Integrative Ayurvedic healing for Parkinson’s disease

In the recent days of my practice at rVita, I have started getting inquiries on Parkinson’s disease management. Many patients/well wishers of rVita ask me – Can Ayurveda cure it? Is it a new disease? Can you improve the lifestyle of the patient?

On this context, I wanted to explain about how Ayurveda understands and deals with Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease also known in Ayurveda as ‘Kampa Vata’, is a neurological disorder affecting 1% of the population over the age 65 and is the fourth most common neurological degenerative disorder found in the elderly. Unfortunately changing life styles, high psychological pressures and reduced amount of anti-oxidants have increased the onset of this problem in younger age groups and the incidence has become very common.

Causes

Modern medical research has determined the cause of the condition to be a loss of function of specialized cells in the brain stem which stimulate the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine. The cause of the functional disturbance is still under research. In addition, carbon monoxide and manganese poisoning can instigate the condition as well as other brain tissue abnormalities such as tumors and infarcts. Finally, drug abusers injecting N-MPTP or meperidine can cause a form of the disease which has a sudden onset and is irreversible.

Ayurveda & Parkinson’s disease

Ayurveda, the science of life, names this condition as ‘Kampavata’. Kampa means shaking and Parkinson’s is characterized by motor and neurological problems which would provide a very good explanation to the name. This is a disease that has been described in the Charaka Samhita which is one of the oldest books of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda operates on the principle of achieving balance amongst the 3 main Doshas, or functional elements or humors of the body – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata governs all air and movement in the body. Ayurveda explains that the cause of Parkinson’s disease, a disorder caused by imbalance of the Vata Dosha, is the presence of aggravated Vata in the brain. This corrosive effect on that area of the brain results in the Parkinson’s symptoms. Therefore cure of Parkinson’s disease is the process of exchanging the aggravated air in the brain for clean and nutritive air, generated by the properly functioning stomach. The apparent long-term treatment of Parkinson’s by Ayurveda is due to the delicacy of creating a climate in which the toxic airs can be eliminated while fresh and wholesome air is re-introduced. The process of healing is accelerated by following a strict diet, abstinence from intoxicants and undesirable life practices.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is based primarily on signs and symptoms. Resting tremors (tremors which occur when the body is at rest and there is no voluntary initiation of motion) along with rigidity, loss of facial expression or gait abnormalities strongly suggests the disease.

Ayurveda treatment

Ayurveda’s treatment for Parkinson’s disease is primarily targeted to normalize the vitiated Vata Dosha. Oleation and fomentation therapies followed by rejuvenation therapies are advised for the complete healing. Oleation therapy – Starts from simple medicated oil application, pizhichil to medicated oil enemas are usually advised.
Fomentation therapy – Herbs are boiled in a closed container and the patient is exposed to the herbal fumes all over the body. This helps in reducing and normalizing the vitiated the Vata Dosha.

Ayurvedic treatment protocol for Parkinson’s disease

1. Swedana (Sudation therapy) – hot steam therapy with Nirgundi and Tulsi leaves
2. Nasya (Medicated nasal drops) – Vacha with Ashwagandha oil
3. Shirodhara (Ayurveda third eye therapy) – warm oil therapy to the third eye, delicately blended Sesame oil, Ashwagandha oil, Tulsi and some essential oils
4. Snehana (Medicated oleation therapy) – body massage using warm sesame oil blended with herbs
5. Basti (Medicated enema therapy) – enemas using Dashamula tea combined with oil
6. Meditation, yoga, Pranayama breathing techniques are very beneficial

What makes an integrative approach successful?

Parkinson’s disease treatment is more successful when a combination of Ayurveda is used with Modern medicine for a lot of reasons. The main one is the fact that Ayurveda combines a lot of important aspects of medication in order to deliver a full impact on the body.

This holistic approach would also minimize any side effects of using Ayurvedic treatment for medicating Parkinson’s disease. However, this does not mean that one should discount any benefit gained from modern medicine. It is simple to say that the effect of the medication on the person’s body and mind will be greater if Ayurveda is combined with modern medication as well.

Source: Dr Gowthaman, Medical Director, Dr Gowthaman’s Ayurveda Panchakarma Center, Chennai
Image: Thinkstockphotos.com

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