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Diabetes and Ayurveda

Madhumeh Chikitsa – Treatment of Diabetes

Diabetes has become one of the most common ailments today. The number of diabetic persons is increasing worldwide. Diabetes is a man made disease. This means that diabetes is related to our life style. If we adopt a proper life style like doing regular exercise, changing our dietary habits, opting for more natural food suitable to our body system and going for regular check ups after forty years of age (after thirty years of age for people who have a history of diabetes in the family), we can avoid or at least prolong the onset of the disease.

Modern science considers diabetes to be a metabolic disease but according to ayurveda, diabetes is a disease related to profuse urination. Not specifically a urinary tract disease, it is in fact a dysfunction of the body’s water system according to ayurveda. Ayurveda lists twenty such diseases, for example, prameh and madhumeh, along with the body constitution types (vaat, pitta and kafa) that cause them. Ayurveda agrees that diabetes is a serious disease, difficult to treat and one wherein many complications can occur. Alternative medicine cannot cure it but can certainly help to compliment modern medicine and help in controlling it to a certain extent as well as slowing down the progress of the disease.

Ayurveda evolved around 600 BC. At that time, ayurvedic scholars did not have microscopes; nevertheless, they knew about rising and falling blood sugar levels. They also observed that ants gather near the dried urine of some people. Thus they inferred that this urine must contain sugar and therefore they named this disorder madhumeh (sweet urination.) They concluded that this must occur due to an imbalance of the water metabolism of the body. This hypothesis cannot be accepted as it is today, considering the advances made in science since the early ayurvedic times. We can only say that at the time of ayurveda, since the microscope was not invented, ayurvedic scholars must have explained diabetes in this way.

Diabetes manifests itself as excess thirst and urination. Basically, diabetes indicates a failure of the mechanism which regulates sugar in the body. It is primarily a kafa (one of the basic body constituents) disorder involving obesity and excess consumption of kafa aggravating foods, for example, sweets. An increase of kafa in the body results in an impairment in the functioning of the pancreas. Kafa then enters other dhatus (tissues), thus resulting in diabetes.

Ayurveda agrees with modern science that wrong diet is often a causative factor for diabetes. One has to avoid excessive consumption of sugars, sweets, sweet tasting foods, diary products, alcohol, fat, etc. Obesity, excessive sexual activity, sleep during day time, lack of exercise, worry, stress, anxiety and hereditary tendencies are some of the other causes.

Ayurveda recommends a few medicines that can help to keep diabetes under control. Personally, I opine that we can integrate ayurvedic treatment with allopathic investigations and treatment to counter diabetes. Arogya vardhini, chandraprabha and madhumehvati (three tablets of each medicine at a time, two times in a day, on an empty stomach) are recommended medicines for patients in whom the post pandrial blood sugar level is below 200mg/dl. If it is above 200mg.dl, then four teaspoonfuls of madhumehkadha (a decoction prepared specifically for diabetes) with water, after lunch and dinner, are recommended. In addition to this, rasayana churna, which acts as a rejuvenation medicine, is suggested. For more severe and long term conditions, shilajit compound is suggested. This should be taken under an ayurvedic physician’s supervision. Another important ayurvedic medicine is gurmer (gymnema sylvestre.) Gurmer is one of the important ayurvedic medicines that are the focus of scientific research today. In my opinion, it is safe to undergo ayurvedic treatment along with allopathic drugs for diabetes as this will add to the benefits of the allopathic medicines. However, the patient must discuss with his family doctor and ayurvedic healer before starting this joint treatment program.

Modern medicine is very helpful in diagnosing diabetes and treating acute and chronic conditions resulting from it. If we supplement it with alternative medicine like ayurveda it will definitely help in keeping diabetes under control and improving the quality of life.

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni; more on Ayurveda

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