Explores the powerful potential of treating diabetes with Ayurveda, a chronic disease affecting millions in…Read More
Globally, there’s been a sharp increase in the number of people who walk into a doctor’s clinic with a set of symptoms and walk out with a diabetes diagnosis. In fact, a quick look at the statistics points to an increase in the incidence of diabetes globally, from 108 million in 1980 to a whopping 451 million in 2017. This number is projected to increase to 693 million by 2045 if no effective preventative measures are adopted.
Have you been newly diagnosed, are taking care of a loved one who’s been dealing with the disease, or have had type-1 or type-2 diabetes as your constant companion through the past few years? Then you must be familiarized with a few of these preventative measures including exercising frequently, eating clean, and maintaining a healthy weight by your doctor. Although everything can get overwhelming, it might help to know that managing things becomes easier as you better understand your health and work with your diagnosis instead of against it. And you’ve got time and options on your side as you navigate the waters of this difficult journey.
When we eat a meal, the levels of glucose in our bloodstream rises. The pancreas then releases a hormone called insulin to move this glucose from your blood into your cells, where it can then be used for energy that the body needs to carry out everyday activities. Insulin then stimulates the liver to metabolize glucose, storing any excess amounts for later. It also helps your muscles and fat store excess glucose so as to not overwhelm the bloodstream. In this way, the levels of glucose in the body come down to normal levels. However, with diabetes, this process isn’t carried out the way it should be and glucose levels build up in the bloodstream and remain high. The factors behind this determine the specific type of diabetes that a person has.
This form of diabetes is an autoimmune condition and generally occurs in children. In it, the body’s own immune system attacks the pancreas, making it unable to produce insulin. Symptoms include:
This is the most common form of diabetes and is characterized by the body being unable to use insulin properly. This could occur if the body is unable to respond to insulin secretion, essentially causing it to ignore it altogether. Alternatively, beta cells in the pancreas might not produce enough of the hormone itself. This commonly occurs in adults who are obsese. Symptoms include:
That said, sometimes these symptoms might be so mild that they go undetected.
In addition to this, there’s gestational diabetes which occurs during pregnancy, often in overweight women whose bodies can’t produce enough insulin during late pregnancy.
There are a few other forms of diabetes that are caused due to a single gene mutation but are extremely rare.Pinchevsky, Yacob, Neil Butkow, Frederick J. Raal, Tobias Chirwa, and Alan Rothberg. “Demographic and clinical factors associated with development of type 2 diabetes: a review of the … Continue reading
Ayurveda describes chronic illnesses that are characterised by frequent, abnormal urination collectively as Prameha. There are 20 different types of Prameha and diabetes falls within this category as well. More specifically, however, it is described as a condition in which a person passes honey-like urine and is given the term Madhumeha. This is also understood as hyperglycemia in conventional medicine and is caused by reduced insulin production and decreased insulin sensitivity.Banerjee, Subhadip, Parikshit Debnath, Prasanna N. Rao, Tapas Brata Tripathy, Anjan Adhikari, and Pratip K. Debnath. “Ayurveda in changing scenario of diabetes management for developing safe … Continue reading
Madhumeha is described in detail across various Ayurvedic classics, such as Charaka samhita, Sushruta samhita, Ashtanga sangraha, Madhava nidana, and Yoga ratnakara. Within these texts, excess consumption of heavy to digest (guru), sour (amla), salty (lavana rasa), wine, and food prepared from newly harvested grains can lead to excess blood sugar levels. It also recognizes that leading a sedentary lifestyle (Asya sukha), excessive sleeping (atinidra), not working out enough (avyayama), and not applying your mind enough to things (achinta) can lead to Madhumeha as well.Banerjee, Subhadip, Parikshit Debnath, Prasanna N. Rao, Tapas Brata Tripathy, Anjan Adhikari, and Pratip K. Debnath. “Ayurveda in changing scenario of diabetes management for developing safe … Continue reading Peters, C. J. M., V. P. Mohana Kumari, and V. M. Peters. “Diabetes mellitus type 2 from the perspective of ayurveda, a case study.” Int J Complement Alt Med 12, no. 6 (2019): 241-244.
