treating diabetes related complications.
The prevention program visits the schools, churches and businesses of the Cherokee, with the aim of raising awareness about diet and exercise. The complementary medicine approaches adopted by the Cherokee aim to lower stress and help diabetes patients deal with the pain of the disease. Acupuncture and massage are relaxing, and massage in particular can improve the circulation. Future programs underway include the installation of a meditation garde, and the formation of a drumming circle and meditation group.

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