Guduchi - The Most Effective Ayurvedic Medication For Diabetes
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Jul 10, 2020
Diabetes poses a greater public health threat to India than most of us realize. With over 70 million diabetic patients in India, the country is often described as the diabetes capital of the world. Diabetes takes such a huge toll because of its wide ranging impact not just on the health and productivity of the patient, but also on the family or care givers and on the health care system. The disease has a huge cost in terms lost earning potential, as well as financially because of the cost of health care and diabetes medications.
Unfortunately, with no known cure for the condition, patients must rely on expensive medications just to control symptoms and prevent further deterioration of health. This makes natural treatments and remedies much sought after. They can reduce dependence on drugs that come with a huge price tag and the risk of side effects. Ayurved has provided us with some of the most promising solutions for diabetes and guduchi is perhaps the most notable.
Ayurvedic Perspective of Guduchi
Guduchi is one of the most important herbs in Ayurved. It is also commonly referred to as giloe or giloy, which actually refers to a heavenly elixir for youth in Hindu mythology. For the same reason, guduchi is also described as amrita, which again refers to its association with youth and vitality. The name guduchi itself derives from Sanskrit and can be interpreted as ‘protector from diseases’.
In the context of Ayurvedic medicine, ancient texts describe guduchi as having the following properties – tikta and kasaya (bitter and astringent) rasa or taste, ushna (heating) virya or energy, and madhura (neutral) vipaka or post-digestive effects. The herb is ascribed with or classified as having a wide range of properties such as rasayana, sangrahi, tridoshshamaka, mehnashaka, kasa-swasahara, jwarhara, and so on.
This has made the herb a staple ingredient in Ayurvedic medications used to treat a wide range of ailments. It is regarded as effective in the treatment of fever, jaundice, gout, skin infections, asthma, cardiac disease, and most importantly – diabetes. With a growing number of studies confirming these benefits, there is growing interest in the medicinal potential of guduchi.
Guduchi for Diabetes: The Modern Medical Perspective
Botanically described as tinospora cordifolia, guduchi is known for its rich phytochemical profile. Extracts from the herb have been found to have a high density of phytosterols, alkaloids, and glycosides, among other organic compounds. Not surprisingly, extracts of the herb have been linked to anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hepato-protective, immunomodulatory, and antipyretic effects. We’ll take a closer look at what this means in terms of the fight against diabetes.
Guduchi is perhaps the most important herb in any Ayurvedic medication to help glucose regulation. It is regarded as a natural anti-hyperglycemic agent as it lowers levels of blood sugar or glucose. Although most studies have been on animals, there is considerable evidence showing that guduchi supplementation can relieve diabetic neuropathy and gastropathy, which are common complications in diabetes. Guduchi can also promote improvements in glucose metabolism and increase glucose tolerance.
While anti-hyperglycemic is a direct benefit for diabetes management, other benefits or effects of guduchi can help indirectly.
Ancient Ayurvedic texts recognized the anti-inflammatory potential of guduchi, describing it as a treatment for inflammatory conditions like vatarakta or gouty arthritis. However, we now know that it isn’t just chronic pain disorders like arthritic disease that are caused by systemic or chronic inflammation. Heart disease and diabetes are also linked to chronic low grade inflammation in the body. As studies have shown that guduchi can exert an anti-inflammatory effect, it may aid diabetes control or prevention.
Antioxidants are now like a catchphrase, but they truly are remarkable. While fresh fruits are a good source of antioxidants, guduchi is also known to contain antioxidants that have strong free radical-scavenging properties. The herb’s extracts have been found to protect the heart and brain from oxidative damage and stress. Some studies have found that supplementation can decrease glutathione reductase concentration and suppress activity of superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase. Because of the high risk of organ failure, especially cardiac disease in diabetics, this added antioxidant protection can make a huge difference.
Traditional Ayurvedic practitioners often use concoctions with guduchi to treat pandu and kamla, which are basically anemia and jaundice. This is because the herb is believed to have a detoxifying and purifying effect on the body. This is now supported by research, which suggests that guduchi may have hepato-protective properties. Clinical studies show that supplementation with guduchi may help normalize liver function and protect against toxicity and liver damage. This can be transformative e for diabetics, as the liver plays a vital role in regulating blood sugar levels and diabetics are also at a higher risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The benefits of guduchi in terms of heart disease prevention are already clear because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. However, studies show that it can also directly affect lipid levels, which are known to play a role in the development of cardiac disease. Studies show that guduchi supplementation can improve lipid levels within 6 weeks. As heart disease is the main cause of fatality in diabetes patients, this is important.
As most of us should know, diabetic patients are at higher risk of infection and are also more likely to experience severe symptoms in case of infection – such as with COVID19. This is because of impaired immune function. This makes guduchi invaluable as it has proven immunomodulatory effects, regulating levels of cytokines and growth factors in the blood. Most importantly, studies in diabetic patients have shown guduchi supplementation to improve foot ulcer treatment outcomes because of better wound healing.
While guduchi supplementation is regarded as safe, it is important that you speak to your health care provider before you start consuming guduchi (giloy) capsules. This will allow your doctor to monitor responsiveness to guduchi and accordingly reduce or stop other diabetes drugs.
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