Story of Reyhan: Understanding Chronic Diseases 

For the past few months, Reyhan has not been feeling well. He was constantly tired and unable to concentrate on his work. He was using the restroom often and had this unquenchable thirst that no amount of water seemed to meet. His doctor advised him to undergo routine blood and urine tests. When the test results came it was like a jolt from the blue – his Fasting Sugar was 160, PostPrandial Sugar level (after 2 hours of eating) was 300 and Hb1AC (that showcases average blood sugar levels over past 3 months) stood at 9. At 35 years of age, Reyhan considers himself to be healthy and is an ace performer at his company and recently got promoted as the Head – Strategy. Reyhan has no idea what went wrong with his life and considers his diagnosis as a sudden development. What do you think?

Reyhan’s Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus did not develop within a day, or a month or a year. It is a result of years of bad dietary habits, lifestyle, and stress. Sometimes journey from the first instance of insulin resistance to the first signs of hyperglycemia may take up to a decade to manifest. When someone is resistant to insulin, the body’s response to it is to make more of insulin. And insulin levels will rise and rise, and for a while, years even, this is going to keep up, and blood sugar levels can remain normal. However, insulin can’t keep up forever and eventually, blood sugar levels would rise leading to diabetes.

Diabetes has emerged as a killer disease – as per Forbes half of the adult American population is either diabetic or pre-diabetic. India has 60 million diabetic patients whereas China tops the chart with 100 million people suffering from diabetes. Diabetes along with other chronic conditions have displaced communicable diseases from their place of primacy in mortality and morbidity department. Unlike communicable diseases, the causes of chronic diseases lie within the body and thus its etiology becomes very important to understand to make timely interventions.

In Ayurveda, there are six stages of each disease. If caught anywhere in the first three stages, the disease can be reversed even before the symptoms have manifested themselves. The six stages of a disease are:

1. Sanchaya or Accumulation of Dosha

As per Ayurveda, the prime cause of any disease is the imbalance of one or more doshas namely Vata, Pitta or Kapha. In case of  Reyhan, the first cause may lie in chronic indigestion that he faced in his early twenties.  For Reyhan indigestion may be the result of Vata and Pitta imbalances.  He was in his first job and wanted to prove himself. His eating and sleeping hours were irregular. He would often get distended stomach and constipation. He considered his problem to be minor and treated it with antacid and laxatives. Since in this stage the person feels overall healthy, he has a tendency to ignore the signals body is giving. Same was the case with Reyhan. He took his bloating and constipation as one-off occurrences and did not take any corrective actions. Had he taken corrective actions during this stage he would have nipped the problem in the bud. The solution was simple – to detox the body and realign Vata and Pitta doshas by eating right kind of food items and to regularize the daily routine.

2. Prakopa or Aggravation of Dosha

In the second stage, the doshas get aggravated and vitiated. In Reyhan’s case, the symptoms became more significant and intense. He started getting occasional bleeding while passing stools. But even now the situation is fully salvageable. Solutions lie in right diet and lifestyle. Simple Ayurveda herbs can fix the problem of chronic constipation.

3. Prasar or Dissemination of Dosha

 In the third stage, the accumulated and vitiated doshas are now ready to spread out from their place of origin. Even at this stage, there are no specific symptoms related to a chronic disease. The symptoms are low grade and general in nature. But inside our bodies seeds of the chronic diseases are getting planted. If no corrective action is taken at this stage, some form of chronic disease would manifest itself depending on the susceptibility of the person. Chronic diseases first show up in the weakest organ or the system of the body. In case of Reyhan, his weak metabolic system created ideal conditions for chronic disease to take root.

At this stage, depending on the Rogi Bal or the strength of the patient, the disease can either progress to the next stage or it can get pacified. If the Rogi Bal or the strength of the patient is higher than the Rog Bal or the strength of the disease, the pacification of the disease process or Prashamana can happen. Else, the disease progresses to the next stage. The patient strength is a combination of factors such as age, lifestyle, heredity, diet etc. In Reyhan’s case, the Rog Bal (strength of disease)was higher and hence the disease had progressed further.

4. Sthana Samshraya or Localization of Dosha

As mentioned in the third stage, the accumulated and vitiated doshas take root in some weak tissues located outside the seat of dosha. In Reyhan’s case, it was the liver. He developed fatty liver. Since the liver is central to metabolism, the whole metabolic system got disrupted. Ama (toxins) along with dosha begin to weaken the tissue, thicken or block the arteries with the deposition of ama along with doshas. Reyhan during this stage had gained lots of weight.

5. Vyakti or Manifestation of Dosha

In the fifth stage, doshas have overcome the tissue and the disease manifests in clearly identifiable form. The functioning of the tissues is disrupted and the remedy lies in serious detoxification and doshas correction. In Reyhan’s case, the interplay of liver and pancreas created ideal conditions for the development of type 2 diabetes.

6. Bheda or Differentiation of Disease

At this stage, the disease becomes so embedded in the tissues that the body’s natural repair mechanisms fail to reverse it. Complications related to other organs, tissues, systems or sub-systems begin to express and the disease becomes chronic in nature.

There are millions of people like Reyhan who think that misfortune has suddenly visited them but the truth is that their bodies have been giving them signals for a long time which, they either chose to ignore or were incapable of interpreting. Had they organized their life in sync with nature they would have taken timely action and averted chronic disease before the first symptom ever presented itself. Ayurveda with its emphasis on prevention teaches us to do just this i.e. to be in tune with our life energy flow.

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