Prediabetes refers to higher than normal blood sugar levels, not enough to warrant a diabetes diagnosis but high enough to be a cause for concern. If you’ve been diagnosed with prediabetes, you’ll need to follow your doctor’s instructions to keep it from developing into type 2 diabetes. This holds true for both adults and children with prediabetes. That said, risk factors for the two types of diabetes can vary, especially considering the differences in their root cause.
It’s hard to determine exactly what leads to type 1 diabetes but some factors that have a role to play include family history, i.e if your parent or sibling has type 1 diabetes, your risk of it increases as well. In addition to this, exposure to certain viruses like rotavirus and mumps as well as presence of damaging immune system cells (diabetes autoantibodies) increase the risk of diabetes. A few studies have found that people in Finland and Sweden have higher rates of type 1 diabetes.Ludvigsson, Johnny. “Increasing incidence but decreasing awareness of type 1 diabetes in Sweden.” Diabetes Care 40, no. 10 (2017): e143-e144.
Lifestyle factors are primarily responsible for the development of type-2 diabetes:
For instance, being overweight causes you to carry more fatty tissue, leading your cells to be more resistant to insulin. In addition to this, genetics and ethnicity have a role to play with studies stating that people of Black, Hispanic, Indian, and Asian backgrounds have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes. This risk also increases as you age.Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes. National Institutes Of Health.
Ayurveda and conventional medicine share similar viewpoints when it comes to diabetes management.
A chronic condition like diabetes needs lifelong management and failure to do so can lead to serious medical complications like heart disease, kidney disease, vision loss, nerve damage, and skin problems.
The first stage of managing diabetes is to stop it from progressing from the prediabetes stage through lifestyle modifications like losing weight, exercising, and eating a healthy diet. Medications might be used in conjunction but they aren’t as effective as making the above-stated changes. Studies indicate that just losing 7% of body weight while maintaining 150 minutes of exercise weekly can stave off type-2 diabetes by 58%.Med, Exp Biol. “Moderate changes in weight and physical activity can prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus in susceptible individuals.” Exp Biol Med 216 (1997): … Continue reading
Type 1 Diabetes
Individuals with type-1 diabetes need to keep track of taking their insulin, managing their fat, protein, and carbohydrate intake, monitor their blood sugar frequently, eat clean, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight.
The goal is to keep blood sugar levels to as close to normal as possible. People with type-1 diabetes might be prescribed cholesterol-lowering as well as high blood pressure medications along with aspirin which they’d need to take as directed.
Type 2 Diabetes
Those with type-2 diabetes, meanwhile, need to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, lose weight, and monitor their blood sugar. However, if the condition were to progress to a point where the pancreas can no longer produce insulin or if blood glucose levels get to dangerously high levels, your doctor might prescribe appropriate medications and insulin therapy.
Other recommended best practices for managing type-2 diabetes includeNguyen, Quang, Loida Nguyen, and James Felicetta. “Evaluation and management of diabetes mellitus.” American health & drug benefits 1, no. 8 (2008): 39.:
To avoid foot injuries, diabetics are also advised to wear footwear even at home and refrain from using blades to clip nails and use only nail cutters.
Ayurveda recommends similar lifestyle changes to stave off diabetes, albeit with slightly more specific dietary modifications. Broadly, it recommends sticking to a routine of waking and sleeping at the same time every day, exercising regularly, and avoiding napping. It also recommends the consumption of rasayana drugs, restricting the intake of wine, oil, clarified butter, milk, sugarcane, cake, meat, and unhealthy, fried, and sugar-laden food. Preparations made from barley, green gram, old rice, bitter gourd, drumstick, fenugreek, watermelon, triphala etc are recommended.
For those who’ve been diagnosed with either form of diabetes, Ayurvedic treatment involves avoidance of everything listed above along with tubers, sugary soda, fried food, desserts, and fruits with high sugar content like mango, banana, custard apple, and dates. If the patient is obese, the line of treatment involves bio-cleansing therapies under the guidance of a qualified physician. If the patient is lean, then the only line of treatment recommended is lifestyle changes and regular yoga practice. Lean patients should focus on including proper nutrition like adding ghee and milk to their regular diet.
Ayurvedic drugs and herbs work on beta cells of the pancreas to improve insulin production or increase sensitivity to insulin secretion. These broadly include:
However, in case of type-1 diabetes, these are used in conjunction with conventional insulin therapy to prevent long-term complications. It’s also recommended to get regular physical check-ups and look for signs of open sores on feet, in line with conventional recommendations.
