By Ayurvedacharya Dr Partap Chauhan, Director, Jiva Ayurveda
Diabetes Mellitus is a chronic metabolic disorder in which the body is unable to make proper use of glucose, resulting in the condition of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). Excess glucose in the blood ultimately results in high levels of glucose being present in the urine (glycosuria). This increases the urine output, which leads to dehydration and increased thirst.
Glucose comes from the food we eat and is also made in liver and muscles. The blood carries glucose to all the cells in our body. Insulin, a chemical (or hormone) produced in the pancreas, is responsible for the uptake of glucose into cells for energy. Decreased levels of insulin affects this mechanism leading to increased glucose in the blood stream.
Factors that are often responsible for causing diabetes are excessive intake of foods which are difficult to digest, such as fried foods, creams, etc. Lack of exercise, mental stress and strain, excessive sleep, overeating and consequent obesity, excessive intake of sugar and refined carbohydrates, Overloading of proteins and fats can also lead to diabetes. Hereditary factors also play role in causing diabetes.
· Weight loss or weight gain
· Frequent urinary tract infections
· Blurred vision
· Excessive sweating
· Excessive thirst
· Excessive hunger
· Frequent urination in large quantity
In Ayurveda, Diabetes Mellitus is known as Madhumeha (Madhu means ‘honey’ and Meha means ‘urine’). Medhumeha is categorized as Vataj Meha (a problem caused by aggravation of Vata or Air). Vata is an Ayurvedic humor symbolizing wind and dryness. Deterioration of the body is a characteristic that indicates impairment of Vata. Maximum deterioration of dhatus (body tissues) occurs in this type of disease and this is the reason why all vital organs are affected by Diabetes. The other prime cause of Diabetes Mellitus is impaired digestion. Impaired digestion leads to accumulation of specific digestive impurities which accumulate in the pancreatic cells and impair the production of insulin.
Ayurveda does not regard Diabetes as a disease that can be treated by mere medicine or by a dietary regimen. Madhumeha is classified as a Maha Rog (Major Disease) because, if not treated in time, it can lead to several complications in the body, including eye problems, joint pains, impotency, kidney failure, sexual and urologic problems, and more. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder and it cannot be merely treated by controlling sugar levels. The treatment recommended in Ayurveda – as against modern medicine – is aimed at rejuvenating the body to not only balance sugar levels, but also ensuring that no further complication is caused.
The Ayurvedic treatment for this disease is based on an entire change in the lifestyle of the person. Along with medication and diet, the patient is also advised to lead a healthy lifestyle and live an active life. Dietary and lifestyle changes rejuvenate the body’s cells and tissues, allowing them to produce insulin properly. Even mental aspects of the disease are stressed upon in Ayurveda. The medicines that are administered are therefore meant to keep the brain in its right manner of functioning.
Diet & Lifestyle Advice
· Include whole grains in the diet, such as wheat bread/pasta and brown rice.
· Cheese and yogurt prepared with skimmed (nonfat) milk may be taken.
· Use garlic, onion, bitter gourd, spinach, raw banana, and black plum.
· Make a flour mixture of 1 part barley, 1 part black chickpeas, and 4 parts whole-wheat flour and use this to form pancakes and bread.
· Avoid sweet, sour, and salty foods, potatoes, sweet potatoes, colocasia (taro), yams, fresh grains and pulses (legumes), whole yogurt (high in fat), and heavy, oily and spicy foods.
· Avoid sweet fruits like pineapple, grapes, mangoes, etc.
· Start doing some light exercise, such as brisk walking. Build up to a brisk walk of 30-40 minutes in the morning and again in the evening.
· Avoid sleeping in the daytime as it increases Kledaka Kapha.
· Dry the leaves of mango tree and grind to a powder. Mix 1 teaspoon dry powder in a glass of water and drink it daily to reduce high blood sugar levels.
· Take 2 teaspoons of bitter gourd (karela) juice once a day. One can also increase its use as a cooked vegetable.
· Take 1 teaspoon of Indian gooseberry (amla) juice mixed with 1 teaspoon of bitter gourd juice twice a day.