Ayurvedic treatment for Diabetes and depression

Diabetes and depression

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Diabetes and depression Ayurvedic treatment


If you have either type 1 or 2 diabetes — you have an increased risk of developing depression. And if you're depressed, you may have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes.

Depression is a condition in which a person feels discouraged, loss of motivation, sadness, hopeless, or a general disinterest in life. When these feelings last for a short period of time, it may be a case of just “feeling blues." [ii]

But when such feelings last for more than two weeks and create hindrances with your daily activities such as spending time with family, friends, or doing school or office work, it's more likely a major depressive episode.2

According to Ayurveda three main gunas (qualities) which are sattva, rajas and tamas define our mental and spiritual nature.Sattva defines intelligences, virtue, goodness, and creates harmony. Rajas is quality of change, activity and turbulence. And Tama is the quality of dullness, darkness and inactivity. Every person has a unique equilibrium of these three gunas. When there exists an improper action and diet, this equilibrium changes, which leads to negative feelings or depression.


Diabetes and depression


Depression has been connected with chemical imbalances in the brain. Depression also can be genetic (to run in families). Depression can be linked to certain events in your life, such as the death of a loved one, a job loss or a divorce. Intake of certain medicines, misuse of drugs or alcohol, or having any other diseases can also lead to depression.

Depression isn't caused by personal weakness, laziness or lack of willpower. It is a medical illness that can be treated.4


Diabetes and depression


  • No interest or pleasure in things you usually enjoy
  • Feelings of sadness or emptiness
  • Cry easily or for no reason at all
  • General numbness and inability to cry
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Altered appetite, leading to weight gain or loss
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble thinking, remembering things or focusing on daily activities
  • Trouble making everyday decisions
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Feeling tired all of the time


Diabetes and depression


These exams and tests can help your doctor to link or dissociate problems that could be causing your depression symptoms, and perform a diagnosis and check for any related complications:

  • Physical exam: Your doctor will assess your overall health and try to identify any underlying physical health problem.
  • Lab tests: Your doctor may do a complete blood count or thyroid test to make sure it's working properly.
  • Psychological evaluation: Your doctor may ask about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings and behaviour patterns. You may be asked to fill out a set of questions to help answer these questions.


Diabetes and depression


Ayurveda can play a significant role in managing depression among diabetic/non-diabetic patients by practising a combination of corrective Ahar (diet), Vihar (exercise) and Aushadhi (Medicines).

Therapeutic Management6

In Ayurveda, Yuktivyapashraya meaning rational treatment, falls under therapeutic management.

Rational Treatment



Internal Purification External Purification Operative methods

1. Internal purification (Antarparimarjana): -

a. Samshodhana (purification) i.e. elimination of imbalanced Doshas by Panchacarma therapy.

b. Samshaman (reduction) - It include different type of drugs, diet activities used to alleviate the imbalanced doshas.

2. External purification (Bahiraparimarjana): - It includes Purvakarma of Panchakarma i.e. Snehan (oileation) & Swedana (perspiration). Medicated oils that are useful for external application with heat.

3. Operative methods (Shastrapranidhana): - Bloodletting (surgically removing blood) has been indicated in various types of psychoses

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

Gruel (type of cereal made up of oat, wheat and flour/rice) should be given for three days, followed by barley powder (parched) mixed with water only for the next three days. The physician may also give barley which is boiled and cooled. The diet of the patient should be tasty, appetising and salutary.6

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

Start exercising regularly. Walking, swimming, running or yogasanas are highly beneficial.

Include pranayama (breathing exercise) in your daily routine.

Yoga Therapy

Yoga moksho pravarkak’ i.e. by Yoga practice, one can achieve a state of Moksha. The process of increasing Sattva and reducing Raja and Tama leading to Karmakshaya (loss of deeds) is way of attaining Moksha.6


http://www.bipinjoshi.org/articles/content/Images/Bhujagasan.JPG https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/22/9d/ec/229dec9d087e3260cbc4010f92158414.jpg

Text Box: Bhujangasana

Tadasana (Palm tree pose)

Text Box: Surya Namaskar to relief stress

Relaxation therapy

It is also an important therapy. It means of getting free from stress which is supposed to be a major causative factor of mental illness.4,5


Diabetes and depression
  1. Can diabetes be prevented?

The two most common forms of diabetes are type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Currently, there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes, but Ayurveda believes that making lifestyle and diet changes can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. These include exercising regularly, avoiding sugary and oily foods, minimising regular consumption of drinks such as beer, sugarcane juice and milk, and not sleeping too much.

