Utilizing Ayurveda for Metabolic Health and Diabetes 2

By Dr. Issac Eliaz

Ayurveda refers to the traditional health and healing system of India. In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda consists of the words āyus, meaning “longevity,” and veda, meaning “science.” Together they mean the “science of life.”

The ayurvedic philosophy is guided by the five great elements: air, space, fire, water and earth. Achieving balance and order in connection with these elements is considered crucial to health and wellness on all levels of being – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.

Ayurveda works by balancing the three basic energies, called doshas, which we all possess in unique proportions. Each dosha contains two of the five elements. The three doshas are: vata (air & space), pitta (fire & water) and kapha (water & earth). Each person usually reflects one prominent dosha, and when this dosha becomes imbalanced, the body experiences symptoms and illness related to the dosha’s properties.

Ayurveda uses traditional herbal formulas and personalized diet recommendations, among other modalities, to balance the doshas and reestablish health and wellness. Currently, more than 600 herbal formulas and 250 single plant extracts are used in Ayurveda.

As an integrative medical doctor and healer, I often integrate Ayurveda modalities and principles into my practice. One specific supplement that I formulated includes several highly revered Ayurvedic herbs which have been shown in scientific studies to be beneficial in promoting healthy metabolic function. The Ayurvedic herbs in this formula help to address blood sugar imbalances and other critical health issues related to diabetes and metabolic health. I formulated this Ayurvedic blend with gymnema leaf, cassia bark, fenugreek seed, holy basil leaf, jambolan seed, and other natural ingredients, which all work synergistically to balance and maintain a healthy metabolic system, thus helping to prevent and control Metabolic Syndrome and diabetes type 2.

Studies of the effects of gymnema leaf have demonstrated its ability to support healthy insulin levels. In Hinduism, gymnema is called gurmar, which means “destroyer of sugar,” and research shows this plant contains substances which decrease the absorption of sugar in the intestine. Gymnema may also increase the amount of insulin in the body and may enhance pancreatic cell growth, further benefiting insulin production in the body, as insulin is made in the pancreas.

Chromium is also included in the formula, as has been shown to promote insulin sensitivity and have positive effects on carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. In Ayurveda, the practice of adding minerals to herbal medicine is known as “Rasa Shastra.”

Another powerful herb is Cassia cinnamon, or Chinese cinnamon. Cinnamon has been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic health systems for thousands of years, and research indicates that cinnamon may reduce fasting blood sugar levels, with polyphenols that help maintain insulin sensitivity. Several human intervention trials have also shown that fenugreek seed positively affects metabolic health, and Jambolan seed contains fatty oils and tannins that can lower blood sugar. Holy basil, called Tulsi in India, is also widely used for a broad range of health conditions, including blood sugar imbalances, and is an essential herb in Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic formulas that promote metabolic health all contain unique blends of traditional botanical and mineral ingredients that have been shown to support healthy blood glucose levels, promote reduction of fat absorption, support healthy insulin levels, and help combat sugar cravings. Combining healthy supplementation with a mindful approach to eating and moderate exercise is an essential strategy for promoting metabolic health and a more energetic lifestyle.

For more valuable information on preventing and controlling diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, download a wellness guide by visiting www.dreliaz.org/wellness-guide/metabolic.

Natural Stress Relievers From an Integrative Doctor

On his Web site, DrEliaz.org, integrative physician Dr. Isaac Eliaz offered six different remedies to relieve stress naturally without zapping your energy or making you sleepy. We wanted to share them with you! For more health and wellness advice, visit Dr. Eliaz’s blog and Web site.

1. Ashwagandha – a plant used as an herbal remedy for inflammation, to fight infection, enhance immunity and more, according to Eliaz. It helps the body to resist stress and maintain vital mental and physical energy throughout the day, while promoting restful sleep at night,” he said. “Its ability to reduce anxiety, ease restlessness and stabilize moods is highly valued by many herbalists.”

2. Holy Basi (Tulsi) – an herb native to India, has been shown to decrease the stress hormone cortisol. It also “operates as an adaptogen, naturally improving the body’s response to physical and emotional stress during periods of high anxiety and physical exhaustion,” Eliaz said. By taking it as an herbal supplement or drinking Tulsi tea, a person can help stabilize the brain’s serotonin and dopamine levels to calm and relax them without feeling drowsy.

3. B Vitamins — B vitamins, in particular B6, B9 and B12, may contribute to the reduction of anxiety and depression and help boost energy, Eliaz explained. They can be taken as supplements or found in foods such as dairy products, lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and eggs. Additionally, they can have a direct impact on your brain’s serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine levels, he said.

4. Green Tea (EGCG) – L-theanine found in green tea could be the component responsible for green tea’s potential antidepressant effects, according to research as  L-theanine is a calming amino acid known to reduce mental and physical stress and enhance critical neurotransmitter activity, Eliaz said. “Green tea is also abundant in a class of phytochemicals called polyphenols, including the potent antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which contributes to an increase in brain alpha wave activity,” he said. “Alpha waves are associated with a state of being awake but relaxed, so the EGCG together with the L-theanine also found in green tea, promote a state of ‘alert relaxation.’” However, since caffeine can have the opposite effect, he recommends choosing decaffeinated green tea.

5. Yoga and Tai Chi – Some of the most well-researched stress relieving exercises include yoga and Tai chi, said Eliaz. These exercises have also been shown to “dramatically reduce stress levels.”

6. Meditation – “A simple 10-minute daily meditation session can offer significant improvements in your mood and energy levels,” said Eliaz. “In fact, published studies show that simple meditation when practiced daily is more effective than anti-depressants in improving mental, physical and emotional well being.”