“The slower the death the more painful it is” – Anonymous.
Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disorders have a slow and painful progress through the end stage in the lives of the afflicted. These diseases don’t kill the patient instantly but their life becomes miserable with each passing day. As age advances, the general health of a person deteriorates. This includes both physical and mental strength.
Ayurveda attributes this to the Vata Dosha which is the element of destruction and division among the Dosha Trio (Kapha the element of construction and stability and Pitta the element of maintenance and transformation being the other two.) The angry Vata plays a vital role in making the patient’s life miserable in both Alzheimer’s disease (Samjnaa-naasa as correlated in Ayurveda) and Parkinson’s disease (Kampa-Vata as correlated in Ayurveda).
Knowing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disorder
Being one of the most common neuro-degenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s disease constitutes about two-thirds of the overall case of dementia. It is a progressive neurologic disease mainly afflicting those in the late middle and old age. This disease results in the irreversible loss of neuronsor nerve cells in some areas of the brain.The clinical symptoms are progressive impairment in memory, judgment, decision making, orientation to physical surroundings, and language.
Diagnosis is based on physical examination and the exclusion of other causes of dementia; a definitive diagnosis can be made only at autopsy.
The pathological hallmarks are loss of neurons, senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain.
Parkinson’s disease today, is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, after Alzheimer’s disease. It is characterized clinically by Parkinsonism (resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, and posturalin stability)and pathologically by the loss of nerve cells and the presence of peculiar protein deposits called Lewy bodies in the brain. The diagnosis is made clinically, yet other disorders with prominent symptoms and signs of Parkinsonism such as post encephalitic, drug induced, and arteriosclerotic Parkinsonism may be confused with Parkinson’s disease until the diagnosis is confirmed at autopsy.
Most common neurodegenerative diseases are predominantly idiopathic disorders of unknown pathogenesis as the examples Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease demonstrate. It is impossible to conclude a single cause or a single microbe responsible for such neurodegenerative diseases. Current treatments only help to control the symptoms.
Healing the individual, not the disease
Ayurveda is a holistic medical science,and hence its prescription and treatment depend solely upon the individual patient. It not only dependson symptomatic relief or suppressing the disease but also enrooting the cause and route of the disease itself. It is also advised by sages of Ayurveda that suddha chikithsa (pure treatment) should not result in discomforts or side-effects while healing the disease.
An Ayurveda vaidya (physician) follows a detailed ten-step examination procedure which includes all the data of the patient like the place, season, likes and dislikes etc. This helps the physician to better understand the patient’s body and mind. By understanding the patient well, it is easy to understand the cause and pathology of his disease. Ancient diagnostic methods such as naadeepareeksha (pulse diagnosis), tongue examination, etc also adds precision to the diagnosis.
As observed, treatment of neurodegenerative diseases in Ayurveda means to control the Vata dosha and bring back the Tridosha and Triguna into their normal balanced state. Ayurveda helps the body’s inborn mechanism to function properly by clearing any obstruction in the circulation. Also, it enhances the body’s immunity and resistance power. Some ayurvedic formulations and herbs that have rejuvenating properties can restore the energy and strength of the patient.
In Ayurveda, management of any disease includes internal medicines and external treatment procedures. In degenerative diseases apart from normal medicines like Kashayam, Choornam, Arishta-Asava’s, Gulikas, Lehyas and Ghritas special medicines like Medhya rasayanas are also used. Herbs like Brahmi, Yashtimadhu etc has special effect on boosting the functions of the brain. It is found to be effective in reversing the aging process and also reversing the degeneration of the brain cells. Each medicine is suitable on very specific condition of the patient and the disease. That is why a detailed and close consultation and regular follow up with an Ayurveda Vaidya is a must in all these cases.
External treatment procedures should be done under the supervision of an expert Ayurveda vaidya only as there can be some adverse effects if not done properly. Many therapies like Abhyanga, Dhaara, Vasti, Pinda sweda,Pizhichil, Nasya, Sirolepa, Thalam etc are found very effective in many neurodegenerative diseases especially Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. It is advised to get admitted in an authentic Ayurveda hospital or retreat for such therapies as it needs close monitoring of the patient on a full time basis.