Diabetes Melitus as a disease entity has been recognized since long in Ayurvedic medicine. All available classics in the system describe it in detail. Ayurveda calls this disease “Prameham” a word derived from the root ‘Mehi-Sechene’ which means watering. Qualified by prefix ‘pra’, it means Prakrushtena mehati or passing urine in excess, both in quantity and frequency.
The disease is defined to be characterized by excessive urination and turbidity. According to the variation in turbidity, they had classified the disease into 20 sub-groups. These 20 groups are pathologically associated to the three basic constituents of disease and health- Kapha (10 subgroups), Pitha (6 Subgroups), Vata (4 Subgroups).
This grouping is of therapeutic importance as Ayurveda considers Kapha Prameha as curable, Pitha Prameha as manageable and Vata Prameha as incurable. These subgroups are actually the natural history of the disease of the disease Prameha, and if not properly managed, all patients of Prameha will end as Vata Prameha.
Prameha is also classified as Sahaja Prameha (congenital) and Apthyanimitthaja Prameha (Due to lifestyle) with respect to etiology of the disease. This can be correlated with type 1 Diabetes mellitus which is genetic and type 2 Diabetes mellitus which is an acquired life style disorder.
There is also a classification of Prameha on the type of patient, as Krisha Prameha (Patient who is lean) and Sthula Prameha (Diabetes due to Obesity). Diabetes Melitus is also is classified in to two broad categories based on management as 1) Lean Diabetic and 2) Obese Diabetic.
In early course of the disease, Ayurveda advices Samshodhana (Purgation by emesis or lactation) as the choice of treatment. A study conducted by Nitin Jindal and Nayan P. Joshi showed that there was a clinically significant reduction in Fasting and Postprandial blood sugar levels after Shodhana therapy.(Ayu;2013).
About 1200 species of plants are used in Ayurveda. Most commonly used plants include Tinospora cordifolia, Curcuma longa, Glyzirriza glabra, Azadirachta indica, Trigonella Foenum, Salacia reticulata, Phyllanthus emblica, Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellerica etc. All these herbs have shown hypoglycemic effects in animal and human studies.
Dietary plan in Ayurveda for patients with Diabetes Melitus includes Cereals like Yava (barley or Chenopodium album) Godhuma (wheat) shyamaka, Kodrava, Bajara variety of rice. Pulses like Chanaka (gram), Adhaki, mudga (green gram are also mentioned.
Vegetables includes leaves of bitter taste, trichosanthas anguina, Trigonella Foenum, Momordica charantia, Garlic and Musa paradisiaca.
Fruits than can be used for patients are black berry, Borassus flabellifer, Phoenix sylvestris and Disospyros embrayoptesis. Meat can be used of rabbit and birds except the water dwelling ones. Oils that are good for diabetics are mustard oil, Baliospermum montanum oil.
Ghee is considered alright for use in some conditions of Prameha. Excersise, walks, exposure to sun and wrestling are encouraged. In a clinical trial using dietary therapy in patients with Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM) and non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) showed highly significant in cases of NIDDM patients in symptoms as well as sugar levels whereas it was not significant in case of I.D.D.M cases.