Epilepsy is a neurological imbalance in which a person loses consciousness due to excessive electric discharge of cerebral neurons. Epileptic attacks can last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Ayurveda calls epilepsy apasmara and the attacks or convulsions are known as akshepaka. It is a chronic condition, which often needs a long-term management plan of diet and lifestyle adjustments, ayurvedic treatments, and herbal medications.
Types of epilepsy in Ayurveda
Ayurveda categorizes epilepsy into four types, depending upon which dosha is most out of balance.
- Vataj seizures (caused mainly by corrupted vata) last for a shorter time (relatively), increase respiratory rate, cause secretion of foam from the mouth and abnormal body movements during fits.
- Pittaj seizures (caused mainly by corrupted pitta) cause a yellowish or reddish tint on the body, lots of sweating, yellowish foam from the mouth. Patients experience hotness in the body and severe thirst after the seizure.
- Kaphaj seizures (caused mainly by corrupted kapha) last for a longer time (relatively), produce whitish foam from the mouth, and the patient experiences heaviness in the body after the seizure.
- Sannipatik seizures are caused by corruption of all three doshas, and therefore have mixed characteristics.
According to Ayurveda, the causes of epilepsy are:
- long-term consumption of unwholesome food and habits by a person with delusional mind
- long term grief, passion and anger
- subconscious fear and hatred
- unethical regimens, celebrations, and recreations
- debilitated mind
- corrupted, out of balance doshas.
Features of epilepsy
- Convulsions with teeth biting
- Dribbling of frothy saliva
- Difficult and laboured breathing
- Roughness of the body
- Discoloration of the body surface
- Involuntary speech or murmuring
- Head retraction to one side
- Constriction of the fingers
- Unstable movements of the limbs.
Ayurvedic management of epilepsy
Ayurvedic management of epilepsy strengthens the brain and restores the proper function of the nervous system. Nourishing herbs with a tonic effect are prescribed along with diet and lifestyle adjustments that emphasise a light, easily-digestible diet and low levels of mental strain. An epilepsy management plan emphasises:
- panchakarma (ayurvedic detox), purgation, emesis and nasal medication (vamana, virechana and nasya)
- psychological assistance / assurance (ashwasana)
- specific herbal formulations to strengthen the body and mind
- rejuvenatory therapy (rasayana)
Panchakarma for epilepsy
Ayurvedic detox (panchakarma) works to unclog the channels of mind and body that are blocked due to imbalanced doshas. A tailored panchakarma includes includes therapeutic oil massage (abhyanga), steam bath (swedana), therapeutic purgation (virechana), therapeutic enemas (vasti), nasal medication (nasya), and nervous system treatment (shirodhara). Our experienced ayurvedic doctors can create a customised detox program for your epilepsy conditions and symptoms.
Herbs for epilepsy
Herbal prescription under the supervision of an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner is important. These are some of the herbs which a practitioner may include in your treatment regime:
- Vacha-Acorus calamus Linn.
- Shankhapushpi-Convolvulus pluricaulis chosis.
- Yastimadhu-Glycyrrhiza glabra Linn.
- Jatamamsi-Nardostachys jatamansi Dc.
- Tagara-Valeriana jatamansi Jones.
- Lashuna-Garlic-Allium sativa Linn.
- Amalaki-Gooseberry-Emblica officinalis
- Rasna– Pluchea lanceolata C. B. Clarke.
- Hingu-Asafetida-Ferula narthex Boiss.
- Brahmi– Bacopa monnieri (Linn.) Pennell.
Dietary and lifestyle management of epilepsy
- Reduce intake of sweet, oily, fatty and heavy foods; alcohol, fish products, spicy food and old (not fresh) food.
- Reduce stimulating food and drink such as coffee, alcoholic beverages, and condiments that create heat (e.g. chilli, mustard, pepper etc).
- Avoid stress and mental and emotional tension.
- Avoid poor sleep hygiene (working, studying or using computers and phones late into the night, going to bed late, sleeping late in the day).
- Enjoy ayurvedic rituals like self oil massage, nasya (oil drops into the nostrils), neti (yogic sinus cleansing).
- Participate in mindfulness and relaxation practices like yoga, meditation and pranayama as they have positive effects on brain chemistry and support healing.
- Increase foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E.
- A ketogenic diet has been shown to be beneficial in reducing the number and frequency of seizures. It is characterised by a high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet forces the body to burn fats rather than carbohydrates. Normally, the carbohydrates contained in food are converted into glucose, which is then transported around the body and is particularly important in fueling brain-function. However, if there is little carbohydrate in the diet, the liver converts fat into fatty acids and ketone bodies. The ketone bodies pass into the brain and replace glucose as an energy source. An elevated level of ketone bodies in the blood, a state known as ketosis, leads to a reduction in the frequency of epileptic seizures. (Source: Wikipedia)
This article is intended for education and awareness. Ayurvedic treatment and advice is always personalised. We recommend you make an appointment with one of our experienced ayurvedic doctors in either of our clinics – Brisbane or the Gold Coast – and find a holistic treatment for your symptoms of epilepsy.