Switch Over to Alternative Therapy for Diabetes Mellitus –A Life Style Disease
Shweta Singh, Rahul Kumar, Rishi Pal, Narendra Kumar, Dixit RK and Rajendra Nath*
Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, K. G’s Medical University, India
Submission: June 29, 2015; Published: September 06, 2016
*Corresponding author: Rajendra Nath, Department of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, K. G’s Medical University, Lucknow, UP, India.
How to cite this article: Shweta S, Rahul K, Rishi P, Narendra K, Dixit RK, et al. Switch Over to Alternative Therapy for Diabetes Mellitus –A Life Style Disease. Curre Res Diabetes & Obes J. 2016; 1(2): 555557.
Alternative approach to a disease conditions especially life style diseases is an emerging concept in a present scenario of modern medicine. Diabetes mellitus which is one the most dreaded life style disease condition which is spreading as an epidemic across the globe as a large number of individuals who meet the current criteria for diabetes mellitus remain asymptomatic and unaware of having this disorder. Once regarded as a single disease entity, diabetes is now seen as a heterogeneous group of diseases, characterized by a state of chronic hyperglycemia resulting from a diversity of etiologies, environmental and genetic, acting jointly.
Diabetes mellitus has recently been identified by as one of the refractory diseases for which satisfactory treatment is not available in modern allopathic system of medicine. It is therefore evident that alternative approach can be a way out for this iceberg disease. Various alternative approaches such as, Life style modification, Yoga, use of Medicinal plants having multiple beneficial effects .Alternative methods not only take care of most of the metabolic abnormalities associated with diabetes but can also reduce the risk of developing or delay the onset of diabetes mellitus amongst susceptible persons, are becoming a good & effective alternatives to modern medicines.
Keywords: Alternative medicine; Life style diseases; Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia, abnormal metabolism of lipids and proteins along with serious complications affecting various organs like retina, kidney, and nervous system . According to WHO, the incidence of diabetes is increasing day by day . Although conventional therapy is already available for the treatment of diabetes mellitus, it is either associated with adverse effects or development of resistance .
Therefore, there is need for alternate therapies which have got better efficacy and fewer side effects. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, defines complementary and alternative medicine as a “group of diverse medical and health care systems, practices, and products that are not presently considered to be part of conventional medicine.” Complementary medicine is used with conventional therapy, whereas alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine .
Modifications in our present life style can be a beginning of alternative approach to any life style diseases especially Diabetes mellitus. It is in the form of: Good eating habits- Less.
carbohydrate low fat diet, inclusion of fruits, green vegetables and fibers in the diet. Taking of small multiple meals instead of two or three large meals considering the total calories (Table 1). Regular exercise for more than a hour, five times a week (Table 1). Distressing maneuvers e.g. regular meditation and enjoying hobbies routinely & many more.
Yoga is a traditional exercise regimen that has yielded a
statistically significant role in controlling the progression of diabetes mellitus [6-8] .Yoga helps to regulate the body function
and psychic processes, thus improving the well-being of the
patients . Regular yoga practice can help reduce the level of
sugar in the blood, along with lowering blood pressure, keeping
your weight in check, reducing the severity of the symptoms and
slowing the rate of progression of the disease. It also lessens the
possibility of further complications. Stress is one of the major
reasons for diabetes. It increases the secretion of glucagon (a hormone responsible for increasing blood glucose levels) in the
body. The consistent practice of yoga aasanas, pranayam and a
few minutes of meditation can help reduce stress in the mind
and protect the body from its adverse effects.
This, in turn, reducing the amount of glucagon and improve
the action of insulin. Since obesity is a major contributing factor
for diabetes, doing yoga to keep your weight in check is the key.
There are few Asanas which are especially helpful in controlling
Diabetes mellitus .
This is a simple pose that is great to relax the mind, improve
digestion and massages the kanda. According to Ayurvedic
principles, kanda is a spot about 12 inches above the anus that
is the point of convergence for over 72,000 nerves (Figure 4).
This pose is essentially known for its ability to regulate the
working of the thyroid glands. These glands are responsible for
the proper functioning of the entire body including the digestive,
nervous, reproductive system, regulating metabolism and
respiratory system. Apart from that, it nourishes the spine with
a good supply of blood and oxygen, helping you beat nervous
system disorders, and improving your all round health (Figure
This pose is great for those who sit for long hours and tend to
have bad posture. It stimulates the thyroid glands, parathyroid
glands, lungs and abdominal organs, therefore helping the blood
rush to your head and face, improves digestion and keeps the
hormonal levels in check (Figure 6).
This is a forward bending pose that helps the blood to flow
to the face. Apart from that, it helps the stomach function better,
strengthens the thigh muscles and relaxes the back and arms
and regulates the blood sugar levels (Figure 9).
