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Parkinson’s disease is a debilitating neurological disorder that affects millions of people around the world. While there is no known cure, there are treatments available to help manage the symptoms of the disease. In this blog post, we will explore the potential of ayurveda, an ancient Indian system of medicine, to provide relief from the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. We will discuss the various treatments available, how they work, and the potential benefits they may offer. By the end of this post, readers will have a better understanding of how ayurveda can be used to manage the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and improve the quality of life for those living with the condition.

Parkinson Disease Treatment in Ayurveda

Around 300 BC parkinsonism was first described by Charaka, an Ayurveda pioneer presenting the symptoms like tremors, slowed movements, rigidity, etc and later it was developed by other physicians of Ayurveda like Madhava, Vagbhata, and so on.

In the 19th century, Parkinson’s was first described by a British apothecary, Dr. James Parkinson in his article or monograph An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in the year 1817. He described virtually all the clinical features of the disorder. He has explained six individuals in his article and only one among all has been followed in detail for a long period. The remaining five have been described briefly.

After James Parkinson, many researchers and neurologists studied and found subtle differences between the patients and hence they began to define and name different forms of Parkinsonism. In 1900, German neurologist Friedrich Lewy discovered abnormal protein deposits in the brain of patients with parkinsonism and thereafter those protein deposits were named Lewy bodies. The low levels of dopamine caused due to degeneration of nerve cells were identified in the brain cells of patients with parkinsonism in 1960 which led to the discovery of the anti-parkinsonian drug levodopa.1,2,3

What is Parkinsonism disease?

Parkinsonism is an umbrella term that refers to a group of chronic neurological disorders characterized by progressive loss of motor function resulting from the degeneration of neurons in the area of the brain that controls voluntary movements.

It is a clinical syndrome characterized by four symptoms and those are tremors, bradykinesia (slowed movements), rigidity, and postural instability. These symptoms occur due to factors including genetic mutations, reactions to specific medications, and infections.

Parkinsonism includes conditions like Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, or corticobasal degeneration in which Parkinson’s disease accounts for 80% of cases of parkinsonism.  Many types of Parkinsonism closely mimic symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

It is usually an age-related condition and the common forms of parkinsonism are likely to happen after age 60; more common in males than females. Juvenile parkinsonism can start at the age of 17 years. Parkinson’s disease is the most common form of parkinsonism affecting approximately 1% of people globally above the age of 60 years.

Parkinsonism is challenging to treat as the symptoms may not always respond to the treatment. Levodopa is the most commonly prescribed drug to treat Parkinson’s disease which can increase dopamine levels in the brain. If an individual has corticobasal degeneration and muscle spasms, the choice of drugs would be antidepressants and botulinum toxin A (BOTOX A) injections. 4,5,6,7

What causes Parkinsonism?

Many types of parkinsonism have unknown etiology. Genetic and environmental factors have a major role. Brain damage occurring due to traumatic injuries, tumors, and exposure to specific toxins are also causative factors.

The causes also depend on the specific subtype of the condition.

  • Dopamine, the neurotransmitter present in the neurons of the brain is essential for the movements of the body; the deficiency of it causes slowed movements and tremors.
  • Parkinsonism happens due to certain other medical conditions such as vascular parkinsonism, post-traumatic parkinsonism, drug-induced parkinsonism, toxin-induced parkinsonism, normal-pressure hydrocephalus, postencephalitic parkinsonism, etc.
  • Certain degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, etc.6,8

Signs and symptoms of Parkinson’s disease 5,6,8

Major symptoms:

  • Bradykinesia (Slowed movements)
  • Tremors when resting; mostly in the hands
  • Rigidity
  • Short, shuffling gait
  • Impaired posture
  • Dry skin
  • Lack of facial expressions
  • Balance problems
  • Very small handwriting
  • Cogwheeling- jerky feeling in arms or legs
  • Difficulty in sleep
  • Loss of sound perception, low and soft speech

