Progressive cerebellar ataxia is a degenerative process of the central nervous system which results in a progressive loss of co-ordination of gait, limb movement, speech, vision, swallowing and cognition. This condition can result from genetic causes or may have no known cause. Multiple sclerosis and alcoholic cerebellar disease are also believed to be responsible for this condition.
The Ayurvedic treatment of progressive cerebellar ataxia is aimed at treating the known cause of this condition, treating the symptoms and preventing or delaying the degeneration process in the brain. Medicines like Bruhat-Vat-Chintamani, Ekang-Veer-Ras, Tapyadi-Loh, Kaishor-Guggulu, Vat-Gajankush-Ras and Maha-Vat-Vidhvans-Ras are used to treat or prevent symptoms like gait instability, tremors and loss of movement co-ordination. Herbal medicines like Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta), Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Haridra (Curcuma longa) and Mandukparni (Centella asiatica) are known to improve the blood supply to brain cells and help in regeneration of nerve cells.
Medicines like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) and Vacha (Acorus calamus) are used to improve memory and intellect. Medicines like Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Jayphal (Myristica fragrans), Khurasani ova (Hyoscyamus niger) and Tagar (Valeriana wallichii) are used to treat depression and anxiety. Medicines like Agnitundi-Vati, Vishtinduk-Vati, Bhallatakasav, Trayodashang-Guggulu, Maha-Rasnadi-Guggulu, Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata), Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Kuchla (Strychnos nuxvomica) and Bhallatak (Semicarpus anacardium) are used to improve neuro-muscular co-ordination, muscular tone and sphincter control.
The entire body of affected individuals is massaged using medicated oils like Mahanarayan oil, Mahamash oil, Chandan-Bala-Laxadi oil and Saindhav oil. This is followed by steam fomentation using the decoctions of Nirgundi or Dashmool (Ten roots). These procedures help in improving muscular co-ordination, reducing tremor, and also stimulate the central nervous system and help regenerate nerve cells. Modified massage procedures like ‘Pizichil’ and ‘Pinda-Sweda’ can be used in selected patients so as to give maximum therapeutic results. Specialized Panchkarma procedures like ‘Shirobasti’ and ‘Shirodhara’ also help to strengthen the brain, help to regenerate nerve cells and also treat depression, anxiety and irritability. According to Ayurvedic pathophysiology, the “Vata” dosha is believed to be severely disturbed in this condition. The specialized treatment procedure called “Basti” (medicated enema) is believed to be best for controlling the Vata dosha, and hence, several courses of different types of Basti are also beneficial in this condition; however, these need to be given under the supervision of an experienced Ayurvedic physician.
Treatment of progressive cerebellar ataxia can be prolonged and often lasts several years. However, Ayurvedic herbal treatment can definitely reduce morbidity and mortality for individuals affected with this condition.