Diabetes- Ayurveda Perspective

Diabetes is a chronic illness which happens when your body is unable to provide enough insulin for cells to function. The lack of insulin causes excess sugar production in the blood which is known as glycosuria and hyperglycemia. It means that your body has too much glucose to obstruct the normal functions of your nervous system, heart, eyes, blood vessels, and kidneys. Diabetes is of two types – Diabetes insipidus and Diabetes Mellitus.
In Ayurvedic texts, diabetes mellitus is known as Madhumeha . Ancient Ayurvedic scholars have named Madhumeha (Diabetes mellitus) under one among the 20 Prameha’s (urinary disorders).
Madhu – ‘Madhu’ meaning ‘ manae bhodane’ which gives Psychic contentment.
Meha: – ‘Meha’ means excessive excretion.
The manifestation of diabetes in Ayurveda is through excess thirst or urination.

Diabetes is primarily said to be a Kapha disorder which is caused due to a variety of reasons like obesity, over consumption of sweet foods, or an increase in ingestion of Kapha aggravating foods. The poor pancreatic function increases Kapha in the stomach. This leads to turbidity or frequent urination. but, when it comes to Diabetes Mellitus, it is caused due to the imbalance in Vata. Vata accumulates in the large intestine and travels to the pancreas, hampering its functioning. In some cases, even Pitta can cause diabetes. Pitta is accumulated in the small intestine before moving to the liver and may cause damage to the pancreas. In the case of Pitta, Agni or fire is high and hence a burnout of the pancreas is a real possibility.

Characteristic feature of Madhumeha as per Ayurveda:
Madhumeha is a disease in which urine of the patient is sweet like honey and quantitatively increased as well as astringent, pale and rough in quality.

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Causes of diabetes as per Ayurveda:
Physical and mental causes:
Asyasukham – Comfortable seating (luxury, sedentary lifestyle, lack of physical activities and exercise), Svapna Sukham – comforts of sleeping, excess sleeping , Kapha krut cha sarvam – All foods and lifestyle activities which increase Kapha, Sahaja (inherited factor), Chinta (stress), Shoka (grief), Bhaya (fear), Deergha roga (long standing illness) and Alasya (sedentary life).

Food and drinks that cause diabetes:
Dadheeni – Excessive consumption of curds and its preparations, Gramya-oudaka-anupa mamsa – flesh or meat soup of animals living in water and marshy regions, Payamsi – Excessive consumption of milk, its derivatives and preparations, Navaanna panama – Food, drinks and dishes prepared from new grains etc., Guda vaikruti – Jaggery, its derivatives and food made out of Guda (jaggery), Ikshurasa (sugar cane), Madhura Ahara (sweet substances), Pishta Ahara (carbohydrate rich food), Adyashana (repeated food intake), Adhikashana (excess food intake), Ahitashana (unwholesome diet), Guru ahara (heavy food) and Samashana (improper diet).

Madhumeha can be characterised by:
Atimutrata (excess urination), Avila mutrata ( turbid urine), Madhu tulya (urine similar to honey – sweetish astringent), Panduta (pallor of the body), Rukhsata (dryness of the body), Dourbalya (debility), Ratisu anasakti (loss of sexual urge), Dourgandhya (bad body odour) and Dhatu kshaya (emaciation) etc.

Classical triad – the three ‘P’s of diabetes

  • Polyuria – frequent urination
  • Polydipsia – an increase in thirst
  • Polyphagia – increased appetite / hunger

Madhumeha is a alleviating disease. It cannot be completely cured, but can be controlled by right food, lifestyle changes and medicine.
Ayurvedic treatment concept for diabetes:
Depending on the physical constitution or body type (prakriti) two different types of therapy schedules for diabetics are:

  • Apatarpana (de-nourishment treatment) – useful in obese diabetic patients, usually in Kapha body type patients
  • Santarpana ( Nourishing treatment) – useful in lean diabetic patients, usually in Vata or Pitta body type patients

Aahar (dietary modifications)

  • Increased intake of barley in diet helps in drying up of excess fat / meda
  • Have herbs like gokshura, gudmar, triphalá, musta, cardamom, fenugreek, or coriander, mixed with honey
  • Guduchi Kwatha: Decoction or juice of Tinospora cordifolia mixed with honey
  • Include other cereals such as wheat, kodo millet and rice to add fibre to diet
  • Pulses like arahar, horse gram (kulattha), and green gram (mudga) are beneficial
  • Vegetables such as green banana, chaulee, dwarf copperleaf (matsyakhshi), methi (fenugreek leaves), bitter gourd, Parawal, Kunduru, lauki along with bitter and astringent leafy vegetables may be taken. Bitter Gourd / bitter melon fruit and seeds of this plant contain most active blood sugar -lowering components
  • Include fruits such as orange, watermelon, apple, jambu, kapitha, amla, papaya and other fruits with low glycemic content
  • Karela juice on an empty stomach is beneficial
  • Regularly have methi seeds soaked overnight in water

Vihar (lifestyle changes)

  • Start exercising regularly. Walking, swimming, running or yoga asanas are highly beneficial/li>
  • Regular dry massage or udvartana may be beneficial/li>
  • Include pranayama (breathing exercise) in your daily routine/li>
  • Avoid taking mid-day naps/day sleeping


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