How Turmeric Helps in Diabetes Treatment: 7 Ways

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
Diabetes Mellitus is one of the most dreadful diseases which is haunting the modern day mankind and has been on a continuous rise. It is not wrong to tell “Everyone is Diabetic unless proved otherwise”.

It is also not an exaggeration if we tell that ‘the medical science is losing its competition with Diabetes Mellitus and is lagging way behind in finding useful remedies towards its mitigation’.

The economy oriented towards treatment and medical attention for effectively combating or preventing Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is squeezing of the economy of many families and countries globally.

It is one of the few conditions wherein serious research is on with not much positive outcomes. With reference to DM, the medical world is at a standstill and helpless condition.

Introduction

Ayurveda, the oldest medical science known to our planet calls this condition as Prameha or Madhumeha. Though Prameha or Madhumeha looks like a set of urinary disorders based on the symptomatology, the pathogenesis explained in Ayurveda describes Prameha or Madhumeha as a syndrome or disease equivalent to the modern day picture of Diabetes Mellitus.

Ayurveda has an upper hand in treating and preventing Diabetes Mellitus effectively. This oldest medical science has numerous formulations in its belly which have been time tested for their efficacy and outstanding results.

Among many herbs known for their anti-diabetic properties, Turmeric stands the leader.
Turmeric is also considered as a herb of choice in the treatment of Prameha or Madhumeha (Diabetes Mellitus).

Modern studies too have proven the efficacy of Turmeric in the treatment of DM especially T2DM.
For ages, turmeric has been an inseparable and essential part of Indian kitchen and always has a place in the front row of the shelves.

Modern researches also have shown that Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) can be effectively prevented if turmeric and its active principle (extract) Curcumin is regularly given in those having Pre-Diabetes. Haridra halts the progression of Pre-diabetes into T2DM.

Brief introduction of Turmeric (Curcuma longa) –
Latin Name: Curcuma longa, Linn
Family: Zingiberaceae

Haridra – excellent anti-diabetic herb

Haridra prameha haraanaam | A. Hr.
There are many herbs (drugs) which cure Diabetes, but nothing in comparison to Turmeric. This reference clearly suggests Haridra as the drug of choice in effectively tackling Diabetes Mellitus and Urinary tract disorders. In the treatment of Diabetes, Haridra is excellent option both as a preventive and curative agent.

Properties, benefits

Properties:
Rasa (Taste): Katu Rasa – Pungent taste, Tikta Rasa – Bitter Taste
Guna (qualities): Ruksha – Dry, Laghu – Light
Veerya (Potency): Ushna – Hot
Vipaka: (Post-digestion effect): Katu (pungent)
Action on Dosha’s: Kapha-Pittahara – Alleviates contaminated (morbid or aggravated) Kapha and Pitta

Benefits:
Varnya: Provides Colour and Complexion
Tvagdoshahara – Alleviates skin diseases, infections
Pramehahara – Effectively wards off Diabetes Mellitus and Urinary tract disorders
Asrukdohsahara – Removes contamination (infection) of blood
Shothahara – Anti-inflammatory
Panduhara – Cures Anaemia and Liver disorders
Vranahara – Heals wounds, ulcers
Kamalahara – Cures Jaundice
Sugandhi – Provides fragrance
Jwarahara – Cures fever
Deepana – Appetizer, Digestant
Kaphahara – Alleviates Kapha
Vatahara – Alleviates Vata
Vishahara – Detoxifier
Graahi – Anti-diarrhoeal, used in treatment of diarrhoea and Sprue, irritable bowel
Netrabhisyandahara – Cures conjunctivitis and other eye diseases
Pinasa-pratishyaya Nahsini – Cures cold, running and stuffy nose, coryza, influenza and rhinitis
Vataraktanut – Cures Gout and arthritis
Read related: Turmeric: usage, benefits, side effects as per Ayurveda 

Turmeric rhizome and powder

Chemical composition

Chemical Composition:
Curcumin, Volatile oils, Starch, Albuminoids

Anti-diabetic property

Anti-Diabetic property of Turmeric:
There are many herbs (drugs) which cure Diabetes, but nothing in comparison to Haridra (Turmeric). This reference clearly suggests turmeric as the herb of choice in effectively tackling Diabetes Mellitus and Urinary tract disorders.

Just before learning what is the role of Turmeric in combating Pre-diabetes and diabetes mellitus, we will try to look at these diseases in a nut-shell.

