Managing Diabetes with Ayurveda: Types, Symptoms & Remedies

As you know, Diabetes is a chronic medical condition characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin (a hormone that regulates blood sugar) or cannot effectively use the insulin it does produce. You would be surprised to know that according to Ayurveda, diabetes is considered as a manageable disease and not curable. Incidentally, any stream of medicine can only provide management and not a complete cure.


According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), as of 2021, there were an estimated 537 million people with diabetes worldwide, with type 2 diabetes accounting for the vast majority of cases. The IDF also estimates that an additional 374 million people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes: Did you know that Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease ?

The body’s immune system attacks and destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. It’s usually diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, and people with type 1 diabetes need insulin injections or pumps to control their blood sugar. However, Ayurveda management of type 1 diabetes focuses on diachariya (lifestyle and corrections) and medications to minimize the long term complications.

Some of the symptoms of type 1 diabetes include:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Bedwetting and urinating frequently
  • Feeling extremely hungry and losing weight without trying
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Fatigue and blurry vision

Type 2 diabetes:

It’s the most common type, caused by a mix of genetic and lifestyle factors like obesity and lack of physical activity. In type 2 diabetes, the body becomes resistant to insulin, and over time, the pancreas may not produce enough insulin. Ayurveda management of Type 2 diabetes often involves lifestyle changes, medication, and incertain cases panchakarma therapy

Some of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:

  • Increased thirst and hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Sores that heal slowly
  • Frequent infections
  • Frequent infections
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling and numbness in the feet and hands

The latest report Prevalence and complications of diabetes mellitus In India indicates an alarming raise in the  prevalence of chronic diabetes complications like retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy. These conditions occur when diabetes is not properly managed and it is also  noticed that even if the blood sugar is managed there is a likelihood of the patient developing chronic diabetic conditions. This is where the multi-dimensional approach of Ayurveda in managing diabetes proves beneficial.

Understanding Diabetes from an Ayurvedic Perspective:

In Ayurveda diabetes is known as “Prameha” or “Madhumeha.” According to Ayurvedic principles, it is primarily considered a disorder of the “Kapha” and “Pitta” doshas and involves the imbalance of various bodily factors. According to Ayurveda diabetes can only be managed and cannot be cured. The focus is to ensure the patient leads a normal life minimizing the long term diabetes complications like retinopathy, nephropathy, and neuropathy

Two main approaches in Ayurvedic Managment of Diabetes

1. Acute cases:

In acute cases such as Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), a serious complication of uncontrolled diabetes marked by high blood sugar and ketoacidosis, Ayurveda treatments are typically provided alongside the ongoing conventional treatments. It is not advisable to completely stop any existing medication under any circumstances. Additionally, if a patient chooses Ayurveda as their primary treatment, it is recommended to advise them to initially seek allopathic (conventional) treatment first and then explore Ayurveda. The objective is to taper down the long term prescription drugs, and substitute with Ayurvedic medicines and lifestyle modifications which have less side-effects.

2. General cases:

In general cases, with a combination of Ayurveda medicines, diet and lifestyle changes the patient will be able to switch to Ayurveda very quickly. Initially the treatment focuses on bringing critical parameters like blood sugar, weight etc under control. Once it’s achieved, the patient is prescribed long term maintenance medication. It’s noticed that in 90% of the cases, patients are able to move to a long term maintenance mediation in 90 days.

4 Simple Ayurvedic Remedies for Managing Diabetes

As you know Diabetes is a chronic condition and if left untreated can lead to several complications. While undergoing treatment, or if you are diagnosed as a pre-diabatic, or if you have a genetic predisposition there are several home remedies that you can follow.

Timely Food:

Ayurveda emphasis on the importance of timely food, which means both quality and consistency in time. This highly impacts your gut health and should be the number one priority for diabetic patients.

Food Choices:

It is recommended to consume simple, unprocessed food, preferably the ones you are familiar with from your upbringing. There are various misconceptions about foods like rice or chapatis. Ayurveda states that there is no harm in consuming food that your body is accustomed to, as long as it is in moderate quantities. Additionally, it is advised to avoid consuming food that has been cooked and stored for more than 24 hours. Although the effects of consuming old or processed food may not be immediately evident, it gradually disrupts gut health and weakens the immune system.

Replace curd with buttermilk:

While curd has its benefits, Ayurveda suggests that churning curd into buttermilk enhances its properties. The churning process makes the proteins in buttermilk easier to digest due to their degraded structure.

Drink lukewarm water instead of cold water:

According to Ayurveda one must consume lukewarm water or with room temperature. Cold warner especially from the refrigerator can adversely affect your metabolism and is not advised for people with diabetes. Moreover, consuming lukewarm water in an empty stomach can help control blood sugar.

Yoga and Exercise for Managing Diabetes

Though Yoga and exercise can be highly beneficial to managing diabetes, one should understand it’s not a substitute for treatment. 

  1. Yoga is generally prescribed along with Ayrueda treatment (medication and lifestyle changes) to increase the effectiveness. 
  2.  Specific yoga poses like seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana), half spinal twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana), and corpse pose (Savasana) can aid in regulating blood sugar levels, enhancing digestion, and reducing stress.
  3.  Ayurveda do  not recommend specific aerobic and strength training exercises, however, depending on the age one may choose an exercise and do it in moderation.

Conclusion

  1. Diabetes management in Ayurveda encompasses more than just lowering blood sugar levels; it involves addressing multiple objectives.
  2.  Diabetes is a progressive disease, and even if blood sugar is well-maintained, there is no guarantee against the development of chronic diabetic complications like retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, and others. 
  3. Ayurveda takes a multidimensional and holistic approach to treatment, tailoring it to each individual. At UWAY, doctors devote significant time to understanding the patient’s family history, current lifestyle, stress triggers, and dietary habits in order to devise an appropriate treatment plan. 
  4. The goal is to ensure that patients can enjoy a normal lifestyle with minimal or no side effects from treatment while significantly reducing the likelihood of developing chronic diabetic conditions in the future. 
  5. Maintaining blood sugar levels is just the starting point in this approach.
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