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Fight Diabetes Naturally: Ayurvedic Understanding for Blood Sugar Control

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medically reviewed by Dr Naveen Chandran

Dr. Bhavya

Updated on July 09, 2024

Diabetes Mellitus, colloquially known as 'Sugar', is a growing concern worldwide. In the United States alone, over 38 million people have diabetes and almost 5 million in the UK. 

There has been a growing body of research on diabetes for a long time to find different ways to understand this part of metabolic syndrome (conditions highly related to your body's metabolism).

Among all these developments, alternative therapies and ayurvedic cures for diabetes have become a centre of appeal for people worldwide. As ayurveda is one of the medical sciences that primarily revolves around metabolic health, both in preventive and curative aspects, it successfully curbs diabetes mellitus.

So, this blog will help you read more about the Ayurvedic perspective on diabetes and learn how to treat DM (Diabetes Mellitus) with ayurveda.

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Ayurvedic Understanding of Diabetes

In ayurveda, diabetes is known as 'madhumeha', which translates to 'honey urine'. This name comes due to the presence of sugar. Madhumeha is one of the disorders that fall under the spectrum of 'Prameha', which is a group of urinary disorders. This was so because of the specific symptom of diabetes - an increase in urine formation or urinary frequency called 'polyuria'.

According to ayurveda, there are 20 types of Prameha - 

  • 4 types can pop up because of vata dosha (bioenergy of movement)
  • 6 occur because of pitta dosha (bioenergy of metabolism)
  • 10 occur because of kapha dosha  (bioenergy of stagnation)

Cause of Madhumeha 

It is emphasised that madhumeha, or diabetes, is a lifestyle disorder. The first cause pointed out by the ayurvedic experts is a sedentary lifestyle. 

A sedentary lifestyle with improper food habits can lead to an imbalance in the body's bioenergies —Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Kapha is the first bioenergy to go into imbalance. It is associated with sedentary lifestyle and laziness. 

How Does Dosha Imbalance Influence Your Body?

All three dosha imbalances manifest into diabetes in your body in different ways, such as;

Vata Dosha - An imbalance in vata dosha leads to irregular digestion and metabolism due to impaired Agni (body fire and digestive fire). This impairment disrupts the ability to break down and utilise sugar appropriately.

Pitta Dosha - An imbalance in the fire bioenergy, which governs metabolism, is the centre point for treating diabetes in ayurveda.  An improper pitta dosha cannot drive the sugar metabolism in the body, contributing to diabetes.

Kapha Dosha - Kapha dosha is the first dosha to stop working in diabetes, and it stagnates the metabolic process in the body. 

In deciphering the root causes of diabetes, ayurvedic experts emphasise on four-pointer.

  • Improper Digestion
  • Dietary Imbalances
  • Stress and Emotional Imbalance
  • Weak Immunity or Ojas 

1.Improper Digestion

A weak Agni and an imbalanced gut flora can lead to improper sugar breakdown and absorption.

2.Dietary Imbalances

Excessive intake of sweet, sour and salty foods can aggravate pitta and kapha, leading to diabetes.

3.Stress and Emotional Imbalance

Chronic stress can aggravate all three doshas, disrupting hormonal balance and impacting blood sugar regulation.

4.Weak Immunity or Ojas

Ojas, the essence of vitality, is depleted by improper lifestyle choices. A weak ojas can make the body more susceptible to diabetes and other chronic health conditions. 

Ayurvedic Remedies For Diabetes

According to ancient texts, ayurveda takes a holistic approach to managing diabetes and most health concerns. Ayurveda suggests a multi-prong approach. The management process includes:

  • Remedies using Ayurvedic herbs.
  • Various therapies help aid the detox procedure that rejuvenates the body. This helps in severe cases of diabetes.
  • Dietary changes help manage diabetes.
  • Lifestyle changes can help manage diabetes.

Herbal Medication

As mentioned above, some herbs are said to help manage diabetes. In this section, find a list of Ayurvedic herbs for diabetes. These may help maintain blood sugar levels and manage diabetes.

  • Turmeric
  • Ginseng
  • Fenugreek
  • Psyllium
  • Cinnamon
  • Aloe vera
  • Bitter melon
  • Bitter gourd 
  • Milk thistle

Many of the herbs and fruits on the list taste bitter. This bitter property is said to help maintain sugar levels. Adding these to your recipes in different forms can help you manage your blood sugar levels.

Connect with our Ayurveda experts, who can curate the recipes according to your level of diabetes and your body type.

