Diabetes has almost become an epidemic in today's world, as it is a disorder that affects the way your body uses food for energy. Whatever sugar you take is generally broken down into a simple sugar called glucose. This glucose circulates within the blood and enters into the cells with the help of insulin. Insulin is a hormone, made within the beta cells of the pancreas. Due to sedentary lifestyle and genetic predisposition, the beta cells are not able to produce enough insulin, which is a key for glucose to enter the cells. This glucose that keeps on circulating within the blood consistently later becomes 'Diabetes'.
Now to understand 'Diabetes' is detail, let us focus on its stages.
It is a condition in which the cells of the body becomes resistant to insulin or pancreas is not producing as much insulin as required. Your blood glucose levels are higher than the normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes. It is also known as "impaired fasting glucose" or "impaired glucose tolerance". Every individual who has a diabetic father or mother must go for a glucose tolerance test or GTT. It can help in diagnosing the pre-diabetic condition. A diagnosis of pre-diabetes is a warning sign that diabetes will develop later.
In the case of Type-I (Insulin Dependent Diabetes), the person can't make any insulin. Type-I most often occurs before age 30 but may strike at any age. The pancreas produces very little or no insulin anymore. Frequent insulin injections become a need for Type-I. However, there are certain herbs like 'Salacia oblonga' and 'Pterocarpus marsupium' which are useful even in Type-I diabetes.
People suffering from diabetes Type-II have enough insulin, but their cells have become resistant to it. This type of diabetes has become very common everywhere around the world. The most important reason for the cells to become resistant to insulin is a sedentary lifestyle which is being followed by modern age people. 95% of all diabetes cases are Type-II. So the only way to prevent diabetes is to change the lifestyle, which is the basic theory of Ayurveda to fight any disease.
Factors that affect diabetes Type-II
The number one risk factor for Type-II diabetes is obesity. Nearly 40 % of patients suffering from diabetes Type-II are obese. Excessive fat interferes with the body's ability to use insulin properly. According to Ayurveda, this is called "Stroto avarodh", i.e. blocked channels. These channel blockages of the passage of insulin are the reason for insulin resistance. Food factor such as heavy or greasy diet, overeating, or excess daytime sleep can be a contributing element.
2. Sedentary Lifestyle
According to ancient Ayurvedic healers, unhealthy lifestyle can damage health and be responsible for the growing obesity and diabetes. Inactivity and being overweight go hand in hand towards a diagnosis of Type-II. As muscle cells have more insulin receptors than fat cells, a person can decrease insulin resistance by exercising more. Another ancient Ayurveda surgeon explains that a person who suffers diabetes should walk 100kms a day to keep his sugar level under control. The more active the person, the lower the blood sugar levels.
3. Unhealthy Eating Habits
90% of people who have been diagnosed with Type-II diabetes are overweight. Unhealthy eating contributes largely to obesity. Too much fat, not enough fibre, and too many simple carbohydrates, all contribute to a diagnosis of diabetes. Eating right can turn the diagnosis around and reverse or prevent Type-II.
4. Family History and Genetics
It appears that people who have family members who have been diagnosed with Type-II diabetes are at a greater risk for developing it themselves. Indians have a higher rate of Type-II diabetes. Having a genetic disposition towards Type-II is not a guarantee of a diagnosis. Here lifestyle plays a crucial role in determining who gets diabetes. Thus to avoid diabetes, altering unhealthy habits is a must.
5. Increased Age
It is sad but true that as older one gets, the risk of Type-II diabetes increases. As we age, the pancreas ages right along with us and doesn't make enough insulin. Also, as our cells age, they become more resistant to insulin as well. Even if an elderly is thin, he/she still may be predisposed to getting diabetes.
6. Stress, High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol
The stress hormone immediately releases pool of glucose, corticosteroid hormones in our blood. There is an immediate release of adrenal hormones, causing blood pressure and constriction of arteries. Not only do they damage heart vessels, but they are two keyed components in metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms including obesity, a high-fat diet, and lack of exercise. Having metabolic syndrome increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Herbs recommended for 'Diabetes'.
