Manage Diabetes: The Ayurvedic way
Nowadays we live a very mechanical life. We rely on technology for even the smallest of things, like ordering groceries, which makes us sedentary and inactive. To top it all off, our daily diet is very high in fatty, carbohydrate-rich, processed foods and sugary beverages. All this affects our bodies significantly but we do not realise it till we reach an older age and the effects start to show.
Many of us have developed diseases due to this new way of living that was not prevalent in the previous centuries. You might yourself have diabetes or know someone who does. It is important to understand that it is not one individual’s fault that he develops such a disease, but rather a larger systemic problem. Ayurveda has always focused on the larger picture. We believe that trying to fix symptoms will just temporarily put a bandage on the problem but not solve the root cause.
In this blog let us focus on Diabetes. In Ayurveda, diabetes is called Madhumeha (literally translating to sweet urine). Prameha is a syndrome described in the ancient Ayurvedic texts that includes clinical conditions involved in obesity, prediabetes, diabetes mellitus, and metabolic syndrome. There are 20 subtypes of Prameha due to the interaction of the three Doshas and 10 Dushyas. Sahaja Prameha and Jatah Pramehi correlate with type 1 diabetes; Apathyanimittaja Prameha correlates with type 2 diabetes. Madhumeha is a subtype of Vataja Prameha (Prameha with Vata predominance) that can occur as the terminal stage of type 2 diabetes (in which insulin is required), or as type 1 diabetes beginning in early childhood. The latter is defined as Jatah Pramehi Madhumehino.
The ancient Ayurvedic knowledge regarding Prameha can be utilized to expand the current understanding of obesity, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
Diabetes develops due to high blood sugar/hyperglycemia which is an abnormal amount of glucose in the blood. When blood sugar levels get high, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream. When a person has high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels, it is known as a metabolic condition. It can happen either due to insufficient insulin output or the body’s cells not responding properly to the generated insulin, or both!
Diabetes can develop in two ways:
- Dhatukshaya: loss of tissues (Dhatus) in the body
- Avarana: blockage of pathways in the body
The blockage of channels is due to increased Kapha Dosha or other tissues such as fat or muscle. This may cause maturity-onset diabetes.
Dhatukshaya is a form of juvenile diabetes where the tissues are weakened.
Due to the excess urinary excretion in diabetes mellitus, one very essential essence in our body is lost, called “Ojas”. It is known as the essence of digestion and in turn, life. It is even referred to as the extract of all Dhatus that provide power to the body, mind and soul. Ojas helps in all aspects of the body- the physical, emotional, sensory and other functions. Therefore when it is lost in diabetes mellitus, it is known as Ojomeha (‘Ojo’ meaning Ojas and ‘meha’ meaning to flow or urination)
According to Ayurveda, Diabetes has three main signs- known as Rupas.
- Polyuria (excessive urination)
- The sensation of sweetness in the body
- Urinary sweetness
Other symptoms of diabetes are:
- Polydipsia (excess thirst)
- Excessive sleep
- General debility
- Burning sensation
- Inflammatory lesions
- Muscle wasting
Diabetes tends to affect all the Dhatus (tissues in the body):
- Rakta (blood): damaged quality of blood cells with high viscosity which makes them weak
- Rasa (plasma): hyperglycaemia
- Medhas (fat): hypertrophy of adipose tissue
- Mamsa (muscles): muscle wasting, necrosis
- Sira (arteries): atherosclerosis
- Snayu (nerves): neuropathies
- Majja (nervous tissue): degeneration of brain tissue
- Tvak (skin): necrosis, ulcers, carbuncles
- Asthi (bone): de-mineralization of bone tissue, reduced density
- Shukra (reproductive tissue): loss of libido which is passed onto generations
The Role of the Pancreas
The pancreas is also known as 'grahani' and is considered the special seat of agni (fire) in the body. Let us first understand the pancreas in detail, then we can understand its role in managing blood sugar levels.
This is an excerpt from “Textbook of Clinical Ayurvedic Medicine,” by Dr. Marc Halpern, Founder of the California College of Ayurveda.
