One of the most complex systems responsible for governing the human body is the Nervous System. The Nervous system is a network of cells called neurons that transmit signals to all parts of the body. It regulates the interaction between the external world and the internal system, as well as coordinates between the trillions of cells within our body. As per Ayurveda, the main dosha that controls the nervous system is the vatha dosha. Saying this does not undermine the importance of the other doshas, as they interact with each other and are interdependent. For example, when we eat, the vatha dosha is responsible for the movement of the food to the digestive tract, the kapha dosha lubricates it and the pitha dosha aids digestion.
However, vatha is considered to be of prime importance with regard to the nervous system. The vatha dosha represents movement, and is identified with the prana vayu (one of the five types of vatha that resides in the head and governs reasoning, learning, creativity, reception of information, interpretation of and reaction to signals, consciousness). One of the prime indications of vatha imbalance for sensitive people is anxiety. Anxiety can arrest our creativity and attention significantly. Unresolved anxiety can convert into chronic debilitating stress. Vatha needs a balance between stability and movement to be effective. All Ayurvedic treatments mainly aim at restoring and stabilizing the balance of the vatha dosha (unless the condition is governed by a different dosha). This enables an individual let go of anxiety, opening the door to more creativity and calmness.
Regular practice of dantha dhavana, mukha prakashalana, gandoosha, abhyanga, vyayam, pratimarsha nasyam, dhoomapanam, nidra etc are treatments that are very effective in treating nervous system disorders. Panchakarma also plays an important role in restoring health and vitality. Shirotharpana, nasyam, shirodhara, shiropichu, etc. are highly useful in treating depression, hair loss, headache, migraine and other ENT diseases.
According to Ayurveda -‘Dosha Dhathu mala moolam hi sareerem’ - i.e. the essentials that make up the human body are the doshas (body humors), dhatus (tissues) and malas (waste). Our improper choices made regarding lifestyle and food habits, cause imbalance in the dosha, dhatu and mala, thus causing all problems. To maintain the dosha in their proper manner, one should follow regulated lifestyle and food habits. Also, undertaking cleansing therapies often helps the body get rid of the toxins that tend to accumulate in the body owing to various internal and external factors. This, combined with yoga and meditation, help restore peace and calm to the mind and body.
Headache (Shirahshool) is a term commonly used for pain felt anywhere in the head. It is observed as a symptom in most of the diseases. The diseases in which headache is the prime symptom are named as shiroroga according Ayurveda
Headaches can be triggered due to various reasons such as sleeplessness, high blood pressure, weak eyesight, sinusitis, hunger, anemia, emotional stress and digestive disorders. Headaches caused due to tension are the most common in type. The pain usually is constant and generalised but often radiates forward from the occipital region. It is characterized by a dull ache or tight feeling of pain. It is characteristically less severe in early part of the day and aggravates as the day continues. The main reason for this headache is emotional strain and anxiety that causes the muscles of head and neck to contract excessively.
Ayurvedic Treatments for Headache
Ayurveda states that headache is primarily caused due to a sensitive nervous system and an impaired digestive system. A sensitive nervous system impacts and reduces the body's energy. Due to diminished energy, the ability of the body to fight against problems is diminished. This can cause toxins to accumulate in the mind channels, thus triggering headaches. Improper diet and lifestyle vitiates the pitha dosha (the dosha representing fire). The aggravation of the pitha dosha impacts the digestive system, thus leading to production of digestive impurities. When these impurities accumulate in the mind channels, headaches are triggered. Ayurvedic treatments not only help relieve pain, but also treat the root cause. The treatments focus on calming the nervous system to restore the balance of the vatha dosha and improving the digestive system to balance the pitha dosha and arrest the accumulation of toxins.
