Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is the most common progressive and disabling neurological condition that affects young adults in the world today. It is an autoimmune disease in which insulation of the nerve cell fibres of the brain and spinal cord are destroyed causing various disturbances of Central Nervous System.
Ayurveda considers this condition as a body energy disorder. Improper digestion leads to the formation of toxins and blockage of minute channels of the body which in-turn obstructs movement of certain body energies, resulting in neuro-muscular disorders.
Ayurveda believes that MS occurs due to imbalance of Vata dosha. Vata imbalance can cause excess dryness in the body, resulting in degeneration of the tissues. It also affects co-ordination of movement as well as transmission of impulses through nerve fibres. The imbalance of vata can be due to various reasons such as irregular eating habits, excess intake of dry, cold and light foods or stale food, excessive travel, sudden emotional shock and recreational drug usage.
Early symptoms of the disorder may include changes in vision and muscle weakness. MS can progress steadily causing acute attacks, following by partial or complete reduction in symptoms. Symptoms can depend on the area of nerve deterioration, which leads to weakness or loss of control of one or more limbs recurrent facial palsy and disturbance in vision. Ayurveda believes that if imbalanced vata is the cause of MS, then bringing vata into balance is the ayurvedic treatment for MS. The advanced stage of MS, considered as the third stage, is paralysis, which may not be curable, but can only be maintained.
Ayurvedic treatment involves toxin elimination and restoration of digestive fire with the help of herbal formulas. Ayurvedic treatment of MS involves arresting the progress of the condition and helping to alleviate symptoms.
In majority of cases, those subjected to Ayurvedic treatment have responded with nearly immediate remission of symptoms, either partially or totally, and reduced frequency of exacerbations.
Ayurvedic treatment involves incorporating the Panchakarma therapy (detoxification, cleansing and rejuvenation) apart from incorporating diet modification, lifestyle modifications and herbs to balance the vata element.
Another major element that form part of ayurvedic treatment for MS is stress reduction therapies. Daily massage with herbal oils offers a soothing effect to the nervous system. The massage helps improve circulation in the body, and the herbal remedies nourish the tissues, speeding up repair process.
Counselling is suggested to relieve emotional stress. Psychological support is also advised for MS patients to maintain a positive outlook and prevent feelings of hopelessness.
- Panchakarma is a cleansing, detox and rejuvenation therapy that stimulates the re-growth of healthy tissues. Panchakarma treatment for MS involves three main steps – loosening the aggravated doshas from the body through steam and oil therapy. The second is to remove toxins from the body (by use of Basti procedure), which is an effective procedure in treating MS conditions. The third is to build a healthy tissue by adopting dietary and lifestyle modifications. Myelin Sheath is one of the tissues that is rebuilt by use of Panchakarma procedure, and with this, MS symptoms disappear and patients can begin their normal healthy life.
- MS patients are treated with ‘Pizhichil’ and ‘Shirodhara’, the two rejuvenative treatments for the nerves. Mostly patients treated with ‘Maruthua’ oil, an acclaimed formulation, have been found to offer immediate relief by way of symptoms.
- Herbs: Among the common remedies in Ayurveda for MS are herbs such as Avenasativa, lavendulaangustifolia, melissaofficinalis passifloraincarnata, and St. John’s Wort.
- Aloevera gel or aloevera juice is used for detoxification process and in improving metabolism of the patient suffering from MS. Moreover, natural vitamins and minerals in aloevera helps in strengthening the immune system.
- Green Tea has huge potential in prevention and treatment of neuro-degenerative diseases. The ECGG component present in this tea helps inhibit T cells the immune cells that attack their own tissue.
- Triphala is the key ayurvedic formula that helps restore vata imbalance and regulate bowel movements and calm the nervous system.
- Ashwagandha, Shatavari and Bala help protect healthy tissues.
- Jatamansi and Licorice helps in calming the nervous system and maintain vata balance.
Yoga: Pranayama or breathing exercise invariable helps MS patients. About 80 percent of oxygen that we breath is utilized by the nervous system. So deep breathing refreshes the nerves and improves moods. Practise Pranayama daily, and drink minimum 10 glasses of plain water a day.
Diet: MS can get aggravated due to improper diet. Some foods can make vata extremely active and worsen MS symptoms. Therefore, a diet comprising fruits and vegetables is advised by some ayurvedic experts as part of remedy for MS.
MS patients are advised to avoid gluten completely. They are also advised to cut out refined sugar, animal fats, dairy products and margarines, and caffeine. Consume foods as fresh as possible, consume only foods cooked in olive oil, have more of raw vegetables and fresh fruits. They are also advised to include dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds as part of their diet.
Lifestyle modifications: Suggested lifestyle modifications include
- Eating fresh foods at a fixed time daily
- Eating with a happy state of mind
- Avoiding a hurried lifestyle
- Take time to relax
- Have a warm oil massage before bath
- Keep the body warm with sesame oil massage during cold whether
- Continue brisk walking
- Practice Pranayama regularly