Diabetes (Sugar disorder) is one of the most insidious disorders of the body metabolism.
Factors like improper diet, environmental stress, obesity, viral infection, malnutrition and heredity, each play a role in triggering the disease. Also, people who suffer from high blood pressure (hypertension) often have a tendency toward diabetes. If not properly diagnosed and treated at early stage, it can lead to serious health problems.
Diabetes takes 2 main forms- The first is Diabetes insipidus (Insipidus = Insipid, tasteless), characterized by choking thrust and large volumes of pale, dilute urine with no abnormal constituents. It occurs due to inadequate secretion of the pituitary hormone, anti-diuretic hormone (ADH) in the body. The more common of both is Diabetes mellitus (Mellitus = Honey), a constitutional disorder caused by the malfunctioning of the pancreas, a gland that produces insulin. Insulin is an "anaerobic hormone" that helps assimilate glucose in the human body. The chemical imbalance of insulin leads to:
Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose level) occurs when pancreas fail to produce adequate insulin, the hormone needed to convert glucose into energy.
Polyuria: hyperglycemia may exceed renal threshold and result in Polyuria (excessive urination).
Polydypsia: Polyuria results in water loss leading to dehydration of the body leading to polydypsia (excessive drinking).
Polyphagia: Lose of glucose via urine causes a demand of more fuel in the body. As a result, a diabetic gets a voracious appetite, i.e., Polyphagia (excessive eating).
Wasting: To meet the rising demands of the fuel in the body, endogenous proteins and fats are catabolized. As a result, a diabetic loses weight (i.e., wasting) despite of hearty meals.
Long term complication of diabetes can lead to degenerative changes in the blood vessels, Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries); it may also result in Microangiopathy (thickening of the capillary walls).
Paralysis, tiredness, recurrent infections, problems with visions, peripheral neuritis, heart attacks and gangrene are complications that commonly diabetics face.
Skin eruptions may occur due to lack of absorption of sugar in the body.
There is intense itching in the groin; eczema may also appear.
Herbal formulation: Tribals in Madhya Pradesh use so many herbs to cure Shakkar Ki Bimari (Diabetes). Tribals perform various healing methods to cure several disorders. A common formulation for curing diabetes is mentioned below.
Combination of herbs viz., Annona squamosa, Gymnema sylvestre, Tinospora cordifolia, Azadirachta indica, Emblica officinalis, Curcuma longa, Trigonella foenum-graecum and Aegle marmelos
Drug preparation: Powder of Annona squamosa Leaves (1 tbsp), Gymnema sylvestre Leaves (3 tbsp), Tinospora cordifolia Stem (1 1/2 tbsp), Azadirachta indica Leaves (1 tbsp), Emblica officinalis Fruit (2 tbsp), Curcuma longa Rhizome (1 tbsp), Trigonella foenum Seeds (1 1/2 tbsp) and Aegle marmelos Fruit (1 1/2 tbsp).
1. Annona squamosa Linn. (Custard-Apple, Sugar-Apple, Sweetsop)
Bengali- Ata, Seetaphal; Gujarati & Marathi- Seetaaphal; Hindi- Seetaaphal, Sharifa; Kannada- Seethaphala; Malayalam- Attichakka, Seethaapazham; Oriya- Ato, Seethaapholo; Sanskrit- Gandhagataram, Seetaaphalam; Tamil- Atta, Seethappazham; Telugu- Gandhagaalaramu, Seetaaphalamu; Assamiya- Atakatal; Punjabi- Sharifa
A large, evergreen, straggling shrub or small tree, 7 m in height, introduced into India, found wild and cultivated in various parts, up to an altitude of 900 m. Bark thin, grey; leaves oblong-lanceolate or elliptic, pellucid-dotted, peculiarly scented, 5.0-15.0 cm x 1.9-3.8 cm; flowers 1-4, greenish, fleshy, drooping, extra-axillary, more on the leafy shoot than on the older wood, tending to open as the shoot elongates; carpels many, lozenge-shaped, on a central torus, fused into an irregularly globose or heart-shaped, tubercled, yellowish green syncarpium, 5-10 cm in diam; seeds oblong, deep brownish black, aril shining, covered with whitish pulp (WOA, 1997).
2. Gymnema sylvestre R.Br.
Sanskrit- Meshashringi, Madhu-nashini; Hindi- Gur-mar, Merasingi; Bengali- Mera-singi; Marathi- Kavali, Kalikardori, Vakundi; Gujarati- Dhuleti, Mardashingi; Telugu-Podapatri; Tamil- Adigam, Cherukurinja; Kannada- Sannager-asehambu.