Migraine is characterised by head ache associated with visual disturbance, photophobia and vomiting. While the exact cause of migraine is unknown, it can be attributed to strain, psychological stress, intake of incompatible food items, exposure to loud noises, excessive smoking or alcohol consumption, hormonal imbalances, lack of exercise or allergic reactions. The pain typically begins in the forehead, side of the head and gradually worsens. The onset of migraine can be accompanied by fatigue, depression, insomnia, mood alterations, constipation or diarrhoea, muscle stiffness amongst other discomforts.
According to Ayurveda, the vitiation of the tridoshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) causes the problem. However, the prime troublemaker is the pitha dosha (the dosha associated with fire). The vitiation of the pitha dosha causes heat to build up in the blood vessels. As a result of this, the blood vessels dilate and put pressure on the nervous system. This is what leads to migraines.
Ayurvedic Treatments for Migraines
The Ayurvedic approach to treating migraines mainly focuses on restoring the balance of the pitha dosha in the body, and also aims at replenishing the energies of the body and mind. The Ayurvedic treatments aim at eradicating the ailment from its roots. Various cleansing and detoxification methods are administered to restore the digestive system of the body. Also, various treatments (both internal and external medication) are administered to calm and strengthen the nervous system. Apart from the treatments, the doctors also recommend a diet and lifestyle plan tailored to suit the individuals body type and root cause of disease.
Vertigo is the nervous disorder in which one tends to feel dizziness or a sensation of spinning or light headedness. Nausea accompanies vertigo in most cases. It could also cause a ringing sensation in the ears. In Ayurveda, Vertigo is referred to as “Brahma”, which is caused due to the vitiation of the vatha as well as the pitha dosha.
Vertigo is mainly caused due to factors such as a sudden change in the position of the head that causes spinning, imbalance in the ear caused due to inflammation in the inner ear, change in the volume of the ear fluid. It could also be caused due to lack of sleep or rest, excessive fatigue, digestive disorders, eye-sight impairments, frequent migraine attacks, poor blood circulation, repeated attacks of epilepsy etc.
Ayurvedic Treatments for Vertigo
Vertigo can be caused due to multiple factors, so treating the cause is the main solution to this. If the vertigo is caused due to any middle ear infection, then treatment should be aimed at managing the infection. It can also be due to the complication of some psychosomatic disorders like anxiety neurosis etc. or otherwise due to hypertension. tension headache etc. even Anemia can also cause dizziness. According to Ayurveda, Bhrama can be also cause by three ways, firstly by taking incompatible food and following rajo guna Ahara. Aharas causes vitiation of mana (mind) leading to Majjadhatu dhushti causing bhrama roga. Secondly taking pitta vitiating food and regiments causing ama formation in the body, forming vitiated ahara rasa leading to majja dhatu dushti causing Bhrama. Finally factors causing Rakta dhatu Kshaya leads to majjadhatu kshaya followed by Bhrama. Treatment should be aimed at pacifying Vata and pitta dosha, strengthening and which is relaxing both body and mind.
Anxiety/ Depressive disorders/ Manasika rogas
Most people who become physically ill experience some degree of psychological upset which is usually brief and not distressing. In some cases the emotional impact of illness is sufficiently profound to precipate psychiatric disorders which need special attention from the physician. Several factors influence, this include the patients personality, social circumstance. type of treatment required and due nature of physical illness following an exceptionally stressful event. Some people with no previous psychiatric history develop a characteristic pattern of symptoms which include a sense of anxiety, anger, depression, over activity and withdrawal.
Anxiety is a universal human experience which only assumes medical significance if it is disproportionate to external events or if it persists long after precipitating factors have been resolved.
Symptoms includes tremor, sweating, palpitations, chest pain, breathlessness, headache, dizziness, diarrhoea, frequency of micturition, initial insomnia, poor concentration, irritability depersonalization.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Anxiety
According to ayurveda these disorders can be correlated to Manasika roga's (related to mind).
"Sukhadhyupalabdisaadanam indriyam mana"
Manas is that which helps in perceiving the sukha, sensations, etc. (happiness)
"Satwatma sareeram cha thrayamethat thridanda Vat".
