muscular dystrophy

Muscular dystrophy – Ayurveda-based management of this set of genetic disorders

Mamsavatakshaya is Ayurveda’s terminology of muscular dystrophy. This is a set of many genetic disorders or beeja roga that results in increasingly weakening muscles and damaging the muscular cells, affecting a person’s ability to carry out day-to-day activities with ease. It also equally affects the heart and endocrine system, leading to early death. As an Ayurveda doctor practicing in Chennai for many decades, I have been researching about this condition, given its progressively crippling nature and the fact that there’s no cure for this condition as yet. So let’s find out a little more about this inherited condition.

Mamsavatakshaya – wasting away of muscles

The primary characteristic of this set of genetic disorders is gradually increasing weakness of the voluntary muscles (e.g., muscles of the arms and legs and other controllable muscles of the body).

It is an inherited condition where muscle strength is progressively lost, along with other associated effects on the heart, other organs, and involuntary muscles. Interestingly some of these conditions are common in men, with women playing the role of carriers.

A particular type of muscular dystrophy affects children, especially boys, right from the age of 2 or 3 years and is quite severe. This condition often leads to early death.

Cause and symptoms of muscular dystrophy – as per Ayurveda

Ayurveda associates this group of conditions to two causes – vata imbalance and improper functioning of the muscle-related agni.

This results in the muscles losing their ability to prevent their uncontrollable wear and tear. This results in the muscles getting wasted away and they lose their ability to function normally. As a result the muscle cells start dying.

The symptoms and the pattern of deterioration vary from person to person. In some people, muscular functioning first affects the limbs, reducing the person’s capability to move their legs and hands independently. In others breathing easily might become a challenge. However, the common pattern of declining muscular function and worsening symptoms is common.

It also affects the other related systems, especially heart, nervous system, digestive system, and endocrine system. It also affects the skin and eyes. Even simple movements such as sitting down or standing up can become a painful activity, eventually leading to early death.

Treatment of muscular dystrophy

As of today, science and Ayurveda have not yet found any cure for this condition. However, Ayurveda uses an effective combination of treatment protocols to control the condition and ensure that patients are able to improve their quality of life. The logic used by Ayurveda treatment is to focus on three aspects:

  1. Provide complete nutrition to all the muscles across the body to restore their agni. This helps in maintaining a reasonably appreciable ability of movement and building muscle strength
  2. Protecting the muscles through intake of herbal formulations, delaying their wasting away.
  3. Physical treatments that improve blood flow across the body and a lifestyle that beats the effects of the condition.

Specific treatments include detoxification with panchakarma treatment, which remove all toxic amas from the body (from the digestive system to the skin), steam treatments that correct the vata imbalance and improve the body’s flexibility, abhyanaga or oil massage that relax the muscles and improve the nourishment that reach the muscle cells, and a wide range of other treatments including dhara, nasya, basti, pizhichil, and rasayana treatments. Oral herbal formulations support these physical Ayurveda treatment modalities. Formulations such as ashwagandha, amla, guggul, and other herbal medications promote muscular strength. A healthy mix of physical exercises – from yoga and pranayama to meditation – under the guidance of an expert also brings in a lot of improvement.

The most important point to note is that you must take the guidance of an expert Ayurveda doctor first. The doctor can help you with a clear diagnosis and treatment protocol before you blindly jump into hearsay solutions.

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