Paralysis Treatment In AyurvedaDr. Surya Bhagwati
To those of us who enjoy complete motor function, the idea of paralysis is terrifying. Yet, there are millions who live with paralysis, many struggling to cope with the conditions, others who are debilitated by it, and some who manage to overcome paralysis against all odds. Paralysis can be complete or partial and may either be temporary or permanent, impairing control over specific muscle or muscle groups in the body.
The main feature of paralysis is that it is not linked to the affected muscles themselves, but to problems with the brain or nervous system, disrupting the messaging system via your nerves between the muscle and your brain. Paralysis can occur as a result of injuries, stroke, and conditions like multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. Paralysis can also occur as a result of exposure to certain poisons or toxins.
Depending on the cause of paralysis and its severity, the condition is often regarded as irreversible; however, patient outcomes can be greatly improved by early intervention. Lifestyle treatments and natural interventions such as those used in Ayurveda can also help considerably. Ayurveda is regarded as a valuable resource when it comes to the management of paralysis as the condition is not unique to our modern age.
Ayurvedic Insights into Paralysis
In Ayurveda, paralysis is most prominently featured under the categorization of Vata vyadhi disorders as it is primarily linked to aggravated vata dosha. It is believed that when vata is aggravated primarily in the region of the brain due to factors such as stress, sleep deprivation, or obstruction of srotas in the brain, paralysis can develop due to adverse effects of aggravated vata on the nerves. In revered Ayurvedic texts like the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, among others,
Pakshaghata is the most discussed type of paralysis. This correlates best with hemiplegia – paralysis caused by brain or spinal cord injury to affect one side of the body. Other terms like Paksha Vadha and Ekanga Vata also describe paralysis, which can be one of the other types. Facial paralysis is classified as an entirely separate disease in Ayurveda, referred to as Ardita vata – also linked to vata aggravation, but in combination with kapha. Ardita vata correlates most closely with condition known to modern medicine as Bell’s palsy.
Ayurvedic Treatment of Paralysis
Ayurvedic sources offer a wide range of treatment options for paralysis, but these are highly personalized depending on each case and the individual’s dosha balance. This makes it hard to provide generalized recommendations, but on the whole individual case studies suggest that Ayurvedic treatments can greatly improve paralysis recovery. For best results, Ayurvedic treatment for paralysis should be sought as soon as possible and only through reputed Ayurvedic medical centers.
Treatment usually involves medical care at an Ayurvedic facility, and begins with purificatory or detoxification procedures called Samshodhana Chikitsa that involves panchakarma therapies. This includes a variety of therapeutic procedures like snehana or oleation massage, svedana or medicated fomentation, virechana or purgation, vasti or medical enema, nasya or nasal lubrication, shirovasti (oil application over the head and body) and shirodhara (pouring of liquids specifically on the forehead) treatments. All of the massage oils, fomentation ingredients, and other applications are typically prepared from herbs and natural ingredients. This can include the use of ghee, milk, ginger, pippali, haridra, nirgundi, arka, and many other therapeutic herbs.
The next step of paralysis treatment in Ayurveda is aamana chikitsa or palliative therapy, which can include the use of herbal medications, physiotherapy, yoga, counseling, and other lifestyle changes to relieve symptoms of paralysis, aid recovery, and promote complete rehabilitation. Most oral medications contain a blend of herbs, with some important ingredients including kalonji, saunf, ajwain, jaiphal, pippali, lavang, kushta, jyesthimadhu, kutaj, neem, and ashwagandha, among others. These herbs are used for their wide ranging benefits, particularly for strengthening the nervous system, promoting nerve growth and regeneration, and protecting against neurodegenerative diseases.
Dietary and lifestyle modifications are also regarded as vital not just for recovery, but also for the prevention of recurrence of worsening of the condition. While paralysis patients are put on strict diets during administration of panchakarma procedures, dietary practices are also prescribed following treatment.
After the panchakarma diet restrictions are lifted, patients are gradually introduced to specific foods like horse gram, black or green gram, radish, onion, garlic, and ginger. Fruits like mangoes, grapes, and pomegranates may also be included in the diet. The main feature of the diet that should be followed in the long term is that high fat and processed foods should be avoided, while high fiber intake through whole foods is recommended. Astringent and spicy foods are also best avoided or severely limited, while alcohol intake should also be avoided.
In addition to physiotherapy sessions, patients should take up a daily yoga routine, which may or may not be part of the physiotherapy program itself. Certain asanas and pranayamas are particularly beneficial at restoring or preserving muscle function, while also strengthening the central nervous system.
Asanas should be learned and performed only under the guidance and supervision of a qualified yoga practitioner. They can help to remedy postural imbalances that can develop with paralysis. Pranayamas like nadi shodhana and anuloma viloma are particularly helpful as they are intensely relaxing and can help to lower stress levels, while also improving heart rate and blood pressure.
No matter how effective recovery and rehabilitation may be, there is always a risk of further paralysis, which makes it important to take precautions and go for regular health checks. Monitoring risk factors like weight, lipid levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar can help to take early action, reducing the risk of paralysis or even preventing it.
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