Body-Mind Conversation

Role of Naturopathy & Yoga in the Management of
Obesity & Diabetes

Dr. B.T. Chidananda Murthy,
Central Council for Research in Yoga & Naturopathy (CCRYN),

The fast moving lives, urbanization, globalization and technological excellences have bridged the countries, providing more interactions and economical growth to this developing country. But, at the same time the other side of this, is increasing social unrest, anxiety, change in social values and life-style leading to life-style disorders. Among the silent killers of these disorders obesity and diabetes are leading to coronary artery disease and even today, major deaths are due to this dreaded disease in spite of advanced medical and technological excellences. It is clearly evident, that the negligence in basic approach for treating these disorders is lopsided. There is a need for comprehensive approach of drugless therapies as an adjuvant therapy, as well as in modification of life style and to prevent its chain of reactions or impact such as, it is expected that by 2010 there will be 40-50 million people will be suffering from diabetes and by 2025 it will be 75 million, which is quite alarming and can only be prevented to greater extent by adopting safer drugless modality of prevention of diseases, curative properties as adjuvant or single therapy and as best rehabilitative therapy, which can reduce the burden on the financial conditions and suffering of the masses. The present health scenario is an eye-opener for all the concerned to agree and accept the need for promotion of drugless therapies – naturopathy and yoga as a best option in this regard. Personal interests, gains and prejudice should be put aside in the larger and true interest of the suffering masses.

Obesity is one of the risk factors leading to diabetes, hypertension, cancers, arthritis, CHD and premature/unnatural deaths. Obesity is increase of fat in the body leading to body weight of more than 20% of the required weight. About 9-10% (approx.) of the urban population are prone to overweight and obesity. India will be probably first among the developing countries to face this problem. Presently 50 million are overweight and obese. The causes may be varied like genetic factors, sedentary life-style, anxiety, stress, depression, endocrine factors etc. Predictions of tremendous increase in the percentage of obese is quite evident because today 6% girls and 10% boys and in Delhi alone 29% children are obese, which has created serious public health concern. Regarding obesity there are lot of misconceptions in our society and each one have an escapists theory to encircle themselves into a vicious circle and also, too much information from various sources has lead to dilemma and confusion. Health education alongwith facilities for drugless therapies has to be provided to the masses alongwith other medical facilities.

Diabetes Mellitus: - (Type II) – is a metabolic disorder and a major source of morbidity. It is characterized by ‘insulin-resistance', as body cells do not respond appropriately when insulin is present and unnoticed can lead to severe complications like renal failure, coronary artery disease, nephropathy (nerve damage) eventually gangrene with probable less of toes, feet and even legs and also retinal damage leading to blindness. The risk factors are obesity, which is serious cause for diabetes, smoking, hereditary, wrong life-style – eating, sleeping, sedentary life etc. and environmental reasons. According to WHO's statistics of 2004 about 150 million world wide are suffering from diabetes and by 2025 it will double. It has taken an epidemic state and India will be the diabetic capital of the world. It is high time to consider proper facilities for naturopathic and yogic treatment modality in larger scale to save the country from this epidemic. Its incidence is day-by-day increasing due to Obesity epidemic in children and adolescents.

Naturopathy with its various branches of therapies like hydrotherapy, mud therapy, natural dietetics and nutrition, sun and colour (helio and chromo) therapy, acupressure, magneto therapy, acupuncture, exercise therapy alongwith extensive techniques of Yoga Therapy is a potent tool in preventing, curative and rehabilitation of the present stress and life-style disorders.

Hydrotherapy: - Our Vedas proclaimed, “Apo Vy Bheshajam”. Water is medicine' is a well known fact, but we are forgetting the values of its healing properties. Our body consists of 2/3 water and 1/3 solid, similar to the composition of Nature. It is a media for the activities going on in our body. It is a basic need and if used scientifically has tremendous healing properties. It is high time that we return to Nature and unravel more and more healing properties of water. Water applied therapeutically improves four types of circulation – systemic, pulmonary, lymphatic and portal circulations. It provides antipyretic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, expectorant, analgesic, detoxifying, diuretic, laxative, rejuvenating, renewing/regenerating effect on body, when used in varied temperatures like – Ice – 0 0 C , Cold – 18-24 0 C, Neutral – 32 – 36 0 C, Hot 40 – 45 0 C, Steam- 45 – 50 0 C. To derive maximum benefit of these application various tubs, gadgets, equipments are designed. There are number of scientific studies on hydrotherapy, which are effective and wide spread.

In Obesity and Diabetes, hydriatic applications like hip-bath, jet bath, steam bath, sauna, immersion bath with friction, gastro-hepatic pack, full-wet sheet pack etc. are highly beneficial.

Mud Therapy: - The therapeutic effect of mud-therapy is on the similar grounds of hydrotherapy. Mud pack on abdomen and full mud bath are very effective in diabetes and obesity.

Natural Dietetics : - Naturopathic dietetics is based on natural diet which has anti-oxidant properties, foods which are easily absorbed, digested and assimilated. It does not encourage artificial coloured, flavoured, deodorized, bleached, fried etc. It also does not advice total fat free diet, instead natural gunny oils (wood-churner oil) of regional and seasonal importance are advised in minimum quantity. Use of such oils provide essential fatty acids, which enables absorption of essential micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals). Good fat contains certain essential compounds to regulate blood pressure, heart rate, blood vessels constriction, blood clotting and the nervous system. It is good for hair, skin, keeps body insulated, gives fullness and satiety. But, have to avoid hydrogenated, deodorized oils and items prepared out of it like biscuits, cookies, cakes etc. Fresh fruits and vegetables mostly in raw form or steamed/baked, sprouts, nuts are good in obesity and diabetes. The fear of fruits for diabetes is removed and balanced chart consisting of wholesome cereals, pulses, sprouts, fruits and vegetables, nuts are designed into nutritious recipes and menus. They are easy to accept regionally and seasonally, providing fullness, contentment and satiety. It helps in reducing the craving for wrong foods, addictions and overeating. After all, do people who has opportunity of eating or tasting different cuisine of the world have ever felt 100% contented and satisfied? The concept of contentment and satisfaction is in the mind. The naturopathic diet, other treatments, yoga therapy aims at making man more happier with few things.