Pre-Diabetes might not show any signs and symptoms but can be accidentally traced when you are undergoing biochemical tests for some other disorder or when your doctor specifically suggests the test suspecting diabetes in you.

Other names – Impaired Glucose Tolerance, Impaired Fasting Glucose,
Previously Pre-Diabetes was called “Borderline Diabetes”
It is generally a healthy condition with no symptoms. It is almost always present before a person develops T2DM. These people have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal but are not higher enough to be called Diabetes.
Read related: Pre diabetes treatment – The Ayurvedic way

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM)

Diabetes Mellitus is primarily of 2 types:
Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (T1DM) – Earlier known as Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (IDDM) wherein the body (pancreas) has failed to produce insulin demanding a supply of regular insulin in the form of injections and

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) – Earlier known as Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) which is the most common type of Diabetes. Here the body doesn’t produce sufficient insulin or there is inadequate usage of the available insulin.

According to WHO statistics, there are 300+ million people globally suffering with or living with T2DM. The number is on an increase especially in developing and poor countries. T2DM is considered as a medical challenge and highly incurable. It needs to be managed with life-long anti-diabetic medicines.

What is Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus?
Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) was previously called as Non-Insulin-Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM) is the most common form of Diabetes affecting majority of global population even today.

What happens in T2DM?
In this type, there is no major problem with manufacture of insulin by the pancreas, but they are also not completely devoid of the problem. The pancreas of these people doesn’t manufacture sufficient insulin to combat the daily requirements as happens in non-diabetics. There is also a possibility that the body is not able to use whatever insulin is produced by pancreas.

Thus in T2DM, the pathology manifests in 2 forms:
Absence of adequate insulin (inadequate manufacture)
Inadequate usage of insulin by body tissues

In either condition, the glucose cannot get into the cells of the body and hence accumulates in the blood. Due to heavy glucose levels in the blood the cells shed down their normal functioning due to non-availability of glucose for their proper and normal functioning.

Consequences of high glucose in the blood:
Damage to nerves and small blood vessels of the heart, kidneys and eyes
Atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) leading to stroke and heart attack
Increased urination leading to dehydration
Diabetic Coma (hyperosmolar nonketotic diabetic coma) – Severely ill or dehydrated person with T2DM not making up for the fluid loss develops Diabetic coma (life threatening complication)

Symptoms

Symptoms of T2DM:
Many don’t have disease specific symptoms. When present, the symptoms show variations from person to person
Increased thirst
Increased and frequent hunger
Increased urination
Dehydration and dry mouth
Fatigue (feeling tired and weak)
Blurring of vision
Nausea
Vomiting
Numbness or tingling of hands or feet
Frequent infections (skin, urinary tract, vagina etc)
Sores which heal slowly

Diagnosis

Many tests can be advised to know the type of Diabetes and the control of Diabetes and also to diagnose it –
Blood glucose (Random fasting blood test for glucose)
2-hour Glucose Tolerance Test
HbA1C
ZnT8Ab test – Zinc transporter 8 autoantibody test (helps determine if a person has type 1 DM)

Complications

Diabetic Retinopathy: People with T2DM will have eye problems related to DM which will increase over a period of time. It is important to check the blood glucose levels with proper and prompt treatment along with a control of BP and cholesterol to avoid eye complications.
Diabetic Nephropathy and Kidney damage and subsequent renal failure

Poor Blood circulation and nerve damage: Damage to blood vessels leads to risk of stroke and heart attack, peripheral arterial diseases. The damages occurring to the nerves and hardening of the arteries, leads to decreased sensation in the body parts & poor circulation in feet. This in-turn gives scope for recurrent infections and higher risk of skin ulcers leading to risk of amputation.
Nerve damage also leads to Digestive problems such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Prevention of T2DM –
Pre-Diabetes population are those who are at high risk of developing T2DM. Limiting the number of newly developed T2DM cases is one of the better strategies to restrict the global impacts of T2DM.

Prameha

Concept of Prameha vis-à-vis Diabetes Mellitus in Ayurveda –

Prameha according to Ayurveda concepts primarily develops as Urinary Tract contamination by Dosha’s or morbid factors, especially Kapha predominant Dosha’s. The symptoms will look like those of urinary tract disorder.

If the disease is attended to in this stage, it does not progress to the further stages. This is a clue to address any longstanding urinary complaints without neglecting them because according to Ayurveda, urinary bladder and the whole urinary apparatus is mainly involved in the morbidity of diabetes mellitus.

Pitta and Vata involvement takes place in the later stages. When Pitta and Vata get involved in the pathogenesis of Diabetes Mellitus, the picture of the disease gets complicated.

