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Paralysis refers to the loss of movement or loss of function, which may be experienced in a particular area or the whole body. This loss of muscle function or sensation may be due to an injury or a disease affecting the nerve supply. The Ayurvedic term for paralysis is pakshaghata. An increase in vata dosha that causes loss of sensory or motor function in the limbs on one side of the body is known as ardhanga vata. In ayurveda, pakshaghata is managed through various pre-panchakarma (five therapies), panchakarma and post-panchakarma procedures like snehana (oleation), swedana (sudation or sweat therapy), basti (enema) and nasya (nasal insufflation). Herbs like ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), bala (country mallow), and nirgundi (five-leaved chaste tree) and herbal formulations like yogaraja guggulu and dashamoolarishta are used in Ayurveda to treat and manage pakshaghata. Avoiding pungent foods, quitting smoking and adding certain foods like ginger, grapes, green gram and pomegranates can further help manage pakshaghata better.

  1. Ayurvedic view of paralysis
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for paralysis
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for paralysis
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for paralysis as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for paralysis
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for paralysis
  7. Takeaway
  8. Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Paralysis

Pakshaghata is listed as a disease caused due to vitiation of vata dosha. When this disease affects only one limb, it is called ekanga vata, and when it affects all four limbs, it is called sarvanga vata. Vaksanga, (difficulty in speech) and ardita (facial palsy) may be associated with pakshaghata.

According to Ayurveda, long-term management (about 3 to 4 months) of pakshaghata is required using swedana (sudation or sweat therapy), snehana, basti, shirobasti (oil therapy for the head), virechana (purgation), etc. Ayurveda considers the following to be symptoms of an impending stroke that, when identified and treated in a timely manner, can help prevent paralysis:

  • Mada: A confused state or clouding of consciousness, which is not due to substance use.
  • Murchha: Stupor or fainting due to a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) or a stroke.
  • Sanyasa: Brain coma (not from substance use) due to an injury or CVA.

Pakshaghata causes numbness and pain in the affected part of the body, loss of motor functions, excessive salivation and lacrimation, disorders of the gait, e.g., limping, and impairment in the speech (especially when the pakshaghata is on the right side of the body).

  • Snehana
    • Snehana is a therapy where medicated oils that are thick, unctuous, heavy, subtle and soft are applied on the body for about 3 to 7 days.
    • Internal and external snehana is recommended as a general line of treatment and for the long-term management of paralysis.
    • Mahanarayana taila (oil), dashmoola taila, and mahamasha taila are some medicated oils that are used for snehana in patients with paralysis.
    • Snehana is used in both the shodhana (purification) and shamana (palliation) procedures for pakshaghata.
    • Snehapana (consuming oil or ghee) is typically recommended with snehana. Performing snehana using the abhyanga technique increases the effect of snehana.
    • Vidaryadi ghrita (clarified butter infused with the properties of vidari [kudzu] and other herbs), sahacharadi taila, indukanta ghrita, ksheerabala taila and karpasasthyadi taila are some of the oils used for snehapana procedure as a part of virechana process. These oils show vata-alleviating properties and are useful in all types of pakshaghata.
  • Swedana
    • Swedana is recommended for the long-term management of pakshaghata and as the general line treatment for paralysis. It is given as a part of shodhana therapy. Swedana and snehana as pre-virechana treatments along with upanaha swedana (plastering of warm medicines on a body part) are specifically used in people with paralysis.
    • Tapa (heat), drava (liquid), ushma (vapour), and upanaha sweda are used to treat people with pakshaghata caused due to excess kapha with vata symptoms like stiffness, pricking pain, convulsions, oedema, and paraesthesia (abnormal sensations in the skin, e.g., prickling and chills).
  • Mridu virechana (purgation using mild purgatives)
    • Virechana is recommended as the main line of treatment in paralysis and is mainly included in shodhana therapy.
    • Snigdha virechana, a process of using plain or processed castor oil given with or without milk for purgation for the management of paralysis. Mishraka sneha (ghee infused with herbs) is also used in the virechana process. Virechana should be followed by samsarjana karma (7 days of proper diet).
    • Eranda (castor) taila, eranda bhrishta haritaki, senna, and hridya virechana (purgation using herbs that provide strength to the heart) are used for anulomana (purging) in people with vata constitution, especially those who suffer from constipation.
  • Basti
    • Basti is used to treat diseases caused due to excess or imbalanced vata. It helps to cleanse out the entire length of the colon. This procedure helps draw the ama (toxins) out of the body along with faeces, leaving you with a healthier and better functioning colon.
    • Nirooha basti (medicated decoction enema) at appropriate times is used for all types of pakshaghata. Erandamooladi basti (basti using castor roots and other herbs), madhutailika (basti using a combination of honey, sesame oil, lukewarm water, dill plant and other ingredients), siddha basti and rajayapana basti (basti using a combination of honey, milk, ghee and other wholesome foods) are used in the nirooha basti procedure. Nirooha basti is typically included in the shodhana therapy and is recommended on the basis of the stage of paralysis and the lifestyle of the patient.
    • Shirobasti, a type of murdha taila (head oiling) is performed as a long-term treatment procedure in people with pakshaghata. Various medicines in the form of decoctions, oils, milk, buttermilk or water are given through the shirobasti procedure.
  • Nasya
    • Nasya involves the instillation of oils or extracts (juice of the leaves of the desired medicine) in nose. Nasya therapy is used in people with recent pakshaghata. Nasya using dhanwantaharam and shandbindhu oils plays a vital role in treating the vata-dominant stages of ardita, paralysis, murchha and mada.
    • Pradhamana nasya, a shodhana procedure using the churnas (powders) of vacha (calamus) and katphala (bayberry) is beneficial in people with paralysis caused due to kapha, unresponsive people, people with brainstem lesions and in people with sanyasa.

