Multiple sclerosis: An Ayurveda-Care!
One of the disease commonly effect the Central Nervous system is Multiple Sclerosis.
Even though there is no exact correlation of multiple sclerosis in Ayurveda with a diseases specific. But with the presenting symptoms of an MS patient we can correlate this disease under Vata Vyadhi with is an 80 group of disease which affects the moving property of the body.
MS is seen in more in women than men, though women seem to have the disease about twice as often as men, and usually predominat in young adults (16-40 years old).
At the same time the incidence of MS is five times more prevalent in temperate climates than in tropical climates. Within Europe, Scandinavia, The British Isles, the Low Countries and Germany have very high rates. Canada, northern USA and New Zealand have an equivalently high prevalence. In United States alone MS cases have risen from 146,892 people in 1996 to approx 500,000 cases in 2004.
If you look the modern medical explanation of MS, you are going to get an idea how the MS produced and progress. The nerves in the central nervous system are covered and kept protected by what is called the myelin sheath. MS causes lesions on this sheath and this damage causes the nerves to function improperly.
Myelin is a fatty material that insulates nerves, acting much like the covering of an electric wire and allowing the nerve to transmit its impulses rapidly. It is the speed and efficiency with which these impulses are conducted that permits smooth, rapid and co-ordinated movements to be performed with little conscious effort.
In multiple sclerosis, the loss of myelin (demyelination) is accompanied by a disruption in the ability of the nerves to conduct electrical impulses to and from the brain and this produces the various symptoms of MS.
The sites where myelin is lost (plaques or lesions) appear as hardened (scar) areas: in multiple sclerosis these scars appear at different times and in different areas of the brain and spinal cord. The term multiple sclerosis means, literally, many scars. MS starts mostly with milder sensitivity problems like numbness or at times with milder vision disturbances or even temporary total loss of vision. Once the pathology sets in, it starts to progress with time.
MS is a progressive disease of the nervous system, for which there is no permanent cure is possible in school medicine.
An estimated 2,500,000 people in the world have MS.
More women than men have MS, with a ratio of 2 men to 3 women affected. MS can be diagnosed with two important methods. 1. MRI and 2. CSF studies (as confirmatory test).
There are four types of MS: begining, relapsing remitting, secondary progressive, primary progressive.
While the exact cause of MS is not known, much is known about its effect on immune system function, which may be the ultimate cause of the disease. According to Ayurvedic perspective there are number of causative factors for the development of MS.
If you look at the myelin sheath or this waxy materiel, the insulator, Avaranait has the properties of Kapha-the covering. The inflammation or Pakais the property of Pitta. Actaully the underlying cause of this disease is this inflammation. After the inflammation, the demyelinated nerve cannot conduct the nerve impulses-the movement, which is the property of Vata and the part is hardened or having a scar –loss of material (Kapha) followed by the inflammation (Pitta) and a loss of function. (Vata). If you look at any diseases which is explained in Ayurveda, there is a liner development of a disease establishment. Either it is fever or Cancer or MS, the process is the same. Ayurveda explains that an abnormal change in the body is with an accumulation of water property. A stagnation of flow / a material blockage, a flow of water is disturbed, a waxy substance is occluded which is called Sopha- a disease can be correlated to oedema / general oedema /Kleda /which is entirely a typical Kapha diseases. The word what we usually express in Ayurveda called Amais this morbid material! It can be any substances in the body (or mind) accumulated, indigested, sticky or immobile. The next process of the diseases establishment or progress of the diseases is inflammation on this sticky material. Inflammation, acidic changes, flame, agniinvolvement / paka / vidaha/ Burning/ colour change/ heat increase like inflammatory symptoms /change like words can be intercepted in this category. Vidagdhais the word,for the Pitta Amaexplained for this phenemoena in Ayurveda. The same wayJwarais the inflammatory process and Visrapaa spreading type of inflammation is the disease which can be correlated for this condition.
After the inflammation there will be the loss of function and pain / loss of conductivity, formation of scars / keloid /keela in Sanskrit / which is the typical Vata dysfunctional diseases. Here the activity is lost / gas formation in the Vata house and the final condition like Paralysis or Vishtbdaform of Ama produced. The capital explained Vata Vyadhiin Ayurveda should be understood in such conditions. Any disease develop in this lineal order like Sopha- Visarpa- Vata Vyadhi (oedema-Inflammation-Loss of ffunction). More clearely everything is an inflammation. Jwara the first disease mentioned in Ayurveda. If you look deeply the inflammatory signs: Oedema (Kapha)
Red colour, Heat (Pitta) ; Pain and loss of function (Vata)
Even in MS the disease process follows as the same way. And the healing process should be vice versa. Improving the function, reduction of inflammation and rejuvenation of Tissues.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicine has a natural healing process and it can be an answer for those who suffer from Multiple sclerosis. In Ayurveda most of the diseases are explained, not with a single cause but with multi causes and for a complete recovery we need a multi therapy approach.