  1. What kind of meal plan is good for diabetes?

Controlling blood sugar levels will help you reduce your diabetes risk. You can achieve this by modifying your diet and including the following in your meals:

  • Barley
  • Herbs- gokshura, gudmar, triphalá, musta, cardamom, fenugreek, or coriander, mixed with honey
  • Cereals- wheat, kodo millet and rice which crops within 60 days.
  • Pulses- adhaki, horse gram (kulattha), green gram (mudga), along with bitter
  • Vegetables- green banana, chaulee, dwarf copperleaf (matsyakhshi), methi (fenugreek leaves) and bitter gourd.
  • Fruits- orange, watermelon, apple, jambu, kapitha and amla
  1. I am a diabetes patient and I have developed a foot infection. How can Ayurveda help me manage this better?

Foot infections are very common in people with diabetes as high blood sugar levels reduce the blood supply to legs, making them more prone to all kinds of foot problems. If you do not take timely care of your foot, it could lead to serious complications and even amputation.

Ayurveda can help you manage your foot infections with a special treatment called shodhana therapy. This therapy purifies the body and expels the aggravated doshas from the body. It includes five procedures or panchakarma indicated for different types of doshas.

  • Before panchakarma- palliative therapy using oil and sweating methods (snehana and svedhana) is performed.
  • During panchakarma- the patient is made to go through emesis (vomiting), purgation (passing of stool), enema and nose therapy.
  • After panchakarma- rejuvenation therapy is performed.
  1. I have diabetes and lately I am experiencing blurry vision and pain in my eyes. What care can I take to manage my condition?

Eye problems are a very common complications of diabetes. When blood sugar levels become too high, diabetic people can get blurry vision leading to some common eye conditions like retinopathy, cataract and glaucoma.

Ayurveda can help you effectively manage your eye problems. It will not only reverse your problem but also make sure no future complications happen. There are a number of ayurvedic techniques that help improve blood circulation and provide nourishment to your eyes. These include:

  • Applying lepa or ointment over eyes
  • Netradhara: Pouring of herbal medicine in a weak stream through the inner corners of the eyes
  • Takradhara: Pouring of buttermilk in a weak stream on the eyes
  • Tharpanam: Hollow wells of black gram paste are gently sculpted around the eyes and medicated oil is poured in these wells
  • Shirodhara: Gently pouring a medicated oil over the forehead
  • Shirolepa: Application of a medicated paste (made up of herbs and medicinal powders) on the forehead
  1. My child recently got diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, which is quite uncommon in children. What could be the causes?

In the past, children were mostly affected only by type 1 diabetes which is mainly caused due to genetic factors. But this isn’t the case anymore. Increased number of children are now getting affected by type 2 diabetes due to bad lifestyle habits, poor diet including junk food consumption and childhood obesity.

  1. Is it common to get diabetes during menopause? If so, why?

It is true. Menopause in women increase their risk of diabetes, leading to many unique challenges. This is because during and after menopause, levels of estrogen hormone in the body decline. This hormonal imbalance causes women to experience increased hunger, increased body fat, reduced metabolism, hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and vaginal dryness. Apart from these complications, the change in hormone levels also cause increase and decrease in blood sugar levels. For women who already have diabetes, this can lead to a number of health problems

  1. What lifestyle changes does Ayurveda recommend for people with diabetes?

Certain lifestyle changes can go a long way in managing your diabetes, as they minimise your diabetes related complications and help you become healthy faster. Ayurveda recommends the following lifestyle habits:

  • Exercise regularly. Cardio exercises such as walking, swimming and running help make your heart stronger and reduce your diabetes risk. Regular yoga is also known to be highly beneficial
  • Have regular oil massages
  • Take regular steam
  • Taking sitz or waist bath (warm shallow bath to cleanse the genital area) also helps
  • Include pranayama (breathing exercise) in your daily routine
  1. I have pre-diabetes but I am worried that my condition may have moved to diabetes. Are there any red flags or warning signs to suggest that?

Pre-diabetes is a condition where your blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as full-blown diabetes. If proper care is not taken, pre-diabetes often develops to diabetes, typically within 5 years. Pre-diabetes usually has no signs or symptoms, but once your disease starts progressing to diabetes, some early warning signs may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Tiredness
  • Blurry vision
  1. Is methi in diet good for diabetes? How should it be taken?

Methi or fenugreek (in English) seeds are very useful in diabetes. Eat methi seeds once or twice a day. You can soak them in water overnight, and they can be consumed by chewing, swallowing or in the form of a paste mixed with water.

  1. What are some natural home remedies for diabetes?
  • Mix turmeric with aloe vera gel (1 to 3 gms./.035 to .1 oz) and eat it twice a day
  • Have karela juice or white pumpkin 20-30 ml on an empty stomach
  • Have methi seeds soaked overnight in water once or twice a day
  • Have herbs like gokshura, gudmar, triphalá, musta, cardamom, fenugreek, or coriander, mixed with honey once a day
  1. I have high cholesterol with diabetes. How can Ayurveda help me manage it?

