A person who dies quickly is considered lucky by his friends and relatives in common. We have heard some old ladies saying in casual conversations, they wish to be saved from a slow death and bedridden diseases. Yes, human beings are afraid of dependent situations physically, emotionally or financially. But what about diseases in which the person loses his abilities slowly and the process is not reversible. Parkinson’s disease is one of those dreaded conditions where the person slowly loses control over physical movements and activities. In many cases, the progress of the disease may be arrested for a while but the condition cannot be reversed. It is not an immediate death that awaits, like in a road traffic accident or cardiac arrest, but a life that is worse as day by day it unfolds. Each moment the person feels weaker, to make his fear true, his balance and fine movements are affected in due time. This makes the patient ask for help even for small things like drinking a glass of water or putting on dresses. In such a way, this disease leads to physical, mental and emotional insecurity.
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, (Parkinson’s disease stages) after Alzheimer’s disease, identified clinically by parkinsonism (resting tremor, bradykinesia, rigidity, and postural instability) and pathologically by the loss of nerve cells and the presence of peculiar protein deposits called Lewy bodies in the brain. The clinical diagnosis may be made but many other conditions have a similar clinical presentation like post encephalitic, drug-induced, and arteriosclerotic parkinsonism. Such conditions with different aetiology may be confused with Parkinson’s disease. The cruel fact is that the final confirmation is made only at autopsy. Most serious neurodegenerative diseases have idiopathic reasons and their exact pathogenesis is not completely known yet. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are no exception. It is not always possible to fix a single cause or a single organism causing such neurodegenerative diseases. Treatments available in the current scenario can only help to arrest the progress and control or suppress the symptoms.
Till recent times, Parkinson’s disease was considered a senile condition. It was considered to be developed due to the degeneration in the brain & nervous system associated with the process of ageing. But nowadays, the disease is seen in young adults also, though the incidence is more in people above 60 years of age. Senile cases of Parkinson’s disease are related to the degeneration and deterioration of the nervous system but the pathogenesis in young adults is not yet totally explored. Some scholars say it is due to unhealthy diet and lifestyle but it is not scientifically proven yet.
Ayurveda – a unique approach (Parkinson’s disease causes)
Ayurveda explains all the conditions and diseases in terms of three doshas or humour, the basic functional units of the body. The balance of which is nothing but health and the imbalance is a disease. Naturally, in old age, the physical and mental strength of a person decreases. Ayurveda explains this phenomenon as the action of Vaata dosha. It is considered the destructive element in the Dosha Trio. Kapha is the element of construction & stability. Pitta is the element of maintenance and transformation. A furious Vaata plays a vital role in making the patient’s life miserable in conditions like Parkinson’s disease(kampavaata).
Mostly Parkinson’s disease, like other neurodegenerative diseases, is related to old age. Ayurveda classifies the human life span into three stages according to the Dosha predominance. Childhood is considered to be dominant with Kapha, adult young age with Pitta and old age with Vaata. It seems relevant as Kapha is responsible for the growth & development of body tissues, Pitta for maintenance & metabolism, and Vaata for degeneration and destruction. When a person gets old, growth is completely stopped and degeneration of tissues speeds up causing both the body and the mind to weaken. If excess Vaata dominance or vitiation is there, it may affect the nervous system leading to neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s disease. But Vaata can aggravate in two conditions, one being the depletion of body tissues and increased void spaces as in conditions like emaciation, old age etc. The other cause is when the normal movement of Vaata is blocked due to anything, may it be a body tissue or growth. If the course of movement is blocked, Vaata gets aggravated and can produce the same signs and symptoms as Parkinson’s disease. This explains why it is seen recently in young adults with unhealthy & sedentary lifestyles.
Ayurvedic way of treatment (Treatment for Parkinson’s disease)
Ayurveda does not manage a patient only for symptomatic relief. It is a holistic method that addresses the individual as a whole, not only a disease or the part affected. It does not advise suppressing the disease or symptoms. Ayurveda strictly says one medicine or treatment for a disease should not cause or start another disease. This is named pure treatment. It tries to find the root cause of the condition and removes it first. Then the pathological course is interrupted from the further progression of the disease.
As we already understood, there can be two types of aetiology in Parkinson’s disease according to Ayurveda. It can be either due to degeneration or obstruction. The treatment approach is different in both cases. It is very important to get a personalised and proper evaluation before starting the treatment. An Ayurveda physician evaluates the patient and disease in detail. A ten-fold examination system is used to determine the medicines and therapies. This includes every detail like age, place of residence, season, digestive power, likes & dislikes etc. The data collected through this examination is documented and the physician knows the patient well in this way. Then the cause of the disease and pathogenesis are analysed. Treatment is then decided according to the cause.
The Ayurvedic way of managing neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease includes regulating the Vaata dosha and bringing it back from an aggravated state to normalcy. Also, any obstructions in the body channels are removed to improve circulation and nerve conduction. Ayurveda helps improve the body immunity and resistance power. The body heals itself when the circumstances are adaptive. After clearing the obstructions, Ayurvedic medicines for rejuvenation are given. They can restore the energy and strength in the patient.
Ayurveda treatment includes internal medicines and external treatment procedures. In degenerative diseases, special medicines like Medhyarasayanas are also used along with common medicines like kashayam, choornam, arishtaasavas, gulikas, lehyas and ghrtas. Herbs like brahmi, yashtimadhu etc have a special effect on boosting the brain and nervous system. Some of them are proven beneficial in reversing the ageing process and degeneration of brain cells. Each medicine is suitable for the very specific condition of the patient and disease. Only an expert Ayurveda physician can closely observe, analyse and do the proper treatment in such cases. Regular follow up is also advised.
Some of the treatment procedures advised in Parkinson’s disease are:
· Abhyanga – medicated oil massage
· Dhaara – continuous pouring of medicated liquids over the head
· Vasti – therapeutic medicated enema
· Pindasweda – poltices
· Pizhichil – continuous pouring of medicated oils over the body
· Nasya – therapeutic nasal drops
· Sirolepa – herbal paste on the head
· thalam – application of herbal mixtures on vertex
Not all these therapies are to be administered in one patient at a time. There is a strict indication and contraindication for each therapy. In some cases, other therapies are also administered. It solely depends upon the condition of the patient. It should be done after a detailed consultation and under the supervision of an expert Ayurveda physician. So, they are to be done as in house therapy, admitted in an authentic Ayurveda hospital as it needs close monitoring of the patient on a full-time basis.
In almost all cases of early diagnosis, Ayurveda medicines and treatments are found effective in arresting the progress of the degeneration and disease pathology. In some cases, even the symptoms got better. By adjoining Yoga, pranayama, meditation and sattwaavajaya along with Ayurveda treatment, the general physical and emotional health of the patient gets Improved thus the quality of life gets better.