January 12, 2011
School of Ayurveda, Amritapuri
Diabetes in India claims more lives than HIV; about 4 million people succumb every year. It is estimated that by the year 2025, every fifth diabetic in the world will be Indian.
India’s traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, provides many solutions that doctors are now applying to modern settings.
These solutions are the focus of an ongoing three-month medical camp wherein interns visit houses to identify persons affected by the disease. Early identification helps facilitate effective treatment.
This camp conducted by the Amrita School of Ayurveda for improvement of public health in the area, is being coordinated by Dr. Krishna Kumar, currently also enrolled for his Ph.D. at the National Institute of Ayurveda in Jaipur.
Interns use a conventional diabetes glucometer for screening adults in the household they visit. If the blood glucose level tests above 200 mg/dl, the person is invited to the Ayurveda Hospital for further diagnosis and treatment.
While allopathic medicine mainly distinguishes between two types of diabetes, Ayurveda makes finer distinctions.
“In Ayurveda, we learn about twenty different types of pramehas or urinary disorders; these are mentioned in the Charaka, Susrutha and Asthanga Samhitas,” explains Dr. Krishna Kumar. “Diabetes mellitus is one of those twenty pramehas or urinary disorders.”
As per modern medicine, type 1 diabetes mellitus (or juvenile onset diabetes) results from the immune system attacking the pancreas causing it to not produce insulin and type 2 diabetes mellitus occurs when insulin produced by the body cannot move sugar out of the bloodstream.
The term itself comes from the Greek language, wherein diabetes indicates siphon and mellitus indicates honey, resulting in literal meaning of the term, sweet urine.
In current times, more and more children are being affected by type 2 diabetes mellitus, which was formerly attributed to adulthood. Type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for many years, since besides feeling thirsty, there are usually no early symptoms. Hence also, the importance of the Amrita camp.
For those who test positive in the home glucometer screening, a urine test is performed at the hospital.
Medicines made from plant extracts are prescribed. Some patients participate in a clinical trial for investigating the healing combination of two plants, Costeus Igneus and Andrographis Paniculata.
The holistic Ayurvedic approach for combating diabetes mellitus includes, along with medication, important changes in lifestyle.
Therefore, at the hospital patients also receive detailed instructions regarding their diet. They are advised to reduce their intake of carbohydrates by washing rice, for example, or decreasing their intake of wheat.
Doing yoga and exercise are also considered important for the control of the disease.