Role of Ayurveda in Diabetes Treatment
Compared to modern medicine, Ayurveda has a holistic approach towards health and believes that a harmonious balance between mind, body and soul is essential for all round well-being.
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic condition categorized into Type I diabetes where insulin production is hampered (when our pancreas can’t produce enough insulin to keep our blood glucose levels within the normal range) and Type II diabetes where there is insulin resistance (when cells in the muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from blood for energy) thus triggering excess blood sugar levels known as hyperglycemia. If left untreated high blood sugar from diabetes can damage the nerves, eyes, kidneys, heart and other vital organs.
The fundamental Ayurvedic belief states that we are all born with a specific prakruti which is the result of the inter relationship between the tridoshas – vata, pitta and kahpa – in our body. Any imbalance in these tridoshas causes diseases and health conditions.
Ayurveda refers to diabetes as sweet urine or madhumeha – madhu = sugar + meha = urine (madhumeha is one of 20 types of Prameha), and divides them into 2 categories – diabetes mellitus and diabetes insipidus.
According to Ayurveda there are 20 types of diabetes of which 4 are caused due to vata dosha, 6 due to pitta dosha, and 10 due to kapha dosha. But Kapha dosha imbalance is the main cause of diabetes.
Ayurveda believes that solely controlling blood sugar levels is not complete treatment for diabetes mellitus but that the treatment should also include ways to prevent further complications.
Ayurveda treatment for diabetes includes
- Simplified diet – Ayurveda recommends a diet that helps
reduce blood sugar levels consisting of bitter vegetables, barley, homemade
ghee (clarified butter), honey (balances kapha dosha) etc. But a diabetic
patient needs to consult an experienced Ayurvedic doctor to get a customized
diet that best suits their body type.
Diabetics should avoid sugar, sugarcane juice, jaggery, bakery items, curd, alcohol, soft drinks, processed products etc.
- Use of medicinal herbs – Ayurveda states that including
certain herbs/herbal preparations that have strong anti-diabetic properties
can help control diabetes.
Turmeric (most important anti-diabetic agent as it helps reduce insulin resistance), neem (blood purifier & controls sugar levels), tulsi (regulates blood sugar levels), bilva, saptrangi, vizaysaar, karela (bitter gourd), gurmar (or sugar destroyer, effective in sugar regulation), fenugreek (methi reduces excess kapha), guggulu (excellent detoxifier) and amla (super antioxidant and very rich in vitamin C).
- Lifestyle changes – Stress & obesity are two of the main factors that can cause diabetes. Diabetic patients need to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and include a regular exercise schedule along with yoga & meditation sessions that gets the heart pumping and helps reduce fat. Avoid mid-day naps, extra oil and high levels of carbohydrates in your food, smoking & alcohol. Get your blood sugar levels tested regularly.
- Detoxification – accumulation of toxins in the body can disrupt digestion and can lead to diabetes related imbalances such as obesity. Panchkarma, an ancient Ayurvedic detox method can help toxin removal