The Ayurvedic Approach to Diabetes

The Ayurvedic Approach to Diabetes

Modern lifestyle trends over past few decades are heavily inclined towards a comfortable lifestyle but with decreasing opportunities regarding our health.  Things such as physical exertion, prominence of processed foods in daily diet, irregular sleeping patterns, and a predominantly sedentary life have led to the emergence of various lifestyle disorders like obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiac diseases and much more.

Diabetes is one of the most common lifestyle disorders in todays society.   It is essentially a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.  There are several variations of the disease, including Type 1 diabetes, which occurs in most people in childhood or in their young adulthood. These individuals must inject insulin their entire lives. The majority of people with diabetes suffer from Type 2 diabetes, also known as non-insulin-dependent diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is described in Ayurveda as madhumeha kshaudrameha which literally means “excessive urine with sweet taste like honey,” or dhatupak janya vikriti which means a disease caused by a defective metabolism leading to derangement in body tissue (seven dhatus) transformation process.

Madhumeha consists of two words-‘madhu and meha’ where ‘madhu’ denotes sweetness and ‘meha’ stands for urination. So, the disease in which the urination is having urine quality concordant with madhu (honey) in its color, taste, smell and consistency called along with the pathognomonic features of Prameha (i.e. increased frequency and quantity of urine) is Madhumeha. Madhumeha included among the astamaharoga (eight major disorders) in Charaka Samhita ( Ayurvedic Text Book ) which indicates the graveness of the disease given by the Ancient sages.

Ayurvedic texts have described 20 types of urinary disorders (pramehas) based on the predominant doshas (10 kaphaja, 6 pittaja, and 4 vataja Urinary disorders) and physical characteristics of the urine. According to Ayurvedic texts, all Pramehas (urinary disorders including madhumeha or diabetes mellitus) initiate with the derangement of Kapha dosha that spreads throughout the body and mixes with meda dhatu (fat) that is similar in physical properties to kapha dosha. Kapha mixed with meda affects the urinary system, thereby interfering with normal urine excertion. Vitiated other doshas (Biological humors. pitta, vata), and other dhatu (body tissues) and fluids (malas) may also be involved in this obstruction. Ayurveda divides DM in to two categories:

1. Genetic (sahaja), occurring in a young age from the very beginning of life that has some similarities with the juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes; and

2. Acquired (apathyaja) due to an unhealthy lifestyle that occurs in old age and obese people and has similarities with type 2 Diabetes.

The classical symptoms of untreated diabetes are loss of weight, polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger). Diabetics often experience exhaustion, weight loss, muscle deterioration.

Causes of diabetes:

1] Diet increasing kapha dosha.
2] Sedentary lifestyle
3] Mental stress and strain
4] Excessive sleep
5] Anxiety , fear & Anger

Symptoms of diabetes:

1] Frequent urination
2] Burning of palms and soles
3] Increased hunger
4] Excessive Thirst
5] Sweet taste in mouth
6] Weight Loss
7] Blurry Vision
8] Wounds that take time to heal
9] Skin Infections
10] Unexplained extreme fatigue

Useful Herbs for Diabetes Management
The effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine in treating diabetes is well documented. The efficacy of herbs widely recommended in Ayurvedic texts for normalizing the blood sugar level has been validated in several clinical trials

  1. Gymnema Sylvestre (Gurmar) is an effective hypoglycemic component in Ayurvedic medicines for diabetes.
  2. Azadirachta Indica (Neem) The bitter leaves and seeds of Azadirachta indica are beneficial for diabetes patients. It is used alone or combined with other anti-diabetes Ayurvedic herbs for improving glucose tolerance. Neem is especially recommended for preventing diabetic neuropathy.
  3. Momordica Charantia (Bitter gourd) It helps to increase insulin secretion by improving the functions of the beta cells of the pancreas. Intake of bitter gourd fruit pulp helps to increase the number of beta cells in the pancreas
  4. Eugenia Jambolana The fruit and seeds of Eugenia jambolana could significantly reduce the blood sugar level in diabetics. It stimulates secretion of insulin.
  5. Trigonella foenum or fenugreek seeds help to reduce insulin resistance in diabetes mellitus patients.
  6. Coccinia Indica is a powerful anti-diabetic agent. By regulating breakdown of starch, it helps to prevent sudden surge of blood sugar after consuming carbohydrates.

Diet & Lifestyle Changes:

  1. For Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes, the first step is usually dietary planning and lifestyle change.
  2. Adopting a more active lifestyle, and a healthy, balanced diet low on sugars and starches, is a must.
  3. Avoid rice, potatoes, and white bread; sugar coated cereals, bananas, colocasia and much more.
  4. Add a lot of green leafy vegetables to diet to improve nutritional status and metabolism
  5. Ayurveda suggest to follow Dinacharya(daily Routine ) and Ritucharya (seasonal routine ) properly, self-control and knowledge of various factors affecting health, good habits, avoiding factors responsible for generating Ama (improperly digested/metabolized substances )avoiding food in excess quantity .
  6. Avoiding Diwa Swapna (Sleeping in day time) & doing regular exercise.
  7. Several yoga poses that have been found to be especially effective for diabetes
  • Dhanurasana (bow pose)
  • Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
  • Padangusthansana (head to toe pose)
  • Bhujangasana (cobra pose)
  • Sarvangasana (shoulder stand)
  • Ardha-matsyendrasana (spinal twist)
  • Halasana (plough pose)
  • Yoga mudrasana (yogic symbol pose)
  • Supta Vajrasana (sitting pose of firmness)
  • Chakrasana (wheel pose)
  • Shalabhasana (grasshopper pose)

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Meenakshi Gupta

Meenakshi is an accomplished ayurvedic practitioner, with a degree in Masters of Ayurveda. She was classically trained in India and has been practicing and teaching ayurveda worldwide since 1998. She has natural flair for a life devoted to the study and practice of ancient Indian science. She knows first-hand what a difference it can make on one’s wellness by simply understanding an individual’s unique body type and making small simple changes to one’s diet and lifestyle. Her specialties are wellness counseling , lifestyle management, and Panchakarma therapies (natural detox & rejuvenation).she can be reached at [email protected]