Archive for the ‘Diabetes’ Category

Obesity is now considered to be a medical condition. A huge population in the US is obese or overweight according to the June 2013 issue of the National Institute Health newsletter–more than two-third of adults and a third of the children. A scientific survey was done on the effectiveness and dangers of various complementary treatments.

Yoga and Meditation

Possibly helpful are yoga and mindful meditation and there are no side effects.

According to a 2013 review of the current evidence base of yoga for weight loss, overall, therapeutic yoga programs can be frequently effective in promoting weight loss and are a potentially successful intervention for weight maintenance and prevention of obesity.

The programs are therapeutic, require regular practice over an extended period of time, have a yoga diet component, as well as residential program component with an understanding of yoga.

Therapeutic yoga was also considered a possible tool for those at high risk for diabetes 2. Yoga also looks promising for the reduction of “cardiometabolic risk factors”.

Meditation is generally considered safe. However, there may be some risk to people with psychiatric issues.

Dietary Supplements

Acai berry, bitter orange,  and ephedra indicate no scientific evidence of weight loss. In fact, studies indicate they can be quite harmful.

Green tea is safe but there is no statistical proof of weight loss.

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Diabetes is a growing global epidemic according to the International Diabetes Federation (www.idf.org). The organization’s numbers state that China is the world leader in diabetes with 92 million diabetics, followed by India with 80 million. Almost 9 percent of the US population, about 26 million people, have diabetes. The global cost of diabetes runs in hundreds of billions of dollars.

As more people around the world are integrating complementary and alternative therapies in the management of diabetes, I looked at the yoga therapy details that are being used or recommended. You can see examples of two routines below.

The Art of Living is a popular organization and the website http://www.artofliving.org/yoga-diabetes lists the following recommendation for diabetes. It does state: The following asanas and pranayamas are effective for diabetes. They should be learned with proper guidance, before putting them into practice:

  • Vajrasana
  • Mandukasan (the version with fists in stomach region)
  • Supta Vajrasan
  • Viprit karni – Sarvangasan – Halasan – Sarvangasan
  • Lie down and relax for a minute
  • Chakrasan
  • Natrajasan (both legs on one side)
  • Purna Shalabhasan
  • Triyak Bhujangasan
  • Dhanurasan
  • Upward facing dog (Udharmukh swan asan)
  • Child pose
  • Udiyan Bandh
  • Paschimottanasan
  • Ardhmatsyendrasan
  • Parvatasan-Yog Mudra
  • Kapalbhati Nadisodhan pranayam

The following table was cited in the blog post Yoga Therapy For Peri and Post-Menopausal Diabetes:

Table 1: Sequence and duration of yoga techniques practiced by our subjects

Source: Madanmohan, Bhavanani AB, Dayanidy G, Sanjay Z, Basavaraddi IV. “Effect of yoga therapy on reaction time, biochemical parameters and wellness score of peri and post-menopausal diabetic patients”. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2012 [cited 2012 Feb 27];5:10-5. Available from: http://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2012/5/1/10/91696

Table 1: Sequence and duration of yoga techniques practiced by our subjects

My concern is that these routines can only be used for a limited number of people–those who are quite fit to begin with. Anyone who is overweight, has high blood pressure, kidney problems, eye issues and high retinal pressures, arthritis, osteoporosis, and other medical conditions, simply cannot do most of these asanas and pranayamas. So many of these medical issues go hand-in-hand with diabetes. A knowledgeable and experienced yoga therapist is critical. There are numerous modifications that can be made.

For people with physical limitations, a gentler routine may be more appropriate. I suggest looking at the movements described in detail on www.mahasriyoga.com/asana. The routines described there are for chair yoga and standing yoga. Chair sun salutation is included. The upper and lower body movements are a good way to gently stretch, contract, and relax the abdominal area that includes the pancreas. The movements tone and massage the internal organs for better circulation and possibly improved function (studies are unclear about any yoga asanas effect on specific organ functions). Even though these movements are very gentle and may be effective, it is important to talk to your medical provider before starting any physical activity. For gentle breathing and paranayamas, try www.mahasriyoga.com/pranayama (for abdominal breathing, diaphragm breathing, and more). The website also has several low-carb vegetarian and vegan recipes that may appeal particularly to Indians. See www.mahasriyoga.com/recipes.

