Diabetes mellitus is a disease, which has plagued man for centuries though its incidence at present, especially in the more developed areas of the world, is higher than it has ever been in the past.
Diabetes mellitus is a disease, which has plagued man for centuries though its incidence at present, especially in the more developed areas of the world, is higher than it has ever been in the past. The reason for this is that through technological achievement, both stress and affluence have become increasingly widespread and people have developed the tendency to avoid strenuous physical exercise and to overeat. Thus, the recent flourishing of diabetes (and diseases which stem from the same fundamental cause) can be considered to be a side effect of the twentieth century technological age, pollution on the personal level reflecting global pollution.
At the present time modern medical science holds that there is no positive system of cure for diabetes mellitus. The most it can offer is control of the symptoms through dietary controls and daily use of insulin and other drugs. The disease itself, however, is commonly not affected by this and may even increase in severity.
The ancient science of yoga has more successful method of management, which is thousands of years old. It is based upon the internal readjustment of the physical organism through stimulation of the body’s own regenerative processes. After many years of successfully dealing with sufferers of diabetes through implementing the integral yogic system, we wish to make the knowledge of these efficacious techniques available to all interested sufferers and therapists of diabetes in the world.
Any person undergoing yoga therapy for diabetes should know the principles involved. Diabetes mellitus is a disorder of the body’s metabolism characterized by a high blood sugar level and the subsequent excretion of sugar in the urine. The human body requires sugar for energy to maintain the organs and tissues of the body. The sugar, which is taken into the body in the form of carbohydrates, enters the blood in the form of glucose (mainly), fructose and galactose. These sugars are either immediately used by the body or else are stored for later use in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.
Because we do not eat continuously, periods of relative abundance alternate with food-free periods. During fasting the insulin levels reach their nadis and fat is released as a source of fuel. It is from this fat that ketones can build up to toxic levels in some people with diabetes.
The blood sugar regulates its own level. When the blood sugar level is high, the Islets of Langerhans (a group of endocrine gland cells in the pancreas with the specific function of secreting hormones) secrete insulin to lower the sugar level. The opposite effect occurs when glucagon, another Islet cell hormone, is secreted. Thus balance is achieved.
The regulation of sugar by the body is a very complex thing as glucose is the basic energy supplier of all body tissues. It plays an important role in all body functions and therefore requires sensitive and precise interaction of the pancreas, pituitary gland, skin, kidneys and nervous system. So glucose monitoring and control is a very complex thing. It is easy to understand, therefore, why diabetes is beyond the reach of medical therapy alone.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic imbalance in the mechanism regulating blood sugar level. When it occurs, the glucose absorbed into the blood from the digestive system is prevented from being effectively used in the muscles and tissues, or from being stored in the liver in the form of glycogen or as fat. It is caused either by a relative or absolute lack of the hormone insulin.
Absolute (juvenile-onset) Diabetes
In this condition for various reasons, the pancreas stops producing insulin. It can completely stop its production or it can dribble out insufficient quantities. This prevents glucose from entering the body cells, with the result that they starve, even though there is a high level of food in the form of glucose in the blood stream. This starvation affects the beta cells of the pancreas, compounding the problem and turning it into a vicious circle. This form of diabetes most commonly occurs in young people, and is a case of “Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink!” This form of diabetes can be best tackled only by the knowledge of yoga.”
Relative (mature-onset) Diabetes
Due to malfunction or imbalance in the nervous, hormonal and digestive systems, there is thought to be an inappropriate secretion of insulin at the wrong time, and/or the body tissues have become less responsive to insulin. In this form of diabetes, insulin release appears to occur too late in the cycle, so the blood sugar level rises to a high level before insulin is secreted. When insulin is finally liberated, there is not enough to cope with the high blood sugar level. The pancreas tries to secret more insulin, but it is too late, for by then the liver has started to release glucose in response to the call from the starving body cells. Thus the level of sugar in the blood rises even higher. In addition to this, the insulin that is released may be ineffective in letting the glucose into the cells because the cells themselves cannot take it in or because insulin is poorly manufactured. There are various degrees of this type of diabetes, from mild to severe. Some cases are even unnoticeable (latent). Factors involved in mature-onset diabetes seem to be heredity, increasing age, obesity, infections and stress.
