Turmeric is a well-known spice and one of the worlds most extensively researched anti-diabetic herbs. The main active ingredient in Turmeric is curcumin and its derivatives curcuminoids. In this article we consider turmeric for diabetes, as well as turmeric research, turmeric for diabetes dosage and turmeric for diabetes prevention.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article.
What Is Diabetes Mellitus?
Types Of Diabetes Mellitus
Diabetes Mellitus In Ayurveda
Pathogenesis (Samprapti) Of Diabetes Mellitus (Madhumeha): Ayurvedic Perspective
Turmeric For Diabetes Mellitus
How It Works: Turmeric’s Mode Of Action In Diabetes Mellitus, The Ayurvedic Perspective
Turmeric For Diabetes? What The Scientific Research Says
When To See The Doctor
Turmeric Precautions And Contraindications
Diabetes mellitus is a group of metabolic disorders characterized by recurrent or persistent high blood sugar levels over a prolonged period of time. It is diagnosed by demonstrating any one of the following.
1. A fasting plasma glucose level ≥ 7.0 mmol/l (126 mg/dl).
2. A plasma glucose ≥ 11.1 mmol/l (200 mg/dl) two hours after a 75 g oral glucose load as in a glucose tolerance test.
3. Symptoms of high blood sugar and casual plasma glucose ≥ 11.1 mmol/l (200 mg/dl).
4. Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C) ≥ 48 mmol/mol (≥ 6.5 DCCT %).
There are two main types of diabetes mellitus called type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes (juvenile diabetes) is characterized by beta cell destruction caused by an autoimmune process. It usually leads to absolute insulin deficiency often first present in children or in young adults.
Type 2 diabetes occurs due to a progressive insulin secretory defect on the background of insulin resistance and is more associated with being overweight. It most often first presents in people over the age of 40. This is because people with type 2 diabetes still make insulin however they do not make enough insulin according to the body’s needs, or the body is not able to use the insulin properly. It tends to develop gradually (over weeks or month).
In Ayurveda, diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha) falls under a set of 20 urinary disorders (Prameha)1 which are generally characterized by the production of excess turbid urine (Prabhootavilmutrata).2 Although in this set of urinary disorders (Prameha) there is involvement of all three doshas, Kapha dosha involvement is predominant. Pitta and Vata doshas are involved at later stages.
Any one of these twenty urinary disorders (Prameha), when left untreated, can be converted into diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha)3 and in this condition there is a passage of a large amount of sweet and astringent urine.
READ MORE: Kapha Diet: Everything You Need To Know
According to Charaka, due to the imbalance of all three doshas there is disturbed metabolism of fat (meda). As a result, channels are blocked causing obstruction in the movement of Vata dosha. Obstructed Vata transforms the sweet essence of all the tissues (ojas) into an astringent and sweet taste like honey, which discharges in the form of urine. This condition is called diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha).
The pathogenesis (Samprapti) of diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha) can be understood in the following way.
According to Ayurveda, vitiated Kapha is considered the prime culprit for the occurrence of a set of 20 urinary disorders (Prameha) which when left untreated are converted into diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha). The invariable vitiation of Kapha dosha can be correlated with increased levels of glucose in the blood.
According to Ayurveda, the nourishment of all tissues (Dhatus) is influenced by the function of the main digestive fire (Agni or Jatharagni) which is responsible for digestion of food as well as absorption and respective metabolic digestive fire of each tissue (Dhatvagni). All the seven tissues develop sequentially and nourish further tissue (Dhatu).
During the pathological process of diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha), there is a state of imbalance of all the three doshas along with low digestive fire (agnimandya) and metabolic impairment (dhatwagni mandya). Metabolism of fat tissue (medodhatvagni mandya) is especially disturbed. It blocks the formation as well as the nourishment of tissues, resulting in the development of freely flowing fats in the blood circulation (Abaddha Medas). This pathological process may cause insulin resistance due to which glucose does not enter the cell effectively and remains in the blood in high concentrations causing diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha).
The Ayurvedic Properties of Turmeric
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa, Haridra) possesses a pungent (katu) and bitter (tikta) taste. Its property is light (Laghu) and dry (Rooksha). It has a hot potency (Usna Virya) and its post digestive effect (Vipaka) is pungent.4
The ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka enlisted Turmeric as one of the herbs in a group of ten most effective herbs for scraping or having a lipolytic effect (Lekhaniyamahakashaya).5
According to the ancient Ayurvedic classical text Ashtang Hridaya, Turmeric and Indian gooseberry (Embellica officinalis, Amalaki) are considered the best herbs for the management of diabetes.6 In fact, Ayurveda considers Turmeric the best among all the herbs mentioned for diabetes.