Some of the causative factors for such disease are following.
• Fast food, and unhealthy food habits
• Stress making / Excessive work more than one persons strength
• Accumulation of unwanted and indigested materials / endo-toxins
• Mico and macro pollution.
• Loss of religious practices.
• Drug addictions
• Lack of love and self destructions
Imbalance and deterioration of nervous system, strength and stability
According to Ayurveda theory, the functioning mode in the body called Vatacontrols the overall level of balance and activation of the nervous system. MS is a classic Vataimbalance from this perspective. Vata imbalance is responsible for many conditions and symptoms some of which are often associated with MS.
Vata Symptoms which can be sen in an MS patient.
· anxiety, worry and fear
· dry or rough skin
· poor digestion
· heightened sensitivity
The annoying symptoms of MS that hinders the quality of life are balancing problem, walking difficulties (requires walking stick, wheel chair etc) vision loss or cloudiness of vision, bladder difficulties (frequency, incontinence and urgency), cognitive disturbances, coordination problems, spasticity, sexual dysfunction, tremor, ataxia , stiffness of limbs, pain that is non-responsive to analgesics , at times anti-epileptic medicines are used for the same psychological problems like mood swings and depression, etc.
By modern medicine MS is considered as a auto-immune diseases but the Ayurvedic concept it is only a symptom of ongoing pathology. Most of the medicines which are used is only a disease modifying but not for the stoppage of disease. Interferon (originally used in Hepatitis, in tumor and antiviral) is the main medicine for MS in school medicine, Methoxanthron and alemtuzumab (both used in chemo therapy in leukemia with serious side effects) , Amantadine (antiviral and in Parkinsons disease) cortisone during relapses, copaxone, tsyabri, Fampyra. Most of these medicines are unable to make any long- time benefits for the patients.
The build-up of Endo-toxins(Kashaya Pana)
The build up of plaques around affected nerves with accompanying inflammation that is seen in MS is a classic example of impurities accumulating in tissues and disrupting delicate tissue biochemistry. Cleansing the tissues (Amahara tretments)of impurities and preventing the impurities from being created in the first place, through improvements in digestion (Deepana-Pachana- plants)and metabolism, is a fundamental approach of classical Ayurveda for MS. Most of the herbal decoctions-Kashayasare used for this purpose are: Gandharva hastadi, Dasamoolam, Chitrakadi and Sahacharadi.
Reduction of immune response and overall improving resistance ability of the body (Sneha Pana- Purvakarma-Panchakarma)
If the disease is occurred by any infections or inflammation the best method is to bind the toxins and reduce the inflammation. Modern medical theories postulate infection by a latent virus as a possible cause of MS. Hence the bitter plant based medicines in the form of Ghee is the second method of treatments in Ayurveda, if an inflammatory process is going on. This will enhance the following therapy to strengthening the body's natural immune response.
This matches well with the snehapanaof Ayurveda that aim at preventing and treating disease through enlivening the natural healing ability of the body. The Sneha used in this category are: Dadimadi Ghrtam, Guggulu thiktakam Ghrtam, Sukumaram Ghrtam and Brahmi Ghrtam.
The accumulation of toxins in the deeper tissues by generations and generations will affect the offspring’s. Such toxified cells and tissues losses its innate nature (prakruti) and does not able to destruct or nourish what is good for the body and mind. Most of the diseses what we face now a das are this immunity response lost diseases. Either it auto immunity or immune deficiency disease. As Ayurveda suggested that the Bala (Strength), Ojas(Immunity) and Ayu(Life) is depends upon a clean and well balanced Dosha – Dhathu and Mala (Function- structure and waste products relationship and balances.
Accumulation of physical and mental stress.(Rasayana)
Mental stress is one of the major factor in remissions and relapses throughout its course. Experiences of high mental and physical stress often are associated with a relapse of the condition and worsening of symptoms. An important component of the Ayurveda approach to managing MS is by a life style changes.
