By Aalif Surti August 2004 Exercise, healthy diet, regular lifestyle can help save us from falling prey to diabetes • Increased frequency of passing the urine, including at night • Excessive thirst • Excessive hunger • Feeling tired and weak most of the time • Loss of weight • Slow healing of cuts and wounds • Numbness or tingling in the feet • Skin infections • Blurred vision • Dry or itchy skin Box on page no. 20 Types of diabetes • Insulin dependent diabetes • Non-Insulin diabetes • Malnutrition related diabetes • Due to diseases of the pancreas • Due to protein deficiency • Diabetes associated with other conditions • Cancer of the pancreas • Abnormalities of other hormones • Due to medicines such as steroids • Abnormalities of insulin or its receptors Some hereditary conditions of diabetesDiabetes cannot be cured but can be controlled through several ways. These mainly include insulin, medicines, diet control and exerciseGuidelines for dietary intake in Type II diabetes • Avoid biscuits, cake, or other bakery products as snacks between meals. • Use fats and oils that are low in saturated fatty acids. • Drink large volumes of water, skimmed milk and other low-calorie beverages in between meals. • Eat regular meals. • Avoid fried and sweet foods. • Increase intake of vegetables by two times in every meal. • Have rice, chapatti, bread, potato, or other cereals. • Drink water or sugar-free drinks whenever you are thirsty. • Eat smaller portions of meat or eggs. • Eat smaller portions of pulses. Diabetes Mellitus, commonly called diabetes, is a life-long disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. It is a condition that makes many people worry about the quality and longevity of their life after being diagnosed with it. India has the dubious distinction of being home to the largest number of people suffering from diabetes in any country. Having turned into a huge public problem today, it is growing astronomically year after year. Today, nearly 20 million people in the country are suspected to have the disease. The term diabetes refers either to a deficiency of insulin or to the body’s decreased ability to use insulin. Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, allows glucose (sugar) to enter body cells and be converted to energy. There are two main types of diabetes: Insulin dependent (Type-1) and non-Insulin dependent (Type-2). Non-insulin dependent diabetes, which usually appears after the age of 40, is the most common type. Insulin-dependent diabetes affects below-40 people. Although this type of diabetes can occur at any age, it most often appears in childhood or during the teen years. Anyone can get diabetes but almost all of them can lead a full, active life with regular control of their diet and medicines. Let us see what different medicinal systems have to say about diabetes. INSULINE-DEPENDENT (TYPE I) AyurvedaIt is known as madhumeha in Ayurveda. According to some Ayurvedic physicians, ancient scriptures describe 20 types of Prameha (derived from the root Mih, which means to pass urine, and Pra, means in excess) which, if continue to be neglected, lead to madhumeha. Diabetes is difficult to treat as it leads to many complications. The natural, soft, simple ayurvedic remedies cannot often cure it, especially if the disease starts at a younger age. They, however, can relieve many side effects and improve the quality of your life. Broadly, ayurveda describes three types of diabetes. They are: • Vatika: When vata dosha accumulates in the intestines and affects the function of the pancreas. This type is generally considered to be incurable. • Paittika: When pitta dosha accumulates in the small intestines. It affects liver and ultimately disturbs the function of the pancreas. It can be controlled with appropiate medicines and changes in lifestyle. • Kaphaja: It occurs when kaphogenic foods such as excessive intake of sweets-sour-salty (madhur-amla-lavan) foods are taken. These foods increase kapha dosha in the last part of the stomach. The condition results in weight gain. Ayurveda indicates that this condition can be managed with effective lifestyle changes, balanced diet and medicines. Based on this information, the ancient ayurveda surgeon Sushruta classified Prameha into two types: Hereditary (Kulaja Sahaja) and acquired (Apathyaja). Similarly, another famous ayurvedic physician Charaka classified people with diabetes into two groups: obese (Atishaulya) and asthenic (Krisha). Treatment Ayurveda recommends innumerable single medicines, simple preparations, compound preparations and dietary modifications for treatment of this ailment. Food recommended include barley seeds, wheat, kodrava (a kind of grain), Italian millet, mudga (phaselous bean), kulattha (dolichos bean) and Adhaki (Pigeon grain); fruit and leaf of patola and Sigru (horse radish), fruits of karvellaka (bitter gourd), udumbara (gular-fig), kapittha (wood