The disease heads towards difficult to impossible prognosis. As the disease progresses through different stages of morbidity, various tissues, organs and organ systems are involved making the disease difficult to handle.
Read related: Diabetes: Ayurvedic Treatment, Remedies, Prevention Tips

Probable mode of action of Turmeric in Prevention and treatment of Pre-diabetes and Prameha / Madhumeha (Diabetes Mellitus):
Turmeric is the best in the business of effective prevention and cure of Diabetes Mellitus. According to Ayurveda, there is no herb or medicine equivalent to turmeric in the treatment of Prameha (Diabetes Mellitus).

Almost all the Prameha’s are manifested due to the involvement of Kapha. Kapha is the primary culprit in the manifestation of Prameha. The disturbance of Kapha prepares a suitable environment in the body for the manifestation of Prameha or Diabetes Mellitus.

Action of turmeric on diabetes

Kapha-destroying property and role in Pre-Diabetes:
Haridra, due to its Katu-Tikta rasa, Ruksha & Laghu Guna, Ushna veerya and Katu Vipaka – effectively destroys the contaminated Kapha which is the primary culprit in the manifestation of Prameha. All these properties are antagonistic to Kapha.

Thus turmeric attends the base of Prameha. Once the Kapha is combated with, the pathology takes a halt. The disease starts regressing. This Kapha-alleviating property of turmeric is especially effective in the Pre-Diabetes condition.

Pre-Diabetes can be considered as the Kapha type of Prameha wherein the disease is showing the signs of progression. Taking control of this stage helps in arresting the disease before it progresses to the complicated stages.

Pitta-destroying property and anti-inflammatory role of Haridra:
Ayurveda is the first science to recognize the anti-inflammatory property of Haridra. Inflammation anywhere in the body doesn’t take place without the involvement of contaminated Pitta.

Due to its Tikta rasa effectively, turmeric mitigates and takes control of Pitta and thus combats its destructive and inflammatory nature. Haridra also helps in healing the inflammation in each and every cell of the body. Haridra is the best in dealing with Pittaja Prameha’s

Vata-destroying property of Haridra and reversal of insulin-resistance:
By the virtue of its Ushna Veerya (hot potency) combats Vata. Thus Haridra is helpful in Vataja Prameha too. By effectively combating Kapha and Pitta, Haridra regularizes and stabilizes the gut and cellular metabolism.

The cells are detoxified, blocks removed and the channels are cleansed. This facilitates the nourishment of the Dhatu’s and aids unobstructed movements of Vata.

The Dhatus regain strength and the immunity is restored. Vata, which is the chief controller of all the activities in the body, functions uninterruptedly. With effective control of Vata the whole body physiology is restored.

This includes the proper production of insulin (agni) and its proper utilisation in the periphery, warding off the insulin resistance and its bad consequences.

Action of Haridra on the Dhatus’s in Prameha:
Lipolytic and anti-cholesterol property of Haridra:
Abaddha Medas (free circulating fat) is the tissue which is mandatorily involved in the causation of Prameha. Even according to modern concepts obesity, excessive weight and cholesterol are the greatest risk factors for Diabetes Mellitus.

Haridra is a proved lipolytic. Meda or fat is a Kapha dravya (element belonging to Kapha, Kapha is seated in Meda). All Kapha alleviating drugs are most often Meda destroying drugs too. Haridra destroys this dangerous combination of the seat (Meda) and seated (Kapha) and thus wards off Prameha.

En-route, Haridra also destroys the accumulated fat, cholesterol, triglycerides and helps in shedding down a few calories. Weight loss further helps in regression of pathology in Prameha. This action is carried out by its tikta-katu rasa, ushna veerya, katu vipaka and laghu, ruksha guna’s.

Anti-atherosclerotic property of Haridra:
Haridra due to its tikta-katu rasa, ushna veerya, katu vipaka and laghu, ruksha guna’s removes blocks in the blood vessels making the circulation of blood and nutrients easy.

Atherosclerosis is primarily formed due to accumulations in blood vessels and the accumulations are nothing but vitiated kapha-meda. We have already learnt the Kapha-Meda alleviating property of Haridra. The circulating glucose is also broken down by Haridra and Haridra further facilitates the absorption of free glucose by cells due to its channel-cleansing property (Srotoshodhana).

Rakta or blood tissue is one of the contaminated tissues in Prameha as explained in the Ayurvedic texts. Involvement of Rakta in Prameha points out towards the extra-ordinary knowledge of Acharyas (ancient Ayurveda teachers) regarding the presence of Kapha elements (glucose) in the blood.

