Diabetes is one of the most widespread diseases in modern civilisation and is on the rise worldwide. Statistics show that since 1980, the number of cases of diabetes in adults has doubled worldwide, while diabetes in children has shown an alarming increase in recent years.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused by the rise in blood glucose ('sugar') levels above normal values. In a normal person, glucose levels in the body are regulated by certain hormones, in particular insulin, a hormone released from the pancreas. The role of insulin is to allow glucose to enter the cells of each organ or tissue from the blood and be used by them as food.
In diabetes, either insulin secretion is not sufficient (type 1 diabetes) or insulin secretion is normal but cannot be used and glucose does not enter the cells and remains in the blood at high levels (type 2 diabetes). In this case, the cells are deprived of their main source of nourishment and the excess glucose in the blood has serious repercussions on some organs and tissues of the body.
Diabetes mellitus is a serious disease that, left untreated, leads to severe complications and even death. Among the conditions that can occur as a complication of diabetes are: diabetic retinopathy (causing blindness), kidney failure, diabetic neuropathy, high blood pressure, sexual impotence, difficult wound healing leading to tissue necrosis, stroke.
Causes of diabetes:
If type 1 diabetes is linked to certain autoimmune causes, type 2 diabetes, which is also the most common, is very much linked to lifestyle and poor nutrition, to which are added hereditary and psycho-emotional factors: negative emotions experienced over a long period of time: stress, anxiety or helplessness, self-sufficiency, which are associated with excessive indolence in terms of bad eating habits, excessive sleep (especially during the day), lack of exercise.
Ayurvedic description of the condition:
In Ayurveda diabetes is also called Madhu Meha (Madhu means sweet) and correlates very well with the dominant symptom of the disease: the sweet taste of urine, which is due to the increased elimination of excess blood glucose through urine.
From an Ayurvedic point of view, diabetes belongs to the Prameha group of diseases, and its main causes are sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits (excess of heavy, sweet, oily and cold foods). These types of food increase excess Kapha (excess of water and earth elements in the body) and Medha (fat tissue) and decrease the digestive fire Agni, making it difficult to metabolise excess glucose in the blood and ultimately lead to various complications.
Ancient Ayurvedic texts describe several signs and symptoms by which diabetes manifests itself:
excessive urination and frequent urination
excessive hunger, excessive thirst
permanent sensation of sweet taste
excessive weight loss
Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes
In Ayurveda diabetes is classified as a Maharoga disease (major illness) because untreated, it affects not only a part of the physical body but also every cell of it.
Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes is a holistic treatment that addresses several levels of the being: the physical body, the mind, the emotional and soul level and is strictly individualised. Thus, in addition to herbal treatment and diet therapy, an important role is played by the correction of unhealthy lifestyle, Ayurvedic detoxification techniques, psycho-emotional healing and deep spiritual healing.
Ayurvedic diet therapy
In Ayurveda, the treatment of diabetes begins by changing the type of food consumed, depending on the patient's constitutional type and the type of aggravated doshas (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) that caused the disease. In the case of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes (often found in obese people - with excess Kapha i.e. excess of water and earth elements in the body) a pacifying diet for Kapha is recommended: light, dry, spicy, bitter and astringent foods.
In diabetes, ayurveda recommends:
- Whole grains from barley, rye, buckwheat, millet, in the form of cereal flakes or wholemeal porridge.
- Vegetables in general, and leafy greens (because of their predominantly astringent taste) are particularly suitable as salads or fresh juices: spinach, parsley, lettuce, dandelion greens, rocket, endive, nettle, chard leaves.
- All dried legumes (green lentils, red lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas, soybeans) are allowed.
- Fruits (without combining them with other foods): apples, grapefruit, lemons, plums, blueberries, currants, quinces.
- Small amounts of ghee (clarified butter), corn oil, soybean oil, cold pressed sunflower.
- Spices especially spicy ones: turmeric, ginger, pepper, chilli, mustard, garlic.
Foods not recommended in diabetes: sweets (except old honey in small quantities) sweet fruits (bananas, pineapple, figs, dates, pears, melons), carbohydrates from pasta, white wheat flour products, white rice, potatoes, milk or dairy products, fats from butter, cream, oilseeds (nuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios). Avoid eating too much meat, fish and eggs, avoid salt and pickles.
Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes mellitus
Ayurvedic medicine recommends treatment with bitter-tasting, astringent and pungent herbs to stimulate the digestive fire Agni and decrease the accumulation of excess Kapha, with increased hypoglycemic potential as well as regulatory effects on the pancreas and fat metabolism:
Neem (Azadirachta indica) - Can be used in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, with very good insulin-lowering effects in the body.
Amalaki (Emblica officinalis)- fresh juice is very useful in diabetes mellitus in combination with Haridra (Indian turmeric), for lowering elevated blood glucose levels and improving digestive fire Agni.
Momordica (Momordica charantia)- studies have shown an increased hypoglycemic potential of the fruit and seeds from the fruit.
Triphala -combination of 3 Indian herbs, well known in Ayurvedic treatments, with a very high detoxifying potential.
Other Indian herbs used are Bhumiamalaki, Gudmar, Guduci, Tulsi.
Medicinal herbs will be recommended in the doses prescribed by the doctor, after prior Ayurvedic consultation, depending on the patient's constitutional type (Prakriti) and the type of disturbed doshas (Vikriti).
With very good results it is recommended Shilajeet - a resin extracted from the Himalayan mountains and commonly used in Ayurvedic andyrobe treatments alongside herbs.
Traditional herbal medicine
Romanian medicinal plants used in diabetes include: artichoke, wormwood, dandelion, sorrel tail, leaves and fruits of blueberry, currant leaves, mulberry leaves, bean pods.
The method of administration of medicinal plants is the mixture of several plants, in the form of cold macerates, fine powders taken sublingually and then swallowed with water, capsules or tablets, in the doses prescribed by the doctor.
- Since the diabetic is prone to a sedentary lifestyle, sustained physical effort is very important in the therapy of the disease. Thus brisk walking, cycling, swimming, intense physical work, are all ways that make treatment effective.
- The diabetic patient will wake up early in the morning, avoid sleeping after meals or sleeping during the day.
- The diabetic will not consume excess food and will persistently follow the indicated diet.
Ayurvedic detoxification procedures- Panchakarma
After a prior Ayurvedic consultation, the doctor will decide which of the Ayurvedic deep body cleansing procedures are best for the patient. This may include dry massage of the body with herbal powders, the Ayurvedic procedure Vamana (therapeutic vomiting) or Virechana (therapeutic purging).
In the case of a significant psychosomatic component of the disease, Shirodhara (dripping oil in a thin thread on the patient's forehead) is highly indicated.
Awareness and control of negative emotions that have been at the origin of the disease are very important in the treatment of the disease, in this sense psychological counselling by qualified people is of real help.
Sincere prayer, deep meditation, yoga postures, deep relaxation techniques, music therapy, walking in nature, are effective procedures for calming the mind that allow contact with the deep part of the soul, being of immense help in the spiritual healing of the patient with diabetes.
Dr. Violeta Pîrvu
Specialist in family medicine, Competence in phytotherapy, ayurveda, apitherapy