Stroke is the term used to describe a sudden loss of function in a portion of the brain. Typically, that loss of function results in difficulty in moving an arm or leg (paralysis). There may be loss of feeling or peculiar sensations in the same areas.
A stroke may also appear with problems relating to speech or vision, or as a convulsion. The loss of brain function is due to a sudden reduction of the blood supply to a portion of the brain. The reduced blood supply may be due to clogging of the blood vessel by thickening and hardening of the vessel wall (atherosclerosis) or rupture of the blood vessel with bleeding (haemorrhage). Once started, a stroke can continue to damage the brain either by clotting around an obstruction or by further haemorrhage.
Pakshaaghaata is the Ayurvedic term for paralytic affliction. The Ayurvedic texts generally attribute such condition to a block in Vaata’s movement.
Some strokes, known as transient ischemic attacks (TIA) cause symptoms that last only for a short time. The cause of such attacks is not certain but is generally thought to be due to a spasm of a blood vessel to the brain. A TIA can have many forms, from a momentary change of vision to a brief paralysis of a limb. Sudden lapses of attention or passing out are sometimes the only evidence of a TIA. When brain tissue is damaged by a stroke, it may recover fully, partially or not at all. Recovery may occur in a few hours or days, or may stretch out over many months. The major causes are hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure, and diabetes, which often hastens hardening of the arteries and increases blood pressure. People, who smoke or are overweight, are more prone to it.
While there is little that can be done to stop a stroke while it is occurring, there is much that can be done to treat and diminish the consequences of a stroke.
The majority of people who survive a stroke do well in terms of living at home, moving about independently and carrying out the normal activities of daily living. Thus, having a stroke definitely does not mean that one’s life is irreparably damaged.
Anti-vaata drugs such as Vaata chintaamani ras, Ekaanga veera ras, Vaata gajaankush ras etc., are used to treat this condition. In addition, a special regimen, including snehana (medicated oil application), pinda swedana (fomentation), nasya (nasal drops) and basti (special type of enema therapy) strengthens the muscle tissue and restores the neuromuscular function. These therapies expel toxins from different channels. They clear disturbances or blockades, increasing peripheral blood supply.
Recovery of Damaged Brain Tissue
A damaged brain can heal. Sometimes the healing is rapid and complete when the damage is minimal, as with a TIA. But, recovery can also occur after a regular stroke when the damage is greater. Recovery may be complete but usually, after a regular stroke, it is partial. However, the recovery of brain function can be quite significant, because other parts of the brain can assume some of the functions of the damaged portion. Thus, it is very important to keep the possibility of brain function recovery in mind and do everything that will encourage recovery.
Regaining Muscle Function
When the brain is damaged by a stroke, the muscles controlled by the portion of the brain are affected. For example, when certain parts of the left-brain are damaged, the right arm or leg may be weakened or paralysed. Initially after the stroke, the muscles are limp and move poorly or not at all. As time passes, whether they begin to function appropriately again or not, the muscles become tense.
Fortunately, muscle function can be recovered, and the brain is able to substitute some new connections for damaged ones. Furthermore, muscles unaffected by the stroke can learn to do new things and thereby substitute for impaired muscles. This recovery process requires pancha-karma therapies and rehabilitation measures. However, nothing will work unless the patient himself or herself actively, persistently and regularly is involved in this programme. Only personal effort will make the programme work.
There is another important issue to remember. Unused muscles atrophy; they lose size and strength. In the process of atrophying, they also often scar and become less flexible. The processes of atrophy and scarring can only be prevented by use of the muscles. In ayurveda, ‘abhyangana chikitsa’ or massage therapy, works on this principle. Massage therapy gives the patient adequate exercise by passive movement of muscles and joints.
Recovery of Mental Abilities
After a stroke, some people’s emotional states change and they become susceptible to what appear to be rapid mood swings. They may laugh or cry suddenly, or become angry or withdrawn. While these mood changes are not a consequence of altered thinking, to other people they may appear to be a result of thought changes. Mood changes are actually a result of damage to brain tissue and usually cannot be controlled by the patient. It is important for families and caregivers to recognise this and find ways to compensate or minimise the impact of outbursts. It may be that the emotion fragility is also a product of frustration, anger and depression, which are common among people who have had strokes. Difficulty in speaking after a stroke may happen. It is usually caused by loss of ability to understand or by loss of control of speech muscles, or by both. Whatever the cause, immediately after the stroke many people will not speak at all. Then abnormal speech will appear and improve gradually until normal or nearly normal speech returns.