Metabolic correction and anti-oxidant property by Haridra:
Since Haridra rectifies the Agni (metabolic fire) by the virtue of its Ushna veerya, Katu-Tikta rasa, Laghu-Ruksha Gunas and Katu Vipaka, Haridra cleanses and detoxifies Rasa (Digestive juice and circulatory nutrition) and thus enables free circulation of nutrients to every cell of the body thus restoring the normal body functions.

Haridra by removing the blocks created in the channels and cells created by contaminated Pitta and Kapha and enabling free movements of Vata also enables the anatomical and physiological recovery of the Kapha varga dhatus viz Mamsa, Lasika, Ambu, Majja, Vasa and Shukra. The Dhatu’s are nourished and replenished.

Tissue and organic destruction, debility, loss of immunity and complications in Prameha occurs due to oxidation process (oxidative-stress) and Haridra helps in re-establishing health and recovery from Diabetes due to its anti-oxidant property. The control of 3 Doshas by turmeric can be considered as the anti-oxidant effect of Haridra.

Immune-modulation action of Haldi:
Haridra helps in immune-modulation by correcting metabolism, enabling free circulation of nutrients and oxygen to every cell and due to its anti-oxidation property. The essence of all the tissues i.e. ojus regains its strength due to proper nutrition and replenishment of all the tissues thus establishing immunity.

Detox effect of Haridra:
Haridra relieves the blocks in the cells and re-establishes their normal functioning. Once the blocks in the cells are removed free movement of nutrients into the cells and the elimination of toxins out of the cell takes place smoothly.

Regulation of Liver Functions and correction of Anaemia by Haridra:
By the virtue of tikta-katu rasa, ushna veerya, katu vipaka and laghu, ruksha guna’s Haldi removes blocks in the Liver and restores the haematopoietic functions.

Anaemia is thus relieved improvising the quality and quantity of blood. Liver regularises the fat metabolism and detoxifies the nutrients passing through it.

Rectification of Liver functions leads to destruction of free circulating fats which are responsible for manifestation of Prameha.

Role of turmeric in prevention of T2DM and combating Pre-Diabetes – Modern perspective

Turmeric is known to Ayurveda world as an effective herb used to prevent and cure Diabetes Mellitus effectively since ages.

Haldi has been in traditional Ayurveda practice and has been successfully implemented in preventive and curative aspects of many diseases, mainly Diabetes (Prameha, Madhumeha).

Many formulations related to Diabetes cure in Ayurveda have Turmeric as an essential ingredient. Haldi is an auspicious drug in Indian tradition and is used to worship Gods and Goddesses.

It has a sacred dimension. It has been used as a cosmetic and an important Kitchen spice in India. It has also been a part of Home remedies to combat cold, cough, seasonal disorders, infections, wounds, skin diseases etc

curcumin

Modern studies have shown Haldi (Turmeric, Curcumin) to be highly effective in curing Diabetes. Turmeric is shown to be highly effective in pre-diabetes. When its extracts are given regularly in pre-diabetes, Turmeric is seen to prevent its progression towards T2DM. This Turmeric or Curcumin can be effectively used in preventing Diabetes by administering it in the pre-diabetes population.

It is the principal curcuminoid found in Turmeric (Curcuma longa Linn.). Curcumin extracts from Turmeric rhizomes has shown to contain anti-inflammation and anti-diabetic properties. It could delay T2DM, improve cell death and reduce insulin resistance.

Research works

Turmeric and Curcumin (active ingredient of Turmeric) are proved to be effective in preventing type-2 Diabetes and also in delaying the progression of pathology

Pre-Diabetics are a major group of people worldwide. They are the people who show Diabetic values of blood and urine in lab and are most prone to develop Diabetes, though they are not diagnosed to have active clinical Diabetes.

When administered to pre-diabetics or those prone to Diabetes or to those who have a strong family history of Diabetes (as a part of prophylaxis) Haridra or Turmeric has proved to halt the progression of the disease & prevents the pre-diabetics from becoming diabetics.

