Ayurvedic Treatment in Kerala for Stroke & Paralysis
UNDERSTANDING STROKE & PARALYSIS
The problems faced by stroke patients and their families often last for many months and years after the attack. Patients struggle to come to terms with their sudden inability to carry out activities of daily living and the disruption to their normal lives. Even with the best possible emergency medical treatment and rehabilitation therapies, many patients find that their recovery has reached a plateau stage with no remarkable continuing improvement and that they still face significant difficulties in moving around, taking care of themselves, speaking and social interactions. Continuing paralysis of one side of the body or a limb is also commonly seen. While many patients in Kerala and other parts of India adopt ayurvedic treatment for stroke within the first one month of attack and sees excellent results, most patients from other countries come for ayurvedic treatment in Kerala within the first one or two years, after undergoing all available therapies in their own countries. In most cases, ayurvedic treatment for stroke goes a long way in restoring the lost physical and mental functions.
What is stroke?
Stroke is otherwise known as a brain attack or a Cerebro Vascular Accident (CVA). It is caused when blood supply to a part of the brain is severely diminished due to blocks in blood vessels or when a blood vessel breaks and there is bleeding in the brain. As a result, brain cells do not get oxygen and nutrients and they soon die affecting the physical and mental functions carried out by that part of the brain. The disabilities caused by a stroke attack and their severity depend on which area of the brain is affected and how much brain tissue is damaged. For example, if a prominent neural pathway is affected, there could be paralysis of one side of the body. If the cerebral cortex is affected, there could be problems with thinking or seeing. If the cerebellum is affected, the patient experiences difficulty in walking and speech. If there is bleeding in the brain, it could cause severe headache and vomiting.
How is stroke caused?
Ayurveda considers stroke to be the result of physiological disturbances caused by imbalances in the three doshas in our body - vata, pitta and kapha. Due to improper diet and lifestyle factors over a long time, vata dosha aggravates and exerts a degenerative effect on the brain thus diminishing the functions of that area of the brain which may manifest as some early symptoms like altered behaviour, difficulty in balancing, changes in speech etc. that often go unnoticed. (this stage is called stroke in evolution). Along with the vata aggravation, there could also be imbalances in either pitta or kapha doshas which vitiate the blood vessels in the brain. When there is kapha involvement, it causes obstruction of blood flow by the formation of clots (thrombus or embolism), leading to ischemic stroke. When pitta is involved, it causes high blood pressure and blood vessels rupture causing bleeding in the brain and hemorrhagic stroke.
AYURVEDIC TREATMENT FOR STROKE
What is the approach adopted in the ayurvedic treatment for stroke and paralysis in Kerala?
Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for stroke and paralysis mainly attempts to-
Recover the damaged brain tissue - Partial or complete recovery of damaged brain tissues is possible with ayurvedic treatment, depending on the extent of damage.
Regain muscle functions and strength - In many cases, even if the muscular activities are restored within some days of stroke incident, muscle tension remains and in severe cases of muscle wasting, there will be flexibility issues. Ayurvedic treatment helps in regaining muscle strength and function.
Restore normal mobility and physical senses - The loss of sensory and motor abilities due to paralysis is the main complication that persists for a long time after the initial phase of stroke. Complete recovery of motor and sensory activities could be possible if ayurvedic treatment for stroke is taken in time.
Manage abnormal sensations - Pain, numbness etc persist in many cases even years after a stroke. Ayurvedic treatment addresses such issues and aims to give maximum relief.
Speed up recovery and prevent future stroke: Ayurvedic treatment attempts to correct the underlying causes like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. This helps in speedy recovery and prevents another attack in the future.
When is the best time to undergo ayurvedic treatment for stroke and paralysis?
Ayurvedic treatment for stroke is most beneficial when taken at the earliest, that is, as soon as the acute phase is over. This is because, in the first few months after the stroke attack, the brain cells which were partially damaged has the highest chance of recovery and regeneration of new nerve cells is most possible. Even when ayurveda treatment is adopted at a later point of time, treatment goals remain the same in order to achieve maximum possible recovery.
What are the treatment modalities used in the Kerala ayurvedic treatment for stroke and paralysis?
