Paralysis could be one of the most terrible conditions that a human body can be afflicted with. A paralyzed person loses the capacity of voluntary movement in some part of the body, like the hands, legs or torso; and hence becomes an invalid. The most terrible aspect of paralysis is when the person has to become overtly dependent on someone else to accomplish the most routine of tasks.
Minor paralyses can be treated and the person can become healthy again (in this case it means that the person can move all his or her body parts in a normal manner again). But treatment of major paralysis, such as loss of movement in the hands, legs or the whole torso, can be a very long and arduous process. it might require a lot of cooperation from the patient as well as the family members. Some people afflicted with paralysis remained paralyzed all through their lives, as tissue and muscle wasting can cause irreparable damage to the body.
Paralysis is defined as the loss of muscle movement and coordination in some part of the body. The loss of movement of muscles occur in systems of muscles, such as hand muscles, leg muscles, facial muscles, etc. leading to paralysis in that particular region.
The loss of voluntary muscle movement is accompanied by numbness, or loss of sensation, in the affected part. Due to this, the person does not feel any pain or climatic changes like heat, cold, etc. in the paralyzed part of the body.
After some time, due to paralysis, the circulation and other metabolic activities of the affected part may come to a stop. This could cause disuse atrophy, which could change the shape of the affected part. Prolonged disuse atrophy could lead to ‘death’ of the part, and the person may lose the use of it permanently, even after the condition of paralysis is treated.Ayurveda regards pakshavadha as a vataja, i.e. a disorder caused due to imbalance of the vata, the air element of the human body. Vata dosha is responsible for the proper coordination of all voluntary movements in the human body. A block in the proper movement of the vatadosha can bring about pakshavadha in the person.
Depending on where the paralysis has occurred, it can be classified in the following types:-
Paralysis is always caused due to the impairment of the central nervous system, i.e. the brain and the spinal cord, or due to the impairment of the peripheral nervous system, i.e. the system of nerves radiating outwards from the brain and the spinal cord.
The following are the reasons why these nerve impairments might take place, leading to paralysis:-
(1) Strokes – Strokes are the leading cause of paralysis. Strokes are the sudden loss of function of a particular portion of the brain. Hence, the brain is not able to send reflexes or receive stimuli from the corresponding nerves. Usually strokes can cause the paralysis of arms and legs, but the torso is not affected.
Further, the stroke itself can be caused due to the loss of blood supply to the brain. The causes for this erroneous blood supply are:-
(2) Tumors – Tumors in the brain or the spinal region can cause pressure to be exerted on the blood vessels to these regions. Consequently, the blood supply to the brain and/or the spinal cord reduces, which may cause paralysis.
(3) Trauma – Trauma refers to direct injuries. These injuries could result into internal bleeding (hemorrhage), which would reduce the blood supply to the central nervous supply. Direct falls on the head or fracture of the vertebral column could cause such traumas.
(4) Multiple Sclerosis – Multiple sclerosis is a chronic ailment that causes the damage to the mucilaginous sheath that covers the nuclear sheath. Due to this the sensory and motor nerves are damages and are not able to carry impulses and bring back responses to particular parts of the body.
(5) Cerebral Palsy – Cerebral palsy is a condition that occurs in babies during their birth. If their central nervous system is impaired either during or shortly after their birth, then their coordination becomes faulty, leading to paralysis.
In addition, there are the following conditions which pertain to the malfunctioning of the spinal cord:-
(1) Slipped Disk or Herniated Disk – This happens when the vertebra of the backbone get dislocated. The fractured vertebra could cause an injury to the spinal cord, thus making the portion of the spinal cord permanently impaired.
(2) Neurodegenerative Diseases – The neurodegenerative diseases are several conditions that cause serious and permanent impairment of the nerves of the spinal cord (or the brain). These diseases are also associated with loss of memory and dementia.
(3) Spondolysis – Spondolysis is the medical term to the pain and stiffness in the joints of the vertebral column. This condition can cause impairment of the spinal cord.
The above is not a complete list, for there are much too many conditions that can cause paralysis. However, the above are the common causative factors.
Paralysis is very easily diagnosable because its symptoms are too apparent. The following are the common symptoms of paralysis:-
There is loss of tactile inputs and outputs in the affected part of the body. That means, the person cannot feel it when something touches him/her or even when someone else touches him/her. The person also cannot feel pain in the affected part. In fact, it has been said that the most painful aspect of paralysis is the painlessness.
Numbness to weather is common. The person cannot feel heat or cold.
There could be tingling sensations in the unaffected parts of the body.
There is generally an impairment of vision.
The person becomes incontinent.
If paralysis lasts for a long time, then the biggest danger is that of the ‘death’ of the affected part. Due to the constant depletion of blood from the affected part, the part may become seriously damaged. As a result the muscles and tissues in that part will also get wasted, leading to disuse atrophy, as mentioned earlier. In quadriplegia, the most serious form of paralysis, the person’s body becomes like the mere ‘skin and bones’ within a few months of the affliction.
Speech impairment is also a very common byproduct of paralysis. Along with speech impairment, there could be loss of auditory senses and visual senses as well. If the person is paralyzed on one side of the body (hemiplegia), then there is a great chance that the eye on that side would lose its power of sight.
There is no danger of transmission of paralysis from one person to another as this is not an infectious condition. Paralysis is caused due to impairment of a person’s nervous system, and that is an internal problem of the human body.
Pleurisy is caused due to a host of other ailments with the body. People suffering from any of these diseases can suffer from pleurisy. In order to see a complete list of the diseases in people that can cause pleurisy, look at the causes section.
The diet provided for people with paralysis must be a vata pacifying diet. For balancing the vata, the following guidelines must be followed:-
Warm foods are preferable to cold foods. Eat food when it is freshly cooked.
Sweet, sour and salty are the tastes that are good for creating a balance of the vata. Avoid foods that are bitter, pungent and astringent in taste.
Nuts are very good for balancing the vata.
Rice and wheat both are okay, but barley, millet and rye must be avoided.
The fruits that you consume must be the juicier ones such as bananas, mangoes, oranges, etc. Dry fruits such as apples, figs, pears and pomegranates must be avoided.
Asparagus, okra, beet, carrot are the vegetables that must become an important part of the daily diet.
Among the meats, white meats such as poultry and fish are much better as compared to red meats such as beef, pork and mutton.
Ayurveda has prescribed a few herbs that are beneficial for the treatment of paralysis. The following are a few of them:-
The herbs mentioned above have been expertly mixed into preparations. These preparations contain just the right proportions of herbs so as not to produce major side effects.
The preparations that are effective in the treatment of paralysis are the anti-vata drugs. The following drugs are beneficial:-
In addition to the above rasas, there are several Ayurvedic techniques that can be employed.
Snehana – It is the Ayurvedic technique of massaging affected regions with medicated oils.
Pinda Swedana – It is the Ayurvedic technique of fomenting the affected region with medicated oils and mixtures.
Nasya – It is the Ayurvedic technique of putting special herbal drops directly into the nose.
Basti – It is a special type of enema therapy that is used in Ayurveda .
All these therapies are used in a specially formulated regimen (which depends on the condition of the person who is suffering from the paralysis). The main intention of these therapies is to expel the toxins from the body. This directly helps to clear the channels of nervous coordination and hence treat the paralytic condition.
It must be borne in mind that while taking any Ayurvedic preparation, the doctor must be consulted first. Most of the herbs do not have any side-effects (and are indeed a regular part of the diet), but some people may be allergic to certain herbs and may show adverse reactions.