Many often assume that newer is better. Through this line of thinking, it’s thought that the modern world has delivered us to the peak of human progress in areas ranging from technology to philosophy to healthcare. However, despite our advancements, the increased comforts of modernity have also brought many problems, paving the way for diseases such as diabetes to run rampant throughout the world. Perhaps it’s time that we take a step back and consult the wisdom of the past in order to establish a healthier future.
One practical way that we can do this is through Ayurveda, India’s system of health care that is more than 5,000 years old. Although Western medicine has made great strides toward curing diseases, many find it lacking when it comes to preventing diseases in the first place when compared to Ayurveda.
This difference is especially important when it comes to diabetes. Although it’s quite difficult to cure type 2 diabetes once a patient is diagnosed, the ailment is relatively easy to prevent. For that reason, many patients experience great outcomes when using Ayurveda in tandem with modern treatment options for diabetes.
Western Medicine’s Approach to Diabetes
After being diagnosed with diabetes, doctors practicing Western medicine typically prescribe treatments involving a combination of medications, diet, and exercise. For those with type 1 diabetes, regular insulin injections are required as well.
Prescription medications are essential for the treatment of diabetes from a Western point of view, unfortunately, these medications often carry negative side effects.
For example, medications such as Metformin, which help the body regulate blood sugar and respond to insulin, can have challenging side effects such as diarrhea and flatulence. The FDA recently determined that Canagliflozin, a drug used to lower blood sugar, causes an increased risk of leg or foot amputation. In addition to those challenges, diabetes drugs such as Pioglitazone and Januvia can increase the risk of bladder cancer and thyroid cancer. Not only do these drugs have negative side effects, but they are sometimes ineffective as well. In fact, up to 10% of patients stop responding to type 2 diabetes medications each year.
With these ineffective and sometimes dangerous interventions, despite Western medicine’s best efforts to cure diabetes, incidences of the disease continue to rise. Ayurveda provides an alternative approach that can be taken alongside your current, doctor-recommended, for managing diabetes that is both effective and safe.
Managing Diabetes With Ayurveda
Ayurvedic practitioners have been working to help patients with diabetes for thousands of years, with the earliest recorded reference to the disease originating between 1500 and 1000 BC in India’s Vedic texts.
Rather than simply putting a band-aid on the problem by using prescription meditations, Ayurveda tackles the root causes of disease, which are often found in imbalances in a patient’s diet and lifestyle. Although Western medicine looks at these areas as well, their analysis is shallow compared to Ayurveda’s in-depth approach of analyzing body types to determine the best approach for each unique individual.
Ayurveda uses the philosophy that like increases like and opposites balance. After understanding how a patient is imbalanced, Ayurvedic practitioners prescribe foods, herbs, spices, and exercises to bring the body back into a state of balanced health. With this technique, Ayurveda can remove the symptoms of diabetes and increase patient well-being.
In general, type 2 diabetes and prediabetes are caused by an imbalance of Kapha dosha, which is comprised of the elements earth and water. Just like Western medicine, Ayurveda offers treatment in the forms of diet, exercise, and herbal medicines to help balance kapha.
A kapha-pacifying diet generally includes eating three small meals per day—favoring bitter, astringent, and pungent flavors while avoiding those that are sweet, sour, and salty. It’s best to opt for foods that are light, dry, and warm, rather than those that are heavy, oily, and cold. Some other dietary recommendations to follow for fighting diabetes include
- Drinking hot ginger tea with your meals to stimulate digestion
- Eating plenty of legumes, but avoid soybeans and tofu
- Avoiding excessive salt intake
- Choosing grains such as corn, millet, rye, barley, and buckwheat over oats, rice, and wheat
- Favoring pungent spices such as pepper, mustard seed, ginger, and cayenne
- Avoiding heavy fruits like bananas, pineapples, and figs
- Avoiding processed meats
Another great way to pacify kapha dosha is to implement a regular exercise, fitness, and yoga practice. In addition to yoga, other easily accessible forms of exercise include walking, tai chi, dancing, swimming, and bike riding. For most people, it’s best to aim for around 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five days per week. For those trying to lose weight, more exercise is required.
Many of Western medicine’s prescription pills are synthesized from plants. Ayurveda prefers to use these plants with as little processing as possible. These herbal remedies are excellent for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes. In addition to being effective, herbs often come at a low cost and are easily accessible.
Include these great plant medicines in your diet to help prevent or treat diabetes:
- Fenugreek seeds
- Bitter Melon
While these are some general guidelines, Ayurveda goes to great lengths to personalize treatment for each patient. For that reason, we recommend you visit our center and talk to one of our specialists to get personalized advice regarding how Ayurveda can help you with diabetes.
Ayurveda can be used either on its own or in conjunction with Western medicine to help alleviate your diabetes symptoms. However, we encourage you to share any herbal and non-herbal supplements and additional steps taken to manage your diabetes with your physician. During our Diabetes and Weight Loss Wellness Program & Retreat, we have an Ayurveda doctor and board-certified Western doctor on campus.