Yoga Asanas, Yoga Dhyana, Change of attitude, Change of Lifestyle and rejeventive measures for the body and mind are essential in this group.
The Aims of the treatment :
Progression of MS should controlled :
Stabilization of MS and reduction of symptoms: most of the symptoms like gait disturbance, vision disturbances, bladder problems etc. can be under controll and they will improve during the treatment and these improvements are sustained thereafter.
Healing or reduction or supportive effects are possible in MS depends on the strength of the patient and duration of the treatments. A periodic follow up at least for 3 years is an essential component for the success of therapy. The minimum duration of treatment is 21-45 days a year, which has to be repeated for 3 years.
Treatments in Ayurveda
a) Ayurvedic Oil applications
I would like to say as Ayurvedic oil application so that you will have an understanding that it is not only the massage, various way of application of quality Ayurveda oil on the body and head is the main treatments in Ayurveda. Abhyanga, Pichu, Sirodhara, Sirovasthi, Kaya seka, Kashaya Dhara, Dhanyamla dhara, Snehavasthi, Mamsa rasa Vasthi, Sneha Nasyam, Njavara kizhi like so many nourishing , strength giving treatments are included in this group.
The various herbs that have been boiled into base oil, and the oil itself, are specifically chosen for their Vata balancing influence. The oil allows the herbs potency to deeply penetrate the tissue beds, thereby balancing the nerve and other tissues in the affected areas
b) Diet, Nutrition and Digestion
Multiple Sclerosis can be aggravated through improper diet. For example, some foods can make Vata highly active, thereby worsening many of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
You will learn also which foods you can digest easily thereby creating the micronutrients that can be assimilated into the tissues for rebuilding their strength and balance..
c) Stress Management and Improved Mental and Emotional Function
Yoga postures which are having therapeutic values are taught to patients along with Ayurveda therapy. Patients are given individual yoga postures depending upon the body constitution and symptoms, which helps in improving the coordination, balance, strength in the lower limbs and flexibility.
The sleep disturbance often created by symptoms of chronic disorders increase fatigue, which in turn increases one's susceptibility to stress, which in turn aggravates the multiple sclerosis condition. By hearing music, movements, physical therapy with oils the sleep pattern can regain and there by a good mood can be maintained which is very important in MS
d) Lifestyle and Daily Routine
One of the most important factors for balancing Vata and maintaining stability in the nervous system is to have a lifestyle that does not disturb natural bodily rhythms. When we eat, sleep and exercise in constantly fluctuating and disturbing patterns, the body loses its natural balancing cycles and cannot cleanse or heal itself as effectively. Improper lifestyle aggravates the Vata imbalance at the basis of multiple sclerosis and disrupts the body's natural cleansing cycles.
Healing Plants for Vata
Multiple sclerosis patients treated with 'pizhichil'and 'sirodhara' - two highly rejuvenative treatments for the nerves have shown marked results.
Cases treated with Siro vasthi, Nasyam, with plants like Bala, Brahmi, Aswagandha, a very acclaimed ayurvedic formulation was found to provide immediate benefits by way of remission of symptoms.
However these therapies should be done only at a proper Ayurvedic facility under the supervision of a doctor.
Ayurveda believes that human body is competent enough to handle any challenge provided it gets the required support.
So the treatments are basically aimed at strengthening and rejuvenating the body's own mechanisms for healing.
As it is said ' the healer within the body is an extension of the cosmic healer who creates life and sustains this universe'. So the potential is immense. The possibilities are unlimited. We just need to help it manifest in healing.
Studies : The food-intestinal microbe-immune system-inflammation nexus in multiple sclerosis:
One example of a study that is pointing to food and nutritional factors as the trigger for the spontaneous disease, imbalances in food in its widest sense, is from the Max Planck Institute of Neurology in Germany. Emeritus Professor Hartmut Wekerle, now Hertie Senior Reserach Chair Neurosciences at the Max Planck Institute of Neurology and his team (http://www.neuro.mpg.de/Wekerle) are of the opinion that inflammatory brain diseases might have their origins the intestines.
Studies at the Institute for Multiple Sclerosis Research, Department of Neuroimmunology, Gemeinnützige Hertie-Stiftung and University Medical Centre Göttingen, Germany (http://www.neuroimmunologie.uni-goettingen. de/) offer early glimpses of how self-reactive T cells enter the central nervous system (CNS) and create an inflammatory milieu that destroys myelin and neurons.