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AYURVEDIC APPROACH TO THE MANAGEMENT OF TYPE 2 DIABETES

Type 2 diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus) is a long-term and chronic condition results in too much sugar circulating in the bloodstream. Insulin secretion impaired as the individual will have developed up a resistance to insulin and the way the body uses regulates and uses sugar as a fuel. It. Over time, these high blood sugar levels lead to systemic disorders within the body.

With the condition, two things are happening; (1) the pancreas is not able to produce enough insulin, which normally regulates the movement of sugar into bodily cells, (2) and cells respond poorly to insulin and take up less sugar.

The signs and symptoms often develop slowly, and many are unaware they have the condition. When signs and symptoms are present, they can include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Feeling tired and lethargic
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores/wounds
  • Itchy skin infection, itchy skin
  • Gradually putting on weight
  • Mood swings
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Leg cramps
  • Frequent infections
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
  • Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and neck
  • Risk factors include:
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Storing fat mainly in the abdominal area
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Family history.
  • Race and ethnicity.
  • Blood lipid levels
  • Age
  • If one is pre-diabetic
  • Pregnancy-related risk of gestational diabetes
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Areas of darkened skin, usually in the armpits and/or around the neck

Type 2 diabetes can affect the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Potential complications include:

  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Nerve damage in the limbs
  • Other nerve damage
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye damage
  • Skin conditions
  • Slow wound healing
  • Hearing impairment
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Dementia


Conventional Treatments:
There's no cure for type 2 diabetes, however management focusses on keeping blood sugar levels closer to normal, and delaying or prevent complications through healthy eating, regular exercise, weight loss, blood sugar monitoring and diabetes medication and/or insulin therapy.


Ayurvedic Approach to Type 2 Diabetes (Isku Meda):
According to Ayurveda, Type 2 Diabetes is a complex and multifaceted syndrome with an associated number of impaired and dysfunctioning metabolic processes.

The condition is tridoshic, with a dominance of imbalanced Kapha dosha, and is seen as direct result of improper eating habits (which lead to a build-up of toxins within the body (Ama) - especially at the receptor sites, as well as fat), poor lifestyle choices and a lack of exercise. 

The pathogenesis varies, but a general line is seen as prolonged Kapha provoking diet and lifestyle habits, leading to the disturbance of the digestive fire and the subsequent production of Ama (toxins) in the GI tract, as well as a disruption of the Kapha dosha. There will also be a Vata imbalance, with Vata continuing to stimulate the digestive fire, increasing one’s appetite - so a person eats more and more (leading to being overweight and/or obesity). These toxins will eventually leave the GI tract via the bloodstream and settle in other bodily tissues. Over time, further imbalances occur which involve the impairment and functioning of other bodily systems, eventually manifesting as Type 2 diabetes.


BENEFICIAL AYURVEDIC HERBS FOR TYPE 2 DIABETES:
Vata Pitta Balancing: Guduchi; kapikachhu; punarnava; gokshura; amalaki; aragvadha; bilwa; ashwaganda
Vata Kapha Balancing: Fenugreek; kapikachhu; guduchi; punarnava, pippali; shilajat; guggulu; haritaki; amalaki; aragvadha; agnimantha, madhuashini; cinnamon, chitraka, hing, trikatu
Pitta Vata Balancing: Guduchi; kapikachhu; guduchi; punarnava; gokshura; amalaki; aragvadha; bilwa
Pitta Kapha Balancing: Amalaki; kapikachhu; guduchi; punarnava; gentian; daruharidra; aragvadha; bitter gourd; bilwa; neem, kutki
Kapha Vata Balancing: Fenugreek; kapikachhu; guduchi; punarnava; pippali; shilajat; guggulu; haritaki; amalaki; aragvadha; madhuashini; bilwa; cinnamon, hing, trikatu
Kapha Pitta Balancing: Amalaki; kapikachhu; guduchi; punarnava; aragvadha; bitter gourd; bilwa; cinnamon (small doses), kutki, chitraka


Traditional Ayurvedic Treatment(s) for Type 2 Diabetes:
Ayurvedic treatment approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual, the current imbalances, their age, strength, severity of the condition, and if other conditions are also present. Treatment approaches can include:

  • Avoid causative factors
  • Balance Jataragni, and digestion
  • Remove Ama (toxins within the digestive tract and body)
  • Balance doshic imbalances/blockages and facilitate weight loss through diet/lifestyle/herbs
  • Udvartana, swedana, shirodhara bodywork therapies
  • Intake of clean, wholefood, organic eating as much as possible
  • Panchakarma detox therapies (where required)
  • Establishing a healthy relationship to food, self-care and exercise


General Ayurvedic Nutritional Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes:
Ayurvedic nutritional approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. One should eat compatible foods, and in accordance to one's imbalances. Some additional general guidelines include:

  • One should eat the foods that one does not react to
  • One should eat according to the digestive capacity, keeping meals light, cooked, warm moist and easy to digest. Food substances should be dry and light to digest, with minimal oil or fat. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
  • One should eat at regular times/intervals. Avoid skipping meals.
  • One should eat wholegrains and non-processed foods, be sure to use some ghee in cooking.
  • Foods to avoid: Cold foods, raw foods, leftover foods (24 hours), frozen foods, cold water, processed and packaged foods, soft drinks and aerated beverages, high fat foods, greasy foods, extra salty foods.
  • Avoid sweet fruits, sago, rice, sugar, wheat, minimise intake of white and sweet potatoes, dairy products, as well as red meat and aim to eat dinner by 6pm (or eat a very light dinner if later than this).
  • Use monk fruit or stevia as a sweetener if needed.
  • One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal and eat only if hungry.
  • Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
  • Buttermilk consumed after meals is advisable.
  • Eat home cooked meals, preferably made on the same day as being prepared.
  • Water should be drunk warm in the cooler months and room temperature in the summer months. Avoid chilled water.
  • Use all of the five senses at mealtimes.
  • Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
  • Eat slowly


General Ayurvedic Lifestyle Guidelines for Type 2 Diabetes:
Ayurvedic lifestyle approach(es) are individualised and are fully dependant on a full consultation with an individual. Some general guidelines include:

  • Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
  • Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day, but still allowing for spontaneity. Try getting tasks completed in the morning, so that you do not run out of time nearing the end of the day, and to help one stay active and motivated.
  • Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid overexertion to the point of exhaustion.
  • Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at counselling for self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
  • Deep breathing for 10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be highly beneficial.
  • Avoid smoking and minimise alcohol and caffeine intake.
  • Stay motivated and use family and social network to help with this.
  • Find activities that allow for mental stimulation and challenges.


If you have any concerns about your health please be sure to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner or your local health physician. See our Ayurvedic Practitioner Services and Consultation Page for more information.

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Disclaimer:
The above information is for information and educational purposes. As such we are not, diagnosing, treating, curing, mitigating, or preventing any type of disease or medical condition. Before taking any form of natural, integrative or conventional treatment regimen, it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.

 

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