Also known as the drumstick tree or “miracle” tree, moringa has been used since the 18th century for its medicinal purposes in India. It’s got antifungal, antiviral, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties and is packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium.Abbas, R. K., F. S. Elsharbasy, and A. A. Fadlelmula. “Nutritional Values of Moringa oleifera, Total Protein.” Amino Acid, Vitamins, Minerals, Carbohydrates, Total Fat and Crude Fiber, … Continue reading
Healers use different parts of moringa – the root, bark, gum, leaf, fruit, flowers, and even the seeds – to come up with various medicinal formulations to treat ailments like conjunctivitis, digestive disorders, fevers, diarrhea, earaches, rheumatism, joint pain, headaches, and more.
Compounds found in moringa leaves might lower blood sugar levels. More specifically, early studies have found that the leaves contain antioxidants called quercetin and chlorogenic acid, both of which have been found to stabilize glucose levels in the bloodstream and sugar and protein levels in urine. The fiber in moringa is believed to play a role in regulating blood sugar levels since, in people with diabetes, fiber (particularly soluble fiber) can slow down the absorption of sugar and improve blood sugar levels. In fact, a diet rich in fiber might even reduce the risk of developing type-2 diabetes.Khan, Washim, Rabea Parveen, Karishma Chester, Shabana Parveen, and Sayeed Ahmad. “Hypoglycemic potential of aqueous extract of Moringa oleifera leaf and in vivo GC-MS metabolomics.” … Continue reading Ndong, Moussa, Mariko Uehara, Shin-ichi Katsumata, and Kazuharu Suzuki. “Effects of oral administration of Moringa oleifera Lam on glucose tolerance in Goto-Kakizaki and Wistar rats.” … Continue reading
The high vitamin-content of moringa along with its phytochemical and antioxidant content has also been found to reduce chronic inflammation which lies at the helm of both types of diabetes. For instance, in type-2 diabetes, the body’s resistance to insulin leads to inflammation, which in turn worsens insulin resistance. In type-1 diabetes, the action of immune cells as they target self-tissues leads to inflammation. Moringa might have properties to tackle this.Tsalamandris, Sotirios, Alexios S. Antonopoulos, Evangelos Oikonomou, George-Aggelos Papamikroulis, Georgia Vogiatzi, Spyridon Papaioannou, Spyros Deftereos, and Dimitris Tousoulis. “The role … Continue reading Moringa — the next superfood? University Of California.
Moringa has also been found to reduce fat formation and enhance fat breakdown in several studies. Management of obesity, as mentioned above, is an important aspect of diabetes management. Some studies have also found the antioxidants in moringa to have a beneficial effect on other chronic conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease, both of which are closely tied to diabetes.Kilany, Omnia E., Heba MA Abdelrazek, Tahany Saleh Aldayel, Shimaa Abdo, and Manal MA Mahmoud. “Anti-obesity potential of Moringa olifera seed extract and lycopene on high fat diet induced … Continue reading
Moringa is available in the form of powder, tea, capsules, and oil.
Studies have used different concentrations of moringa and it’s always best to consult an Ayurvedic professional before you begin consuming moringa specifically to tackle diabetes.Kushwaha, Shalini, Paramjit Chawla, and Anita Kochhar. “Effect of supplementation of drumstick (Moringa oleifera) and amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor) leaves powder on antioxidant profile and … Continue reading That said, here are a few available forms of the plant that you could add to your diet:
In addition to this, you could bake moringa into cookies, add it to parathas, or sprinkle it over anything you’ve made.
Although moringa is generally well tolerated, it’s best to consult a professional. They can determine whether the herb will interact with any prescribed medication and help you arrive at an ideal dosage.