Detox Procedures or Panchakarma

Panchakarma is one of the most comprehensive Ayurvedic treatments for managing various health concerns and enhancing overall well-being. It's a therapy process that aims to detoxify the body through five smaller processes.

The entire Panchakarma therapy takes seven to fifteen days, depending on the processes. But, before you undergo any panchakarma therapy for diabetes, you must make sure you take a recommendation from an Ayurvedic expert.

Note: You must not undergo heat therapies, hot oil massages or any kind of steam therapy in Ayurvedic Spas when your blood sugar is high.

Dietary Changes

Your diet chart for managing blood sugar spikes will help soothe the Kapha dosha imbalance. The options will include the following;

Focus on Light and Warming Foods: Always choose slightly warm and easily digestible meals. Avoid heavy, oily, and cold foods as they can be harder to digest and may worsen blood sugar control.

Limited Dairy: Consuming milk products can increase Kapha dosha, which can be imbalanced in diabetes. Opt for low-fat dairy or consume it in moderation. Ghee, clarified butter, can be used sparingly to support digestion.

Prioritise Beans and Legumes: Include plenty of beans and legumes in your diet, especially moong beans, as they benefit diabetic blood sugar management.

Fruits with a Lower Glycemic Index: Select fruits like apples, pomegranates, and berries, as they tend to have a lower glycemic index, meaning they raise blood sugar levels more slowly.

Lighter Grains: Swap out heavier grains like rice and wheat for lighter options like millet and corn, which are easier to digest.

Spice it Up!: Include plenty of spices in your cooking as they can be helpful for Kapha dosha. Focus on pepper, mustard seeds, garlic, and ginger. Ginger tea is particularly beneficial for digestion. Limit salt intake.

Minimise Meat Consumption: Consider reducing meat intake as it may contribute to inflammation and worsening diabetes.

Warm Water is Key: Drinking warm water throughout the day is recommended to aid digestion and blood sugar control.

Embrace Bitterness: Incorporate bitter foods like bitter gourd into your diet, as they may help manage blood sugar levels. Turmeric is another valuable spice to include.

Foods to Limit: Avoid fried foods, starchy vegetables like potatoes, sugary drinks, and fruits with a high glycemic index, such as mangoes, custard apples, dates, and bananas. Additionally, steer clear of cakes, processed sugary products, and wine.

Lifestyle Changes

Ayurveda classics have described lifestyle as physical, mental, social and spiritual conduct. 

You must alter the following parts of your lifestyle to get your metabolic health straight.

  • Daily Regimen: Food and Sleep habits must be according to the body's daily signals and environmental rhythms.
  • Seasonal Regimen - Your body's metabolism and energy intake change as per seasonal changes. 
  • The Habit of Suppressing Natural Urges - Suppressing natural urges such as defecation and urination will alter how your body reacts to toxin elimination.
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Tobacco use - Alcohol can initially raise blood sugar but then cause a sudden drop (hypoglycemia). Smoking can make cells resistant to insulin, leading to high blood sugar.
  • Physical activity - Physical activity is an integral part of the daily regimen to lead a healthy life, according to ayurveda.  When you exercise, your muscles become more receptive to insulin, the hormone that helps your body absorb glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream for energy. This improved sensitivity allows your body to use sugar more efficiently, lowering blood sugar levels.
  • Psychological Status/ Mental Health - When stressed, your body releases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can cause the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream, raising your blood sugar levels.
  • Spiritual Aspect - Spiritual practices like meditation, prayer, or spending time in nature can promote relaxation and reduce stress hormones that can elevate blood sugar levels.
  • Social Relationship - Feeling connected and loved can elevate mood and overall well-being. Positive social interactions can help combat feelings of depression and anxiety, which can negatively impact diabetes management.
  • Rasayana Therapy -Regular ayurvedic rasayana therapy can help elevate the health of your body tissues. This traditional Indian approach to health can help manage blood sugar in diabetes. It uses herbs, diet changes, and stress management to improve digestion, reduce toxins, and potentially regulate blood sugar.

"Dietary and lifestyle regimens are followed per individual Prakriti to avoid lifestyle disorders." 

- Dr Isra Ismail

Key Takeaways

Ayurvedic Perspective: Diabetes is called "madhumeha" (honey urine).

Root Causes: A sedentary lifestyle, improper diet, stress, and weak immunity are seen as root causes.

Treatment Approach: Ayurveda takes a holistic approach with dietary changes, herbal remedies, detoxification (Panchakarma), and lifestyle modifications.

Ayurveda offers a comprehensive approach to managing diabetes, addressing blood sugar levels and the underlying imbalances contributing to the condition.

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