Thursday, July 11, 2013

Creating the right conditions for self-healing

Creating the Right Conditions for Self- Healing

Keith Ram Prakash 
February, 2013


The author describes what he believes are some of the fundamental principles that have allowed him to treat his diagnosis of type one diabetes without insulin therapy for the past year. The author describes how Kundalini Yoga and meditation have effected his treatment and has included some examples of his diet and exercise.

*Note: This material is not intended to be taken as specific medical advice. It is intended to be an account of experience on the part of the author.

I’m a type one diabetic, and it has now been a year since I have taken any amount of insulin at all. I decided, after noticing how some changes in mindset and activity affected by blood sugars, that I would try an experiment by taking myself off insulin, and see how long I could go without going back.
            Before moving on, ponder this: when you break your arm, who fixes it? You might answer a doctor- but that is incorrect. A doctor sets it in a cast perhaps, but the only thing that makes the bone grow back are the right conditions, a safe environment inside the cast, and you. You-  your body literally repairs the damage and heals itself.
            I asked myself this same question, except I wondered if I could create the right conditions for a “healing of my blood sugars.” I thought about a broken arm- if I crated the right conditions, perhaps I could make something happen, and quit insulin forever.
            The fist and most obvious ‘unfavorable condition’ to my blood glucose was dietary sugar. Quite obviously if I don’t drink soda my blood sugars would have a better chance of staying level. But sugar doesn’t just come from candy, sugar is any kind of carbohydrate- bread, pasta, crackers, rice, beans, cereal grains, even quinoa and millet. There’s high amounts of sugar in cows milk and in many fruits. So I took them out of my diet completely.
            Common knowledge tells us this is insane, but as Michael Pollen points out in his book “In Defense of Food” the human body is well suited to run off a host of different diets, so varied and often extreme it would confound most everyone. All kinds of different diets, except one in particular seem to promote a healthy human being. The one lacking is our Western diet. Pollen book might serve as a corollary to the work of Weston Price, who in 1939 published a book entitled, “Nutrition and Degenerative Diseases.” Price notes that about 10,000 years ago at the end of the Paleolithic era, the human race transitioned out of its nomadic lifestyle and began the cultivation of land to grow food. They found the cultivation of grains beneficial because they provided ample amounts of energy and could keep well over long periods of time. What the species had consumed previously did not at all include grains, but rather animal proteins, nuts, seeds, root vegetables, fruits, berries and other wild vegetables gathered on the go (note that it is mostly a high fat and low carbohydrate diet). Price noticed that in his studies of populations still consuming Paleolithic diets, our common Western diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, do not exist.
           I made an attempt at this “Paleolithic” diet. I stopped cold turkey eating all grains of any kind, and of course completely eliminated refined sugar. The diet I eat now is made up of lots of fresh vegetables, lots of high fat foods like nuts and seeds, good quality animal protein including seafood with ample amount of healthy fats, eggs, Greek yogurts (very high in protein and filling fats), and cheeses. On a diet like this, the body does not have the resource of glucose as power, and so shifts to the production and usage of ketones. For a diabetic, ketones are a danger word, but the state that is produced in the body is referred to as “dietary ketosis” not the familiar ketoacidosis diabetics avoid. In this state, it simply means that the body is using ketones as fuel rather than glucose.
It is important to understand that when we eat carbohydrates, the pancreas secretes insulin (or we take it by injection) in order to counteract the rising sugar levels. Over the next few hours, the blood sugar levels decrease, but as is frequently the case, the insulin production lags behind the absorption of glucose, and we end up with more insulin that results in a lower blood sugar manifested as hunger, and we eat again. This is not a situation common to diabetics only, but to all people eating a diet mainly of carbohydrates. If we are running on ketones, the body will not have these sharp rises and falls in blood sugar and can maintain a stable level with much greater ease.
            But my experiment did not stop at changing my diet. Next on the list of musts for a diabetic is exercise. And quite honestly, it should be top of the list for everyone. Exercise is no joke. I started about a year and a half ago exercising every day. It began with a walk in the park near my apartment. Surprisingly, even a 20 minute walk got me sweating. It progressed, and soon I was running. Then I was running and stretching. Then I discovered Kundalini Yoga- an ancient yoga practice from India. I started practicing Kundalini Yoga every day. I practice alone at home, and am certain that this practice is one of the huge reasons I remain insulin free.
