Diabetes and Ayurveda- At a Glance

Diabetes/ Diabetes Mellitus, Prameha/ Madhumeha (Ayurvedic Terminology)
Diabetes means-
According to Charaka (School of Ayurvedic Medicine),
प्रकर्षेण प्रभूतं, प्रचुरं वारंवारं वा मेहति, मूत्रत्यागं करोति यस्मिन् रोगे स प्रमेह: |
The disease in which, person is passing excessive, increased and turbid urination is known as ‘Prameha’.
It is a metabolic disorder reflecting in abnormality of urine. This is similar to Diabetes Mellitus with modern parlance. Modern medicine considers this as metabolic disorder, characterized by hyperglycemias, glycosuria and disturbance in the insulin mechanism.

Causes of Diabetes:
आस्यासुखं स्वप्नसुखं दधीनि ग्राम्यौदकानूपरसा: पयांसि |
नवान्नपानं गुडवैकृतं च प्रमेहहेतु कफकृच्च सर्वम् ||
(Ref: Charak Samhita Chi. Chapter 6/ Verse 4)

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive use of curds, meat soup of the domestic, aquatic and marshy animals
  • Excessive use of Milk and Dairy products
  • New cereals/ New grains ( Cereals/ Grains which are using within a year of its production)
  • New drinks (Drinks which are using within a year of its production)
  • Products of Jaggery
  • Intake of food having cold, oily and sweet properties and
  • Other remaining products which can produce ‘Kapha’
  • Heredity is also an important etiological factor

Premonitory Symptoms of Diabetes:

  • Sweating
  • Foul smell of the body
  • Slackness in the hands and feet
  • Liking for comfort in lying and sleeping
  • Smearing in the heart, eyes, tongue and ears
  • Feeling of heaviness in the body( may  be due to overweight)
  • Excessive growth of hairs and nails
  • Liking for cold
  • Dryness in throat and soft palate
  • Sweetness in the mouth and
  • Burning sensation in palms and feet
  • Excess appetite and thirst are also found. (Charaka Samhita Chi. 6/12-14)

Symptoms of Diabetes:
सामान्यं लक्षणं तेषां प्रभूताविलमूत्रता | (Madhav Nidan Prameh/6)
Excess and turbid urination as well as increased urination is the common symptom of all types.
Other symptoms are due to improper formation of almost all the tissues in the body. These include debility, various pathological changes in colour and smell of the urine, skin disorders, impotency and heart disorders due to arteriosclerosis. If the disease is not properly treated, complications like hypertension, obesity, hyper cholesterol and heart problems develop quickly.

Classification of Diabetes:
According to Ayurveda, ‘Prameha’ is divided in three types.

1) Kaphaja Prameha (Diabetes of ‘Kapha’ predominance):
Again it is subdivided in ten subtypes.  i.e.  Udakameha, Ikshumeha, Sandrameha, Sandraprasadameha, Shuklameha, Shukrameha, Shitameha, Siktameha, Shanaimeha and Alalameha.
2) Pittaja Prameha (Diabetes of ‘Pitta’ predominance):
Again it is subdivided in six subtypes.  i.e.  Ksharameha, Kalameha, Nilameha, Raktameha, Manjishthameha and Haridrameha.
3) Vataja Prameha (Diabetes of ‘Vata’ predominance):
Again it is subdivided in four subtypes.  i.e.  Vasameha, Majjameha, Hastimeha and Madhumeha.
According to modern contrive, Diabetes mellitus is of two types- Primary and Secondary.
Primary variety is again subdivided in 1) IDDM– Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile diabetes and 2) NIDDM– Non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or adult onset.

Prognosis of Diabetes:
सर्व एव प्रमेहास्तु कालेनाप्रतिकारिण: | मधुमेहत्वमायान्ति तदासाध्या भवन्ति हि || (Su. Ni. 6/27)
Means, If not properly treated, all types of ‘Prameha’ turn into ‘Madhumeha’ or ‘Diabetes mellitus’.
साध्या: कफोत्था दश, पित्तजा: षट याप्या:, न साध्य: पवनात् चतुष्क: | (Ch. Chi. 6/7)
According to Ayurveda, Ten types of ‘Kaphaja Prameha’ are curable, Six types of ‘Pittaja Prameha’ are difficult to treat and remaining Four types of ‘Vataja Prameha’ are incurable.
जात: प्रमेही मधुमेहिनो वा न साध्य उक्त: स हि बीजदोषात् | (Ch. Chi. 6/57)
Prameha’ which is developed since birth (Congenital Diabetes) and with genetic disorder are incurable by Ayurveda.

Complications of Diabetes:

These have been described according to the types of ‘Prameha’ as follows:
1) Kaphaja Prameha- Indigestion, anorexia, vomiting, insomnia, cough and chronic rhinitis.
2) Pittaja Prameha- Pricking pain in the region of urinary bladder and penis, cracking of scrotum, fever, burning sensation, excessive thirst, sour eructation, fainting and loose motions.
3) Vataja Prameha- Udavarta, tremors, pre cordial pain and discomfort, greediness for food, abdominal colic, insomnia, wasting of tissues, cough and dyspnoea.

Ayurvedic treatment for Diabetes: (In general)-
Depending on the strength of the patient, different types of treatment can be suggested.
The patient, who is obese and having good strength, has naturally Kapha- Pitta predominant type. In this patient Ayurvedic purification procedures can be adopted. While those patients who are emaciated and have got no strength, palliative type of treatment is advisable.
Avoid the causative factors first and Follow the ‘Ayurvedic Lifestyle’ (Including Diet Plan, Daily Routine, Seasonal Routine and Ayurvedic Dietetics) given on the Home page of this website.
Some famous Ayurvedic formulations for all types of Diabetes:
1) Amalaki Juice (Fruit juice of Phyllanthus emblica), Haridra (Turmeric powder) and Honey.
Dose: 20-30 ml/ 2-3 times a day.
2) Triphala (Triphala is an Ayurvedic herbal Rasayana powder consisting of equal parts of three myrobalans taken without seed: Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica) and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) Devadaru (Bark of Cedrus deodara), Mustak(Root of Cyprus rotundus) and Daruharidra (Berberis aristata). Prepare decoction of these herbs and take it with honey.
Dose: 20-30 ml/ 2-3 times a day.
3) Tablets: Chandraprabha Vati, Gokshuradi Guggulu, Vasant Kusumakar Ras.