For information about diabetes, try:

American Diabetes Association 


The United States Department of Agriculture National Agriculture Library

http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=2&tax_subject=278&topic_id=1382 (wonderful resource for diet, nutrition, food preparation, and much more)

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine


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According to the International Journal of Yoga, January 2012 paper, Effect of yoga therapy on reaction time, biochemical parameters and wellness score of peri and post-menopausal diabetic patients:

It is now recognized that diabetes mellitus (DM) is a lifestyle and psychosomatic disorder in which factors such as sedentary habits and physical, emotional and mental stress play a major role. Modern research has focused on psycho-physiological beneficial effects of yoga as it is more than a physical exercise. It has been reported that even a short life-style modification and stress management education program based on yoga reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease and DM within 9 days while a systematic review of 32 articles published between 1980 and 2007 found that yoga interventions were generally effective in reducing body weight, blood pressure, glucose level and high cholesterol. 

The  study evaluated the effect of yoga therapy on reaction time, biochemical parameters, and the wellness score of  15 peri and post-menopausal diabetic patients.  The patients participated in a comprehensive yoga therapy program where they received training for a one-hour session three times a week  for six weeks. A post-intervention, retrospective wellness questionnaire was used to evaluate the comparative feelings of the patients after the therapy program. The study was unable to have a control group.

Yoga training reduced the auditory reaction time (ART) from right as well as left hand. According to the paper, reduced ART implies better information processing ability and reflexes. In addition, there were significant improvements in blood glucose levels, low density lipoproteins (LDL), high density lipoprotein (HDL), total cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. The patients also reported a greater feeling of well being. The study concluded that yoga therapy can have role in managing diabetes as part of integrative and complementary medicine.

Table 1 in the study gives the sequence and duration times  of yoga asanas and pranayamas used as yoga therapy.

I would like readers to note that these were done under medical supervision and that the same may not be appropriate for everyone. An experienced yoga therapist, along with a medical provider, must be consulted for individual situations. A single program cannot be applied across the board for everyone.

Source: Madanmohan, Bhavanani AB, Dayanidy G, Sanjay Z, Basavaraddi IV. Effect of yoga therapy on reaction time, biochemical parameters and wellness score of peri and post-menopausal diabetic patients. Int J Yoga [serial online] 2012 [cited 2012 Feb 27];5:10-5. Available from: http://www.ijoy.org.in/text.asp?2012/5/1/10/91696

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The following research study appeared in the Indian Journal of Medical Research 131, May 2010, p 636-640

Effect of pranayama and asana on cognitive brain functions in type 2 diabetes-P3 event related evoked potential (ERP)

Tenzin Kyizom, Savita Singh, K.P. Singh, O.P. Tandon & Rahul Kumar

“Background & objectives: Electrophysiological evidence of delayed cognition as measured by P300, an evoked potential is observed in Diabetes mellitus. P300 (or P3) is a component of endogenous cerebral evoked response that assesses higher functions of the brain. Our study aims to see the role of pranayama and yoga-asana on P300 latency and amplitude in type 2 diabetic patients.”

“Results: Statistically significant improvement in the latency and the amplitude of N200, P300 was observed in the yoga group as compared to the control group.”

“Interpretation & conclusions: Our data suggest that yoga has a beneficial effect on P300 and thus can be incorporated along with the conventional medical therapy for improving cognitive brain functions in diabetes.”

The study also found a significant reduction in hyperglycemia and a decrease in the drugs usage when yoga therapy was incorporated. The study lists the simple asanas and pranayamas that were used in the study.

We suggest reading the whole study.

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