Ayurveda, Yoga, and Diabetes

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  • 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes Mellitus yearly
  • 7th leading cause of death in the US (heart disease is number 1)
  • However, the leading cause of death among diabetics is myocardial infarction. If we take that into account then diabetes would likely be higher than 7th


Yoga, the ancient practice of India, is misunderstood in the west. Contemporary yoga in the Unites States consists of music to set the mood, excessive external heat, excessive aerobic movement, sometimes wine, sometimes goats, and a yoga clothing/accessory industry that will top $40 billion by 2028.

Regardless of your experience, yoga is here to stay and for good reason. It works. Well, it depends on the yoga, the teacher, your medical history and additional considerations. Once these are examined, yoga can be a therapeutic system of healing to prevent or treat symptoms and pathologies.


Ayurveda, the medicinal science of India, holds limited understanding in the west as well. It’s mostly considered a pseudo-science of diet and lifestyle restrictions (not sexy), advocates reek of oil (totally not sexy), they eat kitchadi all day long (boring), spouting the benefits of drinking warm water (totally boring).

Regardless of your experience, Ayurveda is a powerful system of medicine. It has the potential to prevent and treat serious pathologies. It comes down to how a practitioner approaches symptoms and disease, and how well they work with herbal medicines. Herbs can be pharmaceutical-grade but unlike pharmaceuticals, herbs provide additional nourishment and sustenance to the tissues. Consider that Salicylic acid (aspirin) originally came from a plant called Willow bark that herbalists have been using for centuries. Herbs are medicine when used correctly, in the proper dose and administered in the proper form (tea, tincture, powder, capsule)

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“Sugars are little shards of glass in the blood vessels.”

– Unknown

Yoga and Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus type 2 is a chronic metabolic disease that affects the circulatory, nervous, and immune systems. It occurs when there is a problem regulating and processing glucose. This results in excess sugar circulating in the blood that eventually can lead to

  • Heart and blood vessel disease
  • Nerve damage in limbs or elsewhere
  • Kidney disease
  • Eye Damage and Vision Loss
  • Skin conditions
  • Slow healing
  • Hearing impairment
  • Sleep apnea
  • Dementia

Yoga is essential in the prevention and treatment of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. The abdominal stretching during yoga postures (asana) help in the following ways

  • Regeneration of pancreatic cells that improve insulin secretions and glucose uptake [1]
  • Stress increases the risk and severity of diabetes. Yoga reduces stress and this lowers cortisol, epinephrine, and other pro-inflammatory (HPA Axis) hormonal responses to stress in the body [2]
  • The satisfaction experienced in yoga therapy increases endorphins, serotonin and dopamine levels which in turn help to lower stress and improve sleep patterns [3]
  • Yoga Therapy increases the number of insulin receptors as well as the proportion of binding receptors [4]
  • Improved symptom scores of diabetics including A1c, blood sugar, postprandial blood sugar, and anti-diabetic drug requirements [5]
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Dhanurasana is one of many postures helpful in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes. Yoga in and of itself is not a complete healthcare protocol. However, a yoga practice with selective postures, proper sequencing, mantras, bandhas, and pranayama are all part of a comprehensive therapeutic protocol for the treatment of diabetes mellitus.

Ayurvedic Herbs

Of course, we know that diet is key but working on sugar cravings is not easy! Especially if you’re active, an athlete, etc, sugar can be a quick energy fix in the short term with detrimental effects in the long term. When it comes to regulating blood sugar and even reducing sugar cravings, Ayurvedic herbs can make a big difference (like Gurmar, Kutki, Guggulu).

When it comes to regulating blood sugar and even reducing sugar cravings, Ayurvedic herbs can make a big difference.

For more information or if you’re interested in a consultation please contact Magnolia


  1. Thangasami SR, Chandani AL, Thangasami S. Emphasis of yoga in the management of diabetes. J Diabetes Metab 2015;6:613
  2. Mahajan AS. Role of yoga in hormonal homeostasis. Int J Clin Exp Physiol 2014;1:173-8
  3. Newburg AB, Iverson J. The neural basis of the complex mental task of meditation; neurotransmitter and neurochemical considerations. Med Hypotheses 2003;61:282-91
  4. Gordon L, Morrison EY, McGrowder D, et al. Effect of yoga and traditional physical exercise on hormones and percentage insulin binding receptor in patients with type 2 diabetes. Am J Biochem Biotechnol 2008;4:35-42
  5. Cui J, Yan LM, et al. Effects of yoga in adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis. J Diabetes Investig 2017;8:201-9

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