            What the exercise and diet made me realize was my body. My mind and my body were connected. Kundalini Yoga necessarily includes a lot of meditation practices. Mystical at first to those unfamiliar, meditation practice might simply be interpreted as a practice in concentrating. In terms of our bodies, this concentration is a taking control over our autonomic nervous system, and holds what I believe is the key to my successful experiment.
            The Autonomic Nervous System is made up of two branches, the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system’s job is to prompt us to take action. When a stressor is perceived, the autonomic nervous system sends signals to move circulation to the limbs to prepare legs and arms to ready us for running and fighting. It raises the heart rate to circulate the necessary oxygen and quickens the breath. Eye focus narrows and the senses are heightened. All of this in preparation to either fight the stressor or run away. Also importantly, digestion shuts down. We don’t need to digest a taco when we have to run away from an angry dog. Last on the list, and of great importance soon is that it signals the liver to release glycogen to elevate the blood sugar so that cells will have a quick supply of energy ready.
            The Parasympathetic Nervous System does the opposite. It relaxes everything- it slows the breath, moves digestion, stimulates the pancreas, and calms the mind. How the meditation practices of Kundalini yoga intersect is in the harnessing of these two branches. As stressors arise, the sympathetic nervous system kicks in, but in yogic practices we have to redirect thought waves and our actions to remain engaged in a specific exercise- which in yoga might mean making ourselves take a breath in a certain way or continue to hold ourselves in a certain physical posture. By doing this time and time again, we strengthen our control over these two branches, and can keep ourselves from activating the sympathetic nervous system when its not needed.
            When this stress response is not needed also goes back to the Paleolithic era we discussed before. 10,000 years ago, we needed that sympathetic nervous system to let us fight wooly mammoths and other creatures, but in modern times, it tends to do us harm by reacting to things like a boss or homework. How this relates to diabetes and sugar is fascinating.
            As a possible stressor is perceived, the part of the brain called the amygdala signals to endocrine system to release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol tells the liver to release its glycogen so that there is sugar present to fight or run. At specific moments, this is entirely useful. But if a stressor remains for more than an acute moment- for example a homework assignment or long term project- cortisol levels can remain elevated, which continue to release stores from the liver. Furthermore, through this prolonged response, glycogen stores are depleted, and the brain releases a certain hormone called Neuropeptide Y which creates the craving of carbohydrates to replace the sugars being released by the liver. Does ice cream after a bad break up or cookies during exam period sound like a familiar thing?
            In these situations, the parasympathetic nervous system hasn’t had a chance to relax the body, and blood sugar levels are elevated. The pancreas works great stress is put upon our bodies. As it turned out, I started by changing my diet and exercise, and as the meditation came in, realized just how out of whack my control was. Many of us are in this constant state of hyper arousal, and don’t even realize it, creating treacherous conditions.
Creating the right conditions is all this experiment was about. It is apparent from understanding a little about the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, that stressors create conditions that strain the body. Prolonged strain such as this might very well be the source of type one diabetes- an inflammatory reaction set off by a “perfect storm” of chronic stress and the right destructive conditions.
But the conditions can be changed to give ourselves the best chance at healing. Remembering the broken bone, we can set our bodies inside a cast of sorts and perhaps some healing will occur. Yogic practices or martial arts create specific conditions in our nervous system, more so than running or other types of exercise, to relax and strengthen the body at the same time. Altering our diet can also affect our nervous system by helping to lessen the strain on organs involved in digestion and can directly effect the kinds of hormones that are secreted in order to digest certain foods. The rest, after the right conditions are created, is healing. If our bodies can re-grow the skin over a wound I think it might be foolish to assume that we cannot, given the right conditions, find other types of healing which allow us to live healthier more stable lives.
Below you can find a list and description of just a few of the specific exercises from Kundalini yoga and an example list of the kind of diet I have adapted.
Please be well and remember that there is wisdom and healing for all that seek. Feel free to e-mail with any questions you may have.


