Ayurvedic Treatment for Ataxia focuses to control vitiated Vata humour, by different modalities of internal and external treatments described in the classical texts. As per Ayurvedic thinking, Vata dosha is in charge of neurologic functions and so any vitiation of Vata will result in the impairment of neurologic faculties. Ataxia is a degenerative disease of the nervous system. It is characterized by impaired coordination or balance, which can be due to damage to the brain especially the cerebellum, nerves, or muscles.
- Signs and symptoms of Ataxia
- Causes of Ataxia
- Diagnosis of Ataxia
- Treatments of Ataxia
- Prognosis of Ataxia
- Complications of Ataxia
- Ataxia in Ayurveda
- Nidana- Causes of Ataxia
- Samprapthi (Maturation)
- Lakshana of Ataxia
- Prognosis of Ataxia
- Chikitsa (Treatment) of Ataxia
- Commonly used medicines for Ataxia
- Diet desirable to prevent Ataxia
- Research articles link
Signs and Symptoms
Ataxia can affect different types of movement like walking, talking, eating, or writing. The common symptoms of Ataxia include,
- Problems with balance and coordination, which include unsteady gait, clumsiness, and frequent falling.
- Fine motor tasks like writing, picking up small objects, or buttoning up clothes are affected
- Slurred or unclear speech
- Muscle spasms
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing
- Abnormal eye movements like nystagmus
The symptoms vary according to the site of degeneration and its severity.
Types and Causes
The Ataxia can be inherited, acquired, or idiopathic.
Inherited Ataxia: This occurs due to the mutation of some genes inherited from the parents which leads to the degeneration of the brain leading to ataxia. It can either be dominant or recessive type.
Examples of Dominantly inherited ataxia:
- Spinocerebellar ataxia
- Episodic ataxia
Examples of Recessively inherited ataxia:
- Friedreich’s ataxia- in this type along with affected speech, weakness of muscles also occurs. It can also affect the heart.
- Ataxia telangiectasia
Acquire Ataxia: this occurs due to external factors that lead to the damage or degeneration of the brain. The causes include,
- Injury to head
- Tumors in the brain or the surrounding area
- Cerebral palsy
- Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis
- Infections like meningitis, HIV
- Reactions to some medicines like, sedatives, barbiturates, chemotherapy drugs
- Long term use of alcohol
- Vitamin deficiencies like Vitamin B12, Vitamin E
- Heavy metal poisoning like Lead, Mercury
Another classification includes,
- Cerebellar ataxia
- Sensory ataxia
- Vestibular ataxia
Diagnosis of Ataxia can be diagnosed by the combination of,
- Medical history
- Family history
- Complete neurological evaluation
Other blood tests are done to rule out associated pathologies.
Imaging techniques: CT or MRI can be done to find lesions in brain-like tumour
Blood tests: to find out hypothyroidism, vitamin deficiencies and infections
Lumbar puncture to collect CSF for analysis
Genetic testing to diagnose inherited ataxia
Since it is a degenerative disease there is no cure but treatment can ease the symptoms and thus improving the quality of life. The specific treatment options include,
- Walking aids, crutches or wheelchairs in case of coordination or balance issues
- Medications to improve strength and maintain mobility in case of weakness, stiffness, or muscle spasms
- Counselling and medication to cure depression
- Speech therapy to improve communication
- Supplements in case of deficiencies
- gamma-globulin injections to boost the immune system in case of immune problems
Life expectancy will be reduced and it became fatal in cases of childhood or early adulthood onset disease.
The victim may fall or get bedridden which leads to complications like injury, pressure sores, infection, or blood clots. Dementia, behavioural problems, and depression may influence compliance and care. The other complication seen in the disease are,
- tremors and muscle spasm
Disease and Ayurveda
No single disease in Ayurveda can be specifically correlated to Ataxia, but each of the symptoms of Ataxia is seen in Vataja nanatmaka vikaras (diseases due to vitiated vata dosha.
The causes for vitiation of Vata dosha includes,
- excessive intake of dry, cold and laghu food
- intake of tastes like bitter, acrid or astringent taste frequently
- night awakening
- Depletion of tissues, etc.
The vitiated vata dosha leads to vataja nanatmaja vikaras.
The etiological factors lead to depletion of structural and/or functional integrity of the channels of the body, creating an environment non-conducive for the sustenance of different dhatu and thereby leading to Vata kopa. The clinical manifestation of this pathological process varies in different individuals depending on the etiological factor involved and localization of vitiated vata dosha.
Lakshana Signs and Symptoms
- Pada bramsa or instability of the foot
- Wasting of muscles
- Stiffness of neck
- Vaksanga or obstruction of voice
- Abnormal eye movements
- Tremors or stiffness of the whole body
- Depression, delirium, or instability of mind
This is considered as Krichrasadya difficult to cure because there occurs depletion of tissues (dhatu kshaya)
Vatahara (treatment to alleviate vitiated vata dosha) is used. The management includes,
- Snehapana (oleation) and swedana (sudation) followed by mild purgation with thaila yoga-like Eranda thaila (castor oil)
- Abyanga with thaila
- Sirodhara, Sirovasthi
- Nasya (nasal instillation of drugs which are Snehana in nature)
- Enema (yogavasthi)
Commonly used medicines
- Dasamoola kashaya
- Danadhanayanadi kashaya
- Ashtavargam kashaya
- Dhanwantharam ghritam
- Brihat vata chinthamani rasa
- Malla Sindhooram
- Makaradhwaj Vati
- Vasantamalati rasa
- Dhanwantharam thaila
- Vatasini thaila
- Mashasaindhava thaila
- Prasaranyadi thaila
- Narayana thaila
- Aryavaidyasala Kottakkal
- Vaidyaratnam Oushadasala
Home Remedies and Diet
- Proper nutrition to support healthy body weight and normal bodily functions
- High fibre that may add better regularity to bowel movements
- Eliminate foods sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, and artificial sweeteners
- Include protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates such as unsweetened fruits, starchy vegetables, legumes, rice, and pasta in the diet.
- Do exercises like lying and bend knee rotations, kneeling pressing up, sit to stand, etc.
Yoga postures are rather difficult because it needs good coordination. some simple postures like Sukhasana, Marjarasana, Balasana can be tried but under expert care only. Pranayama and meditation can be practised.
Research articles link.
Dr. Rajesh Nair , the co-founder and chief consultant of Ayurvedaforall, is a graduate of prestigious Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College (affiliated to University of Calicut), Kerala, India. Additionally, he holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Yoga Therapy from Annamalai University. Dr. Nair offers consultation at three busy clinics in and around in Haripad, Alleppey, Kerala, the southern state famous worldwide for authentic ayurvedic treatment and physicians.
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