Ayurvedic treatment for Parkinsonism

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“My mother-in-law, 64 years of age is suffering from Parkinson along with other ailments like Asthma & Diabetes. She was completely at ease with the doctor. My mother-in-law has shown tremendous improvement in her speech clarity, walking with balance, and her tremors has also become noticeably less. After treatment at AyurVAID Hospital, my mother-in-law has gained confidence. Her mood has improved and she is much more active than she was earlier. Thank you so much, AyurVAID..”      --  Daughter-in-law of Revathy M

Parkinson's disease is a neurological disorder affecting 1% of the population over age 65 and is the fourth most common neurological degenerative disorder found in the elderly. The defining feature of parkinsonism is bradykinesia, or slowness with decrement and degradation of repetitive movements (“fatigue”) but Parkinsons’s present with tremors, rigidity and bradykinesia. In Ayurveda Parkinsonism is mainly known by Kampavata, Which is one among Vatavyadhi. Due to aggravated chalaguna of vatadosha the onset of disease begins and exhibits. Direct reference to the Parkinson's disease in the ancient ayurvedic literature is sparse and refers only to related symptoms including tremors. Thus, the condition is referred to in the modern ayurvedic literature by various names for tremors: Kampavata (tremors due to vata), vepathu (shaking, as in being off track or out of alignment), prevepana (excessive shaking), sirakampa (head tremor), spandin (quivering), and kampana (tremors) (4,5,6,8). Parkinson's disease is most commonly called Kampavata.

The three main physical, motor symptoms are:

  • Tremor: this can affect the hands and feet. Tremor is most marked at rest and actually improves when performing a task. Another condition known as essential tremor (ET) is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's as it too causes a tremor, but one which is absent at rest and most marked when performing a task
  • Muscular rigidity: this causes stiffness during movement
  • Bradykinesia: this causesslowness and tends to make initiating movements very difficult.

The most common recognizable symptom of Parkinson's disease is known as a "pill rolling tremor." In this condition, the thumb and fingers move uncontrollably in a manner resembling the rolling of a pill between the fingers. Tremors most commonly appear in the hands, arms and legs, though other areas may be affected. Small movements of the hands and fingers may eventually be difficult. Another symptom is stambha (rigidity), in which movement becomes slow and difficult to initiate. Patients usually have to look at their feet to begin, shuffle forward to and occasionally, inadvertently break into a trot (festination). The arms do not swing in coordination with the usual stride. The face may appear without expression (mask face), dull or depressed, though no depression may be present. Reduced blinking is an early symptom. The voice becomes monotone and expressionless, further causing some to mistake this as depression. Fifty percent of patients will develop dementia- (1)Vishada (depression), can accompany the disease but the symptoms of mask face and monotone voice occur as a part of Parkinson's disease and should not be confused with depression.

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. As only 70% of patient’s exhibit tremors, the other 30% of the cases are more difficult to diagnose (1). This condition may be confused with other causes of tremors, depression and gait abnormalities.

In Ayurveda Parkinson’s disease is known by KampaVata. It is a vatavyadhi diagnosis can be arrived based on vitiated vatadosha. Due to chalaguna – Tremors are seen in hands on rest also

Ayurvedic treatment for this condition centers around the treatment of vata disturbance. Oleation and fomentation form the basis of the constitutional treatment (4). Oleation through massage (abhyanga) and enema (basti) are indicated as well as the ingestion of oils. Naturally, jatharagni must be strong enough to support such as a heavy regimesn. If the patient exhibits significant ama and is strong enough, gentle purification procedures should be administered first.

Oils medicated with ashwagandha (withaniasomnifera) and bala (sidacordifolia) are commonly used to pacify vata and build ojas. They are known to be rejuvenative with a strong nourishing action on the nervous system. The herb atmagupta (MucunaPruriens - also known as Kappikacchu) has received a lot of attention historically and again in recent years. Ayurveda teaches that a holistic treatment regimen offers the greatest chance of success with Parkinson's patients.

A vata pacifying diet and proper dietary habits are essential to long term success. Additional vata pacifying regimens including daily oil massage (applied by the patient or practitioner) and sensory therapies complete the treatment regimen.