Following are the herbs, which have been extensively researched by modern parameters by various research scholars. They are even highlighted in ancient Ayurvedic texts as herbal solutions for diabetes.
1. Saptrangi - Salacia oblonga
It is a tree whose bark is effective in controlling diabetes. It is used, since ages in Ayurveda. This herb has diabetes regulating properties and, thus, various western herbal schools are conducting extensive studies based on it.
2. Vizaysaar - Pterocarpus marsupium
The bark of this tree is carved and designed like a wooden glass. That particular glass is known as "The miracle cure for diabetes". Some water is kept in the wooden glass overnight and is consumed early morning by diabetes patients. Diabetes support contains extract of bark of this miracle tree.
3. Gurmaar- Gymnema sylvestrae
In the Hindi language, 'Gur' means Sugar and 'Maar' mean Kill. Gurmaar means "The sugar killer". Recent studies show that it contains Gymnemic acid molecules responsible for its anti-diabetic action. They bind with glucose molecules in the intestines and inhibit their entry into the bloodstream. Thus it is effective in controlling sugar levels.
4. Jamun - Syzigium cumini
It is a fruit tree growing wild in plains of India. The seeds of this tree are dried up, and then a powder is made of them that is very effective in controlling sugar levels. It is astringent in taste that becomes useful for diseases caused by excessive sweetness like obesity and diabetes.
5. Bilva - Aegle marmelos
The fruit of this divine tree is useful in irritable bowel syndrome. The leaves of Bilva are excellent for diabetes. The leaves are dried, and powder is made and mixed with other herbs for better results.
6. Karela - Momordica charanatia
The juice of this fruit is a miracle in treating and preventing diabetes and its complications. 30ml of Karela juice every morning an empty stomach is recommended for best results. It also can be mixed and drunk with Amla juice. Karela contains natural chromium and other micronutrients, whereas Amla juice is rich in anti-oxidant like Vitamin C and others.
7. Methi- Trigonella
Fenugreek (Methi), is considered as a medicine in India, Egypt, the Middle East and other ancient civilizations since ages as it has excellent properties to bring sugar levels as well as cholesterol levels under control. The seed powder of Fenugreek is helpful to lower down sugar levels.
8. Neem - Azadirachta indica
Azadirachtin, Nimbin, and Nimbidin are effective alkaloids found in Neem. They act not only as blood purifiers but also controls sugar level very effectively. The skin diseases associated with diabetes also respond to this herb quickly. It also helps in clearing away the blocked channels and maintains the flow of bile from within the liver and improves liver function.
9. Tulsi - Ocimum sanctum
People in India worship this plant as it has multiple medicinal properties. Regular use of leaves of this plant controls blood sugar levels very effectively. It is also useful in many types of cancers, viral and bacterial infections, sore throat, cough and cold etc.
10. Daruhaldi - Berberis aristata
The roots of this herb are grind until turned into a powder that stimulates the pancreas to pump more insulin into the blood. It also helps in preventing insulin resistance among cells. It acts as a channel opener for glucose into the cells which purify the blood.
11. Haridra- Curcuma longa
Turmeric powder is an effective anti-allergic, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and one of the best natural anti-diabetic. It works in the same way as Berberis aristata. It helps in purifying the blood, helps in reducing the insulin resistance, and thus making way for glucose into the cells.
12. Sadabahar- Vinca rosea
This plant contains alkaloids 'vincristine' and 'vinblastine' that help make allopathic medicine for cancer treatment. The herb leaves are very useful in controlling diabetes. Its leaves are added and mixed with other herbs described above to get good results.
13. Amla - Emblica officinalis
Amla is the world's richest natural source of vitamin C and is nature's super anti-oxidant. One Amla contains 30 times more vitamin C than an orange. It prevents ageing and therefore delays the onset of complications of diabetes. Amla powder, Amla juice can be consumed regularly to get the benefits in diabetes and other diseases.