This asana is specifically designed to increase the capacity of
your lungs so it can inhale and hold more oxygen. It also loosens up the spine and relieves backaches and discomfort in the back.
It also improves the function of pancreatic glands (Figure 10).
Acupuncture helps in the treatment of chronic pain
associated with diabetes mellitus. It is a useful tool in the
prevention as well as management of complications of the
disease. Animal experiments have shown that acupuncture can
act on the pancreas to enhance insulin synthesis, increase the
number of receptors on target cells, and accelerate the utilization
of glucose, resulting in lowering of blood sugar . Studies on
physiological mechanisms, both with humans and laboratory
animals, indicate that acupuncture may 
Regulate insulin production and blood sugar levels
improve the blood lipid profile (dyslipidaemia is common in
patients with type-2 diabetes and may lead to cardiovascular
morbidity and mortality).
Improve blood circulation, thus helping to slow the
onset and progression of diabetic circulatory complications.
Nature has been a source of medicinal agents for thousands
of years, and an impressive number of modern drugs have
been isolated from natural sources, many based on their
use in traditional medicine.” These plant-based traditional
medicine systems continue to play an essential role in health
care, with about 80% of the world’s inhabitants relying mainly
on traditional medicines for their primary health care. Plant
products also have an important role in the health care systems
of the remaining 20%, who reside in developed countries. Some
plant derived medicines are already in use for various ailments
and also a part of modern medicine from long time.
Some herbal plants are proven to provide symptomatic
relief and also prevent secondary complications of the diabetes
mellitus. The management of type 2 diabetes mellitus is possible
with drugs that can lower the blood sugar level on one hand and
restore the liver glycogen level on the other hand. In modern
system of medicine, there is no drug which is reported to possess
both of the properties . Metformin, a less toxic biguanide and
potent oral glucose lowering agents, was developed from Galega
officinalis and used to treat diabetes [13,14].
A species of tree native to India, it is present throughout
Southeast Asia as a naturalized species. A significant decrease in
liver glycogen of diabetic rats is reversed to almost the normal
level by the leaf extract and it also decreases the blood urea and
serum cholesterol. A similar effect is seen with insulin treatment
and the results indicate that the active principle in A. marmelos
leaf extract has similar hypoglycemic activity to insulin treatment
. Treatment of streptozotocin-diabetic rats with the leaf
extract of A. marmelos facilitated the regeneration of damaged
Allium cepa is known only in cultivation but related wild
species occur in Central Asia. Various ether soluble fractions
as well as insoluble fractions of dried onion powder show
anti-hyperglycemic activity in diabetic rabbits. When diabetic
patients were given single oral dose of 50 g of onion juice, it
significantly controlled post-prandial glucose levels .
It is a perennial herb cultivated throughout India. Oral
administration of the garlic extract significantly decreases
serum glucose, total cholesterol , triglycerides, urea, uric acid,
creatinine, AST and ALT levels, while increases serum insulin
in diabetic rats but not in normal rats when compared with
anti-diabetic drug glibenclamide. The anti-diabetic effect of the
extract was more effective than glibenclamide. It is concluded
that the plant must be considered as excellent candidate for
future studies on diabetes mellitus  & Hyperlipidemia .
Commonly known as Neem. It is a tree native to India, Burma,
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan, growing in tropical
and semi-tropical regions. A low (0.5g tid) and high (2g tid)
doses of powdered part, aqueous extract and alcoholic extract
of A. indica shows significant hypoglycemic activity in high dose
and can be successfully combined with oral hypoglycemic agents
in type-2 diabetic patients whose diabetes is not controlled by
these agents .
An annual herb native to southern Europe and North Africa
to southwestern Asia. Coriander seed extract (200 mg/kg)
significantly increases the activity of the beta cells in comparison
with the diabetic control rats and decreases serum glucose in
streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats and releases insulin from the beta cells of the pancreas . The extract shows antihyperglycemic,
insulin releasing and insulin-like activity .
It is widely distributed throughout India, China, Thailand, and
Brazil. Oral administration of leaf suspension of E. Alba (2 and 4
g/kg body weight) for 60 days results in significant reduction
in blood glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin HbA (l) c. Thus, oral
administration of E. alba possesses potent antihyperglycemic
Different solvent extracts of E. officinalis acts as α-amylase
and α-glycosidase inhibitor. Significant anti-glycation activity
also confirms the therapeutic potential of these extracts against
diabetes. Methanol extracts significantly inhibits the oxidation
of LDL .