It is important to recognise that sometimes, poor thinking is largely a result of reduced speed of thought. However, just as people with strokes can learn again how to do physical activities such as walking and eating, they can also learn, to some extent, to think and speak again. In all these areas of mental recovery, patience and assurance have a very important role to play.
Managing Abnormal Sensations
Abnormal sensations, because of a stroke, can be quite bothersome. Sometimes there may be simply numbness, but there can also be pain in the affected portion of the body or loss of the normal sensation. Commonly such sensation disappears or subsides significantly. However, sometimes they persist. When they persist, people sometimes gradually lose notice of them. Ayurvedic drugs such as Mahaa vaata vidhwansan ras can sometimes be effective without causing undesirable effects.
Gunja taila is one of the effective external applications in paralysis. It is prepared by boiling together, the pulp made of equal quantity of Gunja seeds (rattee or ghunghachee) and long pepper, in til oil or mustard oil, (four times of the pulp) and buttermilk, (four times of the oil) on slow flame. After evaporation of the water content, it is bottled and used as a liniment.
Take the decoction of the bark of the root of drumstick with fried asafoetida and rock salt in doses of 20 ml. This is to be taken for a minimum period of 40 days.
Dashmoolaarishta is very effective for toning up the nervous system. About four teaspoonful of it mixed with equal quantity of water is given twice daily until the symptoms subside. Mahaa narayana taila is good for external massage.
- l Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg.
- Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye.
- Sudden difficulty in speaking or understanding speech.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
- Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness, or sudden falls, especially in conjunction with the other warning signs.
- Occasionally, strokes cause double vision, drowsiness, nausea or vomiting.
Because, warning signs sometimes may last only for a few minutes and disappear, it may be tempting to ignore them. However, these mini-strokes could be your body’s warning of a future full-blown stroke. So, even if the symptoms go away quickly, seek medical help right away.
- l High blood pressure.
- Cigarette smoking.
- Heart disease.
- History of stroke, and
As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. This article is intended only for information. It is not a substitute to the standard medical diagnosis, personalized Ayurvedic treatment or qualified Ayurvedic physician. For specific treatment, always consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.
Asthma is a disease of the human respiratory system in which the airways narrow, often in response to a trigger such as exposure to an allergen, cold air, excessive exercise or emotional stress. This narrowing causes symptoms such as wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and coughing.
Aggravated Kapha (water) accumulates in the airways, leading to their narrowing and obstruction. This causes an interruption in the flow of the air in the lungs, causing shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing. This happens because of increased intake of vata (air) and kapha aggravating foods, internal weakness of lung tissues, and various diseases affecting the lungs. Factors like living in a cold and damp atmosphere, having cold or stale food or drink, eating foods that are not easily digestible, and ama (mucus) formation that blocks the respiratory channels also causing difficulty in breathing.
- Chest pain
- Tightness in breathing
- Shortness of breath
Ayurveda regards Asthma as a disorder caused by impaired digestion. A malfunctioning digestive process causes hypersensitivity to certain substances, such as dust and pollen that triggers the asthma attacks. Deposits of ama (mucus) in the lungs and respiratory tract create obstruction in breathing and cause wheezing or coughing.
Ayurvedic treatment of asthma focuses on restoring digestion with herbal preparations and the right diet and lifestyle changes. The medicines primarily work on pacifying Kapha and cleansing toxins from the body. In addition, specific herbal combinations are also supplemented to boost the body’s immunity.
Diet ∓ Lifestyle Advice
- Pulses like old rice (rice which is stored for at least one year is called old), wheat, barley, kulattha, mung beans, arhar beans, etc . should be consumed.
- Honey, warm drinks like herbal teas, spice teas are also okay.
- Sprouts, nuts and seeds can be taken in moderate amount.
- The heavy foods and those which make ama should be avoided. This mainly includes milk products like cheese, curd, butter milk, creams, and banana, etc.