- eat whole, unprocessed foods
- as little grains as possible
- don’t be scared of fats
- eat slowly
- chew completely

- eggs, egg whites w/ cheese and copious amounts of chopped veggies
- whole tomato
-who avocado w/ salt and pepper
- organic sausage
- unsweetened almond milk
- celery and peanut/ almond/ cashew/ sunflower butter
- handful of assorted nuts+ sliced cheeses
- unsweetened Greek yogurt with the FAT

Lunch/ snacks:
- carrots and hommus
- whole avocado
- steamed brussel sprouts with almonds and olive oil
- pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
- flax seed crackers
- handful of different nuts: raw peanuts, almonds, chashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds,
- dried seaweed snacks
- kale chips
- salad w/ tuna or chicken
- broccoli and hommus
- sliced cheeses/ string cheese
-unsweetened soy milk (high in protein, fiber and fat)
- treat: Lindt 90% cocoa chocolate (nice and high in fiber and fat)

-prepare chicken/ fish to your liking
- eggplant parm
- steamed favorite vegetable with olive oil
- lots of vegetarian Indian dishes: Palak Paneer, Lychee Paneer
- home made soups (canned almost always have sugar added), examples: Thai chicken coconut, red cabbage soup, tomato soup
- arugala salad w/ goat cheese and olive oil
- vegetable stir fry w/ tofo or chicken
- vegetable polenta
-stuffed bell peppers w/ shitake mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash
-stuffed portabella mushrooms
- unsweetened almond milk/ soymilk

Note: When making the switch to a Paleolithic diet, it is common to experience withdrawal symptoms from refined sugar that can manifest as headaches, irritability, lack of energy and general discomfort

Note 2: the diet might seem “limited” but the species diversity is actually much higher than in a grain based diet. In a grain based diet, most of what is consumed is either sugar, wheat, or corn.


 Qigong: perform daily at the same time

Watermill: you may need a stack of phone books or yoga blocks in front of you depending on your flexibility
1) stand with your bare or sock covered feet pressing tightly together: thighs all the way to toes are “zipped” up the middle
2) angle your palms face down to the ground and example
3) inhale as you push your hands palms up slowly towards the ceiling
4) interlace fingers and exhale slowly while moving hands down
5) at about the level of your eyes turn the palms over to face down
6) at this point, move the hands quickly down one inch in front of your toes and create a pressure into the ground
7) concentrate your gaze at your middle fingers
8) keep the legs pressing firmly together and your weight evenly distributed
9) breath slowly and deeply while maintaining a firm pressure
10) perform for three minutes
11) to end keep your nose down towards your middle finger
12) turn the palms face up and pull your arms up towards your ribcage with the elbows jutting back but firmly along your ribcage
13) roll up very slowly starting from the bottom of your spine
14) once standing all the way, bring the palms face down towards the floor while remaining standing and turn your head slightly to the left
15) breath normally for a few moments

Note: this exercise should be very difficult and could be practiced daily starting with a short amount of time and working up to higher

