With numbers on the rise, it’s crucial to recognise the escalating diabetes epidemic, particularly in India. Ayurveda classifies the disease, specifically type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), under the broader category of prameha. It encompasses a range of disorders affecting the mutravaha srotas, the system regulating the excretory process and fluid balance in the body.
Excessive urination with alterations in urine texture is a key symptom, aligning with diabetes mellitus where elevated blood sugar is a result of various factors. Studies indicate a direct link between obesity and urinary incontinence. Often, obesity is also a consistent risk factor for diabetes. Ayurveda emphasises the clinical connection between mutravaha srotas and prameha, urging consideration of the entire excretory fluid metabolism in the management of the disease, rather than solely focusing on lowering blood sugar levels.
Causes of Prameha
Sedentary habits, lack of exercise, excessive sleep, and the consumption of certain foods like meat, curd, freshly harvested grains, alcoholic drinks, and jaggery are identified as causes of prameha. The ancient Indian system of medicine highlights the importance of addressing these factors to manage the condition effectively. It prioritises not just lowering blood sugar, but correcting the overall metabolic imbalance. Initial intervention involves addressing agni, the metabolic fire responsible for the body’s transformation processes.
Failure to address the root cause at a foundational level or the progression of the disease can lead to complications. The ancient science categorises these complications as vatika, paithika, and kaphaja prameha upadrava, presenting symptoms such as giddiness, numbness, indigestion, loss of appetite, heaviness, tremors, and sleep disturbances.
Diabetic neuropathy, a common complication, manifests as a pins-and-needles sensation, particularly in the feet and palms. Severe cases involve vata and pitta imbalances affecting structural elements (dhatus) such as rasa, raktha, mamsa, and medas.
Ayurvedic treatment plays a significant role in preventing the onset of diabetes. Panchakarma, a systematic detoxification process, is recommended, especially for those with a family history of the ailment and sedentary habits. In neuropathy, vasthi (therapeutic enema) is particularly effective, with various types tailored to individual clinical conditions.
Panchakarma procedures like vamana and virechana are beneficial in the early stages of diabetes. For neuropathy, vasthi is the cornerstone, with variations like madhutailika vasthi, ksheera asthi vasthi and yapana vasthi based on clinical conditions.
Takradhara, a specific form of shirodhara using medicated buttermilk, along with oils like mustha, amalaki and panchaandha, complements the treatment. Simultaneously, specific oils such as panda tailam, prabhanjanam tailam and nalpamanra tailam are applied to the body.
Traditional practices like Shiro Abhyanga and Padabhyanga in Kerala involve the application of head oils (talakenna) for various conditions, including diabetic neuropathy. Oils like nishosheeradi tailam and thriphaladi keram are applied to the head and soles before bathing.
Regular practice of asanas and pranayama provides additional benefits in managing symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
The author is a Professor at the Department of Panchakarma, Ashtamgam Ayurveda Medical College, Kerala