Friday 29 August 2014

Treating Ataxia the Ayurvedic way

Allopathy or the modern system of medicine labels it calls it  degenerative and often fatal disorder. It says there is no known effective treatment  for this condition. However, Ayurveda, which is perhaps the oldest system of medicine has a cure and today many doctors and hospitals are prescribing Ayurvedic cure for Spinocerebellar ataxia or SCA) as it is called.
SCA is called a progressive, degenerative  and genetic disorder which is neurodegenerative in nature. Allopathy says there is no known cure and that it can affect anybody of any age as it is caused by a gene.
Surprisingly, people are just not aware that they carry the ataxia gene until they have children who begin to show signs of having it. More than 60 different types of SCA have been identified.
SCA disorder leads to lack of coordinated walk or gait, poor coordination of the limbs and even eye movement. The disorder makes patients with SCA move their hands rather frequently and intentionally. We can also see clumsy motion of a body as there is lack of proper muscle movement.
Ataxia is thus a symptom, not a disease. It is a specific term coined for poor coordination of movement and most people suffering from ataxia walk in a  uncoordinated and unsteady manner.
Ataxia is known to affect coordination of fingers, hands, arms, speech
(dysarthria) and eye movements (nystagmus).  
Axtaxia generally results from damage to or shrinkage of the cerebellum and it is this part of the brain that controls coordination of movement. The disorder can be acquired or inherited as it is hereditary.
Thus we see that Spinocerebellar Ataxia is an illness that occurs when parts of the nervous system that control movement are either damaged or cease to function.
Some of the symptoms include lack of sleep or uncoordinated sleeping,  tremors, stiffness, depression and even spasticity. Almost all of these and many other symptoms can be easily treated by medication.
Therapeutic measures combined with regular and intensive rehabilitation regimen can help such a patient to carry out daily chores themselves such as brushing the teeth or making and drinking water and coffee.
Ayurvedic medicines like Bruhat-Vat-Chintamani, Ekang-Veer-Ras, Tapyadi-Loh, Kaishor-Guggulu, Vat-Gajankush-Ras and Maha-Vat-Vidhvans-Ras are generally used for gait instability, tremors and even loss of movement.
A variety of herbal medicines like Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and Mandukparni (Centella asiatica) and these are known to improve the blood supply to brain cells and help in regeneration of the cells.
Besides, medicines such as Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) and Vacha (Acorus calamus) are used to improve memory and intellect.  Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Jayphal (Myristica fragrans), Khurasani ova (Hyoscyamus niger) and Tagar (Valeriana wallichii) are prescribed to treat depression and anxiety. To improve neuro-muscular coordination, Ayurveda uses Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata), Agnitundi-Vati, Maha-Rasnadi-Guggulu, ishtinduk-Vati, Bhallatakasav, Trayodashang-Guggulu, Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Kuchla (Strychnos nuxvomica) and Bhallatak (Semicarpus anacardium).
Panchakarma treatment is prescribed for regaining body strength. Regular massage and medication helps alleviate many of the symptoms.
Ayurveda and the Chinese system of medicine has a cure for this disorder. The Chinese system involves replanting stem cells and this research has been successfully carried out in St. Micheal’s Hospital, Shangai, China.
In India, Ayurveda addresses the core of SCA. It tries to alleviate the many symptoms that come with the disorder. It helps a SCA patient undertake and complete his daily chores.
Ayurveda can treat both hereditary and acquired ataxia. However, a majority of the ataxias are hereditary and they are classified by chromosomal location and pattern of inheritance.The more common inherited ataxias are Friedreich’s ataxia and Machado-Joseph.
Ataxia can also be acquired from vitamin deficiency, tumors, stroke, multiple sclerosis, alcoholism, peripheral neuropathy and metabolic disorders.
Allopathy says there is no cure for the hereditary ataxias. However, ataxia caused by a metabolic disorder or vitamin deficiency can be treated with medications and controlled diet. Regular physical therapy can strengthen muscles.
Ayurveda terms ataxias as Pandu roga. It says the reason for the disorder is  due to deficiency in liver function which depletes the Dhatu in the blood which in turn cause all these symptoms. Ayurvedic treatment starts with avoiding  fried food, artificial food, green/red chillies, tomatoe, lemon, tamarind, potato and curd.
The treatment options for improving the balance in degenerative cerebellar ataxias are very few. Ayurvedic texts have described diverse treatment regimens for this disease.
Ayurvedic treatment starts with treatment of Shirobasti (therapeutic retention of medicament over the scalp) in male patients and Shirodhara (pouring of a steady stream of medicament on the forehead) in female patients with Dhanvantaram taila (medicated oil).
This is followed by by Abhyanga  or methodical massage with Dhanvantaram taila and Bhashpa sweda, which is also known as steam bath.
Apart from these two methods, Ayurveda also prescribes Abhyantara aushadha or oral medicine of Maharasnadi kashayam, Dhanvantaram capsules and Ashwagandha.
Studies have shown that this treatment did not have any side effect and there was improvement in walking and other motor movement.
In Japan, doctors have reported improvement in a case of  familial spinocerebellar ataxia 6 with typical symptoms when the patient was treated with a mixture of 18 medicinal herbs (modified Zhengan Xifeng Tang). This treatment was based on the guidelines of traditional Chinese medicine. All  the symptoms showed improvement.
A word of caution and warning though. No treatment should be undertaken on its own. Consult your family doctor first and then turn to an expert Ayurvedic expert. Even messaging correctly should be learnt from an expert.  

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