Apart from internal medicines, specific external therapies like Snehana (oleation) and Swedana (fomentation) in the form of Abhyanga (oil massage), Kizhis (bolus massage), Dhara (pouring of medicated oil or other liquids are adopted as part of ayurvedic treatment for stroke in Kerala). Therapies like Shirovasti, Shirodhara etc. have powerful and specific effects on recovery and regeneration of nerve cells. These therapies are usually followed by panchakarma therapies like Nasya (nasal medication), Virechana (purgation) and Vasti (medicated enema). Physical medicine (physiotherapy) may also be used to support treatment if found necessary.
How successful is the ayurvedic treatment for stroke and paralysis in Kerala?
Problems faced by stroke survivors vary ranging from numbness, loss of sensation and reduced strength to loss of movements of either a specific part or one side of the body. In addition, there may be difficulties in speech, comprehension and memory. Ayurvedic treatment concentrates specifically on such disabilities and tries to bring the maximum improvement possible with specific medicines and therapies. With a complete course of ayurvedic treatment for stroke in Kerala that lasts 30 to 45 days, considerable improvement in physical mobility, visual and auditory functions, clarity of speech etc. is observed. The strength of arms and legs will be enhanced, numbness and pain will be reduced and there will be noticeable improvement in walking and balancing abilities. Treatment results vary in patients depending on factors like the severity of the attack, the overall health status of the patient and the time that has lapsed since the attack.
AYURVEDIC DIET AND LIFESTYLE ADVICE
Why is diet and lifestyle important in the ayurvedic treatment for stroke?
Stroke survivors are at high risk for another attack, so ayurvedic treatment for stroke gives great importance to preventing such recurrence. Hence apart from the curative and rehabilitative aspects, Kerala ayurvedic treatment for stroke gives equal importance to diet and lifestyle as it helps considerably in preventing further complications and recurrence.
What is the recommended diet in ayurvedic treatment for stroke?
Stroke being a condition in which vata dosha is aggravated, the general rule is to avoid food items that further aggravate vata dosha and to instead include foods that bring down vata and restore its balance. You may want to strictly avoid consumption of chickpea, dried meat, frozen and canned food, cold drinks and spicy, salty food. On the other hand, include garlic, a moderate amount of sesame oil, meat soups spiced with turmeric and ginger, buttermilk, fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Foods that are sweet, sour, warm, mildly oily (rather than dry) and those that nourish the body are recommended to keep vata dosha under check.
What is the lifestyle recommended by ayurveda for stroke survivors?
Following a healthy lifestyle is very important in maintaining the good results obtained by undergoing stroke treatment in Kerala as well as in preventing a repeat attack. Follow a healthy sleep routine. Avoid day sleep, suppressing natural urges like bowel and bladder movements, smoking, alcohol and exposure to cold air. While over exercise may be counterproductive by increasing vata dosha, specific exercises for improving the functions of the affected areas need to be done regularly and in moderation. Avoid mental and physical stress. A positive attitude helps balance vata dosha and accelerates your recovery.
Ayurveda has a great role in stroke rehabilitation, so if you or someone close to you has had a stroke, seek ayurveda treatment in Kerala as soon as the acute period is over and the condition is stable. Once the acute phase is managed by emergency medicine, the rehabilitation period starts. Restoring the lost physical and mental abilities to the maximum, thereby helping you return to your normal life is the main goal of ayurvedic treatment in Kerala for stroke. Treatment includes internal medicines and external therapies to protect and regenerate brain cells, create a conducive physiological environment for brain repair, prevent muscle wasting and improve the patient’s overall general health to minimise chances of stroke recurrence. Ayurvedic treatment for stroke gives remarkable results in most cases by restoring the lost mobility and other functions to a great extent.
What is the tentative duration of treatment for stroke at ayurvedic hospitals in Kerala?
Treatment duration depends on the severity and chronicity of the disease. Usually the treatment takes upto 30 to 45 days to complete.
When is the best time to start ayurvedic treatment of stroke?
It is best to start ayurvedic treatment for stroke as soon as the acute phase is over - that is, once you are discharged from the hospital after the emergency management and your condition is stable. Adopting ayurvedic treatment within the first 6 months gives best possible results. If it has already been more than six months in your case, do not delay ayurvedic treatment any further. Even at this stage ayurvedic treatment can help in recovery.