Symptoms of Diabetes
The high blood glucose concentration causes more glucose to pass through the kidneys, drawing out with it large quantities of water. This results in:
The cells in order to keep alive start using fat as a fuel instead of glucose. This produces an added penalty in the form of fatty acids (called ketones) in the tissues. As a result, the patient develops severe acidosis. This, in association with dehydration, can cause diabetic coma (unconsciousness). Death may result unless the condition is treated immediately with the appropriate doses of insulin.
The more advanced case of diabetes, the more extreme symptoms will become. Mature-onset diabetes occurs predominantly in affluent middle-aged persons who are abnormally obese. It is due to relative lack of insulin. This stems from the fact the diet is generally heavy in sugar-rich carbohydrates, and this is often combined with insufficient exercise to work off the large amounts of glucose, which are consumed.
It is our belief that many persons who now suffer from mature-onset diabetes could have completely avoided the disease if they had limited their intake of sugar-rich carbohydrates to a reasonable level and participated in daily exercise, preferably yogic in nature. The daily practice of meditation would also have helped to reduce the chance of contracting diabetes by establishing balance in the nervous system, thereby not allowing the body to become out of tune with itself.
It is with mature-onset diabetes that we are mainly concerned. It affects the larger proportion of diabetics, and is potentially reversible. Juvenile diabetes with absolute lack of insulin can also be greatly helped through yoga, though its reversal is rare. Yoga can help prevent the complications of juvenile-onset diabetes.
All diabetics are encouraged to take up yoga so that they may gain increased health through this science. All can benefit depending on how much effort is put into the practice. The longer you have had diabetes, the more effort you will require. A positive attitude and persistent practice of the correct techniques over a long period will pay valuable dividends, even in the severest case of diabetes. Even a young person who has just discovered he has high blood sugar level has a good chance of eradicating the problem.
Unfortunately, most people do not come to yoga until they realize that medicines are no answer to their disease. This is an important point to remember. Combination of medicines and yoga are the best way to attack diabetic problems especially before it becomes set into the body.
Yogic Treatment of Diabetes
The knowledge of Yoga can be implemented in practical life by adhering to certain principles in life. Food plays a major role and we need to select the best that is good for the body and the mind.
For the treatment of Diabetes. Yogic programs that highlight the facts of diabetes and the concepts of food the, along with the techniques of breathing, control of the mind and right understanding can bring in fantastic changes in health and can even modulate the disease without medicines ,if right faith and determination is taken up by the individual concerned.
The mind, through the nervous system, controls every action and reaction that occurs in the human body. It keeps a record of everything that a person and his body have undergone in the past and relates it to the present conditions. From this function come the decisions that rule every action that a person makes, whether voluntary or involuntary. This control extends from the unconscious and automatic control of the organs and muscles right up to the decisions that are made with the conscious intellectual mind. Every person’s whole existence is based upon the correct function of the nervous system.
The science of yoga holds that the nervous system (and the body that it rules) can be brought under a high degree of control and can be made to operate with the greatest possible degree of efficiency through the practice of meditation. This ancient theory has been bolstered by scientific research done in India, Europe and the United States. The bulk of this research has shown conclusively that the daily practice of meditation brings about harmonious changes in the physical organism.
In regard to diabetes, meditation practices have been shown definitely to help the endocrine glands through relaxation of the sympathetic nervous system arising from such practices. Regulation of the anterior pituitary hormones, which are under the direct control of hypothalamus, is greatly affected by yoga nidra [psychic sleep]. Also, a general increase in mental efficiency is achieved.
Rhythm of Life is a ten day module highlighting the entire essence of yoga in daily life and is apt to ignite the person on these modalities.