Diabetes Beyond Blood Sugar Levels
Modern medicine defines diabetes as a chronic metabolic condition that occurs when the body is unable to produce enough insulin (type I diabetes), the hormone that is responsible for blood sugar control, in the pancreas or not able to effectively use the insulin (type II diabetes or insulin resistance) it does make thus triggering excess blood sugar levels known as hyperglycemia. Ayurveda takes a more holistic approach to diabetes and believes that prevention is as important as treatment.
Ayurveda & diabetes
Ayurveda states that all of us are born with a specific prakriti which is formed due to the interaction between the tridoshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The Panchmahabhutas or the 5 core elements (earth/prithvi, water/jal, fire/agni, wind/vayu & space/akash) are present across the entire universe and are responsible for the formation of the tridoshas. Any imbalance in the tridoshas leads to diseases. Diabetes mellitus or Madhumeha is identified as a Vataja Prameha and is the result of vata dosha imbalance.
Ancient Ayurvedic texts, written by Acharya Charak, Acharya Sushrut and Acharya Vagabhatta thousands of years ago give detailed description of diabetes – its origins, causes, symptoms as well as ayurvedic treatments for diabetes.
These ancient manuscripts describe diabetes as Prameha (Pra/abundant and Meha/passing of large quantities of urine) and diabetes mellitus as Madhumeha (sweet urine) or what modern medicine refers to as chronic insulin dependent type II diabetes. There are 20 types of Prameha – 4 caused due to vata dosha, 6 due to pitta dosha, and 10 due to kapha dosha.
Ayurveda also describes diabetes as Ojomeha or the loss of Ojas (vital energy that enhances bala/strength, improves immunity and happiness) via urine.
Causes of diabetes
But is high blood sugar the only cause and sign of diabetes? Ayurveda states that as diabetes is a metabolic disorder, there are physical, mental and dietary causes, apart from high blood sugar, that result in diabetes including
- Swapnasukham – excessive sleeping
- Asyasukham – sedentary, extra comfortable lifestyle and lack of physical activity
- Chinta – stress and anxieties
- Bhaya – fear or excessive worrying
- Kapha krut cha sarvam – the dietary and lifestyle choices that aggravate the Kapha dosha
- Alsaya – laziness
- Deergha roga – previously chronic illnesses
- Shoka – grief
- Adyashana – constant food consumption
- Adhikashana – excess food consumption
- Guru ahara – eating heavy foods that are difficult to digest
- Samashana – incorrect diet
- Dadheeni – too much consumption of curd
- Payamsi – excessive consumption of milk and dairy products
- Gramya oudaka anupa mamsa – eating flesh or meat of aquatic animals
- Guda vaikruti – extra consumption of jaggery and foods made from jaggery
- Ikshurasa – eating a lot of sugarcane or ganna
- Madhura rasa – consuming sweets in large quantities
- Navaana panam – eating food items made from new grains
- Pishta ahara – eating foods that are high in carbohydrates
Symptoms of diabetes (Prameha Purvarupa) apart from high blood sugar
Frequent urination (polyuria), increase in thirst (polydipsia), and increased appetite (polyphagia) are the three main signs of diabetes. Other symptoms include
- Sveda – lots of sweating
- Netropadeha – trouble with vision
- Angagandha – excessive body odor
- Asya madhurya – sweet feeling in the mouth
- Kara Pada Daha – burning in hands and feet
- Pipasa – extreme thirst
- Tandra – weakness/fatigue
- Anga Suptata – numbness in body
- Shvasa Dourgandhya – bad breath
- Sarvakala needra – constant feeling of sleepiness
Diabetes is an acquired condition due to faulty diet and lifestyle choices. Ayurveda for diabetes control recommends making healthy dietary & lifestyle changes including nutritious food, regular exercise, yoga & pranayama as well as incorporating ayurvedic home remedies in the daily schedule to help blood sugar control and successful management of diabetes. Make an appointment for an ayurvedic consultation with an experienced Ayurvedic Vaidya to overcome diabetes and lead a healthy, long and fulfilling life.