Sat Kriya: an exercise from Kundalini Yoga

1) sit cross legged and breath deeply in and out 3 times
2) Chant the words “Ong- Namo- Guru- Dev- Namo” 3 times before beginning
3) warm up by grabbing your shins in a cross legged position and flexing your lower spine, breath in short as you go forward and out short backwards, Perform for at least 2 minutes and move one set per second, inhale to the center and hold to finish, then exhale
4) place hands on shoulders and inhale as you twist to the left, exhale as you twist to the right, continue at a steady pace, inhale to the center to end then exhale
5) stretch your legs out in front of you and grab your toes if you can, if you cant find a comfortable spot on your shins, inhale as you rise up keeping the legs on the floor and exhale as you go down. Create a light pumping motion that is quick and a small stretch. Perform 3 minutes, inhale up to finish, hold a moment, then exhale down and hold a moment.
6) sit on your heels so that your weight is resting on your shins like a Sphynx
7)  interlace your fingers and with the pointer fingers out like you were making a fake gun and bring them over your head so that the sides of the arms press against the ears
8) begin a rhythmic chant of the words “Sat” and “Nam” at a rate of 8 repetitions per 10 seconds. As you chant “Sat” pull your belly button in just slightly, and on “Nam” release. Sat – Nam means “truth embodied”
9) Perform for at least 3 minutes daily. The time can be worked up to incredible lengths of time such as an hour in one sitting. Begin with a daily discipline of 3 minutes.
10) To end, inhale and clench your lower abdominals and sex organs and hold, then exhale and hold the breath out while repeating the same clench of lower muscles. Repeat 2 more times
11) Lay flat on your back and relax for the same amount of time that you performed the exercise. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. YOU MUST RELAX AFTER THE EXERCISE
12) Do not perform Sat Kriya if you are pregnant, think you may be pregnant or are on your cycle.

Deep Breathing
1) lay on your back with your hand palms up by your sides, cover yourself with a blanket if you wish
2) begin to inhale very slowly expanding first your lower abdomen and allow the breath to slowly fill the lower part of your body then expand your ribcage and finally up to the shoulder
3)hold in slightly then exhale slowly
4)exhale until the breath is all the way out and the belly button pulls in ever so slightly towards the spine
5) hold the breath out briefly and repeat
6) repeat at least 3 times, but continue at a very relaxed pace for as long as you wish

“One minute breath”
1) Sit comfortably on a cushion or in a chair
2) block the right nostril with your thumb and sit straight with the eyes closed
3) inhale deeply for a maximum of 15 seconds, hold the breath in for 15 seconds, exhale for 15 seconds then hold the breath out for 15 seconds. You may start with smaller amounts of time, perhaps beginning with 3 seconds, but the ration 1:1:1:1 for all 4 parts of the breath must be kept consistent through out the exercise
4) you may mentally chant the words “Ek Ong Kar Sat Gurprassad Sat Gurprassad Ek Ong Kar” to help keep rhythm. Each repetition should take 3 seconds that way you can measure the time and give yourself something to focus on
5) Practice for a minimum of 3 minutes and work up to a maximum of 31 minutes with the full 15 seconds on each breath


  • In Defense of Food, Michael Pollan, Penguin Press 2008.
  • The Instinct to Heal, David Servan-Schreiber, MD., Ph.D, Rodale 2004
  • Spark, John J. Ratey, MD. Little, Brown and Company, 2008
  • Ayurveda, The Science of Self Healing, Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, 1985
  • Happiness, Matthie Ricard, Little, Brown and Company, 2007


  1. I'm with you all the way! I eat close to what you describe, do yoga, walk, bike... but I still take insulin... for the past 17 years! I never thought what would happen if I just stopped taking it. I assume my blood sugars would just skyrocket!

    Time for more meditation!

    1. very cool! Well, I definitely wouldn't recommend to stop taking it right out of the blue. It kind of happened to me gradually as I kept going low and kept having to reduce doses. There came a point when it was at zero, but if I ate something that I shouldn't it would go high. It was at these times where I did the risky thing and didn't take it, but instead did the "watermill" exercise I described in this article or went for a walk/ run.

      Great that you meditate! The exercise I describe in The Daily Regimen called Sat Kriya workout is both a meditation and a kriya exercise that works well for digestive problems. I bet you can find instructional videos on Sat Kriya on YouTube.

      Thanks for reading!!