Ayurvedic Herbs for Paralysis

  • Ashwagandha
    • Ashwagandha is known as an immunity-boosting herb. Ashwagandha promotes healing in tissues, helps with loss of muscle strength, loss of energy, fatigue, swelling, skin diseases and paralysis.
    • It is mainly given to people with paralysis due to its neurogenerative, adaptogenic (anti-stress), anabolic, and brimhana (nourishing) properties.
    • Ashwagandha is available in various forms such as decoctions and powders that should be infused in oils or ghee before use. You can take ashwagandha churna with warm water, milk or honey or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Bala
    • Bala is used to provide strength to the body and heart. It improves strength in muscles and tissues. Therefore, it is useful in removing weakness and enhancing the strength of people with paralysis. It is mainly indicated to provide bala (strength) and has neurogenerative properties (production of new nerve cells).
    • Bala also provides relief from nerve pain, numbness, joint diseases, wounds, tumours, muscle cramps and ulcers.
    • Bala is available in the form of medicated oils, decoctions and powders. You can take bala churna with milk, warm water or honey or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Nirgundi
    • Nirgundi helps reduce swelling, inflammation in the joints and muscles, ulcers, and provides relief from sprained limbs and headaches.
    • External application of nirgundi oil is recommended in people with paralysis.
    • Nirgundi fruits are mainly available in powder form, which can be consumed in the form of a paste or decoction. Nirgundi powder can also be taken with honey or sugar or as per your doctor’s direction.
  • Shunthi (dry ginger)
    • Shunthi is known to have many healing properties. It helps with indigestion, nausea, vomiting, sore throat and diarrhoea. It also provides relief in many health conditions including spasms, laryngitis, asthma, arthritis and continence.
    • Shunthi helps with stupor, senselessness and delirium. Therefore, it is useful in bringing back and enhancing the senses in people with paralysis.
    • Shunthi can be taken in the form of an infusion, paste, fresh juice, powder or decoction. You can take shunthi churna along with milk, warm water or honey or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Rasna (Indian camphorweed)
    • Rasna contains phytoconstituents like lactones, flavonoids, and sterols that have anti-inflammatory, smooth muscle relaxant spasmolytic action, and rejuvenative properties, making it useful in treating diseases like paralysis.
    • Rasna is mainly indicated in people with paralysis due to its vatahara (vata-destroying) action.
    • You can take rasna churna with milk, warm water or honey or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Rasonam (garlic)
    • Rasonam acts as a detoxifying herb and provides relief from asthma, impotence, skin diseases, cholesterol, convulsions and indigestion problems. It has several bioactive ingredients that help with chronic diseases like hypertension, paralysis and other heart conditions.
    • You can take rasonam pinda churna once with sesame oil or as per your physician’s directions. Rasonadi kashaya (a decoction of rasonam and other herbs) is recommended on an empty stomach for those with paralysis.