In a Nut Shell:
Haridra or Turmeric (Curcumin) prevents and cures Diabetes Mellitus by the below mentioned actions and mechanisms:
Delay the development of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM)
Improve the ?-cell functions of Pancreas (indicated by an increased HOMA- ? and reduced C-peptide)
Prevent ?-cell death
Decreases proinsulin/insulin ratio
Reduce insulin resistance (in animals)
Reduce the number of pre-diabetic individuals who progress towards T2DM
Curcumin intervention significantly increases adiponectin levels. {Adiponectin – anti-inflammatory cytokine known to play a positive role in T2DM. Higher the adiponectin, lower the risk of T2DM}
Curcumin – Reduces inflammation by tackling inflammatory cytokines {tumor necrosis factor- ?, leptin and resistin}
Curcumin reduces macrophage infiltration of white adipose tissue, reverses many inflammatory derangements
Anti-inflammatory effect: Inflammation is the chief cause for ?-cell degradation. The anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin is a key factor for curcumin’s anti-diabetic property.
Curcumin is capable of repairing and even regenerating the liver tissues (of diabetic rats)
Turmeric has anti-diabetic impact by reducing serum fatty acid through the possible assistance of oxidation and utilization

The anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agents of curcumin help fight the disease and strengthen the immune system of the body. The anti-glycaemic properties help the body in preventing Diabetes.

It helps adjust the insulin within the body. The control and stability of blood sugar prevents insulin resistance or sensitivity and boosts immunity, thereby reducing infections

The anti-glycaemic power of turmeric helps to maintain the proper function of pancreas, regulate and stabilize insulin levels. It prevents the insulin resistance in the body and lowers blood sugar levels, thus treating Diabetes effectively

Overweight or obesity is the risk factor of Diabetes. Curcumin can control cholesterol levels and thus help in putting down few calories.
Haridra has antibiotic properties which help to prevent and treat infections.

Read related – Type 2 Diabetes Overview

Just before Finish,
The human race is slowly shifting towards natural remedies for health upsets. They have started to correct the diet patterns and ways of living rather than popping up chemicals.

In one way people believe in the ‘preaching of Ayurveda – the life science for better quality and quantity of life’. This is not a new trend, the trend was always there. It is just like finishing a round and coming to the starting point.

As I said, Haridra or Turmeric has been a part and parcel of Indian culture and tradition. Apart from being an integral part of Indian kitchen and foods, it is also an essential component of many medicines available in the Ayurvedic pharmacy.

Singly or in combination with many naturally available medicinal herbs, Haridra has been successfully combating many serious disorders as an unparalleled herb or medicine. It is also used for preventing many ailments.

Thus Haridra comprises within itself a formula of comprehensive healing. Naturally blessed with enriched medicinal properties, Haridra or turmeric is one among the best remedies for Diabetes Mellitus.

Kindly don’t end up just by reading this material. Circulate it among your friends and family. Let us all try to get a small place in the shelf for Haridra, Turmeric (Curcuma longa) in as many kitchen’s as possible.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

13 thoughts on “How Turmeric Helps in Diabetes Treatment: 7 Ways”

  1. How should patients take Haridra for T2DM? Crush and drink? Put in to curries when cooking? Or, how should it be taken?

    Reply
    • Here, in my part of residence area, difficult to get genuine T Powder. Is that OK if a few slices of raw Turmeric Tuber dipped in water overnight and to drink the extract in the morning?

      Reply
  2. Hi, it mainly contains mustard. Useful when there is stiffness associated with pain. You can mix Sarshapadi taila with Pinda thailam and apply.

    Reply
  3. Hello Dr. There are some people saying that turmeric will not be absorbed by body unless black pepper is added. Can you please clarify this ?

    Reply
    • It is not true as per Ayurveda.
      In a few combinations of turmeric, we see black pepper as well, like Haridrakhanda, Panchanimba Churna etc. But not all combinations necessarily contain turmeric and black pepper together. For example – Nishamalaki churna – turmeric + Amla.

      Reply
  4. The article is informative. I have a small doubt in ZnT8Ab which u have mentioned under T1D…so will zinc supplementation help in that case. and in what form can anyone can get it.

    Reply
    • Hi, ZnT8Ab is just a lab test to diagnose type 1 Diabetes. It does not mean that zinc supplementation would cure it.

      Reply
  5. Dr.P.Ramesh says
    November 08, 2016 at 1.20 pm
    I gone through your article excellent sir my question is

    1). How long we may use turmeric powder with your prescribed dose and what is the rate of percentage decreasing the sugar levels during the time period.

    2). The turmeric treatment is completely curable or not.

    Reply
    • Dear Dr P. Ramesh,
      Turmeric – in a dose of half a gram per day can be used for many months time. It helps to control sugar by at least 20 – 30 points.
      Turmeric treatment might not cure diabetes permanently.

      Reply

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