Obese persons on the pretext of not eating fat, try to consume too much carbohydrates and fitness freaks consume more of high protein diet, both are bad in long-term. The carbohydrates can be converted to fat if consumed in excess, due to lack of physical activity and high protein may be burden on kidneys. Each individual has different needs and diet chart always should be tailor-made. The obese children are the future potential diabetic, their health needs to be taken care at the earliest. Parents needs to be educated, so that they start teaching their children, the right way of eating. Fast foods, junk foods, sodas, colas etc. foods high in sugar and salts (sodium) all are highly harmful to the body. They are high in calories and very minimal in nutrition. It is essential to control this menace by bringing better substitute from the natural neutraceuticals and better awareness of the risk factors and health hazards of junk and fast foods, otherwise obesity and diabetes can become an epidemic. Strictly, diabetics and obese should avoid dalda, vanaspati, refined sugar and products, white flour (maida), white rice, artificially coloured and flavoured items. Whole grains, sprouts, nuts, green leafy vegetables provide with essential micro-nutritients for diabetic and obese. These wholesome food provide us also the best macro-nutrients alongwith fiber, which is very essential to give fullness/bulk and satiety. Hence, people should not eat food for pleasure instead eat balanced food with pleasure should be the motto. Though, this looks difficult in front of many sensory pleasures, but naturopathic and yogic way of life spontaneously changes this attitude and helps to lead a life of contentment.

Manipulative Therapies: - Therapeutic Massages, Chiropractic and Osteopathy come under manipulative therapies. Massage is helpful in stress relief and relaxation. It plays a vital part in restoration of health. Natural oils are used as a media not to create friction as well as good for skin. Massage with various techniques brings various physiological changes, benefiting the obese and diabetes. Hence, regular massages should be part of our life-style. Chiropractic and Osteopathy removes the energy blockages and correction sub-luxation of spine and other joints and as result various benefits of health is derived.

Helio & Chromotherapy: - The healing properties of sun (light) and colour is a known fact. Many scientific researches have been carried out to prove the efficacy of this applications. Sun bath or chromo bath is given in the specially designed cabinet consisting of coloured glass of blue, yellow, green and red, so that the sun rays through this coloured glasses from head to toe bring the necessary physiological changes.

Acupressure & Reflexology is a science where by applying pressure on sole, palm, ear and on other areas on the body called as reflex areas of the internal body organs, we stimulate to release the energy blocks; to promote the body's natural ability to heal itself; to cleanse the body of its toxins and relax them. Even in this area research work are being carried out and found to be highly beneficial to prevent disease, treat the disease and promote health. It can also be used as an effective diagnostic tool.

YOGA & EXERCISE THERAPY : - Yoga is a gift from our sages to whole Universe. Sages have studied the secrets of human nature and existence and its connectivity to this Universe. Such a scientific discipline with systematic techniques have been elaborately has been gifted and this has been passed down through ages for the benefit of mankind. It has its sources in Upanishads, Bhagavad-Gita, Smrittis, Yoga Vasista, Gherand Samhita, Patanjali Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika etc. It is not only theoretical philosophy but a practical discipline based on spiritual experiences, which has perennial benefits to mankind because it directly addresses the root problems of human existence. Different masters have expressed Yoga in their own languages and words. It has universal appeal and today, there is great need to make people aware of its real value in life and live a yogic life to succeed in all walks of life and ultimately have union with the Paramatma.

This body is vehicle for atma and it is important to keep it hale and healthy, through physical purity and discipline and we can lay foundation for mental growth so that main objective of Yoga can be achieved. But, in today's world people think that few practices of asanas or pranayama can bring overall benefits without adopting its comprehensive, philosophical and theoretical aspects. Hence, there is a great need for such an approach. Yama and Niyama, are an essential step of yogic practices, where proper grounds for asanas, and Pranayama are laid down. Once, the practitioner gets hold over the practices of asanas and pranayama, dharana, dhyana can be easily achieved and the benefits of dhyana becomes so spontaneous that total personality gets changed.

Obesity and diabetes can be very well controlled by the practice of yogic techniques and exercises. Many researches have shown that there is good control over blood sugar levels and weight control. Further, the disease consequences are prevented and improvement in overall health is achieved. Asanas like Uttitapadasana, Pavanmuktasana, Merudandasana, Ardha-matsyendrasana, Vakrasana, Sarvangasana, Matsyasana are helpful. Nadi shuddhi, Bhramari, Suryabhedana pranayama have specifically shown beneficial effects. Kunjal kriya, shankaprakshalana are very good for both, obesity and diabetes. Meditation, can bring long-term effects for overall health.

Naturopathy and Yogic techniques are a potent tool and have no substitute for these techniques. They are practiced world wide and studies have shown decrease in blood glucose, glycosylated haemoglobin improving glucose tolerance and insulin response to available glucose. There is marked reduction in body mass index. Stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine, nor epinephrine and dopamine have decreased. Cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, VLDL have also reduced. Hence, let us use this potent tools in larger way to fight the menace of diabetes and obesity.