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World Diabetes Day 2023: Diabetes, Mental Health and the Healing Power of Ayurveda

In the intricate tapestry of human health, the threads of physical illness and mental well-being are intricately woven together. Nowhere is this connection more evident than in the chronic journey of diabetes management, a journey that many individuals walk in silence, burdened by the pervasive stigma surrounding the condition. The emotional difficulties that accompany diabetes – ranging from anxiety and depression to the distress it brings – are often overshadowed by its physical manifestations. However, within the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda we find a holistic approach that has the potential to break down these stigmas and promote healing.

dr. Govindarajan, Chief Innovation Officer, Kapiva, sheds light on the profound wisdom of Ayurveda. Rooted in the Vedic culture of India and spanning over 5,000 years, Ayurveda sees health as a harmonious balance of body, mind and spirit. For those living with diabetes, Ayurveda offers much more than a way to regulate blood sugar levels—it seeks to restore harmony to the whole person.

“Ayurveda does not only target blood sugar levels, it aims to restore harmony to the whole person. The core principles of Ayurveda revolve around a personalized approach, one that takes into account the individual’s unique constitution or ‘Prakriti’. Through dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments, and herbal treatment, Ayurveda offers a multifaceted approach to treating diabetes. The emphasis is on foods with a low glycemic index and spices like turmeric and fenugreek, which stimulate glucose metabolism,” explains Dr. Govindarajan.

Moreover, Ayurvedic herbs such as Karela (bitter gourd) and Jamun (Indian blackberry) have gained recognition for their hypoglycemic effects. Lifestyle interventions play a key role, including regular exercise and yoga to increase insulin sensitivity. Stress reduction is addressed through meditation and Pranayama (breathing exercises) to alleviate stress-induced hyperglycemia.

Ayurvedic herbs such as turmeric, fenugreek, and amla are being studied for their potential insulin and antidiabetic properties. When combined with conventional treatments, they can offer additional metabolic benefits, further reducing the stress of managing blood glucose levels.

Diabetes and mental health with the healing power of Ayurveda

Sanjina Bose, Clinical Psychologist, Lissun, offers a mental health perspective on navigating the complex intersection of diabetes and emotional well-being. She emphasizes the importance of a holistic approach in dealing with the emotional complexities that often accompany a diabetes diagnosis.

“A diagnosis of diabetes often brings a wave of emotional complexities, from anxiety about the future to the day-to-day demands of managing the condition,” says Bose. It emphasizes the need to provide a safe and supportive space for individuals to explore the emotional impact of diabetes, validating a myriad of feelings from frustration to isolation.

The complex relationship between diabetes and mental health underscores the need for comprehensive care. Managing blood sugar levels is not just a physical task; it becomes an emotional journey that can affect stress levels and potentially lead to mental health issues such as anxiety or depression.

Breaking stigma doesn’t just involve breaking social misconceptions; it’s about empowering individuals to accept their mental health needs. By fostering open dialogue, a supportive and safe environment, and collaborative care between mental health professionals and health care providers, the goal is to break down the stigma associated with diabetes.

Bose explains that therapeutic intervention for diabetes encompasses various aspects, including medical management, emotional well-being, behavioral changes, family and social support, self-reflection, evidence-based psychotherapeutic strategies, adherence to treatment plans, and risk reduction. The focus lies on improving not only mental well-being, but also empowering individuals to achieve holistic well-being that balances physical health with psychological resilience.

The ultimate goal is to foster a compassionate community that supports individuals on their journey to manage diabetes and their mental health. By embracing the wisdom of Ayurveda and a holistic approach to care, we can remove stigma, encourage a more inclusive approach to diabetes and mental health, and celebrate the interconnectedness of body and mind.

As we embrace this ancient wisdom, we pave the way for a more inclusive and holistic health paradigm that acknowledges all aspects of the diabetes experience. In the light of Ayurveda, each individual’s path to wellness is unique, and it is this personalized approach that can truly empower people affected by diabetes to live harmoniously, within themselves and with the world around them.

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