Ayurvedic Medicines for Paralysis

  • Dashamoolarishta
    • Dashamoolarishta is a preparation made from the roots of 10 herbs including pippali (long pepper), chavak (choi jhal), turmeric, rasna, jatamansi (muskroot) and mustaka (nutgrass).
    • Dashmoolaristha increases immunity and the ability to oppose changes in doshas, thereby, improving strength and vigour in people with paralysis.
    • Dashamoola is also available in the form of a decoction, which can be taken on an empty stomach as per your physician’s direction.
  • Maharasnadi kwath
    • Maharasnadi kwath treats conditions that are caused mainly by vata dominance. It is helpful in treating in individuals with a lean body and a vata constitution. Since paralysis is a vata-dominant condition, Maharasnadi kwath, is helpful in providing relief to affected individuals.
    • The herbal formulation also has strotoshodhana properties, which clear out toxins and impurities from the different channels of the body.
    • You can take maharasnadi kwath on an empty stomach as per your physician’s directions.
  • Yogaraja guggulu
    • Yogaraja guggulu is a combination of pippali, chitraka (leadwort), guggulu (Indian bdellium-tree), twak (cinnamon), amalaki (Indian gooseberry), vibhitaki (belleric myrobalan), shunthi and other herbs.
    • You can take yogaraja guggulu tablets with warm water or decoction or as per your physician’s directions. Yogaraja guggulu has vatahara properties and is thus indicated in people with paralysis.

As treatments vary according to numerous factors and an individual’s prakriti (constitution), consult a qualified Ayurvedic doctor for the appropriate medications and treatments for your specific complaints.

Do’s

Don’ts

  • Do not consume pungent, salty, and astringent foods.
  • Do not consume paneer, cheese, butter and other milk products and deep fried and sugary snacks.
  • Do not consume chana (chickpea), barley and peas.
  • Do not exercise or starve excessively.
  • Do not suppress your natural urges.
  • Do not drink alcohol. (Read more: Effects of alcohol on the body)
  • Do not think overly.
  • Avoid exposure to hot and cold environments in quick succession.
  • Do not worry, fear or become aggressive.

A study conducted to determine the effects of snehapana in pakshaghata treatment proved that snehapana provides a slow recovery in people with pakshaghata and it does not show any unfavourable effects.

A preliminary trial conducted to study the effects of shirobasti in patients with paralysis showed a marked improvement in symptoms.

Another study that was conducted to evaluate the effects of panchakarma in people with paralysis proved that the chances of achieving complete recovery with this treatment are rare (about 1%); however, panchakarma treatment was found to improve functional recovery and clinical condition in paralysed people.

  • Swedana is not recommended in people who have increased pitta dosha.
  • Virechana should not be performed in people with peptic ulcer or active gastric ulcers, ischemic heart disease, pain in the abdomen, ulcerative colitis or physical weakness.
  • Pradhamana nasya should not be used in people who are suspected to have bleeding inside the skull.
  • Ashwagandha should not be used in people with nasal or chest congestion. People with severe illnesses like cancer can take one or more ounces of ashwagandha daily.
  • Shunthi aggravates pitta dosha and leads to ulcers, inflamed skin, fever and other pitta-diseases.
  • People who have congestion should not take bala.

Ayurvedic procedures for pakshaghata including basti, virechana, snehana and swedana along with the herbs and medicines help treat and manage paralysis by increasing strength, drawing out toxins and balancing vata dosha in the body. The herbs and medicines eliminate weakness and improve the overall health of the person, thereby assisting in the long-term management of pakshaghata and increasing the quality of life.

Dr Shekhar Yadav

Dr Shekhar Yadav

Ayurveda
7 Years of Experience

Dr. Namita Hooda

Dr. Namita Hooda

Ayurveda
10 Years of Experience

Dr. Rekha

Dr. Rekha

Ayurveda
3 Years of Experience

Dr. Puneet Bhardwaj

Dr. Puneet Bhardwaj

Ayurveda
3 Years of Experience

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References

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  5. All India Shareera Research Institute. Jnana Srotas. Karnataka; [Internet]
  6. Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia. The Authoritative Guide to Ayurvedic Medicine; [Internet]
  7. Science Direct (Elsevier) [Internet]; Pluchea lanceolata (Rasana): Chemical and biological potential of Rasayana herb used in traditional system of medicine
  8. Marios Loukas et al. Anatomy in ancient India: a focus on the Susruta Samhita. J Anat. 2010 Dec; 217(6): 646–650. PMID: 20887391
  9. Gaurav R. Sawarkar et al. Prevention and Managment of Osteoartheritis. J Res. Ayurveda Pharm. 4(3),May-June 2013
  10. A K Meena et al. Quality Assessment of Different Variants of Yogaraj Guggulu. National Institute of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Research, Patiala
  11. P.K.N. Namboodiri. The Role of Snehapana in Pakshavadha (Hemiplegia)- A Study. Jour. Res. Ay. Sid. Vol. VI No.1, 3 & 4 pp. 44-58; January 21st, 1984
  12. Ministry of AYUSH, Govt. of India. Shirobasti in Pakshaewadha- A Preliminary Trial. [Internet]
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