|↑1||Pinchevsky, Yacob, Neil Butkow, Frederick J. Raal, Tobias Chirwa, and Alan Rothberg. “Demographic and clinical factors associated with development of type 2 diabetes: a review of the literature.” International journal of general medicine 13 (2020): 121.|
|↑2, ↑3||Banerjee, Subhadip, Parikshit Debnath, Prasanna N. Rao, Tapas Brata Tripathy, Anjan Adhikari, and Pratip K. Debnath. “Ayurveda in changing scenario of diabetes management for developing safe and effective treatment choices for the future.” Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 12, no. 2 (2015): 101-110.|
|↑4||Peters, C. J. M., V. P. Mohana Kumari, and V. M. Peters. “Diabetes mellitus type 2 from the perspective of ayurveda, a case study.” Int J Complement Alt Med 12, no. 6 (2019): 241-244.|
|↑5||Ludvigsson, Johnny. “Increasing incidence but decreasing awareness of type 1 diabetes in Sweden.” Diabetes Care 40, no. 10 (2017): e143-e144.|
|↑6||Symptoms & Causes of Diabetes. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑7||Med, Exp Biol. “Moderate changes in weight and physical activity can prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus in susceptible individuals.” Exp Biol Med 216 (1997): 28-43.|
|↑8||Nguyen, Quang, Loida Nguyen, and James Felicetta. “Evaluation and management of diabetes mellitus.” American health & drug benefits 1, no. 8 (2008): 39.|
|↑9||Abbas, R. K., F. S. Elsharbasy, and A. A. Fadlelmula. “Nutritional Values of Moringa oleifera, Total Protein.” Amino Acid, Vitamins, Minerals, Carbohydrates, Total Fat and Crude Fiber, under the Semi-Arid Conditions of Sudan. J Microb Biochem Technol 10 (2018): 56-58.|
|↑10||Khan, Washim, Rabea Parveen, Karishma Chester, Shabana Parveen, and Sayeed Ahmad. “Hypoglycemic potential of aqueous extract of Moringa oleifera leaf and in vivo GC-MS metabolomics.” Frontiers in pharmacology 8 (2017): 577.|
|↑11||Ndong, Moussa, Mariko Uehara, Shin-ichi Katsumata, and Kazuharu Suzuki. “Effects of oral administration of Moringa oleifera Lam on glucose tolerance in Goto-Kakizaki and Wistar rats.” Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition 40, no. 3 (2007): 229-233.|
|↑12||Tsalamandris, Sotirios, Alexios S. Antonopoulos, Evangelos Oikonomou, George-Aggelos Papamikroulis, Georgia Vogiatzi, Spyridon Papaioannou, Spyros Deftereos, and Dimitris Tousoulis. “The role of inflammation in diabetes: current concepts and future perspectives.” European Cardiology Review 14, no. 1 (2019): 50.|
|↑13||Moringa — the next superfood? University Of California.|
|↑14||Kilany, Omnia E., Heba MA Abdelrazek, Tahany Saleh Aldayel, Shimaa Abdo, and Manal MA Mahmoud. “Anti-obesity potential of Moringa olifera seed extract and lycopene on high fat diet induced obesity in male Sprauge Dawely rats.” Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences 27, no. 10 (2020): 2733-2746.|
|↑15||Kushwaha, Shalini, Paramjit Chawla, and Anita Kochhar. “Effect of supplementation of drumstick (Moringa oleifera) and amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor) leaves powder on antioxidant profile and oxidative status among postmenopausal women.” Journal of food science and technology 51, no. 11 (2014): 3464-3469.|
|↑16||Nova, Esther, Noemí Redondo-Useros, Rosa M. Martínez-García, Sonia Gómez-Martínez, Ligia E. Díaz-Prieto, and Ascensión Marcos. “Potential of Moringa oleifera to Improve Glucose Control for the Prevention of Diabetes and Related Metabolic Alterations: A Systematic Review of Animal and Human Studies.” Nutrients 12, no. 7 (2020): 2050.|
|↑17||William, Felicia, S. Lakshminarayanan, and Hariprasad Chegu. “Effect of some Indian vegetables on the glucose and insulin response in diabetic subjects.” International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 44, no. 3 (1993): 191-195.|
|↑18||Asare, George Awuku, Ben Gyan, Kwasi Bugyei, Samuel Adjei, Razak Mahama, Phyllis Addo, Lydia Otu-Nyarko, Edwin Kwame Wiredu, and Alexander Nyarko. “Toxicity potentials of the nutraceutical Moringa oleifera at supra-supplementation levels.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 139, no. 1 (2012): 265-272.|
Dr. Anand R Dwivedi is an Ayurevedacharya from Mumbai University, 1987. He has been practicing Ayurveda since 1988. He has a special interest in the treatment of chronic illnesses with the help of Ayurveda. He has been associated with Kapiva since 2015 and helping people lead a well-balanced lifestyle through his deep knowledge of Ayurveda.
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