Ayurveda name: gradhrasi
Type of illness: back pain experienced in the region of the buttocks, back of the thigh and the leg. patient experiences difficulty in walking. the pain is associated with the sciatica nerve which is part of the nerve system that controls the muscles of the back of the knee and lower leg, and provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg and the sole of the foot.
Causes of illness: according to ayurveda philosophy, the human body consists of three doshas – vatha, pitha and kappha. an imbalance of the three dosha’s leads to disease. sciatica is usually caused by an increase or aggravation of “vatha dosha”.
At a practical level, the buttocks and part of the thigh and legs are serviced by the sciatica nerve. pressing of the sciatica nerve and inflammation of the surrounding areas of the sciatica nerve leads to this disease. the damage of the sciatica nerve slows down or prevents conduction of impulses through the nerve. this also causes inflammation of the surrounding area. damage to the sciatica nerve can be caused through strenuous activity such as lifting of weights or over exposure to cold wind.
the sciatica nerve could also be injured by fracture of the pelvis, or other trauma to the buttocks or thighs. prolonged sitting or lying with pressure on the buttocks may also damage it. systemic diseases such as diabetes, can typically damage many different nerves, including the sciatica nerve. the sciatica nerve may also be harmed by pressure from masses such as tumor or abscess, or by bleeding in the pelvis.
• sensation changes in the back, in the calf or the sole of the feet
• numbness and decreased sensation
• tingling and burning sensations
• mild or severe pain
• abnormal sensations
• weakness of the knee or foot resulting in difficulty in walking
• inability to move the foot (severe case)
• inability to bend the knee (in severe case)
Ayurveda treatment: the illness is treated with a combination of internal herbal pills, herbal decoctions and elixirs/ wine, and external oil applications and hot fomentation.
1. internally taken herbal pills called “yogaraja guggulu”. guggulu is a resin obtained from the tree camphora mukul that is found in south asia. the yogaraja guggulu is made by making a paste of guggulu resin, 25 types of herbs, and ghee. the medicine is very effective in the treatment of all pains of the nervous system. the pills are usually prescribed twice a day and two pills at a time
2. herbal elixire / wine called the “dashamula arishta”. this elixire contains about 63 herbs, plums, juggery ( molasses) and honey and water. the name “dashamula” comes from the fact that it has ten main component herbs (dasa in sinhala is ten). the ingredients are placed in a specially prepared barrel and left to ferment for a month. the result is a sweet wine of exceptional taste. the medicine has an anti – inflammatory property and tones up the nerves and helps the nerves to work more effectively. the prescribed dosage is usually one tablespoon, twice daily. this elixire has anti -inflammatory properties and tones up the nerves and helps the nerves to work more effectively.
ten main component herbs
1. aswenna – alysicarpus vaginalis
2. polpala – aerva lanata
3. ela batu – solanum melongena
4. katuwel batu – solanum xanthocarpum
5. hin nerenchi – tribulus terristris
6. thotila – oroxylum indicum
7. beli fruit – aegle marmelos
8. et demata – gmelina arborea
9. palol – stereospermum suaveolens
10. hin medi – premna integrifolia
3. fresh herbal decoctions prepared by boiling a large number of dry and fresh herbs (at times up to 20 compounds) -depending on the patients condition, these decoctions also help to reduce the pain associated with the disease.
4. internal medicine to avoid constipation, which often aggravates the symptoms. castor oil is prescribed for internal use with the decoctions. castor oil is a good purgative and has the qualities of reducing the effect of constipation associated with vata dosha.
5. external oil application on the painful parts of the body, particularly the back region, buttocks, and part of the thighs and legs with the medicinal oil called “sarshapadi” this medicinal oil is prepared with the base of mustard oil, camphor and vegetable turpentine.
6. hot fomentation of the painful parts with the help of ” bolus” or bundles of fresh and dry herbal parts and sea salt wrapped in cloth. the oil massage and the formentation improves the blood circulation, stimulate and strengthen the nerves and reduces the aggravated vatha dosha and helps to reduce the pain.
prospect of cure: data analyzed show that the majority of the patients were cured of the disease. a cure takes about 4 weeks of treatment. almost all the patients experienced reduction of symptoms. reduction of symptoms was seen after about 2 – 3 weeks of treatment.
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