Ayurvedic Treatment for ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE

Ayurvedic Treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease is generally divided into three phases- pre, disease and post phases. The initial phase of Ayurvedic treatment is for people who are prone to get Alzheimer’s disease and if properly guided under the Ayurvedic lifestyle and treatments, the onset will be delayed or even not happened. The main goal of Ayurvedic treatment in Alzheimer’s patients is to arrest the progression of the disease, avoid the outbreak of other diseases like diabetes, hypertension. So as a chronic journey, safe and simple Ayurvedic preparations will enhance confidence in the person and counter the depression which speeds up the progression of the disease. In the post phase, palliative measures are adopted to address the symptomatic relief of the issues. Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible, progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die, eventually destroying memory and other important mental functions. This is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioural, and social skills that disrupts a person’s ability to function independently.

  • Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Causes of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Treatments of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Complications of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Alzheimer’s disease  in Ayurveda
  • Nidana- Causes of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Samprapthi (Maturation) of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Lakshana of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Prognosis of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Chikitsa (Treatment) of Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Commonly used medicines for Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Diet desirable to prevent Alzheimer’s disease 
  • Yoga
  • Research articles link.

Signs and Symptoms

Alzheimer’s, symptoms first appear in the age of mid-60s.  Memory loss is the main symptom of Alzheimer’s disease and as an early sign of the disease, there is difficulty remembering recent events or conversations. In the progress of time, memory impairments worsen and other symptoms develop. Initially, a person with Alzheimer’s disease may be having difficulty remembering things and organizing thoughts. Dementia means it is the loss of cognitive functioning like thinking, remembering, and reasoning and affects behavioural abilities to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life.

People with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Repeat statements and questions again and again
  • Usually forget conversations, or events and Get lost in familiar places
  • Gradually forget the names of everyday objects and family members
  • Routinely misplace possessions and often putting them in illogical locations
  • Have trouble in expressing thoughts or taking part in conversations

Brain changes occurring in Alzheimer’s disease can affect the moods and behaviours of the person.it may include:

  • Depression and apathy
  • Withdrawal from social gatherings
  • Mood swings and they distrust others
  • Irritability, wandering and aggressiveness
  • Altered sleeping habits
  • Delusions

Causes

Alzheimer’s disease is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle, and environmental factors that affect the brain over time. Specific genetic changes that cause disease is very rare, but in such case, the disease develops in middle age.

The exact cause of the disease is not fully understood. Its main problem is with brain proteins that fail to function normally, disrupt the functions of neurons, and unleash a series of toxic events. Finally, the neurons are damaged, lose their connection, and eventually dies. The damage happens to the region of the brain that controls memory. Towards the final stage of the disease, the brain gradually shrinks.

Pathophysiology

Pathology of AD is particularly seen in the hippocampus, amygdala, entorhinal cortex of the brain. Also, there are a cortical association of areas in the frontal, temporal and parietal cortices, along with subcortical nuclei such as the serotonergic dorsal raphe, noradrenergic locus coeruleus, and the cholinergic basal nucleus. The gradual accumulation of tau proteins correlates very closely with cognitive decline and brain atrophy. There is also hippocampal atrophy. In the neuropathology of Alzheimer’s disease, there is a loss of neurons and atrophy in the temporal frontal cortex. This causes inflammation and deposition of the amyloid plaques and an abnormal cluster of protein fragments. There is an increase in the presence of monocytes and macrophages in the cerebral cortex and it also activates the microglial cells in the parenchyma.

Diagnosis

  • As a primary step in the diagnosis a detailed history of symptoms including their onset, duration, presentation, etc. also their diet and medical history should be considered.
  • Tests of memory, problem-solving, attention, counting, and language are to be done.
  • Blood and urine tests are carried out to identify other possible causes of the problem.
  • Brain scans, such as computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET) for confirmation of diagnosis and to rule out other possible causes for symptoms

Treatments

No exact cure for Alzheimer’s disease occurs, but the treatments aim to enhance cognition. These medications and management temporarily improve symptoms.

Medications called cholinesterase inhibitors are prescribed for mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Along with reducing symptoms, they control behavioural symptoms. The medications are Razadyne® (galantamine), Exelon® (rivastigmine), and Aricept® (donepezil)

Prognosis

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease progress over time but the rate of progression varies in different cases. On average, the person lives to about four to eight years after diagnosis.