It is very common in people with diabetes to also have high cholesterol. According to Ayurveda, this is due to lack of exercises, intake of fatty foods, sleeping during daytime and improper functioning of thyroid glands. Ayurveda is very effective in controlling cholesterol levels in people with diabetes. It uses a holistic approach by combining diet, exercise and intake of herbal medicine practises. Ayurveda recommends the following diet and lifestyle changes to manage high cholesterol and diabetes:

  • Intake of food that is light in nature and fat-free such as-
  • Vegetables: Karela, Lemongrass, Fenugreek, carrot, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Fruits: Banana, apples, strawberry, pears
  • Herbs: Gingko, Garlic, Jatamansi, Tulsi
  • Extracts (Arka): Ajamoda, Arjuna, Ginger, Karela, Kalonji (black cumin), Kokam
  • Oils: Coconut oil
  • Seeds: Flax seed
  • Pulses: Soyabean
  • Regular exercises such as brisk walking, swimming, running and aerobics
  • Pranayama (breathing exercises) and yoga should also be a part of daily routine
  1. I have diabetes and lately I feel depressed all the time. Is it related to diabetes? If so, are there any home remedies that can help me manage it?

It is quite common in people with diabetes to also feel depressed. Depression usually develops in life-long diseases and in case of diabetes, it is caused due to high blood sugar. But fret not, Ayurveda can significantly help you manage your depression using these diet and exercise remedies.

  • Have gruel for three days. It is combination of oats, wheat and flour/rice. Follow this with parched barley powder mixed in water for the next 3 days
  • Regularly practise yoga. Some good yogasanas that can help deal with depression are tadasana, surya namaskar and bhujasana.
  1. What steps can I take to lose weight to manage my diabetes?

Weight gain is both a cause and a complication of diabetes. Most people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese when first diagnosed, and therefore, one of the most efficient strategies to control diabetes is to reduce weight. This will not only minimise your diabetes related complications, but will also help you become healthy faster. Ayurveda recommends the following tips to help you manage your weight:

  • Exercise for at least 30-60 minutes everyday
  • Regularly indulge in cardio exercises such as walking, swimming, jogging, aerobics etc to improve your heart health
  • Avoid sleeping during the day or being lazy
  • Avoid alcohol intake
  • Adopt yoga as a part of your exercise regime. Certain yoga postures are known to stimulate pancreas (organ that makes insulin) and improve its function leading to better management of diabetes. Some yoga poses that are good for diabetics are kati chakrasana, vakrasana, tadasana, ustrasana, pranayama and surya namaskar
  1. Should I stop eating honey if I want to control my blood sugar levels?

Many diabetics feel that they should quit both sugar and honey if they want to lower their blood sugar and control diabetes. Honey, however, is not harmful in diabetes as long as you moderate how much you are consuming in a day and distribute it throughout the day, instead of eating it all at once. After a meal, the stomach empties slowly and that’s why it is usually advisable to eat honey after a meal, as it not raise your blood sugar as much.

  1. Is there any special diet in Ayurveda for controlling eye problems that arise from diabetes?

Ayurvedic treatment for eye problems focusses on both reversing the symptoms and strengthening the eyes by improving blood circulation and providing nourishment. Diet rich in Vitamin A will be very helpful in controlling eye problems. These include:

  • Fruits like black grapes, pomegranate, and banana
  • Vegetables like gooseberry, bitter gourd, snake gourd, elephant yam, green carrot, radish, and small bringal
  1. Are there different Ayurveda treatments for diabetics that are overweight versus those that are thin?

Ayurveda treatment focusses on an entire change in the lifestyle of the person. The physical structure or body type is very important as the therapies will differ based on that. For overweight people, the main aim of Ayurveda treatment is to reduce fat and eliminate harmful toxins from the body. That is why the treatment includes cleansing procedures such as panchakarma. On the other hand, for thin people, the main aim of Ayurveda treatment is to improve immunity and provide nutrients to prevent further damage from diabetes. That is why the treatment includes more of nourishing procedures and only mild cleansing procedures.


Diabetes and depression
  1. What’s the connection between diabetes and depression? How can I cope if I have both? Diabetes. Mayo Clinic. 2014. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/expert-answers/diabetes-and-depression/faq-20057904
  2. Anxiety and Depression Association of India. [document on the internet]. [Cited 2016 August 19]. Available at: https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression
  3. Pandey A, Tiwari M, Nathani N, et al. Pathophysiology and management of depression: An Ayurvedic overview. JPSI 2014; 3(4): 294-7.
  4. Depression-You Don’t have to feel this way. American Family Physician. [document on the internet]. [Cited 2016 August 19]. Available at: http://www.aafp.org/afp/2000/0301/p1523.html
  5. Depression (Major Depressive Disorder). Tests and Diagnosis. [document on the internet]. [Cited 2016 August 24]. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/tests-diagnosis/con-20032977
  6. Uniyal RC. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia. Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention & Longevity. [Cited 2016 August 19].
  7. Thangasami SR et al. Emphasis of Yoga in the Management of Diabetes. J Diabetes Metab 2015, 6:10.

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