A large, more or less pubescent, woody climber found in the Deccan Peninsula, extending to parts of northern and western India; it is occasionally cultivated as a medicinal plant. Leaves opposite, usually elliptic or ovate (1.25-2.0 in. X 0.5-1.25 in.); flowers small, yellow, in umbellate cymes; follicles terete, lanceolate, up to 3 inches in length (WOA, 1997).
3. Tinospora cordifolia (Willd.) Miers ex Hook. f. & Thoms. (Gulancha, Tinospora)
Sanskrit- Amrita, Guluchi, Jwarari; Hindi- Amrita, Giloe, Gulancha, Gulbel, Guloh, Gurcha, Jiwantika; Bengali- Golancha; Marathi & Gujarati- Gulvel; Telugu- Tippateege; Tamil- Amudem chindil; Kannada- Amrutoballi, Madhuparne, Uganiballi; Malayalam- Amrytu, Chittamritam; Oriya- Culochi
A large, glabrous, deciduous climbing shrub found throughout tropical India, ascending to an altitude of 300m. Stems rather succulent with long filiform fleshy aerial roots from the branches. Bark grey-brown or creamy white, warty; leaves membranous, cordate with a broad sinus; flowers small, yellow or greenish yellow, appearing when the plant is leafless, in axillary and terminal racemes or racemose panicles; male flowers clustered and females usually solitary; drupes ovoid, glossy, succulent, red, pea-sized; seeds curved (WOA, 1997).
4. Azadirachta indica A. Juss. syn. Melia azadirachta Linn. (Indian Lilac, Margosa Tree, Neem Tree)
Bengali- Nim; Gujarati- Limbado; Hindi- Nim, Nimb; Kannada- Bevinamara; Malayalam- Veppa; Marathi- Limba; Oriya- Nimba; Sanskrit- Arishta, Nimba; Tamil- Vembu, Veppam; Telugu- Veepachettu, Yapachettu; Urdu- Nim
A large, evergreen tree, 12-18 m in height and 1.8-2.4 m in girth, with a straight bole and long, spreading branches forming a broad crown, commonly found throughout the greater part of India, and often cultivated. Bark grey or dark grey, rough, reddish brown inside, with numerous oblique furrows and scattered tubercles; leaves imparipinnate, alternate, 20-38 cm long: leaflets 8-19, alternate or opposite, ovate-lanceolate, oblique or sub-falcate, falcate-lanceolate, glossy, bluntly serrate; flowers white or pale-yellow, small, scented, numerous, in long, slender, very lax, axillary panicles; drupes green, turning yellow on ripening, aromatic, oblong, or ovoid-oblong, smooth, 1.3-1.8 cm long, with a single exalbuminous seed (WOA, 1997).
5. Emblica officinalis Gaertn. syn. Phyllanthus emblica Linn. (Emblic Myrobalan, Indian Goosberry)
Sanskrit-Adiphala, Dhatri, Amalaka; Hindi- Amla, Amlika, Aonla; Bengali-Akla, Amlaki; Gujarati- Amali, Ambala; Telugu- Amalakamu, Usirikai; Tamil- Nelli; Kannada- Amalaka, Nelli; Malayalam- Nelli.
A small or medium-sized deciduous tree with smooth, greenish grey, exfoliating bark. Leaves feathery with small narrowly oblong, pinnately arranged leaflets. Fruits depressed globose, 1/2-1 inch in diam., fleshy and obscurely 6-lobed, containing 6 trigonous seeds. The tree is common in the mixed deciduous forests of India ascending to 4,500 ft. on the hills. It is often cultivated in gardens and homeyards. A type bearing comparatively larger fruits than the wild plant is known in cultivation (WOA, 1997).
6. Curcuma longa Linn. Syn C.domestica Valeton (Turmeric)
Sanskrit- Haridra; Hindi, Bengali, Marathi & Gujarati- Haldi, halada; Tamil- Manjal; Telugu- Pasupu; Kannada- Arishina
A perennial herb, 2-3 ft. high with a short stem and tuffted leaves; the rhizomes, which are short and thick, constitute the turmeric of commerce. Turmeric is used both as a colouring material and as a condiment. The characteristic yellow matter, distributed throughout the plant, is especially concentrated in the rhizomes (WOA, 1997).