ParkinsonismTypes 6,8

  1. Atypical parkinsonism: any type of parkinsonism that is not Parkinson’s disease. This has subtypes:
    • Multiple system atrophy: a rare and progressive disease characterized by abnormal deposits of protein in the nervous system.
      Symptoms: slowed movements, tremors, rigidity, croaking or quivering voice, light-headedness, and bladder control problems.
    • Progressive supranuclear palsy: in this condition, there is damage to parts of the brain that controls cranial nerves. Symptoms include sudden and unexplained falls, stiff gait, slowed movements, blurred vision, alterations in mood, slurred speech, etc.
    • Corticobasal syndrome: a neurological disorder affecting certain areas of the brain.
      Symptoms: inability to make voluntary movements, brief muscle spasms, speech, and language problems.
    • Dementia with Lewy bodies: condition due to abnormal deposits of Lewy bodies in the brain.
      Symptoms: shuffling walk, trouble in balancing, tremors, poor coordination, stooped posture, hallucinations, loss of thinking abilities, loss of memory, confusion.
  2. Parkinson’s disease: is an age-related neurological disorder where parts of the brain are affected due to a lack of the neurotransmitter dopamine.
    Symptoms: slowed movements, rigidity or stiffness, unstable posture or walking gait, small handwriting, drooling, mask-like facial expression, blinking less often than unusual, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), hypophonia (unusual soft speaking voice).
  3. Secondary parkinsonism: a type of parkinsonism that occurs due to side effects of certain medications, another condition.
    • Drug-induced parkinsonism: when the drug interferes with the synthesis of dopamine or its uptake in the cells. Drugs such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, antiepileptics, calcium-channel blockers, etc.
    • Vascular parkinsonism: lack of blood supply to parts of the brain results in Parkinsonian symptoms.
    • Post-traumatic parkinsonism: repeated brain traumatic injuries leads to this type of parkinsonism.
    • Toxin-induced parkinsonism: toxins when destroy the brain cells carrying dopamine can lead to parkinsonism.
    • Normal pressure hydrocephalus (NPH): excess CSF in the skull exerting pressure over parts of the brain that control walking and the bladder can lead to Parkinsonism.
    • Postencephalitic parkinsonism
  4. Infantile parkinsonism-dystonia: a disorder where there is a deficiency of dopamine.
    Symptoms: involuntary and long-lasting muscle contractions and cramps, impaired speech, eating walking, drinking, etc. impaired balance and coordination, slowed movements, muscle stiffness, abnormal eye movements, reduced facial expressions, irritability, recurrent pneumonia, etc.
  5. Juvenile parkinsonism: develops at the age of 21 years. Symptoms are similar to late-onset parkinsonism but at an early age.

Tests advised in Parkinson’s Disease 6

  • CT scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Blood tests
Ayurvedic Medicines for Parkinson's Disease

What Ayurveda says about Parkinsonism

From the above description, we understand that Parkinson’s disease accounts for 80% of parkinsonism, and in Ayurveda based on the symptoms conditions like Baahukampavata, Snayugata vata, Kaphavyaana vata, and Kampa vata can be considered for Parkinson’s disease or Parkinsonism.

Basavrajeeyam mentions Baahukampavata, where there are tremors on one side of the arm and discomfort in the body both during day and night. This can be correlated with the initial stage of Parkinson’s disease in which there is unilateral involvement.

Snayugatavata is explained by Bhavaprakash where the vitiated vata dosha affects snayu (tendons) resulting in shoola (pain), stambha (muscle rigidity), kampa (tremors)

Kaphavrutavyana vata is a condition where kapha dosha affects vyaana vata leading to the heaviness of the body, restricted movements etc.

Kampavata has been explained among 80 diseased conditions of vata dosha and can be correlated with Parkinson’s disease comprising symptoms like kampa (tremors), stambha (rigidity), chestasanga (slowed movements).9,10

Parkinson Disease Treatment in Ayurveda

Depending on the stages of the disease various external therapies combined with panchakarma treatments are selected. Below are a few treatments used in treating parkinson disease.