According to Ayurveda, Diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha) involves the imbalance of all the three doshas, and Turmeric is known to pacify all the three doshas (tridoshashamaka).
By virtue of its hotness, it balances Vata and Kapha. Because of its dry (Ruksha) and light (Laghu) property, hot (Ushna) potency (veerya) and pungent (Katu) post-digestive effect (Vipaka), it balances Kapha dosha. Due to its bitterness, it balances Pitta dosha.
Turmeric basically works in four ways in managing diabetes mellitus (Madhumeha).
The impressive benefits of Turmeric are due to the presence of a natural compound curcumin, the principal curcuminoid. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps in lowering blood sugar levels in diabetes. Let’s see how it may help in managing as well as preventing diabetes and its related complications.
1. Turmeric Has Antihyperglycemic Effects
Research says that curcumin helps in balancing blood glucose and insulin levels in diabetes. It lowers elevated blood sugar by bringing down glucose production in the liver, stimulating glucose uptake by the body, stimulating insulin secretion by the pancreatic tissues,improving pancreatic cell function and reducing insulin resistance.8
2. Turmeric Manages Postprandial Glucose level
Alpha‐glucosidase inhibitors (AGIs) play an important role in the healing of type‐2 diabetes. Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors act as competitive inhibitors of alpha-glucosidase enzymes in the brush border of the small intestines. They reduce the rate of digestion and absorption of carbohydrates. That means they have a lowering effect on postprandial blood glucose and insulin levels.
Turmeric is capable of inhibiting glucosidase enzymes effectively. During a research study, it was seen that dry rhizomes of turmeric exhibited potent α-glucosidase inhibitory capacities. It was then postulated that it is capable of managing Postprandial Glucose level efficiently.9.
3. It Stops The Risk Of Developing Diabetes (Turmeric For Diabetes Prevention)
Clinical research supports the fact that curcumin supplementation has been proven to reverse pre-diabetes. A 9-month curcumin intervention in a pre-diabetic population significantly lowered the number of pre-diabetic individuals who eventually developed type 2 diabetes.
In addition, curcumin therapy appeared to improve overall function of β-cells. This study demonstrated that curcumin intervention in a pre-diabetic population may be beneficial and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes.10 According to this research study, curcumin has been shown to have anti-diabetogenic effects. It improved the activity of pancreatic adrenergic receptors and regulated the ability of the pancreas to sense glucose and secrete insulin.11
4. It Inhibits Inflammation
There is an association between inflammatory biomarkers and the occurrence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its complications. Adipose tissue are the major sites for the production of those inflammatory biomarkers. These inflammatory biomarkers produce inflammatory response and contribute to the occurrence of type 2 diabetes mellitus by causing insulin resistance.
In addition to this, in the presence of hyperglycemia the inflammation intensifies and promotes long-term complications of diabetes. Targeting inflammatory pathways is one of the strategies to prevent and control diabetes and related complications.12 Research during the study found that curcumin present in Turmeric suppresses andreverses many of the inflammatory and metabolic derangements caused by diabetes and prevents its proliferation. Research also shows that curcuminoids exert anti-diabetic effects, by reducing serum Adipocyte-fatty Acid Binding Protein Levels, a reduction in enzymes and proteins involved in inflammation, which leads to improved metabolic parameters in type 2 diabetes.13
5. It Reduces Oxidative Stress And Its Complications
Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are formed as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of oxygen and have important roles in cell signaling and homeostasis. When ROS levels increase dramatically, this may result in significant damage to cell structures. Any imbalance between the reactive oxygen species (ROS) and antioxidant level leads to a condition known as “oxidative stress”. It results in the development of a pathological condition such as Diabetes.