- Oily, greasy and fried foods which are difficult to digest should be avoided.
- White flour and white sugar products should be avoided.
- In addition, try to avoid the cold foods, cold drinks and other refrigerated things.
- Avoid excessive or physically demanding exercise. Yoga and Pranayama can be helpful.
- Prepare a mixture of powdered dried ginger root, black pepper and long pepper in equal amounts
and store in an airtight container. Have ½ teaspoonful of this powder mixed with ½ teaspoonful of honey
twice a day with lukewarm water.
- Take 11 guava leaves, 11 black pepper, 1 cup milk and one cup water. Put all of them in pot and boil it well,
when it reduced to one cup, drink in empty stomach. Take this daily for at least six months or a year.
- Boil cumin seeds in water and inhale the steam. It helps dilate the bronchial passage.
- Take 5 gm of ginger, black pepper, cardamom, clove, cinnamon, turmeric and 30 gm of sugar. Grind the mix to a powder. Take half to one teaspoonful and mix it nicely with honey. Take it twice a day.
Paralysis is loss of muscle function for one or more muscles. Paralysis can be accompanied by a loss of feeling (sensory loss) in the affected area if there is sensory damage as well as motor. About 1 in 50 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with some form of paralysis, transient or permanent. The word comes from the Greek "disabling of the nerves" itself from παρά (para) and that from λύω (luō), "to lose". A paralysis accompanied by involuntary tremors is usually called.,
Eczema is a disease characterized by skin rashes that have redness, swelling, itching, dryness, and flaking. The skin itches and when scratched, results in a rash. In Ayurveda, this disease is known as Vicharchika. It occurs when the immune system becomes unbalanced, so the condition is often associated with other allergic conditions like allergic asthma, hay fever, etc. Genetic factors, debility, climate, and psychological factors can dispose one to the condition.
Excessive consumption of foods that are dry, stale, cold, salty, spicy, sour, fermented or fried, late night work schedules, regular late night dinners, excessive physical, mental, and sexual activities; and stress can be responsible for causing eczema. Excessive intake of tea, coffee, aerated drinks, alcoholic beverages, indigestion, acidity, constipation and/or flatulence too can contribute to eczema.
- Redness on skin
- Dry and flaky skin
- Rough and thickened skin
- Itchy blisters
- Inflammation of skin
According to Ayurveda, Eczema or Vicharchika is caused due to a faulty diet and lifestyle, which leads to impairment of digestion and aggravation of Pitta Dosha (Ayurvedic humor representing Fire). Pitta manifests in the skin and causes accumulation of heating toxins known as ama. These toxins accumulate in body tissues, contaminating them at a deep level and causing Eczema. Use of local creams, antibiotics and steroids only mask the symptoms; they do not affect the root cause of this disease and that is the reason why this problem often reappears. Ayurveda recommends an individualized treatment plan for patients of Eczema, including proper diet and specialized herbal combinations. The line of treatment works on pacifying Pitta by enhancing the body’s digestion, as well as cleansing the body of accumulated toxins
Diet & Lifestyle Advice
- Avoid spicy or oily food and a hot humid atmosphere.
- Wear loose, cotton clothes; avoid synthetic fibers as they inhibit perspiration.
- Avoid soap or use mild herbal soap for bathing.
- Use a soft, smooth towel and avoid rubbing the skin.
- Avoid tea, coffee, hot spices, and canned and preserved foods.
- Practice Bhujangasan and Agnisaar Pranayam to enhance your body’s immunity.
- Prepare a decoction by boiling 20-30 margosa (neem) leaves in about 4-5 cups of water for 20 minutes. Let it cool and use this water to wash the affected area
- Boil 30 grams of Indian gum tree (babul) bark and 30 grams of mango tree bark in 1 liter of water for 30 minutes. Use this water to make a hot compress (fomentation) on the affected part. After fomentation for about 15-20 minutes, clean the skin with dry cloth and apply purified butter as an ointment.
- Mix 1 teaspoon licorice root powder with a small amount of sesame oil. Warm this in a pan and then apply to the affected part. Wrap a bandage over it and leave for 3-4 hours. Repeat twice a day.