7. Trigonella foenum-graecum Linn. (Fenugreek)
Sanskrit- Methika, Chandrika, Asumodhagam; Hindi- Methi, Muthi; Bengali- Methi, Methi-shak, Methuka, Hoemgreeb; Marathi- Methi; Gujarati- Methi, Methini, Bhaji; Telugu- Mentikoora (herb) Mentulu (seeds); Tamil- Vendayam; Kannada- Menthya, Mentesoppu, Menk-palle, Mente; Malayalam- Uluva, Venthiam; Punjabi- Methi, Methini, Methri, Methra (seeds)
An aromatic annual, 30-60 cm. tall, found wild in Kashmir, Punjab and the upper Gangotic plains, and widely cultivated in many parts of lndia. Grown for fodder, leaves pinnate, 3-foliolate: leaflets 2.0-2.5 cm. long, oblanceolate-oblong, obscurely dentate; flowors white or yellowish white, 1 or 2, axillary; pods 3-15-cm. long, 10-20 seeded; seeds greenish brown, 2.5-5.0 x 2.0-3.5 mm. oblong with a deep groove across one corner giving the seeds a hooked appearance (WOA, 1997).
8. Aegle marmelos (Linn.) Correa ex Roxb. (Bael Tree, Bengal Quince)
Bengali, Hindi & Marathi- Bael, Bel; Gujarati- Bili; Kannada- Bela, Bilva; Malayalam- Koovalam, Vilvam; Oriya-Belo; Sanskrit- Bilva, Sriphal; Tamil- Bilva, Vilvam; Telugu- Bilavamu, Maredu; Urdu- Bel; Assam- Bael, Bel
A moderate-sized, slender, aromatic tree, 6.0-7.5 m in height and 90-120 cm in girth, with a somewhat fluted bole of 3.0-4.5 m, growing wild throughout the deciduous forests of India, ascending to an altitude of c 1,200 m in the western Himalayas and also occurring in Andaman Islands. It is extensively planted near Hindu temples for its leaves and wood which are valued in indigenous medicine. Branches armed with straight, sharp, axillary, 2.5 cm long spines; bark soft, corky, light grey, exfoliating in irregular flakes; leaves attenuate, trifoliolate, occasionally digitately five-foliolate, leaflets ovate or ovate-lanceolate, crenate, acuminate, lateral sessile, terminal long-petioled; flowers large, greenish white, sweet-scented, in short axillary panicles; fruits globose, grey or yellowish, rind woody; seeds numerous, oblong, compressed, embedded in sacs covered with thick orange-coloured sweet pulp (WOA, 1997).
The above herbal formulation is for information purposes. If someone wants to follow this formulation, it is recommended to have a communication with your family doctor first.
Your diet an important factor:
A person suffering from diabetes should follow a prudent diet to help keep their blood sugar levels under control. Diet recommended for diabetes is based on foods high in complex carbohydrates, rich in fibers and low in sugar and fat. A diabetic should eat meals regularly.
Eat more of starchy, fibrous foods such as beans, peas, whole meal bread, lentils, etc.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables as these are a natural source of fibers and vitamins. Fruits like rose apple and jamun are recommended for diabetics. Vegetables like bitter gourd's (karela/ Momordica charantia) anti-diabetic properties have already been practiced in Ayurveda; some other vegetables recommended are drumstick and bimbi. The curry-leaf tree (Murraya koenigii) is one of the traditional Indian plants with reputed benefit in diabetes. We have already mentioned a formulation in this article.
Give up sugary substances such as soft drinks, chocolates, cakes and confectionaries, etc. Cut down on sugar in the form like rice, potatoes and sweet fruits such as.
Ensure that the patient limits salty foods and one is conscious of hidden salts in tinned, smoked and processed foods.
Dried fruits should be consumed in limited quantities.
Keep a check on weight. If a person is obese, he should follow a strict diet regime.
A yogic exercise matsyendrasana is particularly recommended for diabetics. Diabetics should be careful to avoid injuries as the wounds tend to heal in long time. Changes in diet and lifestyle, overcoming stress, mild exercise, medication, personal hygiene and periodic checkups can help a diabetic come back to normal action once again.
WOA. 1997. Wealth of Asia (AHEAD).
Miss Garima Sancheti - She is a Senior Research Scholar at Department of Life Sciences, Rajasthan University, Jaipur. She is currently working on herbs and their efficacy against cancer. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr Deepak Acharya - He is the Head of Pistiss Herbal Research Lab Pvt Ltd.