Ayurveda and Diabetes


The American Diabetes Association reports over 25 million people in the U.S. have the disease.  Moreover, diabetes is a major cause of kidney failure, joint pain, impotency, blindness, nerve damage and sexual/urologic problems.  Although diabetes is mainly a problem of insulin production or engagement, the regulation of blood glucose is constantly influenced by the dynamic interplay of mind, food, activity and biochemistry.

A physiological relationship exists between insulin, blood sugar and emotions.  Emotional stress triggers the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which have an effect on blood sugar and other regulating hormones that may precipitate diabetes for people at risk.  Another diabetic trigger is impaired digestion which leads to the accumulation of digestive impurities in the pancreatic cells and impair the production of insulin.

In Ayurveda, diabetes is known as, “madhumeha” (madhu means ‘honey’ and meha means ‘urine’), an aggravation of Vata.  Vata is the Ayurvedic humor symbolizing wind and dryness, which deteriorates the tissue of all vital organs.

Ayurveda recognizes diabetes as a major disease not treatable by medication and dietary regimen alone. Diabetes, if not treated in time, will lead to health complications and the Ayurvedic approach targets bodily rejuvenation to balance sugar levels and ensure the avoidance of further complications.  Treatment involves lifestyle changes along with medication, diet, and physical activity.

Diet & Lifestyle Advice

  • Include whole grains in your diet (wheat bread, pasta and brown rice).
  • Cheese and yogurt prepared with skimmed milk (nonfat).
  • Use garlic, onion, bitter gourd, spinach, raw banana, and black plum.
  • Avoid sweet, sour and salty foods, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, fresh grains and legumes, whole yogurt, and heavy, oily and spicy foods.
  • Avoid sweet fruits (pineapple, grapes, mangoes, etc).
  • Light exercise such as brisk walking (Goal of a brisk 30-45 minute walk in the morning and evening).
  • Avoid daytime naps.
  • Favor bitter herbs and vegetables with a blood-purifying effect (cilantro, fenugreek, rosemary, turmeric and green leafy vegetables).
  • Daily meditation.