Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system attacks its own tissue. MS is characterized by chronic inflammation and selective destruction of CNS myelin (the fatty substance that coats and protects nerve fiber). When protective myelin is damaged the messages that travel along that nerve may be blocked and causes communication problems between brain and rest of the body.
EARLY SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
• Vision problems: Blurred vision, pain on eyes, poor contrast or colour vision, optic neuritis.
• Muscle weakness, spasticity, loss of balance, involuntary muscle spasm.
• Urinary incontinence and constipation: bladder dysfunction occurs in at least 80%of people with MS.
• Numbness or tingling: Numbness of face, body or extremities is often the first symptoms.
LATE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
1) Speech problems: Dysarthria (slurring of speech).
2) Swallowing problems: Result from damages to the nerves controlling deglutition.
3) Breathing difficulty: Severely weakened respiratory muscles lead to breathing problems.
4) Emotional changes: Can be reaction to the stress of living with MS.
5) Tremor and seizures: An electric shock likes feeling when their limbs or head move, tremor is due to the progressive muscle weakness.
MANAGEMENT OF MS WITH AYURVEDA
According to Ayurveda MS is mainly due to the vitiation of vata dosha. Pitta as well as kapha vitiated symptoms are also there.
Aims: Delay muscle spasms, Manage bowel and bladder incontinence, Manage vision problems, Helps to regain as much as movements and function as possible, improve balance and walking, Reduce pain and stiffness, Increase independence and quality of life, Improve and maintain balance and coordination, Provide cognitive training through meditation and other mind or body exercise.
• Basti karma is most of all a specific treatment for vata disorders. This therapy aids greatly in balancing and combating the vitiated vata dosha which is responsible for MS. when the vata dosha is balanced the other two doshas that is pita and kapha would be balanced spontaneously. Yoga basti or ksheera vaitharana basti can be given. In which vata alleviating oils or ghees can be used eg. Sahacharadi oil, Dhanwantharam oil, gugguluthikthakam gritham etc.
• Marmas are vulnerable regions or sensitive region that emerge from the nadis and distribute and regulate prana from the chakras. Marma abhyanga can be done with vatahara oils eg: Dasamoola bala oil, Masha taila, Mahanarayana taila. This will helps to regain the strength, reduce muscle spasm, heaviness, tremor, and seizures.
• Shiro basti, shiro abhyanga, shirodhara or shirolepa (thalapothichil) have been shown to be effective in patients suffering from depression insomnia or cognitive problems.
• Tarpana or putapaka is mentioned for regaining vision problems. As per Ayurveda a non vigorous asana practice and meditation promote the flow of energies which will assist in balancing the doshas. Abrupt changes of positions should be avoided. Ayurveda suggest sasankasana, paschimothanasa, pathahasthasana, trikonasana, ardhamatsyendrasa and pranayama.
• Physiotherapy has proven to be effective in the management of MS symptoms. Regular physiotherapy can help improve balance coordination, muscle strength etc. Gentle aerobic exercise, treadmill or gait training can be done.
• There are many herbal medicines currently in use for the treatments of MS related symptoms. They can improve both nervous and muscular functions. They are Aswagandha, Bala, Brahmi, Jyothishmathi, Vacha, Amalaki, Guduchi, lasuna etc.