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Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla
Raksha Ayurvedalaya: The Family Wellness Center

Diabetes and Ayurvedic Treatment

Ancient scholars of Ayurveda knew Diabetes Mellitus some 3,000 years ago. The association of frequent urination with a sweet tasting substance in the urine was first reported in Charaka samhita, the ancient Ayurvedic classic.

Allopathic drugs like insulin, sulphonylureas, biguanides have definitely helped in controlling the blood sugar levels and improving the quality of life but none of them unequivocally successful in maintaining normal glucose levels and avoiding late stage complications of diabetes. About 15 to 20 per cent of patients with newly diagnosed non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus have little or no response to sulphonylureas and with each year of treatment, about 3-5 per cent of the patients, who have achieved better acceptable glycaemic control, lose their responsiveness. Biguanides therapy is associated with Iactic blood disorders, water retention, and several others.

In spite of all the advances in therapeutics, diabetes still remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the world. As per the available data, there are at least 20 million diabetics in India.

Ayurveda recognises this disease right from the Vedic period with the name prameha. The word prameha denotes prabhuta mootrata (excessive urination) and aavila mootrata (turbid urine) and madhumeha means the flow of madhu (sugar) from the body. Depending on the physical constitution or body type (prakriti), or the health status of an individual, ayurvedic classics advocate two different types of therapy schedules for diabetics. They are:

  1. Apatarpana (de-nourishment) and Samshodhana (cleansing): This treatment is prescribed if you are obese and heavily built. In this, along with anti-diabetic drugs, maximum stress is given on de-nourishment of fats and elimination of endotoxins by way of various exercises, fasting and cleansing manoeuvres known as panchakarma (five fold therapies viz. emesis, purgation, enema, blood letting and errhines).
  2. Santarpana (replenishment) and Brumhana (body bulk promotion): This is prescribed if you are chronically ill, with low immunity and underweight due to the draining of essential nutrients. This therapy helps in providing the easily acceptable nutrients and micronutrients to rebuild body tissues and help strengthen the defence mechanism without increasing circulating blood sugar, fats and other metabolites. This prevents further damage and ensures enhanced healing and repair.

Anti Diabetic Herbs and Foods

There are foods and herbs, which have a specific role in the treatment of diabetes. Some of them are:

  1. Fenugreek seeds: (methi): The medicinal qualities or fenugreek seeds are described in ayurvedic literature. In recent studies, it has been reported that the decoction of fenugreek seeds suppressed the urinary excretion of sugar and relieved symptoms of diabetes. It contains trigonelline, and an alkaloid known to reduce blood sugar levels. You can take the seeds after soaking them in water overnight or in powdered form along water or buttermilk 15 minutes before the meal. If you do not like its bitter taste, you can include the seed powder in food preparations such as chapati, rice, dal, or vegetables. The intake depends upon the severity of diabetes. Usually the daily dosage varies from 25 grams to 50 grams in two divided doses.
  2. Bitter gourd: (karela): This has a long history as food and medicine. The fruit and seeds of this plant contain most active blood sugar-lowering components. This contains an active principle called charantin, which is sometimes called plant insulin, as it closely resembles insulin from cows. (Bovine insulin). For better therapeutic benefits, extract juice from four to five karelas every morning and take on an empty stomach. You can take the seed powder either directly or in the form of a decoction. You can even prepare a curry. However, remember not to fry in oil or add sugar to this vegetable to counteract bitter taste; otherwise, the therapeutic benefits may be lost.
  3. Jambul fruit: (Jamun): The jambul fruit is regarded as a specific medicine in traditional ayurvedic medicine because of its specific action on the pancreas. The fruit, the seeds, and the whole fruit juice are all useful in the treatment of diabetes. The seeds contain jamboline, which controls the excessive conversion of starch to sugar. For internal usage, dry the seeds, powder them, and take 3 grams, twice daily with water or butter milk.
  4. Honey: Since honey consists of velulose, it is not harmful in diabetes. Honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial activity due to enzymatically-liberated hydrogen peroxide. Some diabetics feel that they only need to stop taking sugar and honey to control diabetes. However, it is best for patients to know the daily ratio of sugar or honey. This ratio should not be taken at one time, but should be reasonably distributed throughout the day. One teaspoonful of honey provides 20 kcal of energy. If you can control other forms of food that are equivalent to 20 kcal of energy, you are allowed to take one teaspoonful of honey per day. After a mixed meal, the stomach empties slowly. Therefore, honey eaten after a meal, will not raise blood sugar as much as when taken on an empty stomach.
  5. Bael: Though this plant is famous for its fruit, here we are interested in its leaves. They are scientifically proven to be antidiabetic. Drink fresh juice of leaves daily along with pinch of black pepper. This will take care of your excess body sugar.
  6. Onion: Researches suggest onion’s medicinal value with reference to diabetes. While studying the correlation between Diphenylamine content of the ether extract of onion and its hypoglycemic activity, researchers have proved its antidiabetic nature. Bhaavaprakasa, an Ayurvedic classic, quotes its rasaayana property apart from the aphrodisiac nature and strength promoting property.
  7. Garlic: The Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, few years ago published the antidiabetic effects of S-Ally Cysteine Sulphoxide (allicin) isolated from garlic. At the doses of 200 mg/kg body weight it has decreased Serua lipids, blood glucose and activated serus enzymes. Vaagbhata, the ancient scholar of ayurveda, mentioned garlic as the best drug in treating vaata type of disorders. It is interesting to note that while classifying 20 types of pramehas, ayurvedic classics have included diabetes under Vaataja pramehas. The Journal of Research in Medicine published another interesting finding about garlic. This has shown significant anti-coagulant and fibrinolytic activities by virtue of increasing whole blood coagulation time, prothrobin time, and fibrinolytic activity. In addition, it also possesses significant cholesterol decreasing properties. It is a well-known fact that major deaths in diabetes occur due to vascular and neurological complications. Eat 2-4 cloves of raw garlic everyday and you can keep the risks at bay. If it is too strong for you to take, there are garlic pills with or without odour.
  8. Aloe: The classic remedy for hyperglycemia is the gelatinous juice from the succulent Aloe-vera plant. This plant is very easy to grow. It does not need direct sunlight or much water. The aloe is inexpensive and can usually be found where plants are sold. To use it as medicine, cut off the top of one of the lower leaves. Either peel the skin off the leaf to get the gel or squeeze out the gel. Take one teaspoonful of this pulp and add to a cup of warm water. Optionally, you can also add one pinch of turmeric to the solution. Drink this regularly. In a study conducted on normal and alloxan induced diabetic mice, results were confirmed about the hypoglycemic action of aloe-vera. It is a well-known liver tonic and regular use tones up the hepato biliary system, and regulates sugar and fat.
  9. Custard apple leaves: A recent study reveals that 2-5 newly emerged leaves with 75 mg of long pepper if taken for 3-6 weeks, lowers blood sugar levels effectively.
  10. Neem leaves: Neem is an age-old remedy and does not require a trip to stores. It is easily available anywhere. Leaves made to juice or paste can be taken internally to lower blood sugar.
  11. Cabbage: A recent study reveals the anti-diabetic effects of cabbage in streptozolo diabetes in rats. The fascinating point is that this is as effective as insulin. As an afternoon snack, eat a cup of cooked cabbage. It is a low calorie, anti-cancer, fibre-filled food that lowers your excess sugar naturally.
  12. Turmeric as remedy: Ayurveda recommends turmeric as an exclusive remedy for diabetes. It is more effective if taken with an equal amount of amla powder. ‘The Indian journal Pharmacology’ concludes in a study that the fine powder of turmeric has blood sugar lowering effects.

Guidelines & Ayurvedic Remedies

  • Prepare decoction by adding Terminalia chebula (harad), Cyperus rotundus (naagarmotha), and Symplocos recemosa (pathaanilodhra) bark in boiling water and take internally, 40 ml twice daily.
  • You can also prepare decoction by boiling rakta chandan bark, Terminalia arjuna bark (kakubha), Cedrus deodara bark (devdaar) and Saussurea lappa roots (kooth), and take 40 ml twice daily.
  • Fresh juice of the whole plant of Tinospora cordifolia (giloy), along with honey may also be taken.
  • One gram of triphala, shilajit, and lohabhasma mixture meet the mineral requirements of diabetics.
  • Cold infusion of turmeric, triphala, and Berberis aristata (daaru haldi) in the daily dose of 30 ml is a proven remedy that you can try.
  • You can take powder of dried neem leaves added with turmeric, bitter gourd, and Tinospora cordifolia (giloy), two to three grams twice a day.
  • During recent years, certain individual herbs are screened extensively for their blood sugar lowering effect. They are: leaves of Gymnema sylvestre (gudmar), bark of Pterocarpus, Ficus bengalensis (vat), leaves of Cinnamon tamale (tej patta), Foeniculum vulgare (methi) and fruits of Memordica charantia (karela). You can use these herbs alone or in combination, 3 to 5 grams twice daily with water or buttermilk before food.
  • The herbo-mineral preparations like Shilajatvaadi vati, Vasant kusumakar rasa, Gokshuraadi guggulu can be taken after consulting a physician.


As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. This article is intended only for information. It is not a substitute to the standard medical diagnosis, personalized Ayurvedic treatment or qualified Ayurvedic physician. For specific treatment, always consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.


Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla, M.D. (Ayurveda)
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