Complications

The complications of Alzheimer’s disease include,

  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Bladder and bowel problems
  • Depression
  • Malnutrition and dehydration.

The complications get worsened as age advances.

Disease and Ayurveda

In Ayurveda, the diseases affecting mental faculties can be grouped as those affecting intellectual capacities (buddhinasa) and those affecting consciousness (sanjanasa). Those persons having inferior excellence majja dhatu and satwa are more prone to the disease.

Nidana- Causes

Since Vata dosha is the major vitiated dosha in neurological disease those causes of derangement vata dosha can be considered here. Avara satwa (inferior quality of mind) is also considered. Psychological stress, sleep pattern changes also are disease triggering factors.

Samprapthi Maturation

Vata dosha is the main vitiated dosha in the case of neurological origin. On ageing, vata gets increased in the body compared to other doshas which lead to comparative rajovrdhi (increased rajas) in mind. By the eternal union nature of both psychic doshas (doshas of mind), tamas gets imbalanced by the increase of rajodosha.  Pathologically, rajastamovridhi (increased rajas and tamas) and subsequent avarana (shadowing) of budhi (intellect) and mana (mind) happen and then the rasavaha, raktavaha, and  sanjavaha strotas (channels conducting nutrition, oxygenation, and sensation) get obstructed. This is acute pathogenesis and consciousness is affected. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, this pathogenesis occurs but it occurs very slowly.

Lakshana Signs and Symptoms

  • Memory loss, Language impaired and word-finding difficulty (aphasia) -Smriti bhramsa
  • Frustration and anxiety in some patients
  • Difficulty in sequential motor acts like dressing, eating, etc., the slowness and awkwardness of movement (apraxia) and Help needed for the simplest tasks like eating, dressing, toileting, etc, – cheshta vibramsa
  • Hallucinations and delusions, e.g., not recognizing an old friend, Complete loss of judgment, confusion, insight often lost –  Budhi bhramsa

Prognosis

Since degenerative diseases are irreversible here also complete cure is difficult. But management with suitable Ayurvedic medicines can slow down the progress of the disease.

Chikitsa- Treatment

The treatment includes oleation (snehapana) with nootropic medicines like Brahmi ghrita, Kalyanaka ghrita, etc. followed by swedana (sudation). Then sodhana was done (elimination therapy either emesis or purgation considering the disease condition). Specific dietetics is followed during the treatment. Medhya rasayanas (nootropic drugs) is given which helps in promoting longevity, memory, intellect and provides freedom from diseases, youth, the excellent potentiality of the body, sense organs are the best choice of drugs in the condition.  Jivaniya as well as ojovardhaka drugs (nourishing) helping in slowing down the degeneration of dhatus (body tissues) and promotes immunity are also beneficial in Alzheimer’s disease. Panchakarmas including sirodhara, sirolepana, pizhichil, and nasya gives excellent results.

Commonly used medicines

Medhya rasayana

  • Juice of Mandookaparni (Centella asiatica Linn.) 
  • Powder of Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn.)
  • Juice of Guduchi (Tinnospora cordifolia Willd.)

Formulations like

  •  Panchagavya ghrita
  • Mahatpanchagavya ghrita
  • Mahapaisachika Ghritha
  • Kalayanaka ghrita
  • Mahakalyanaka Ghritha
  • Shadpala Ghritham
  • Brahmi rasayana
  • Triphala rasayana
  • Brihat vata chinthamani rasa
  • Vasant Kusumakar Ras
  • Swarna bhasma
  • Rajat Bhasma

Brands available

  • Vaidyaratnam Oushadasala
  • Aryavaidyasala Kottakkal
  • Kerala Ayurveda
  • Oushadhi
  • Dhootpapeswar
  • Baidyanath

Home Remedies and Diet

  • Ghee is a potential brain booster.
  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains,
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Maintain a healthy diet and proper body weight

Yoga

  • Meditation
  • Pranayama
  • All yoga asanas

Are ideal because they maintain the health of the body as well as the mind. Brain stimulation happens in all yoga postures and thus may prevent neurological degeneration.

Research articles link.

https://ijapr.in/index.php/ijapr/article/download/25/29/#:~:text=Ayurveda%20has%20explained%20Alzheimer’s%20disease,cells%20but%20whole%20nervous%20system.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3506936/

https://www.ayujournal.org/article.asp?issn=0974-8520;year=2013;volume=34;issue=3;spage=235;epage=242;aulast=Tiwari

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