It is estimated by Diabetes New Zealand that almost 7% of the population are affected by this disease, making it an endemic problem in the community. Thanks to a great deal of community education we all know about Diabetes, its causes and symptoms. However, what we don’t understand is why, despite the millions of dollars spent on research and community education, are the incidences of this disease increasing?
Diabetes mellitus is called “Madhumeha” in Ayurveda, which literally means “excessive urine with a sweet taste like honey.” When the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin, it inhibits the cellular uptake of glucose, causing sugar levels to rise in the body to a point where the excess glucose must be excreted, giving the urine a sweet taste.
In Ayurveda, Type 2 Diabetes is considered to be an imbalance of the Kapha Dosha, one of the bodily intelligences that govern all metabolic functions. A combination of the elements of earth and water, Kapha provides lubrication and support. It gives strength and stability, both physically and psychologically. It enhances resistance to disease and promotes the healing process. It also has a sweet taste. However, when the earth and water elements accumulate in the body, the Kapha Dosha can become imbalanced and lead to diseases such as Diabetes.
In the case of Type 2 Diabetes the buildup of Kapha in the body manifests in the production of excess mucous, one of its principle functions. This excess mucous not only impedes the digestive ability of the stomach (meaning food is not sufficiently metabolized) but can also block capillaries that release secretions, particularly the Langerhans islets in the pancreas responsible for the production of insulin. Also because of its sweet taste, a Kapha accumulation increases the amount of sweetness in the body which places pressure on the pancreas to produce more insulin.
All Ayurvedic treatments are based on the principle of introducing lifestyle and diet changes to bring the aggravated Dosha back into balance while avoiding things that can cause further aggravation. For the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes and other Kapha type diseases, Ayurveda recommends the following:
Avoid: Yeasted Breads, cheese, cold meats, muffins and cakes, chocolate, sweets, carbonated drinks, fruit juice, potatoes, kumara, pumpkin, potato and corn crisps, tinned and processed foods, excessive water intake, ice cream, tomato or soya sauce, peanut or almond butter, microwaved, foods, vegemite, eating on the run or late at night, and excessive or emotional eating.
Eat more: Green vegetables, black gram, channa flour pancakes with ajwain, bitter gourd (Karela), long grain brown basmati rice, mung dhal, garlic, onion, curry leaves, hing, paneer cheese, unripe banana, fresh almonds, honey, turmeric, fenugreek & cinnamon
• Start each day by scraping your tongue
• Drink a cup of hot water each morning with 1/4 tsp of honey, 1 tsp of fresh grated ginger, 1tsp of lemon juice and 1/2tsp each of Karela or Fenugreek powder;
• Breakfast on either Channa flour pancakes (made from Black gram) with onion, ajwain and turmeric or a combination of millet, buckwheat and barley flour pancakes with cinnamon and cardamom;
• Eat a warm lunch, such as steamed or stir fried vegetables or soup;
• Eat warm, cooked foods for dinner, including at least three meals of kitchari (made from mung dahl and rice). Avoid all meats, except for fish a couple of times a week if you wish;
• Use more ginger, garlic, black pepper, fenugreek & turmeric in your cooking as all these spice have hypo-glycaemia properties;
• Every morning, apply warm medicated sesame oil to each nostril.
• Daily self massage with warm sesame oil or Planet Ayurveda’s Kapha Oil.
• Take a brisk 30 minute walk at least three times a week.
• Regular De-tox: Ayurveda offers a unique de-toxification programme called Panchkarma, which releases waste products from the body, collects and removes them gently, leaving the body cleansed and balanced.
An idea that is gaining currency in allopathic medicine is that of genetic disposition. It believes that if our parents suffer from diseases like diabetes, heart attack or bowel cancer, then it is inevitable that we will suffer from them too. However, Ayurveda’s unique insight into Prakruti, our individual body type, challenges this belief and gives us a better understanding of how imbalances in our body can lead to diseases like Diabetes.
Ayurveda also teaches that these imbalances can be addressed by means of diet and lifestyle to return your body to a balanced and healthy state. The profound promise of Ayurveda is that through changes to diet & lifestyle, not only can we prevent disease but live a long, healthy life in balance and harmony.