Three pillars of our life are manas, atma and sareera, so manas is so important for the healthy individuals. Due to excess shoka (sad), Krodha (anger), chinta (thinking), bhaya, lobha etc. Intake of virudha ahara's aggravate the Rajas and Thamas dosha thus causing Manasika vikaras.
- Consulting the patient
- Nidana parithyaga (avoid all causative factors)
- Samshodhana therapy includes vamana, virechana, vasti, nasyam
- Shirodhara, Shirovasti, thalapodichil are also beneficial.
- Intake of shamana oushandhis.
Syncope is caused by a temporary drop in the amount of blood that flows to the brain. This can happen if you have a sudden drop in blood pressure, a drop in heart rate or changes in the amount of blood in area of your body. There are different types of syncope such as Vasovagal syncope, situational syncope, postural syncope, neurologic syncope and postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. During an episode of syncope a person feels blackouts, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, changes in vision, seeing spots or tunnel vision, headaches etc.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Syncope
Treatment options will depend on what is causing the syncope.
Ayurveda co-relates syncope as ‘Murchha’. The cause of Murchha explained in Ayurveda is due to vitiation of pitta dosha mainly combined with all other doshas. It can also be triggered by the sight or smell of blood, drinking alcohol or poisoning.
Treatment like Shirodhara, Thakradhara, Shropichu, Shirolepam can be done in these cases. This will pacify the pitta dosha which is primarily vitiated and also brings tridosha ( vata, pitta, kapha) to the normalcy. Sprinkling cold water over the face, taking bath in cold water, drinking warm milk can help. Murcha caused by anxiety, fear, depression etc. can be cured by Sirodhara, Snehapana and other Panchkarma therapies to pacify vitiated thridoshas.
Hemiplegia is the commonest manifestation of a stroke with neurological deficit affecting the face, limbs and trunk on one side or either side of the body.
In Ayurveda, it can be co-related with pakshaghata. When vata gets aggravated, it dries up the srotas and snayu (nerves, blood vessels and tendons) of the body and makes the part incapable of functioning and causes loss of sensation.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Stroke
Treatment must be aimed at treating the cause of paralysis along with strengthening the nervous system to carry out its normal functions for the proper functioning of all part of the body.
Hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, heart disease etc should be primarily taken care of. Since vata is the root cause for the disease measures to pacify vata dosha should be taken.
Vasti is the main treatment for pakshaghata/paralysis. Abhyangam, Pizhichill (oil bath), pathrapinda swedam, shashtika pinda swedam (njavara kizhi) is specially advised for pakshaghata.
Nasya which is brimhana (nourishing) in nature should be given. Shirovasti, shirodhara etc. are also indicated.
Motor Neuron Disease (MND)
It is form of progressive neurodegeneration that causes the nerves in the spine and brain to progressively lose its function.
Mostly patients over 40 and above are affected by these diseases. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ACS), progressive muscular atrophy, primary lateral sclerosis, spinal muscular atrophy are some common MNDs.
There is no direct co-relation for MND in Ayurveda. But according to the symptoms and characteristics of the disease and nervous system getting affected MND’s can be related as “Shosha” of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Vata is the factor responsible for the functioning of the nervous system. According to Ayurveda Shosha is caused by improper functioning of vata. So the line of treatment mainly focus on pacifying aggrevated vata dosha, bringing nourishment to the nerve cells and rejuvenating them.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Motor neuron disease (MND)
Sodhana chikitsa (purificatory therapies like panchkarma) involving vasti as the main treatment should be carried out. Abhyangam, pizhichill, patra pinda sweda, shashtika pinka, swedam, nasyam, sirodhara, siropichu, shiro lepam should be done. Internal medicines should be aimed at strengthening and nourishing the spinal nerves and cranial nerves.
