Epilepsy (Apasmaara)
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Introduction - What is Epilepsy

 

What is Epilepsy

Brain Epilepsy, known as apasmaara in Sanskrit, is affecting about 50 million people of the world today. Epilepsy is a disease of the brain. An epileptic person has characteristic bouts called as seizures or fits, which can occur anywhere and anytime.


Definition of Epilepsy (Apasmaara) - What is Epilepsy

 

What is Epilepsy

Brain Epilepsy is a neurobiological condition in which the functions of the brain are erratic, without any apparent reason. The abnormal behavior of the brain shows itself in brief spells, which are called as seizures or fits. During this period, the normal coordination of the brain with the rest of the body comes to a halt.

Most seizures last for a couple of minutes and then the person can return back to normal. There is no particular place or time where the seizures might occur. The severity of the seizure could range from a mild giddy feeling to a complete blackout lasting several minutes.

The nature of epilepsy goes on worsening as the age of the person advances. This is shown in longer and more numbing seizures. Most serious seizures can finally lead to a permanent state called as status epilepticus. Status epilepticus is almost what is called as ‘brain-dead’ condition. It requires urgent hospitalization and care.

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Causes of Epilepsy (Apasmaara)

All the causes of epilepsy are not known to medical science. Hence the causes are divided into two categories:-

Symptomatic Causes, i.e. those causes which are known and

Idiopathic Causes, i.e. those causes which are unknown.

Out of the various known symptomatic causes, the following are some important ones:-

  • Complications in the fetus either during pregnancy or during childbirth,
  • Injury to the head,
  • Stroke,
  • Faulty techniques in neurosurgical operations, i.e. operations of the brain and the spinal cord,
  • Infections from certain parasites,
  • Infections from certain bacteria and viruses, such as encephalitis,
  • Excessive alcoholism and drug addiction,
  • Genetic disorders such as tuberous sclerosis and ring chromosome 20 syndrome.

There are several idiopathic causes for epilepsy, i.e. epilepsy may begin between the ages of 5 and 20 years without any discernible neurobiological cause. Such causes of epilepsy are more prevalent among people who have a genetic propensity for the disease.

Ayurveda considers epilepsy or apasmaara as a disease of the vata dosha. Vata dosha represents the air, and it is responsible for the healthy respiration of the person. Hence, a vitiation of the vata dosha, especially the praana vata which looks after the normal functioning of the brain and the nervous system, can culminate into epilepsy.

Though apasmaara is constitutionally a vata dosha disease, it has been observed in people with pitta and kapha constitutions also. Hence, a combination of all the three doshas causes apasmaara or epilepsy.

Vata related epilepsy is caused when the person is under heavy excitation or an overwhelmed state. Both extreme happiness and extreme grief can cause epileptic seizures.

Pitta related epilepsy is caused due to extreme environmental conditions such as heat, cloudiness, humidity, dryness, etc. Too much exercise and mental stress can also cause seizures in pitta people.

Kapha related epilepsy is caused when there is a clogging of the normal processes of the brain. A sedentary lifestyle compounded by rich oily or spicy food is the prime cause of seizures in this type. Kapha related epilepsy is observed more in children.

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Symptoms of Epilepsy (Apasmaara)

Epileptic seizure symptoms vary vastly from person to person depending on the nature of the fit. Based on the severity of the seizures, the symptoms are classified into petit mal and grand mal symptoms.

(i) Petit Mal Symptoms:-

  • Blinking trepidations of the eye
  • Staring look that can be misconstrued as daydreaming
  • Recurrence of the seizures
  • No interest in studies and other activities

(ii) Grand Mal Symptoms:-

  • Extreme convulsions of the whole body
  • Muscular spasms
  • Biting of the tongue and severe blinking of the eyes
  • Rigidity and stiffness of the entire body
  • Urine incontinence
  • Pauses in breathing, followed by long gasps

The symptoms of epilepsy from the Ayurvedic point of view, i.e. taking the three doshas into account are as follows:-

In people of the vata constitution, there will be the following indications:-

  • Dryness of the mouth and skin
  • Irregular bowel movements and constipations
  • Insomnia
  • Depression

In people of the pitta constitution, there will be the following indications:-

  • Extremely sensitive skin, causing rashes and sunburns often
  • Sensitive nervous disposition

In people of the kapha constitution, there will be the following indications:-

  • Feeling of congestion
  • Giddiness and dizziness
  • Claustrophobia

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Complications Caused due to Epilepsy (Apasmaara)

Epilepsy is a serious disease in itself, but it can lead to several dire complications. The following are some aspects that make epilepsy deadlier than it already is:-

(i) The most serious complication of an epilepsy is the potential injury or accident the person may suffer during the seizure. There could be a fall on a hard or glass surface, or there could be an accidental fire or electric shock.

