Diabetes mellitus has gained immense notoriety in recent times as it is fast becoming the world’s largest silent killer. Despite the thousands of people dying worldwide each year due to diabetes mellitus, it is very unfortunate that no proper cure for the disease has been discovered yet. The problem with diabetes mellitus is that it is very difficult to diagnose in the early stages. However, a person sticking to an Ayurvedic preventive strategy right from the beginning, can easily prevent this disease or control it if already suffering.
What is Diabetes Mellitus?
Diabetes mellitus is the medical condition in which there is an accumulation of glucose in the urine and blood of the person. This condition is known as hyperglycemia. The word diabetes has been derived from two Greek words, diabetes which means ‘siphon’ and mellitus which means ‘sweet’. Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder, i.e. it is caused due to the malfunctioning of the pancreas, which is responsible for the production of the hormone insulin.
Diabetes mellitus has been largely considered to be a dietary disease that affects only richer men, but that is actually very far from the truth. First and foremost, diabetes mellitus is not a dietary disease and secondly, it can affect just about anyone. Hence, it is very necessary to educate oneself about diabetes mellitus in order to arrive at a proper preventive therapy for it.
How is Diabetes Mellitus Caused?
The pancreas gland has a particular type of cells called as the beta cells of the islets of Langherhans. These cells are responsible for the secretion of the hormone insulin. Among other things, insulin is extremely essential for the proper utilization of the carbohydrates in our body. If insulin is absent due to a metabolic disorder, or if it is not performing its functions properly, then these carbohydrates accumulate in the bloodstream in the form of glucose. The glucose then collects in the urine, which is in fact one of the primary characteristics diabetes mellitus is identified with.
Hence, diabetes mellitus can be said to be due to any of the following reasons:-
- A deficiency in the production of insulin by the pancreas, or
- A dysfunction of the insulin produced by the pancreas.
Ayurvedic Concept of Diabetes Mellitus
It can be said in a way that the Ayurvedic remedies for diabetes mellitus are the oldest among all the available therapies. The approach of Ayurveda towards diabetes mellitus is that, diabetes mellitus is a disease caused due to doshic imbalances. The doshas are the three humors that govern the human body. These are the vata dosha, pitta dosha and kapha dosha. These three humors must be present in a proper balance within the body in order to keep the body in the normal state of its functioning. If even one of the doshas is vitiated, then it can lead to diseases, and diabetes mellitus is one of them.
Ayurveda includes diabetes mellitus in the prameha category. Pramehas are a list of urinary disorders, especially characterized by profuse urination with several abnormal qualities. There are twenty kinds of pramehas in Ayurveda. According to the doshic causes, these pramehas are classified as follows:-
- Vataja pramehas – There are totally four vataja pramehas.
- Pittaja pramehas – There are totally six pittaja pramehas.
- Kaphaja pramehas – There are totally ten kaphaja pramehas.
Out of these, diabetes mellitus is termed as madhumeha. It is one of the four vataja pramehas.
Most of the other treatment methods for diabetes mellitus regard it as a largely dietary disease. But Ayurveda here differs widely in its outlook. Ayurveda does not regard diabetes mellitus as a disease that can be treated by mere medicine or by a dietary regimen. The Ayurvedic treatment for diabetes mellitus is based on an entire change in the lifestyle of the person. Along with medication and diet, the patient is also advised to lead a healthy lifestyle and live an active life. Even mental aspects of the disease are stressed. Most vataja disorders originate in the brain, and since madhumeha is classified as vataja, it is highly important to keep the brain in its right manner of functioning.
Another basic difference is in the treatment of the complications that diabetes mellitus causes. Diabetes mellitus can cause several complications in the long run such as kidney failure, paralysis and gangrene. Each of these can be fatal conditions individually. Conventional medical science tries to reduce the blood sugar level, but does not put more weight on the treatment of the complications. However, in Ayurveda, madhumeha is a broad concept which does not include just the hyperglycemia; it also takes into account all the possible complications. The body is taken as a whole and the treatment is done accordingly.
Ayurveda is very closely knit with yoga for the treatment and control of diabetes mellitus. For example, the paschimottasana, is highly recommended for patients of madhumeha. In this manner, Ayurveda is not restricted in its treatment of diabetes, but takes a much broader perspective.