Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disorder that is taking over the world in terrifying numbers. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States today and is associated with long-term complications like blindness, heart and blood vessel diseases, strokes, kidney failure, amputations and nerve damage. Uncontrollable diabetes can complicate pregnancy and cause birth defects in babies born to women with diabetes.
In India, the diabetes capital of the world, had 6.5 crore diabetics in 2014. Three per cent deaths in India annually occur due to the diabetes. Changing food habits and increasing stressful lifestyles are some of the reasons for this growing epidemic.
Diabetes is classified into two types – Type I and Type II. Type I is an auto-immune disease where the pancreas produce no or very little insulin. Patients suffering from Type I diabetes need to take insulin daily. The Type II Diabetes occurs due to ageing and irregular lifestyle patterns. At present, around 90 per cent of diabetes patients in the world are affected by Type II diabetes and Ayurveda and Yoga have made great strides in regulating this type of Diabetes in patients.
Managing Diabetes with Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, diabetes is a metabolic kapha type of disorder in which diminished functioning of agni leads to a tendency toward high blood sugar. (Ayurveda recognizes 24 forms of the disease commonly classified under Prameha – 4 are due to Vata dosha, 6 are due to Pitta dosha, and 10 are caused by Kapha dosha. The main causes of these diseases are fat, urine, and Kapha buildups due to foods, liquids, lifestyle and others.)
Ayurveda approaches diabetes in a multi-pronged approach. The treatment is aimed at restoring the balance of the doshas and the normal function of dhatu (tissue). Treatments vary for Type I and Type II patients. The first phase of Ayurveda treatment for diabetes is known as Shodhana, which will remove the bad fats that gets concentrated in the cells. The treatment Thakradhara with medicinal whey is also known to be effective in reducing the weakness of body and itching. Besides, it would also help to reduce taking insulin. Njavarakkizhi is effective for diabetes patients who have lost weight and Udharthana treatment is effective for heavy weight patients. Regular Abhyagasnanam, bathing with herbal medicinal oils, is effective for eyes, skin and bones.
A cleansing program like Panchakarma is also prescribed to patients. This begins with herbal massages and an herbal steam sauna, followed by fasting to cleanse the body. This is followed by an herbal purge for the liver, pancreas, and spleen. Colon therapy is next, first to cleanse the digestive tract and then to reconstitute the system.
Managing Diabetes with Yoga
Healers recommend an Ayurveda + Yoga approach for diabetic patients as it helps enhance mental alertness and agility, mental strength, focus and ability to concentrate, self-esteem and respect for one’s body as well as the ability to manage stress.
Specific yoga recommendations include Kapalabhati breathing that cleanses the lungs and the entire respiratory systems; alternate nostril breathing that enhances sleep quality and Pranayam breathing techniques. This combined with various asanas like Vajrasana (diamond pose), mandukasana (frog pose), Sarvangasana (should stand pose), Dhanurasana (bow pose), Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) Purna Shalabhasana (face to floor leg raise) and others have direct and indirect influence on the pancreatic secretion by rejuvenation of pancreatic cells during abdominal contractions and relaxations.
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