Can Ayurveda help manage diabetes effectively?
Before the epidemic arrived a few years ago, as a physician, I was quite concerned about my patients. Online consultations, however, quickly became common, and I found that I quickly grew accustomed to and even came to like them for the many advantages they offered, including the fact that I could conduct my business from the comfort of my own home. Consequently, while I do not dispute the fantastic benefits technology has brought to our lives, I also do not dispute that an excessive reliance on technology is dangerous.
As a doctor, I’ve seen how technology has made many of my patients’ lives more sedentary and less physically demanding. The convenience of online meal ordering has led to a rise in the intake of processed and fast foods, which are detrimental to our health. There has been a spike in sleep problems, and a decline in social activity. Lifestyle diseases like diabetes have skyrocketed as a result.
Without proper management, diabetes can cause serious health problems and even death, affecting virtually every organ in the body. In this piece, I’d like to recommend a comprehensive approach to diabetes management using Ayurveda. If you suffer from diabetes, Ayurveda can help you by getting to the bottom of what’s causing it rather than just treating the symptoms.
Madhumeha (Diabetes) treatment with Ayurved
In Ayurved, diabetes is referred to as Madhumeha (when literally translated means sweet urine).
There are three main types of Madhumeha identified in Ayurved:
• Diabetes mellitus (Vata Prameha): It occurs because of an imbalance in the Vata Dosha (one of the three functional energies in the body, the other two being Kapha & Pitta dosha)
• Diabetes insipidus (Kapha Prameha): It occurs because of an imbalance in Kapha Dosha.
• Gestational diabetes: Develops in women during pregnancy. It usually resolves by itself post childbirth, but puts one at a greater risk of developing Diabetes mellitus later.
Diabetes mellitus is the common type of diabetes, where there is a rise in blood sugar levels and it can occur as type 1 or type 2, while Diabetes insipidus is an uncommon disorder that causes an imbalance of fluids in the body. It leads to producing large amounts of urine and makes the patient thirsty often.
The Ayurvedic way of managing diabetes is to correct this imbalance in doshas through a simple yet effective approach involving Aahar, Vihar and Chikitsa. It simply means getting your diet, lifestyle and medicine right to achieve balance of these doshas.
Finding the root cause of dosha imbalance
While having diabetes in family puts you at a higher risk of getting diabetes, Ayurved believes that the main causes of imbalance in doshas that lead to diabetes are largely your diet & lifestyle choices like:
• Sedentary or inactive lifestyle
• Excess sleep
• Eating too much sweet, heavy or sour foods that cause an increase in Kapha
• Being overweight
• Unhealthy diet & cholesterol levels
• Excessive consumption of alcohol & smoking
Ayurved believes in treating diabetes the holistic way. It therefore includes:
• Using Ayurvedic herbs with medicinal properties to balance doshas
• Dietary changes to avoid increase in kapha dosha
• Lifestyle changes to maintain active lifestyle and manage healthy weight
• Detox procedures to rejuvenate the body.
Ayurvedic herbs for diabetes management
Gudmar, Vijaysaar, Methi or Fenugreek, Mamejeva, Jamun seeds, Amla, Bitter gourd/bitter melon, Bel, Turmeric, Neem, Meshashringi, Triphala Guggulu, Saptarangi, Pippali, Haridra are few herbs that can help in management of diabetes. These herbs help in regulating the sugar levels, prevent sudden fall in blood sugar levels, nourish the vital organs and also promote glucose metabolism. Some of these herbs also help combat fatigue, excessive urination and thirst. The products that have these herbs can be consumed for effectively managing diabetes.
Ayurved based diet to pacify Kapha
Aahar or Diet forms an integral part of diabetes management in Ayurved. Here is the list of a few foods you need to avoid and some that you need to include in your diet to prevent/manage diabetes.
• Eat light, dry & warm foods and avoid foods that are oily, cold & heavy
• Milk products may aggravate the Kapha Dosha. It is recommended to avoid or reduce it. Opt for low-fat milk products instead.
• Avoid sour fruits like oranges; consume apples, pomegranates & berries
• Avoid rice & wheat because they are heavy and difficult to break down. Eat millet and corn instead
• Spices are good for Kapha Dosha. Use pepper, mustard, garlic and ginger in your diet
• Avoid salt or take it in moderation
• Use ghee in moderation, as it helps to strengthen the digestive fire
• Consume more beans & legumes (Moong, in particular, is recommended for diabetes patients)
• Avoid meats, as they may increase inflammation
• Dietary control of blood sugar requires consuming warm food, so drink warm water
• Bitter foods help in managing diabetes. Include them in your diet. Bitter gourd is recommended
• Include turmeric in your diet
Avoid eating fried foods, tuber vegetables like potato, yam, etc; aerated drinks, fruits like mango, custard apple & bananas; cakes, sugarcane products and wine.
Lifestyle & weight management
Lifestyle disorders can’t be managed without lifestyle modifications. If you are obese, the ayurvedic approach is to reduce the excessive fats in the body. It is important to add some amount of physical activity in your routine, with an emphasis on yoga and light cardio exercises. Yoga Mudra, Vakrasana or Twisting Pose and Ardha & Poorna Shalabhasana – Locust Pose are recommended.
If you are ill or have low immunity or low body weight, the ayurvedic approach is to strengthen the immune system. A panchakarma detox is suggested for cleansing and nourishing the body. Keep a check on your stress levels, as stress can trigger sugar levels. Meditation therapies can be practiced.
To conclude, Ayurved does not recommend a single course of action to all the patients suffering from diabetes. Each patient has different symptoms, diet, lifestyle, and health complications. Thus, the treatment plan is customized towards these aspects surrounding a patient’s life in order to bring their doshas into a perfect harmony. If you wish to try this science, I recommend you visit a certified Ayurvedic practitioner to customize the treatment for you.
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