(ii) The heavy breathing during seizures can cause the person to inhale fluid within the lungs, causing a type of pneumonia.

(iii) The tongue and jaw muscles undergo severe convulsions during epileptic fits. The person may accidentally bite his or her tongue severely.

(iv) If a person has an epileptic seizure while operating heavy machinery or while driving, it could be fatal.

(v) Seizures that continue for a long time could complicate into a condition called status epilepticus. This is when the person gets a seizure when the previous seizure has not subsided completely. Status epilepticus almost always culminates into death.

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Precautions during Seizures of Epilepsy (Apasmaara)

People with epilepsy must take dire precautions since the seizures can happen anywhere and anytime unexpectedly. The following is a list of the most serious of the precautions:-

Gas and electric cookers are very dangerous if the person has a seizure while operating them. People with epilepsy must use microwave ovens as they have less case of accidents.

Epileptic people must never bathe in a bathtub. A shower bath is ideal.

It is not a good idea to have many hard edged furniture and steep stairs in the house. Even glass furniture must be avoided.

Epileptic seizures can happen when a person is sleeping too. Hence beds should be kept touching the wall and cushions must be strewn on the floor along its sides. Hard furniture such as bedside cabinets and tables must be avoided or kept away from the bed.

Epileptic people must never live alone. At least there should be an emergency call number handy.

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Diet for Epilepsy (Apasmaara)

The ketogenic diet has been proved to be very effective in controlling the onsets of epileptic seizures, especially in children. This diet contains three to four grams of fat per gram of carbohydrate and protein.

The following foods are used in the diet:-

  • Fat-rich sources such as butter, ghee, margarine, mayonnaise, peanut butter, etc. These are the prime ingredients of the ketogenic diet.
  • Carbohydrates are very much reduced in the diet.
  • Vitamin D and folic acid is added in the diet.
  • The diet is also supplemented with minerals such as calcium and iron.

This is the reason why the ketogenic diet is preferred for epileptic people over normal diets. In the normal food consisting of breads, rice and wheat generally, the carbohydrate composition is very high.

Another diet that has been developed especially for epileptic people is the Atkin’s Diet. This diet also contains a high proportion of fats and low proportion of carbohydrates and proteins. Sugars are avoided or completely eliminated as they can cause high carbohydrate content. Saturated fats on the other hand, are freely included as they do not cause obesity or cholesterol problems.

In Ayurveda, the following kind of diet is prescribed:-

In the Charaaka Samhita, there is mention of the Mahapancha Gavya-Ghrita, Brahmi Ghrita and Vachadya Ghrita, all of which are very similar to the ketogenic diet described above. This diet contains cow’s ghee as the fatty base. It contains low amounts of proteins and carbohydrates. The aim of this diet is to make the body burn more fat than carbohydrates.

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Ayurvedic Treatment for Epilepsy (Apasmaara)

It is widely believed that there is no cure for epilepsy and that a person with epilepsy must learn to live with the condition throughout his or her life. Extremely famous celebrities have been epileptic, without being treated for it all through their lives. The most famous case is of Prince John of England, who died of an epileptic seizure at the age of 13. Lenin of Russia was also epileptic and he died of a status epilepticus which lasted for 50 minutes. Other famous epileptics have been Julius Caesar, Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Jimmy Reed.

Though epilepsy cannot be medically controlled, many people are turning to Ayurveda for a solution. Ayurveda can control the quality and frequency of the seizures and thus ensure a prolonged life for the person. Neil Young and Hugo Weaving are best examples of people who have lived normal lives with alternative medication despite their epileptic conditions.

