Diabetes Ayurvedic Treatment

Abnormalities in the utility of blood sugar (the main source of energy for cells, especially brain) by the body causes accumulation of sugar (glucose) in blood and is called diabetes. It is caused by either reduced production or abnormal functioning of insulin (a hormone produced by pancreas). The major types of diabetes are- Type 1, Type 2 (common form), gestational diabetes and prediabetes. 

 Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disorder, where the immune system attacks healthy cells in pancreas that produce insulin resulting in reduced levels of insulin in body. Blood sugar level rises rapidly due to its non-consumption. Genetics is the main culprit and young children and young adults are the victims. There is no connection with lifestyle of the patient. 

Rise in blood sugar level above normal but not enough to call it as diabetes, is termed as prediabetes. It can gradually develop into type 2 diabetes (if left untreated/ un-noticed) as the body become slowly resistant to insulin. Diet, physical inactivity, lifestyle as well as genetics are the potential risk factors. 

 In Type 2 diabetes the body become resistant to insulin, and hence the blood sugar is not taken up by insulin to convert it into energy resulting in gradual increase in blood glucose level. The common risk factors are genetics, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet and lifestyle or overweight. 

Gestational diabetes is the high blood sugar level during pregnancy in some women. The common risk factors are over-weight, family history of diabetes, prediabetes, PCOS, previous history of gestational diabetes etc. Usually, the blood sugar becomes normal after delivery but there are chances of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. 

Signs and symptoms

 Common signs and symptoms include excessive thirst/ hunger, frequent urination with or without froth, fatigue, unexplained decrease in body weight, delayed wound healing, lack of enthusiasm, vision problems etc. 

Ayurvedic analysis

 Prameha (profuse urination) is the condition described in Ayurveda which is characterised by excessive and frequent urination. Due to the causative factors, meda (fat tissue), mamsa (muscle tissue) and kleda (fluid substances in body) are vitiated and accumulated in urinary bladder resulting in prameha. 20 types of prameha are described in Ayurveda depending on the dosha and dhatu affected. Medas (fat tissue) is the dhatu that vitiate first due to faulty lifestyle and dietary habits. Thereafter blood, body fluids, lymph, muscle tissue, bone marrow etc are vitiated. Prodromal symptoms include excess waste accumulation in eyes/ teeth/ nose etc, burning sensation of hands and legs, excess thirst and sweet taste in mouth. The common complications of prameha as per Ayurveda are indigestion, tastelessness, vomiting, sleepiness, cough and cold due to kaphaja prameha; pain over bladder and genital region, fever, increased thirst, fainting etc due to pitta prameha; and bloating, heart disease, tremors, emaciation, sleeplessness, breathing problems etc due to vata prameha

 Jaathapramehi (those who develop prameha from birth or early childhood) and madhumehi (those at the final stage of prameha) have no cure. Jaathaprameha is originated from beejabhaga avayava dushti (genetic factors). 

Causative factors (Ayurveda)

 Anything that increase kapha can lead to development of prameha. Especially, sedentary habit, excess sleep or day sleep, overconsumption of curd, aquatic meat, red meat, sugarcane products, sweet/ sour/ salt/ oily/ heavy to digest/ cold food etc are the major causative factors. 

Possible complications

 Untreated prediabetes can lead to type 2 diabetes. Chronic diabetes will cause neuropathies (damage to nerves), nephropathy (kidney problems), cardiovascular disorders, retinopathy (vision problems), recurrent foot ulcer, reduced blood flow to foot, Alzheimer’s disease, hearing problem, repeated infections etc. Complications of gestational diabetes in babies are big body, low sugar levels in baby’s blood, later onset of type 2 diabetes or even death.  Gestational diabetes can cause pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure, swelling on feet and protein in urine) in mother. 

Other systemic diseases and precautions to be taken

 Consider other diseases like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, kidney problems etc before planning treatment. 

Management

 Internal medicines are given for uncomplicated cases. For chronic cases with complications, udwarthana (powder massage), snehana (internal and external), swedana (mild sudation- as prameha is not a disease where sudation can be done), virechana (purgation therapy), vasthi (enema with suitable drugs), lepana or abhyanga (external application of medicines) etc along with strict dietary modifications and exercises are provided depending on the dosha and associated symptoms. 

Diet

 Include more whole grains, green vegetables, fruits having less sugar, water in diet. Reduce the consumption of sweet and sour fruits, tubers, curd, spicy and cold food, heavy to digest items, fermented foods etc as directed by the physician. 

Exercise

 Exercise is very important for diabetic patient as the major causative factor is sedentary habit or reduced physical activity. Moderate to severe exercise are recommended. Yoga, meditation and pranayama can be done to reduce stress. 

Preventive aspects

 Eat healthy nutritious food which does not vitiate fat tissue and increase blood sugar. Exercise regularly. Avoid stress, limit the consumption of alcohol, and quit smoking. Maintain a healthy body weight. Check blood sugar at regular interval. 

Importance of diet

 Diet is then major risk factor in the development of diabetes and hence choose the right food items that does not cause hyperglycaemia (increased sugar level in blood). Simple dietary modification can improve prediabetes and gestational diabetes even without any medication or exercise. 

Lifestyle

 Those suffering from diabetes should indulge in regular exercise (moderate to severe)- like walking, jogging, yoga etc. Avoid those food items that increase blood sugar (eg: sweets, curd, heavy food, spicy items, tubers etc). quit smoking and limit the consumption of alcohol. Avoid stress, day sleep, late night sleep, sedentary habit and over exposure to heat. Maintain healthy body weight. Avoid chances of infection, cuts and wounds etc. Periodical blood sugar monitoring is mandatory to prevent further complications.

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