Diabetes, a Sweet Disease – From Ayurvedic Perspective
According to Ayurveda, diabetes is a metabolic ‘kapha’ type of disorder in which the diminished functioning of ‘agni’ tends to lead to high blood sugar.
Ayurveda recognises twenty four forms of the disease commonly classifed under ‘Prameha’ (diabetes) -four are due to ‘vata dosha’, six due to’ pitta dosha’, and ten are caused by ‘kapha dosha’.
The main causes of the diseases are fat, urine and ‘kapha’ build-up due to foods, liquids, lifestyles and others.
Ayurveda attacks diabetes using a multi-prong approach. Firstly, the diet is modified by eliminating sugar and simple carbohydrates, and emphasizing more on complex carbohydrates. Proteins are limited, since excessive intake can damage the kidneys. Fats are also limited because there is often a deficiency of pancreatic enzymes, making fat digestion difficult. Since many diabetics have auto antibodies, a cleansing program is instituted. Panchakarma therapy is typically used for this purpose. This includes ‘abhyang’ (herbal massages); ‘swedan’ (herbal steam), ‘virechan’ (herbal purgation), ‘basti ‘(herbal enema), etc. this is given to first cleanse the digestive tract, and then to reconstitute the system.
In Ayurveda, several herbal preparations are mentioned for diabetes, like Vasantkusumakar ras, which is very effective but is extremely costly, whereas a preparation like Chadraprabhavati is called poor man’s remedy. Other Ayurvedic preparations such as Vijaysar Churna and Gokshuradi guggul are also used.
The most important herbs for diabetes are shilajit, gudmar, turmeric, neem, amla, guggul, arjuna, methi, bilva, bitter gourd, triphala, gokshura, vidanga, asan and jamun (rose apple).
Exercise is another cornerstone of Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes. Yoga and breathing exercises (pranayam) are traditionally practiced.
In diabetes, it is advised to follow the kapha pacifying diet, avoid excess intake of sweets, carbohydrates and dairy products, and eat more fresh vegetables and bitter herbs. Other useful foods include roasted or fresh barley, barley porridge, bitter vegetables, amla (Indian gooseberry) juice, etc.
Other Ayurvedic methods to treat diabetes include strenuous exercises, oil massage, steam waist bath and copper water, i.e., put one cup of water into a copper vessel at night and drink the same in the morning. A morning and evening walk will also help.