  • Snehana (oleation therapy): can be both internal and external which is essential in relaxing the muscle rigidity and stiffness in the body.
  • Swedana (fomentation therapy): helps in srothoshuddhi (cleansing the affected body parts), stambhanigraha (removes the rigidity or stiffness), relieves gouravata (heaviness) of the body and pacifies vata dosha responsible for the condition.
  • Anuvasana basti (medicated enema therapy) and Nasya (installation of medicated drugs into nostrils) help in treating Parkinsonism.
  • Shirodhara therapy, shirobasti are among the major external therapies effective in treating Parkinsonism9,10

Ayurvedic Medicines for Parkinson’s Disease

Ayurvedic medicines for parkinson’s disease depend on dosha predominance and the stage of the disease. Below are a few medicines that are commonly used in treating Parkinson’s disease.

  1. Astavargam Kashayam
  2. Balakulathadi kashayam
  3. Balashadangam kashayam
  4. Dashamula Kashayam
  5. Dhanwantharm Kashayam
  6. Ashwagandharistam
  7. Balarishtam
  8. Saraswatharstam
  9. Ashwagandha Choorna
  10. Kapikacchu Choorna
  11. Manasamitra Vatakam
  12. Siva Gulika
  13. Amrutaprasha Ghrita
  14. Saraswatha Ghrita
  15. Brihat vatachintamani rasa

Diet and Lifestyle

Foods that are to be made a part of the diet regularly are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, plant-based, and moderate-level foods such as seafood, chicken, and eggs can be taken.

Food items high in saturated fats, processed foods, large amounts of protein, and iron intake, and foods difficult to chew are to be avoided in case of Parkinsonism.

Healthy and mindful eating, regular physical exercise like walking, also which involves hand and leg movements, sound sleep, meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises) are very essential in Parkinsonism.11

Home Remedies for Parkinson’s Disease

  • Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) powder: one teaspoon of the powder with milk at least two times a day is beneficial as a nervine tonic.
  • Prepare 5 grams of garlic paste along with 5 ml of sesame oil and add a pinch of black salt. This helps in neutralizing vitiated vata dosha when consumed two times a day.12

When to see a doctor

If the symptoms worsen or any changes are seen in the symptoms consulting a doctor is very helpful.

Conclusion

From the above description, Parkinsonism is a broad spectrum of many different conditions and Parkinson’s disease makes up 80% of Parkinsonism. Ayurveda has explained this ages ago under the names of Kampa vata, baahu kampa vata, and many others. This is basically a neurological disorder where parts of the brain are affected primarily due to dopamine deficiency. Other related causes include specific drugs, trauma to the brain, infections like encephalitis, etc. Parkinson Disease Treatment in Ayurveda focuses on improvising neurological symptoms such as slowed movements, muscle rigidity, and tremors which can be done by Ayurveda panchakarma therapies and medicines containing levodopa.

NOTE:
“This article does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on this website. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call or visit your doctor.”
For more information about Parkinson Disease Treatment in Ayurveda and consultation call +919945850945
Limited consultations per day with prior appointments only.

References and citations

  1. https://movementdisorders.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/mds.25420
  2. https://movementdisorders.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/mds.870040502
  3. https://davisphinneyfoundation.org/parkinsons-vs-parkinsonism/
  4. https://www.britannica.com/science/parkinsonism
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parkinsonism
  6. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22815-parkinsonism
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/parkinsons-disease
  8. https://www.healthline.com/health/parkinsons/parkinsonism
  9. https://jaims.in/jaims/article/view/730
  10. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350122779_DIET_AND_NUTRITIONAL_GUIDELINE_FOR_KAMPAVATA_PARKINSON’S_DISEASE
  11. https://parkinsonfoundation.org/blog/a-complete-parkinsons-diet-guide
  12. https://www.chandigarhayurvedcentre.com/blog/herbal-remedies-for-parkinsons-disease/

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