We all remember our childhood when we were rewarded with sweet treats, which perhaps formulated habits in us to crave sweets as we progressed with age. This could be one of the leading reasons for the growing statistics of people with diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. When we have an excess of sugar in the blood it can lead to various complications for the nerves, heart, kidneys, blood vessels and eyes.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2018, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths and 422 million adults are affected by diabetes.
Diabetes can be treated and possibly prevented with the help of ancient knowledge and natural healing practices of Ayurveda and Yoga. It is always important to consult one’s physician when incorporating the natural healing methods to your daily routine. Five Ayurveda herbal remedies that can help in the healing journey of a person inflicted with diabetes include: Triphala, Amla, Cinnamon powder, Bitter Gourd (Karela) juice and Methi seeds.
Triphala is a powdered combination of Haritaki, Amla, and Bibhitaki, which acts as a natural immunity booster and digestive aid.
Amla is a potent herb, rich in Vitamin C and Chromium and helps to regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates. Drinking a glass of Amla juice or eating the fruit itself can provide the body with calcium, iron and phosphorus that aid the body in dropping blood sugar count.
Cinnamon powder also helps to lower blood sugar by imitating the effects of insulin and increasing glucose transport into cells. Use a few tablespoons of this powder everyday with warm water like a tea. This can help in normalizing the blood sugar levels.
Bitter Gourd is often used as a diabetic remedy as it is loaded with many health benefits that can result in glowing skin, weight loss and blood sugar regulation. While many people cook this bitter lemon to mask the taste, consuming it raw allows the body to truly absorb its medicinal values.
Finally, Methi seeds also known as Fenugreek provide the body with fiber that slows down the digestive process of the body to break down sugars.
Incorporating these simple ancient Ayurveda remedies can help a person control and reduce symptoms of diabetes. While these herbs are provided with many benefits, it is important to consult your doctor and monitor your progress when incorporating any natural methods in conjunction with exciting medical practices.
Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences and when used in conjunction can bring the body to an incredible state of balance and beauty. With the global growing popularity of Yoga, western scientists are confirming the positive benefits of adapting the postural practice as a means to alleviate and eliminate diseases. Both the yoga posture practice and pranayam practice can help with diabetes. When embarking on the posture or pranayama practice, it is important to have the guidance of a well- trained teacher to ensure the practice is in proper alignment.
Yoga practice stimulates our organs which improves metabolism and encourage our body’s cells to work more efficiently therefore making this practice highly beneficial for those who suffer from diabetes. Certain postures when practiced provide massage and toning to the pancreas and liver which stimulate the circulatory and nervous system that inevitably helps in controlling the practitioner’s insulin levels. Stimulating pancreatic secretions and hormonal secretions can be achieved by practicing postures that compress the abdominal region like Matsyendrasana (seated half twist), Dhanurasana (bow pose).
Matsyendrasana Pose: Sit on the floor with legs extended in front, fold the right leg in a bent knee position, hold on to the knee with the left hand and turn the trunk of the body while looking over your shoulder. This twisting action squeezes out toxins by providing a massage to the kidneys, pancreas, liver and gall bladder.
Dhanurasana Pose: Lie on the stomach, fold the knees and hold the ankles. On inhalation, lift the chest off the ground and bring the legs up and back. The body should now be in a bow position for a few seconds and then exhale and release back to the ground. This posture improves the function of the pancreas and intestines which helps in controlling the blood sugar levels.
Along with asana, practice of pranayama (breathing) exercises like Kapalbhatti and Anulom Vilom provide many benefits.
Kapalbhatti (skull shining breath) provides stimulation to the metabolic function of our organs and thereby stimulates the pancreas to release insulin which helps to control diabetes. It is practiced in a seated posture and inhalation is done through the nose. As the practitioner exhales the naval is pulled deep into the spine for a round of 20, which stimulates the pancreas to release insulin that helps keep diabetes under control.
Anulom Vilom (alternate nostril breath) provides a calming effect to the nervous system and is beneficial for both heart patients and diabetic patients. This is also a breathing exercise that is practiced while seated. With eyes closed, close the right nostril with the right thumb and inhale deeply through the left nostril with the left ring finger and exhale from the right nostril. This should be practiced with concentration for about 3 to 5 minutes.
While the posture and pranayama practice can help reduce insulin related health concerns by improving digestion, blood circulation, dissolving toxins, and bringing a glow to the face and peace to the mind, it is important to practice them under the guidance of a teacher. Yoga, hence, should be practiced in a relaxed manner with focus on the breath and without any strain or tension.
Ambria Mathew PhD