Under hyperglycemic (high blood sugar levels) conditions, increased uptake of glucose leads to excess production of ROS which causes oxidative degradation of fats (lipid peroxidation), oxidative damage to cell and initiation of inflammatory pathways. Oxidative stress further produces complications of diabetes which includes stroke, neuropathy, retinopathy and nephropathy.14
Research says that Turmeric acts as an antioxidant, scavenges ROS and inhibits lipid peroxidation. Curcuminoid present in Turmeric supplements has shown to raise the level of antioxidant enzymes in diabetes.15 This property of turmeric can help in reducing oxidative stress observed in diabetes. Besides this, research has also shown that curcumin can prevent the deleterious complications of diabetes.16
6. It Improves Liver Function
Patients with diabetes often suffer from fatty liver disease and other liver disorders. It was seen in a study that dietary fed curcumin for 8 weeks excreted less albumin, urea, creatinine, and inorganic phosphorus. During a research study, curcumin intake exhibited reduced liver weight and lipid peroxidation products in the plasma and urine which are considered as indicators of improved liver function.17
Researchers also concluded that curcumin supplements help in the improvement of different features of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In a research study it was seen that 70mg of bioavailable curcumin per day for 8 weeks reduced liver fat content in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and brought about a 78.9% improvement in the disease.18
7. Checks the Diabetes induces High Cholesterol levels
There is a link between the insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes and diabetic dyslipidemia that tends to cause people with type 2 diabetes to get heart disease or a stroke at a younger age than people without type 2 diabetes. Diabetic dyslipidemia is a characteristic pattern. It consists of low HDL cholesterol, an increased concentration of small dense LDL-cholesterol particles, increased triglycerides, and postprandial lipemia. This pattern is most frequently seen in type 2 diabetes. Dietary intake of Curcumin has demonstrated a significant lower level of liver cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids.19
8. It Reduces The Risk Of Diabetes Induced Cardiovascular Disease
Hyperglycemia is the hallmark of Diabetes mellitus and is a major risk factor for endothelial dysfunction. Endothelium dysfunction precedes and portends the development of atherosclerosis and is an independent prognostic predictor for the risk of future of cardiovascular events. In a research study, Curcumin was found to be as good as atorvastatin allopathic medicine in improving endothelial dysfunction along with reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Moreover, long-term curcumin intake have also shown improvement in lowering plasma and hepatic cholesterol and suppressing early atherosclerotic lesions as comparable to the protective effects of lovastatin allopathic medicine during a study20
9. It Has Anti-Obesity Potential
Curcumin, a major active component of Turmeric overcomes insulin resistance in obesity-induced diabetes and is helpful for the prevention of obesity and insulin resistance.
10. It Hastens Wound Healing
Curcumin has been shown to possess significant anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anti-coagulant and anti-infective effects in research studies. Curcumin has shown to enhance granulation tissue formation, collagen deposition, tissue remodeling and wound contraction. A study found that it’s topical application has been shown to speed up the wound healing process.21
A research study showed thatthe anti-inflammatory and antioxidant potential of curcumin caused faster and better wound healing in diabetic rats which proves that curcumin could be an additional novel therapeutic agent in the management of impaired wound healing in diabetics.22
In order to manage diabetes and its complications and reap several of turmeric’s benefits, enjoy a healthy amount of Turmeric in your diet. Try an easy and tasty Golden Milk recipe.
Though ample preliminary research shows that Turmeric may lower the sugar level in diabetes mellitus, one should take caution while consuming large quantities of Turmericalong with anti-diabetic medications.
The curcumin present in Turmeric has an anti-hyperglycemic effect. So the quantity of this herb needs to be carefully monitored and regulated when taken along with anti-diabetic medications. In order to know the best suitable amount of Turmeric according to one’s blood sugar level, it is best to seek the advice of an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner or health care provider.
Dietary intake of turmeric in the form of a spice, in the quantity of 1-3 grams in food, is always safe for consumption. In this amount, it is unlikely to cause any adverse side effects. In the following conditions however, it is best to avoid health supplements of Turmeric. Do not consume Turmeric in more than the regular dietary amount in the following health conditions.
Do not take Turmeric supplements during pregnancy and breast-feeding.
Studies found that Turmeric may stimulate uterine contraction.23 In addition, due to the lack of research on Turmeric, pregnancy and postpartum, it is better not to take it during this time.
READ MORE: How To Breastfeed The Ayurvedic Way
Do not take Turmeric supplements if you’re on blood thinners or have a bleeding or clotting disorder.
Curcumin has shown to have anticoagulant or blood thinning effects.24
Do not take Turmeric supplements prior to surgery.
Curcumin has shown to have blood thinning properties.
Do not take Tumeric supplements if you are suffering from kidney stones or gout.
Research has shown that Turmeric may increase the level of oxalates in the blood.25
Do not take Turmeric supplements when there is gall bladder obstruction.
Research has shown that curcumin may cause painful contractions in conditions of gall bladder obstruction.26
Do not take Turmeric supplements in low blood pressure conditions.
Studies found that curcumin has the property of reducing blood pressure.27
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