Ayurveda has a host of prescriptions for the treatment of apasmaara. The following are some of them with their actions given:-

Ayurvedic Name of the Herb

Biological Name of the Herb

Common English Name of the Herb

Action on the Human Body

Brahmi

Bacopa monnieri

Water hyssop

Brahmi provides relief from epileptic seizures as it is a nootropic, i.e. an herb that enhances the functional powers of the brain. Its oil or juice is taken mixed with honey twice or thrice a day.

Kushmanda

Benincase hispida

Ash Gourd or Winter Melon

Kushmanda has some properties in treating the symptoms of epilepsy.

Lahsum

Allium sativum

Garlic

Garlic cloves boost the mental capacity of the person and increase the coordination of the nervous system. Hence, they are helpful in epileptic patients.

Mulathi

Glycyrrhiza glabra

Licorice

Licorice is known to have some properties in allaying the severity of the epileptic seizures and reducing their frequencies.

Vacha

Acorus calamus

Calamus

Vacha is another herb that is helpful in increasing the cognitive capacity of the brain. Its root is taken in the form of a powder mixed with honey twice or thrice a day.

The following Ayurvedic preparations have been used for epilepsy patients:-

  • Brahatvata kulantak
  • Jatamaansi choorna
  • Apasmaarantaka ras

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Post Your Comments

Comment Script

Comments

Hello sir I am a epilepsy patient iam ignorant of all the herbs can you give the contact shop name which is in hyderabad.
#1 - john benny - 09/13/2011 - 11:15
Good day sir,
I'm an epileptic-consequent of head injury from a motor accident in 1985- residing in Enugu,Enugu-state of Nigeria.I am on phenobarbiturate 30mg daily.Nevertheless, I suffer seizures at night.The herbs you mentioned,are they available in my area of residence?
12/19/2011 - 11:30
#2 - chris chiedu nwokike - 12/19/2011 - 04:30
What is this business about epilepsy not being able to be medically controlled? There are many effective medications out there. I know. I have been taking one for quite a while with great success.
#3 - D Baker - 11/19/2012 - 21:58
Hello,
Who wrote this article?! It's appalling! To say epileptic people (daft phrase for one) should never bath alone, use only microwaves and shouldn't live alone is ridiculous. I have suffered from epilepsy and I would always have an aura (warning) prior to a seizure so no need to take your 'advice' and live in a protective bubble. Your article is written in a negative way, suggesting as you age it gets worse - not true as it's a condition you can also grow out of from adolescence. It's scare mongering and the author needs to go back to their studies and remove their head from their backside. Ps herbal remedies are purely placebos and implying they're betting than prescribed medicine is scandalous.

J
#4 - James - 02/22/2013 - 13:51
Hello Sir,
Thanks alot. I' m residing at Eldoret - Kenya. I had Meningitis in 2009 and after 1 year i started suffering seizures at night. I am using now tegretol 200g at morning & night. The herbs you mentioned are they available at my residence?
contact me at: irene_koroit@yahoo.com
Thanks
#5 - IRENE CHEPKORIR - 07/31/2013 - 01:14
As an epileptic, I appreciate your information. It is an individual condition and behaves differently in different people or differently at different times in the same person as witnessed in my genetically inclined family. My meds can work for long periods then not work so well if I'm suffering another illness or under extreme physical or emotional stress. Tips on safety are good for those times or people newly on meds. While some do outgrow their seizures, some like me developed them as adults and they only worsen with age. Information is welcomed.
#6 - Melissa - 12/02/2013 - 11:18
I have lived with epilepsy my whole life. Docs have tried different meds and keto diet, with little success. I have tried some herbs but was at too stressful a time in my life for them to work, either. Turning point came with a severe case of status epilepticus this past spring, which I nearly died from, but thankfully am alive to tell the story. New thing that happened was getting put on a different med that just came out a few years ago, and no (I repeat NO) seizures ever since! I have very rarely ever lived alone, and I am scared to; every time I do, something disastrous happens. I want to, very much, because I like independence. I guess in time I will make that transition. Without constant seizures happening anymore, I am anxiety and panic-free, not under so much stress, and can live a relatively normal life. I still take necessary precautions that pertain to my particular type of condition. This is a good article, however generalized and even stereotyped somewhat. In the sense that epilepsy is a very individual type of condition, and Ayurveda a very individual type of therapy, the two can work together, with careful observance.
#7 - Leslie - 12/30/2013 - 00:35
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