Ayurvedic medicine: For ED, diabetes, GERD, constipation, and more – Medical News Today

Ayurvedic medicine is an alternative or complementary form of medicine, which may be useful in treating various conditions, such as GERD, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, and more.
Ayurvedic practitioners have been using plants, diet, exercise, and lifestyle to treat various conditions for more than 3,000 years, and they consider it a holistic, whole-body healing system.
Research into the effectiveness of Ayurvedic medicine is ongoing, and professionals need further clinical evidence to support its use in treating many conditions.
Read on to learn more about the use of Ayurvedic medicine in treating erectile dysfunction, diabetes, GERD, constipation, and gastritis.
Ayurvedic medicine is also known as Ayurveda. It is a form of complementary medicine that originated in India thousands of years ago and is one of the world’s oldest medical systems. Ayurveda is still a vital part of the healthcare system in India today.
Practitioners base Ayurvedic medicine on the understanding that a unique combination of earth, air, fire, water, and space makes up every person. These elements form three energies, called doshas. These are:
According to Ayurveda, a person becomes ill due to an imbalance of their doshas, and Ayurvedic practitioners will treat a person by rebalancing these energies. They use herbal medicines, diet, breathing exercises, meditation, physical therapy, and exercise, along with other methods.
The goal of Ayurveda is to restore balance to the body, mind, and spirit.
There are many causes of erectile dysfunction (ED) and various factors that can contribute to its symptoms. Like traditional doctors, Ayurvedic practitioners may use treatments that address the causes and factors of each individual specifically.
There are several Ayurvedic treatments for ED. These include:
Practitioners believe this treatment restores health and balance and can improve sexual function by acting on the limbic system and hypothalamus. Some people also believe that Vajikarana therapy can also lower anxiety around sexual performance and may also increase some reproductive hormones.
Practitioners use many formulas in Vajikarana therapy, each using several different ingredients. Some of these preparations include:
Researchers have studied how some of these preparations may affect ED. One older study found that rats given extracts of Chlorophytum borivilianum, Asparagus racemosus, and Curculigo orchioides had enhanced erections and showed less hesitation in approaching female rats.
Another study found that rats given Pedalium murex Linn had improved erections and sexual behavior compared with a placebo group.
While animal studies show promising results, researchers have not confirmed the effectiveness of these herbs in treating ED in humans.
A 2019 Turkish study found Cinnamomum cassia (cinnamon) essential oil relaxed erectile tissue in humans and rats, which would likely result in an erection in a real-life scenario.
Further research is necessary before doctors can recommend the use of the spice for ED. People should also be aware that it is not safe to swallow essential oils. A person should instead dilute them in a carrier oil and apply them to the skin or inhale them in aromatherapy.
Ashwagandha is another plant that Ayurvedic practitioners have been using to treat ED. It is common in India, the Middle East, and some African countries. It is also readily available, and even some energy bars contain it. However, an older study from 2011 found no positive effects of ashwagandha on psychogenic ED.
Learn more about ashwagandha here.
There are no major risks associated with Ayurvedic treatments for ED compared with synthetic drugs such as Viagra. Researchers have found no negative effects of the long-term use of herbs linked to ED treatment. However, professionals have not extensively researched these treatments, and a person should still discuss using them with a doctor.
The most effective ways to control diabetes are dietary intervention and lifestyle modification. This can include things such as increased exercise. Ayurvedic practices such as yoga may be helpful in maintaining a healthy weight, which can help to control the disease.
Herbal therapy is the most researched form of Ayurvedic treatment. Research has proven that some herbs can help lower glucose levels, which contribute to diabetes. These herbs include:
Practitioners use these herbal supplements in different ways to treat diabetes. They may combine them for massage, or make them into a tea, for example.
The 10 most-used plants in Ayurvedic treatment for diabetes are:
Studies suggest that Ayurveda, complemented by healthy lifestyle changes, could have a major impact on diabetes. However, more research is needed to confirm the effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatment on diabetes, and a person should discuss all treatments with their doctor.
A risk of Ayurvedic medicine and the ways in which Ayurvedic practitioners treat diabetes is the lack of consistency associated with the practice. The treatment can vary greatly from one Ayurvedic practitioner to another and may largely depend on their judgement, with no steadfast guidelines in place.
Although research has found Ayurvedic treatment of diabetes to be safe in clinical trial settings, practitioners may still prescribe many medicines that are not evidence-based. This can lead to serious side effects, such as heavy metal poisoning, if people purchase products without appropriate guidance and sourcing.
Studies have found that using various herbal preparations can help treat the underlying causes and manage the symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), especially if people combine them with lifestyle changes. Some herbs that have shown experimentally to be helpful against GERD include:
Other Ayurvedic practices that may help include:
Despite promising research regarding the effectiveness of herbal medicine on GERD, more clinical trials are necessary. Certain studies have found specific formulations, such as one containing Opuntia ficus-indica extract and Olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, to effectively reduce GERD symptoms.
There are no serious risks associated with Ayurvedic treatment for GERD.
The following herbs may work for constipation:
Triphala is a popular Ayurvedic laxative, which contains a blend of dried fruits from the Terminalia bellerica (Bibhitaki), Emblica officinalis (Amalaki or the Indian gooseberry), and Terminalia chebula (Haritaki) plants.
Studies have found that triphala has the potential to improve gastrointestinal symptoms, on its own and with other probiotics. Further human studies are necessary to prove the effectiveness of the treatment.
Practitioners consider triphala to be a mild and safe treatment. Studies have found no side effects in any participants using the treatment for constipation.
Senna is an Ayurvedic laxative and works by stimulating the lining of the bowel to relieve constipation. However, this is the last resort, and people should take it under guidance.
Senna comes in various forms, including chewable pieces, powder for tea, liquid, and tablets. Senna comes from the leaves and fruit of the plant. It typically causes a bowel movement within 612 hours. A person should not take senna for longer than a week.
There are some possible side effects and risks associated with senna. These include:
More serious side effects include rectal bleeding.
If a person uses senna for too long, they can become dependent on it, and their bowels may stop functioning normally.
Certain medications may also interact with senna. These include:
As gastritis can have many causes, Ayurvedic practitioners do not simply use plants to treat it. Rather, they will look at what is causing the imbalance and eliminate those causes, starting with diet and lifestyle. They will then consider support with herbals.
Plants that Ayurvedic practitioners commonly use to aid in the treatment of gastritis include:
Studies have shown that herbal medicines containing these plants were usually responsible for antiulcer, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects. Research on herbal medicine for gastritis is promising, but more research within human populations must continue before there are any definitive answers.
Compared with traditional treatments, Ayurvedic treatments for gastritis do not pose a significant risk and have the potential to one day provide fewer side effects, less toxicity, and greater efficacy.
Ayurvedic medicine, or Ayurveda, is one of the oldest forms of medicine, dating back thousands of years and originating in India.
Research into the effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatment for ED, diabetes, GERD, constipation, and gastritis has shown promising results and may lead to wider use of Ayurvedic preparations in the future.
However, more large-scale human research is necessary to determine the effectiveness of Ayurvedic treatments, as well as proper dosages and interaction with other medications.
Last medically reviewed on March 29, 2022
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