Medicine has been practiced for millennia. Despite the dominance of Western medicine, many traditional approaches to treating, managing, and healing illness exist, many with significant health benefits. According to new research, many South Asian medicinal practices, such as Ayurveda, have been shown to be effective as a way to treat type 2 diabetes by helping regulate blood sugar levels.
Ayurveda, specifically, is an integrated approach to health management that includes a range of strategies to help achieve mind, body, and spirit balance. Some of these strategies include lifestyle changes and management, detoxification, and medical treatments using various plant, animal, and herbal ingredients. Some of these medical treatments include herbs such as cumin, turmeric, and licorice root that have anti-inflammatory properties.
When it comes to treating type 2 diabetes, the integrated approach offered by Ayurvedic medicine can be an appealing option to Western medicine. Treated in the context of Western medicine, diabetes is often costly for many patients and uncomfortable to manage (think: insulin injections).
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Nottingham and published in Frontiers in Pharmacology presents a review of studies examining the use of traditional medicinal practices that use Ayurvedic medicines. They focused specifically on studies investigating the use of medicines containing plant, animal, or mineral materials and their impacts on blood glucose.
In total, they reviewed over 200 research articles (including almost 100 randomized controlled trials). The studies examined covered around 100 different types of Ayurvedic medicine, including medicines with mineral origins (such as Shilajit, a powder collected from high mountain rocks). However, most were made of one or more plant materials. Various administration methods (tablets, capsules, or powders) were also examined.
Findings from the analysis suggest that these medicines could combat type 2 diabetes (and potentially prevent it) by helping regulate blood sugar. These medicines also showed some benefit in managing blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
However, researchers suggest that more randomized controlled trials are needed to better understand the impacts of Ayurvedic medicine on the management of diabetes.