Diabetes Mellitus (commonly referred to as Diabetes) has gained the notorious reputation of being a silent killer. As the plague did before the 8th century, lifestyle disorders will lead to millions of deaths around the world in the coming years.
What is Diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic life-long condition that affects the body’s ability to use the energy contained in food. The three major types of Diabetes are Type 1, Type 2 and Gestational Diabetes.
When we consume food containing carbohydrates, it is converted to glucose which fuels the body. Cells need a hormone called insulin for this process which is secreted from the pancreas. In the case of diabetes, either our body can’t produce enough insulin or can’t utilise the available insulin or a combination of both could occur. Cells have specific doors known as receptors for the entrance of each substance into the cell. When insulin reaches the door of the cell and the door remains closed, it is known as insulin resistance. Since the cells are unable to utilise glucose, it gets accumulated in the blood. High levels of circulating glucose can damage tiny vessels in the kidneys, heart, eyes, nervous system etc.
Type 1 Diabetes is also called insulin dependent diabetes which usually onsets in childhood.
Type 2 Diabetes is most common form of diabetes, accounting for 95% of the condition in adults. In this case either the pancreas produces insufficient amount of insulin or insulin resistance, as described above, occurs. Obese people are at high risk of developing Diabetes due to insulin resistance.
Common symptoms of diabetes are tiredness, excessive thirst, increased urination, bad body odour, un-healing wounds and edema of extremities.
The bitter fact is that even though we can control blood sugar level, there is no complete cure for diabetes. However it can be managed with proper food habits, exercise and appropriate medication.
Ayurvedic Perspective of Diabetes
Ayurvedic remedies for diabetes are some of the oldest available therapies for the disease. Ayurveda emphasizes on prevention as much as treatment. The proper daily routine and special routines necessary to protect our bodies in different seasons are mentioned in detail in ayurvedic science. The deviation from these regimented routines causes lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.
Today most of us live in a fast-paced society and high stress environment. People with diabetes are more susceptible to complications due to stress because of the resultant increase in blood sugar level.
The main causes of diabetes as per ayurveda are sleeping during the day, lack of exercise, consumption of cold food and drinks and over nutrition with high sugar foods such as sweets and food rich in fat.
Ayurvedic Treatment of Diabetes
According to ayurveda, the line of treatment of diabetes is based on the body constitution of each individual. A drastic change in lifestyle especially food habits is required. A diabetic person must lead an active and healthy lifestyle.
Treatment differs for obese and lean patients. For an obese patient, treatment is mainly based on proper utilization of excess fat. Purification processes (sodhana therapy), Apatharpana treatments (reduction of body weight by dieting, medication and exercise etc.) are advised. Fasting, dieting, Panchakarma treatments, Udwarthana and the use of turmeric are also recommended.
Ayurvedic medication effectively controls blood sugar levels and is an effective treatment for insulin resistance. Shilajit, Thriphala, Niasakathakadi Choornam, Kathakakhadiradi Kashayam are some of medications employed to treat diabetes. Such medication is to be taken strictly under the supervision of an Ayurvedic physician. External procedures like Udwarthana, Kashaya Parishekam Abhyangam and other Panchakarma therapies have also proven to be effective.
As described above, a healthy diet is of utmost importance for diabetic patients. Cereals such as barley (hordeum vulgare), pulses such as green gram (vigna radiata), bengal gram (cicer arietinum), vegetables such as bitter gourd (mimordia charantia), fenu greek (trigonella foenum) , garlic (allium cepa), fruits such as syzygium cumini (malabar plum), indian gooseberry (emblica officinale) etc. are recommended for diabetics.
Unripe papaya fruits, curry leaves (murraya koenigii), moringa leaves (moringa oleifera), green apple, pomegranate have proven to be an effective treatment for insulin resistance.
Drinking water for diabetic patients can be prepared by boiling water with the following:
Recommended Routine for Diabetic Patients
– Take a walk after each meal;
– Sleeping just after food is strongly discouraged. There should be a gap of atleast one and a half hours between food and sleep;
– Eat meals after taking a bath. If this is not feasible then it is recommended to thoroughly wash your face, ears, hands and feet and rinse the mouth thoroughly;
– Eating slowly is important. This improves digestion and prevents over-eating;
– Consume vegetarian food rich in fibres; and
– Practice yoga daily. It blends actions of the body and mind thereby increasing overall well-being.
Ayurveda considers diabetes to be a disease which can effectively be managed by the use of medication, a regimented diet and proper exercise. Being a metabolic disorder, adopting a healthy lifestyle is as imperative as the use of medications.