It is a disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensation and sometimes loss of consciousness. Seizures have a range of severity depending on the cause and individual.
Some of the causes for epilepsy or seizures are any head trauma, brain conditions such as stroke or tumors, diseases such as encephalitis, meningitis, injury during birth or brain damage during pre-natal period; any developmental disorder such as cerebral palsy, autism etc.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Epilepsy
Underlying correctable conditions can be treated by surgery or medication such as antiepileptics.
According to Ayurveda, Apasmara is divided into 4 types according to predominance of dosha i.e. due to vata, pitta, kapha and tridoshaja . The cause of apasmara is due to genetic factors, congenital, intake of incompatible foods, aggravated vata dosha, due to trauma to the head, psychological factors such as excessive anger, fear, anxiety, grief etc. The aggravated dosha spreads throughout the body through the blood vessels and nerves leading to manifestation of epileptic fits in the form of sudden jerks or convulsions.
Treatment according to Ayurveda :-
When epilepsy is due to extrinsic factors which is disturbing the mental equilibrium of the patient then treatment should be focused on calming the patients mind through mantras, meditation, counselling, yoga etc.
In case of apsmara due to vitiated doshas, Panchkarma therapies like vamana, virechana, vasti, nasya etc. should be done accordingly. Shirodhara, thakradhara, sirolepam, siropichu are adviced to strengthen and rejuvenate the nervous system. Sirodhara can normalize the disturbed electrical impulses between the neurons which are causing seizures.
Use of anjanam (collyriums/ Kohl) everyday is advised to prevent further attack of seizures. We have wide variety to Ayruvedic medicnes to be taken internally which will nourish and rejuvenate the brain cells.
Low back pain (due to neurological causes)
Radiculopathy- caused by compression, inflammation or injury to the spinal nerve root. Pressure on the nerve root result in pain, numbness, tingling sensation or altered sensation that radiates to the areas of the body that are served by the nerve. Radiculopathy can occur when spinal stenosis or a herniated or ruptured disc compresses the nerve root.
Sciatica- caused by compression of sciatic nerve. The condition may also be caused by a tumor or cyst that presses on the sciatic nerve root.
Spinal stenosis- narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves that causes pain, numbness, walking difficulty, weakness, sensory loss etc.
Cauda equina syndrome – it occur when disc material is pushed into the spinal canal and compresses the bundle of lumbar and sacral nerve roots, causing loss of bladder and bowel control. If left untreated can lead to permanent neurological damage.
Injury to the nerve root- This can be caused as a complication post surgeries of lumbar region. There will be permanent neurological damage such as loss of control to bowel and bladder movements, sensory loss of the lower limbs, foot drop etc. These are not reversible conditions.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Low back pain
According to Ayruveda, low back pain is called Katigraha or Katishula. Often caused due to aggravated vata dosha leading to asthi dhatu kshaya and mamsa dhatu kshaya (weakness of bones and muscles).
Abhyangam, Pizhichil, pathra pinda , swedam, lepam, pichu etc. should be carried out.
Kati vasti is specially indicated in this condition. Vasti (both snehavasti, kashayavasti) is administered to the patient which will strengthen the lumbar nerves and muscles.
Damage of nerve function that results if one of the nerve roots in the cervical spine is compressed it causes pains, loss of sensation along the nerve’s pathway into the arm and hand, depending on where the damage roots are located. There will be muscle weakness numbness, tingling sensations, altered sensation, lack of coordination etc. according to the severity of the cause.
Carpal tunnel syndrome:
Caused by pressure on medians nerve in the wrist due to carpel bones symptoms include numbness, pain and stiffness of the fingers, tingling sensation etc.
Ayurvedic Treatment for Cervical Radiculopathy
Treatment in Ayurveda aims at correcting the nerve root damage.
Greevavasthi is specially indicated for this condition. Abhyangam, pizhichil, swedanam, lepam, potali treatments are done.