Seeking Holistic Health Care for Diabetes

Wednesday, December 01, 2021, 11:00 AM

At this moment, eleven million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes.

To learn more about diabetes and holistic health care, we spoke with Candace Pichonsky, Holistic Health Practitioner for 15 years and Practice Competency Manager at the NHPC.

As a diabetic, Candace sheds light on what both holistic practitioners and diabetic clients should know before giving or receiving treatment.

Diabetic pricking their finger to check blood sugar

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes Canada explains that “diabetes is a disease in which your body either can't produce insulin or can't properly use the insulin it produces. Insulin's role is to regulate the amount of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar must be carefully regulated to ensure that the body functions properly.”

Diabetes can lead to other complications, such as kidney disease, heart attack, anxiety, nerve damage, and more.

Individuals living with diabetes can seek holistic health care to help manage their symptoms.

Benefits of Holistic Healthcare for Diabetes

Massage therapy and other holistic practices offer many benefits for diabetic clients. Massage therapy can help to:

  • address fatigue
  • reduce stress and improve mental health
  • reconnect mind and body by increasing body awareness
  • improve mobility and blood circulation
  • improve sleep by addressing symptoms such as restless legs syndrome (RLS), which is common in type 2 diabetics

“There is a daily grind to managing diabetes,” Candace shares. “It can cause fatigue and depression. Incorporating selfcare like a massage or other holistic treatments is extremely beneficial for managing these symptoms; I feel it re-energizes me.”

Stress is a common symptom when you have to manage your own blood sugar levels. Finding tools and developing skills to deal with your mental and physical health is important when managing chronic illness.

“In addition to receiving regular massage therapy, I find Bowenwork™ and craniosacral therapy help me stay in tune with what my body needs,” Candace says.

I Have Diabetes. What Should I Know Before Treatment?

“It is common for diabetics to experience decreased blood sugar levels after a massage treatment,” Candace says. “It is akin to workout session.”

Candace recommends monitoring your blood sugar closely after treatment and keeping snacks or juice on you to avoid a low blood sugar episode.

Additionally, it is important to be aware of your own symptoms. Prior to treatment, inform your practitioner if you have any peripheral nerve damage, and approach treatments such as hot stone massage with caution.

“If you have peripheral nerve damage, you may experience decreased sensation. It can make it difficult to tell the difference between heat or cold, and that can damage the skin or cause burns,” Candace says.

Be sure to disclose your condition in your Client Intake and Health History Form before treatment.

I am a Practitioner: What Questions Should I Ask My Diabetic Clients?

Candace recommends that practitioners ask their diabetic clients the following questions before treatment:

  • How are your blood sugar readings today? When did you last have something to eat?
  • Have you had a holistic treatment before? If yes, did you have any negative reactions?
  • Some people with diabetes may experience diminished sensation to hot or cold temperatures. Do you have any concerns if I apply heat (for example, a hot pack)?
  • Do you have any food or juice with you in case you experience a low blood sugar episode?

While diabetes is a lifelong chronic disease that requires diligent management, holistic practices such as massage therapy can help address symptoms and improve your quality of life.

If you have any further questions or concerns about holistic health care and diabetes, please contact Candace at


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