According to modern medicine, Diabetes Mellitus is a condition where our blood sugar levels are exceedingly high.
The food that we eat is transformed into glucose or sugar which is the main source of energy. Insulin, a pancreatic hormone that is produced by the beta cells or Islets of Langerhans helps the body to use this glucose for energy conversion. A person with Diabetes has either no production of Insulin through the pancreas or is unable to utilize the insulin properly. This results in a high level of non-metabolized sugar in the blood for a long time which is typically seen in Diabetic patients as elevated levels of blood sugar. This uncontrolled sugar level has adverse effects on vital organs such as the eyes, brain, kidneys & blood vessels in the long run. Diabetes mellitus is correlated in Ayurveda as Prameha/Madhumeha
Types of Diabetes:
- Type 1- In this case, the body does not produce insulin hormone at all. It is a less common type, seen in the early years of life.
- Type 2- In this case, the insulin produced is impaired and is unable to metabolize sugar properly. This is the most common type of diabetes seen worldwide.
- Gestational- During pregnancy, some women are not able to produce enough insulin and that leads to this type of diabetes.
According to our Vedic literature
Prameha is a syndrome that is described in Ayurveda which includes clinical conditions involving Pre-diabetes, Diabetes, obesity, and a particular type of Prameha is considered to have similar symptoms as seen in Diabetes mellitus. Acharya Sushruta emphasized the fact that the primary cause of Prameha is an imbalance of all three Doshas because of poor diet and lifestyle habits. Ayurveda strongly advocates diet and exercise to reverse the symptoms.
Ayurvedic classification of Prameha:
Based on the dosha dominance Prameha has the following sub-types:
- Kaphaja prameha – 10 Types
- Pittaja prameha – 6 Types
- Vataja prameha – 4 Types
Diabetes especially type 2, which is loosely translated as Madhumeha comes under the sub-type Kaphaja Prameha. Agni is the key factor responsible for digestion which gets weak and impaired. When its functions suffer it leads to the formation of Ama which causes an imbalance of normal metabolism of nutrients and builds up sugar levels in the blood.
Common Causes, Signs, and Symptoms of Prameha/Madhumeha
Even though the terminology is different in both the sciences, Ayurveda and modern medicine both have mentioned similar causes, symptoms, and signs for Diabetes.
- For type 1 diabetes- genetic factors
- For type 2 and Prameha/Madhumeha –
- Being overweight/obese
- Lack of exercise
- Improper timing of meals
- Suppressing hunger and eating large meals later
- Intake of heavy to digest food.
- Hormonal imbalance
- Insulin resistance
Signs and Symptoms:
- Frequent urination, especially at night
- Excessive thirst
- Increased sweating, especially sweaty palms, and soles
- Variable appetite
- Slow healing of wounds
- Fungal infections with itching
- Unable to lose weight.
Management of Prameha/Madhumeha – Diabetes:
Prameha/Madhumeha is often termed the silent killer. One may not have any symptoms at the first, but once it is detected it needs to be managed effectively.
Diabetes is caused by the imbalance of Kapha and Vata dosha. According to Ayurveda excessive intake of foods that are heavy, hot & unctuous should be avoided. Diabetic patients must avoid daily and excessive consumption of sweet fruits, rice, potato, Maida, deep fried foods, red meat, and wheat. Intake of protein-rich vegetables & pulses should be increased in the diet of patients who are suffering from diabetes. Different types of salads, fresh and cooked vegetables should be a part of a daily diet.
Vihara / Lifestyle:
Exercise especially performing Yoga is beneficial for Prameha/Madhumeha . Here are a few asanas which help diabetic patients:
- Vakrsana: Twisting /sleeping position. This yoga posture helps to tone and strengthen the abdomen and stimulate the functions of the internal organs. This asana helps to reduce belly fat and lose weight.
- Matsyasana: Fish pose This asana helps in stretching the belly muscles & also helps in toning the abdominal organs. It is practiced with a combination of deep breathing exercises.
- Mandukasana: Frog pose Mandukasana gives relief from digestive disorders, constipation. It is beneficial for the smooth functioning of the pancreas, thus beneficial for diabetic patients. Additionally, it also helps to reduce fat from the thighs, belly, and hips.
- Balasana: Child pose This is a resting posture that helps in relaxing & stimulating the insulin-producing beta cells.
- Ustrasana: Camel pose People who are suffering from asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, thyroid, and parathyroid disorders, spondylitis, and voice disorders can be benefited by doing this asana regularly. It helps to regulate endocrine functions.
- Sirsasana: Headstand pose This posture helps in the proper functioning of the pituitary gland
- Paschimotasana: Seated Forward Bend This asana helps to reduce belly fat, regulates menstrual cycles, relieves stress, and removes anxiety & calms the mind. This is a forward bending pose that also improves flexibility and abdominal muscle tone.
- Dhanurasana: Bow Pose This asana helps to control blood sugar levels by improving the functions of the internal organs of the abdomen such as the Intestines, Liver & Pancreas.
- Pranayama & Dhyana Pranayama and dhyana are beneficial for Diabetic patients, as they are for other diseases as well. These practices help to rejuvenate the body and all five senses. In diabetics, a controlled, systematic breathing technique boosts the abdominal contractions and relaxation which stimulates the pancreas and may promote insulin secretion. The muscular exercise associated with Yoga practices helps to reduce blood sugar levels. Yoga practices also boost glandular secretion, improve blood circulation, help in detoxification, and clear the srotas (channels).
Aushadhi / Herbs for Prameha/Madhumeha :
Following herbs are useful in the effective management of Prameha/Madhumeha: