Welcome to the GLOB RX Ayurvedic Coach Column. Ayurvedic Health Coach Chaya~Sharon Heller provides the reader with information helping to recognize personal tendencies and how a few simple changes in diet and lifestyle can go a long way to improving your health and vitality.
hen asked, most adults would agree they are aware of what changes in their lifestyles would improve their health. So that begs the question, "Why, as a country, are we so unhealthy?" Most adults want to make changes but find changes are hard to make. As humans, we like familiarity. You may have heard the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. My primary job as a Certified Health Coach, is to support my clients, with education, tools and techniques that assist them in re-engineering habits to move them in the direction of optimal wellness.
Diabetes: The Ayuervedic approach
Diabetes has become a global problem with 450 million people diagnosed worldwide. In 2015, 23.4 million people in the United States were diagnosed with diabetes, compared to only 1.6 million in 1958.
In Adolescents, cases of type 2 diabetes in 1980 were ZERO and cases of type 2 diabetes in 2010 were 57,638. For decades, type II diabetes was considered an adults-only condition. In fact, type II diabetes was once called adult-onset diabetes. But what was once a disease mainly faced by adults is becoming more common in children. Among people under the age of 20, type I diabetes rose 23 percent between 2001 and 2009, and among all ages its Quadrupled Worldwide Since 1980.
Ayurveda defines health as an optimal balance of the three doshas: With a healthy bio-fire, or enzymatic and digestive capacity (agni), balanced tissue metabolism and waste disposal, combined with an enthusiastic nature, clarity of sense perception and balanced mind and emotions. Thereby a healthy person is physically, psychologically, socially and spiritually sound and Ayurveda is truly a holistic medicine and way of life.
To understand Ayurveda, it is important to understand the tri-doshic theory as the source of the universe and the key to elucidate the pharmacological, pathological and therapeutic factors in the treatment of diseases. Disease is assessed based upon the person's elemental constitution at birth or one's genetic combination, or their dosha, as seen in their physical and psychosomatic make up, which plays a key role in the disease or healing process.
The disease we call Diabetes, can be found in Ayurvedic texts dating back over 1,000 years in the Charaka and Sushruta Samhitas, where it is called madhumeha and/or prameha, which mean profuse urination, with all disorders that present with excessive urination are a type of madhumeha, and include 20 major categories, with each treated according to the doshas involved.
Ayurveda sees madhumeha not as one disease, but as a multifaceted syndrome with various, complex metabolic disorders. It includes diabetes mellitus types I and II, and calls these prameha and includes the systems involved, the complications of the disease and the state of mind that assists in pain management. So its definition is way more intricate than the modern medical definition of this disease which only differentiates 2 main types: mellitus and insipidus.
Diabetes Mellitus and its associated disorders, is a metabolic disorder of the metabolic transformation or digestive capacity (agni). When there is a dysfunction of the agni, the carbohydrate metabolism, or the earth and water elements, are disturbed, characterized by increased blood sugar, the passing of sugar in the urine, and dysfunction and damage to the urinary system, which are the water carrying channels and is especially due to a dysfunction of the agni of the pancreas and production of insulin.
Diabetes is classified as either insulin dependent (IDD)-type I or non-insulin dependent (NIDD)-type II. Diabetes insipidus, at least in the beginning, is an imbalance of the diuretic hormone vasopressin. It is rare and occurs most often in young people. (Ayurvedic Perspectives On Selected Pathologies, Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc).
Our tissues (dhatus) have a normal level of moisture or liquid (kleda). One function of kleda is to maintain the body's water-electrolyte balance. It also nourishes and lubricates all the tissues. It is associated with kledaka kapha in the stomach and in the spreading stage of prameha, kledaka kapha overflows from the GI tract and enters the blood plasma (rakta dhatu), and as it spreads, this kledaka kapha disturbs the kleda present in all the tissues (dhatus). The function of urine is to remove excess liquids, so when kleda is increased, urination is also increased, called polyuria, hence the profuse urination.
The first 3 stages of any disease are called accumulation (sanchaya), provocation (prakopa) and spreading (prasara). High blood sugar is described in Ayurveda as increased kapha in the rasa and rakta dhatus (circulatory and lymphatic systems). The increased kledaka from the dhatus starts leaking via the digestive system, through the kidneys and into the bladder, causing the symptoms of diabetes that occur after the dosha enters the third stage of the disease process.
During this period, one may accumulate tarter on the teeth, sticky sweat even after a bath, an increase in nasal crust, ear wax, sebaceous secretions and smegma. Excess urination, nocturnal urination, and at the end of urination the anal sphincter muscles constrict and create goose bumps. It's common to have a sweet taste in the mouth, the breath to smell like vinegar, and the pulse becomes slow and sluggish with the stomach pulse showing a kapha spike. (Ayurvedic Perspectives on Selective Pathologies, Vasant Lad, BAMS, MASc).
The general pathogenesis (samprapti) almost always begins with increased kapha, as seen in most of the signs and symptoms. Later, vata and pitta can enter the picture, because prameha is a complex syndrome that can involve all three doshas.
Prameha is most often due to hyperglycemia or an increased blood sugar, caused by diminished insulin production by the pancreas (kloma) due to its faulty agni. It is a chronic endocrine disorder that affects the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats as well as the water–electrolyte balance. It can cause functional and structural changes in the body's cells, and create complications of the eyes, kidneys, nervous system and other organs.
UP NEXT: Stay tuned for Part 2 where Ayuervidic Health Coach Chaya-Sharon Heller provides the Ayurvedic protocol, management options and action steps for people with diabetes to consider.
EDITOR's NOTE: This article is not meant for any diagnosis or treatment, but rather to provide Ayurvedic protocol, management options, and action steps for people with diabetes tp consider. Please do not attempt to self treat. Always seek the consultation and supervision of an experienced and properly educated Ayurvedic Practitioner along with your doctor.