apple) and jambu; leaf and stem of guduchi and triphala. Foods to be avoided include sour, sweet and excessive salt, freshly harvested grain, rice, sweet drinks, jaggery, curd, excessive ghee and oil. In addition to this, one should avoid sedentary lifestyle, sleeping during the day, spppressing the urge to pass urine and eating excessive food. HomoeopathyHomoeopathic medicines are not recommended for Insulin Dependent or Type I diabetes. Yet, there are three main aims of homoeopathic treatment: • To control the blood sugar levels; • To reduce the dose of allopathic medicines for diabetes; and • Prevent complications of diabetes on other parts of the body such as eyes, kidney and nerves. A homoeopath first asks for a detailed case history before embarking on the treatment. It is important to tell the doctor any physical or mental stress that may have been present when the symptoms first appeared. It is likely that these stresses might have precipitated diabetes. Homoeopathy offers a wide range of medicines beneficial to these stressed people. Diabetes tends to run in families. There are several homoeopathic medicines that are effective in such cases like Thuja,Tuberculinum and Medorrhinum. The doctor also tries to find out the individual symptoms like eating habits, likes and dislikes, digestion, bowel movements and sleep patterns. After this, he would recommend tests to determine the blood and urine levels. Treatment There are several homoeopathic medicines that are specific to diabetes and aim at reducing the blood sugar levels. These medicines act directly on the defence mechanism of the body and enhance the body’s natural ability to fight disease. For example, Syzygium, Jaborandi, Gymnema sylvestre, uranium nitrate, phosphoric acid, lactic acid, acetic acid, phosphorus, etc. Homoeopathy also recommends the patient to follow restricted diet, excercise and relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation to help deal with stress better and to maintain normal blood sugar levels. Nature CureNature Cure opines that the treatment of diabetes includes measures to improve the function of liver and pancreas. Treatment It recommends four approaches for the management of the ailment. Dietary modifications which include regular meals, water, salad and a high-fibre diet; water therapy and mud therapy to improve functioning of the pancreas and the liver and to remove toxins from the body; exercises including deep breathing, yoga, brisk walking, jogging; and a regular lifestyle that is in harmony with nature and its principles such as regular dietary timings and regime. According to this system, medicines cannot help until lifestyle changes are incorporated. Allopathy According to allopathy, diabetes is a disorder of the chemical reactions that are necessary for proper utilisation of carbohydrates, fats and protein from the diet along with inadequate or lack of insulin. All cells in our body need energy in order to function normally. This energy is derived from the food we eat which is made up of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The food is converted into glucose, the main source of energy, for all the body cells. The excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as a compound called glycogen. When the insulin is inadequate, absent, or abnormal, it is difficult for the glucose to enter the cells and provide energy. Normally, pancreas releases insulin proportional to the amount of food we eat. In diabetes, pancreas either does not produce insulin or produces too little or produces defective insulin that cannot be used by the body. Thus, the blood glucose cannot be used effectively by the cells and excess glucose cannot be stored in the liver. The main symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, increased hunger and increased frequency of passing the urine. Listed below are predisposing factors that increase the risk of getting diabetes: Hereditary: Blood relatives of people with diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes than those who do not have it in their family. There is five percent risk of developing diabetes if your parents or siblings have diabetes. Obesity: The risk may increase to 50 per cent if you are overweight. Excess weight increases the body’s demand for insulin. Age: The risk of diabetes increases with age, especially after 40 years as the ability to produce insulin decreases as age advances. Gender: Both men and women have the same risk of developing diabetes till early adulthood. After 30, women are at higher risk as compared to men. Viral infections: Some viral infections may destroy the beta cells, thus leading to diabetes. Injury: An accident or injury that damages the pancreas and therefore causes diabetes. Stress: Some hormones released during stress may block the effect of insulin on the cells, thus leading to diabetes.
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