“The pancreas lies between the stomach and the spinal column. While most of the gland is hidden behind the stomach, a portion of it lies close to the duodenum (first portion of the small intestine). The pancreas is both an exocrine and an endocrine gland. The exocrine portion is the part that creates digestive enzymes. These enzymes are secreted into the small intestine via the pancreatic duct which joins the common bile duct which in turn leads into the intestine. The endocrine portion secretes the hormones insulin and glucagon directly into the bloodstream. These hormones regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin lowers blood glucose levels by allowing the glucose to enter the cells. Glucagon raises blood glucose levels by stimulating the breakdown of glycogen in the liver.
Digestive enzymes secreted by the pancreas include amylase for the digestion of carbohydrates; lipase for the digestion of fats; and the proteolytic enzymes trypsin, chymotrypsin and carboxypolypeptidase, which aid in the digestion of protein.”
Both the goals of Ayurveda and western allopathic medicine are the same when it comes to treatment of type-2 diabetes: It is to bring the haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) value to a normal range. The main difference in the Ayurvedic approach is that it aims to improve the functionality of a person overall by achieving a balance between the doshas (or life forces) that everyone possesses.
Ayurveda has many herbal remedies that will help manage blood sugar levels. These foods and herbs are known to help stimulate the production of insulin in the body as well as vitalise the pancreas. Go ahead and try them at home for yourself!
Gudmar literally translates to “sugar crusher”.
It is a woody vine which grows in the tropical regions of India, Africa, and Australia. It contains certain compounds that include flavonols and gurmarin that have positive effects on diabetics.
Have a teaspoon of powdered gudmar leaves along with water half an hour after lunch and dinner. This helps regulate the absorption of carbohydrates in the body.
Jamun is known for its hypoglycemic properties, which has the ability to reduce sugar in the blood.
In a glass of water, add a teaspoon of crushed jamun seed powder. Stir well with water and drink it regularly on an empty stomach.
Packed with vitamins, amra helps boost body immunity, fights anaemia, keeps the heart healthy and aids in digestion. It is rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical properties that cause oxidation in the body system. It even helps to improve skin vitality, to heal wounds quickly and reverse the harmful effects of free radicals. This helps you deal with the symptoms of diabetes.
Raw amra makes a refreshing juice or you can add it to both red or yellow-split pea lentils for a tangy, soupy wholesome dish.
‘Karela and diabetes’ are often heard together. This is because bitter gourd has a compound that functions similar to insulin. It can reduce the blood glucose levels in both type I and type II diabetes. Consuming a glass of karela juice is so effective that diabetes patients need to reduce the dosage of their medicines. In fact, it can also help manage Gestational diabetes(a type of diabetes that is first detected in pregnant women who did not have diabetes before they were pregnant).
To consume it you can make a yummy sabzi out of karela and relish it in lunch/dinner. You can also juice out raw karela and consume for immense health benefits. Or, make a delicious spicy stuffing using karela and pack it into your parantha!
A Simple Solution
Certain ayurvedic herbs in the correct proportions are very helpful in the management of Diabetes. They work together by rejuvenating the Beta-cells in the pancreas that helps control the blood sugar level. If you consume the right food and implement the appropriate lifestyle changes, your diabetes CAN be managed. However, we understand that it is difficult in today’s hectic world to keep track of everything.
CCRAS, Ministry of Ayush, GOI has therefore created the Ayush-82 formula that comes in pill and liquid form for easy tension-free consumption. It includes a researched blend of ayurvedic herbs including the natural extracts of Karavallaka (Momordica charantia), Jambu (Syzygium cuminii), Amra (Mangifera indica) & Gudmar (Gymnema sylvestre) as major ingredients. It even has an additional Shuddh Shilajit that helps a diabetic person stay energetic throughout the day, and helps prevent low-grade fatigues.
Sugcare which uses this Ayush 82 formula is clinically proven. After 60 days of study on 805 patients, 77% of participants reported reduction in blood glucose levels by Avg. 40 pts.
We hope you learned something about Diabetes and how to manage it today. To know more about our ayurvedic solutions, reach out to us via chatbox, email or our social media! We are always happy to discuss options with you one-on-one to help you find the ideal ayurvedic solutions (including dosage according to your blood sugar levels).