In a study by Yadav et al. , ethanolic extract of Gymnema
displayed hypoglycemic and antihyperglycemic activity in rats
which can be attributed to its active compound, dihydroxy
Commonly known as Bo or peepal tree, is a large perennial
tree that grows throughout India and south-east Asia, especially
in the vicinity of temples. The tree is regarded as a blessed tree to
both Hindus as well as Buddhists and has got great mythological,
spiritual and medicinal significance in Indian indigenous system
of medicine like Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy
Some of the ficus species like F. bengalensis bark
(bengalanoside), F. racemosa bark (sitoseryl glucosides) and
F. carica (fruits) are known to have anti-diabetic properties.
Numerous studies have reported Ficus religiosa to exhibit
antimicrobial, antifungal, immune-modulator, antioxidant,
hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, anti-helmintics. Studies have
shown good anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties
which can be used as an alternative therapy in preventing and
treating [27,28] this disease.
M. charantia (bitter melon) is commonly known as vegetable
insulin. An oral sucrose tolerance test reveals that administration
of aqueous extract (AE), methanol fraction (MF) or methanol
insoluble fraction (MIF) each significantly suppresses plasma
glucose levels at 30 min as compared with control. Bitter
melon suppresses postprandial hyperglycemia by inhibition of
α-glucosidase activity .
It is commonly known as Tulsi. Since ancient times, this
plant is known for its medicinal properties. The aqueous extract
of leaves shows significant reduction in blood sugar level in both normal and alloxan induced diabetic rats . Administration of
the ethanolic leaf extract has been reported to lessen the plasma
glucose level along with increase in the renal glycogen content,
while skeletal muscle and hepatic glycogen levels are decreased
in streptozotocin-diabetic rats .
The roots are taken orally in the treatment of type II
diabetes. Oral administration of P. ginseng root improves insulin
sensitivity and may be used as an adjuvant therapy for treating
diabetic patients with insulin resistance .
It is widely used in ‘Ayurveda’ as ‘Rasayana’ for management
of various metabolic disorders. An
Aqueous extract of P. marsupium wood, at an oral dose of
250 mg/kg, shows statistically significant hypoglycemic activity
. Marsupin, pterosupin and Iiquiritigenin obtained from this
plant show antihyperlipidemic activity .
Commonly known as Guduchi, an herbaceous vine indigenous
to the tropical areas of India, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Oral
administration of an aqueous T. cordifolia root extract to alloxan
Diabetic rats cause a significant reduction in blood glucose and
brain lipids .
Used both as an herb (the leaves) and as a spice (the seed) and
cultivated worldwide as a semiarid crop. Oral administration of
2 and 8 g/kg of plant extract produces dose dependent decrease
in the blood glucose levels in both normal as well as diabetic rats
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant found naturally in foods
like spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. The supplement is thought to
reduce nerve damage related to diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
and improve the body’s ability to use insulin. Some studies
support the use of this supplement for neuropathy . While
there is some evidence for the benefits of this treatment when
taken intravenously, several studies show zero effectiveness
in protecting against diabetic macular edema or improve the
body’s response to insulin, according to the National Center for
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM).
Chromium facilitates insulin binding and subsequent uptake
of glucose into the cell. Supplemental chromium has been shown to decrease fasting glucose level, improve glucose tolerance,
lower insulin levels, decrease total cholesterol and triglycerides
and increase HDL cholesterol in normal, elderly, and type 2
diabetic subjects .
This mineral is present in many foods, including whole
grains, nuts and green, leafy vegetables. A 2011 meta-analysis of
diabetes research related to magnesium found that patients with
low magnesium levels were more likely to develop diabetes.
However, supplementation is not recommended until clinical
studies can better assess its effectiveness.
Considered “good” fats, omega-3 fatty acids are those found
in salmon (& other fishes), walnuts, soybeans, and other foods.
While supplements may help reduce heart disease risk in as
well as reduce triglyceride levels, there is no evidence that they
reduce diabetes risk or help patients better manage diabetes.
Also, the supplements can interact with medications used to thin
the Blood .
As the incidence of diabetes is progressively increasing
nowadays, its treatment requires special attention. Some
important alternative methods discussed above especially
life style modifications & herbal drugs are the most preferred
amongst alternative therapies for the treatment of diabetes
mellitus. Herbal medicines are great body balancers that help
regulate body functions, can be used to support balance process
of our body and offer the nutrients that the body fails to receive
due to poor diet or environmental deficiencies in the soil and air.
In fact, herbs are always the alternative medicine and primary
source. The advantages of using herbal medicines are numerous.
They tend to be more effective for long-standing health
complaints that don’t respond well to traditional medicine.
Herbs typically have fewer side effects, and may be safer to use
over time. However, further exploration is required to decipher
their safety, efficacy and mechanisms of action