Ayurvedic Nasal Medication (Nasya) For Treating Coma

Panaimaram

People tend to prefer Ayurvedic medicines when there are ailments that are chronic or lifestyle-related. A thorough evaluation with respect to how patients react to Ayurvedic treatment for acute or terminal illness is yet to be studied in detail. However, few cases have shown how Ayurvedic treatment methods have had positive results in dealing with serious illnesses. Medical professionals have been awestruck by the fact that Ayurveda was able to provide solutions for certain emergency conditions where biomedicine had limitations .

Read on to know more about how Ayurveda turned into the most effective treatment method when other systems of medicine did not seem feasible. The article gives you insights about a 61-year-old patient who was treated with Ayurvedic techniques when she was suffering from coma apart from also having a two-year long history of hypertension.

Panchakarma is a specialized therapy that cleanses the body and also acts as the drug delivery method to target sites. Panchakarma finds applications in various fields such as

Couple of procedures of Panchakarma that have been specified for remedial usage are as follows:

Medically, coma is identified as a state of unconsciousness that lasts for more than six hours. A person cannot be awakened during this stage. The person also fails to respond normally to any painful stimuli (including light and sound). The person does not undergo the normal sleep-wake cycle. No voluntary actions are initiated by the patient when he or she is in coma . The most common cause of coma is the lack of oxygen that follows a cardiac arrest .

In terms of Ayurveda, coma is called Sannyasa. This occurs when the doshas get aggravated due to the action of the mind, body and speech . The aggravation is drastic such that it affects the site of Pranayatana (the heart, in this case) and weakens the whole body resulting in unconsciousness. Proper care and medication are required for the coma to subside. Ayurveda recommends fumigation, powders and nasal drops .

The nose is referred to as the door to one's inner self and consciousness. When medication is administered through the nasal passages, there is a direct effect on the mind, Tarpaka Kapha, Prana Vata, Sadhaka Pitta and Majja Dhatu .
In brief, Nasya is defined as an Ayurvedic practice that involves lubrication of the nasal passages. This process keeps the nasal passages and sinuses clear. Not just this, it is also beneficial for the cervical lymph that is responsible for maintaining the immunity of the nose, ear and throat. It can be practised by both children and adults .

In this kind, dry powders or herbs are blown into the nose aiming at providing a cleansing aspect. The commonly used substances for this are Brahmi (Gotu Kola), Vacha (calamus) and Jatamansi.

This kind works best for Vata dosha and aims at providing the nutritive aspect. Substances that provide strength such as salt, Shatavari ghee, Ashwagandha ghee, various oils and medicated milk are administered through the nose.

Substances specific to doshas are used in this kind. The substances used ranges from decoctions, fresh juices of herbs, teas and medicated oils. For Pitta, Brahmi ghee is preferred, whereas, for Kapha or Vata, Vacha oil is preferred. Tikta ghee is what is advised for Vata or Pitta doshas.

Depending on the aggravated dosha, decoctions, oils and fresh juices are mixed together and administered. This kind is ideally used for Pitta-Vata or Pitta-Kapha disorders. The substances used include Vacha juice for Kapha or Vata and Brahmi juice for Pitta.

The little finger of the palm is used to insert tiny amounts of ghee or oil into the nostrils. This should be followed by a gentle massage. This helps in relieving stress and opens up the deep tissues. This should be done on a regular basis. Nevertheless, it can also be done occasionally, whenever desired.

In general, the best time to practice Nasya, to relieve Kapha disorders, is in the morning. Similarly, to relieve Pitta-related problems, the best time is in the afternoon and to relieve Vata-related disorders, the best time is in the evening.

Ayurvedic experts say that Nasya is best practised after Neti (Ayurvedic nasal cleansing procedure). However, the passages should be allowed to air dry for some time once the debris in the nasal passages is cleaned by Neti.

Nasya administration is recommended on an empty stomach about an hour before or after a shower or exercise. One should lie down with the head tilted. 5 drops should be administered in each nostril. One should then sniff deeply and continue lying down for a minute. When this is done, you would feel the oil hit the back of your throat. This ensures the proper penetration of Nasya.

The following part of the article pays attention to a case study of a 61-year-old female patient who had been in a coma since 28 August 2010. The patient was kept in the Intensive Care Unit, but discharged after 28 days only after being put on the gastric tube, oxygen inhalation, maintaining Ryle's tube and tracheotomy. She was also advised continuous physiotherapy and symptomatic treatment. Read on to know more about how this case of hypoxic coma was managed with Ayurvedic treatment modality.

Ayurvedic experts decided to administer smoke of medicines in the form of Dhuma Nasya (nasal medication). This nasal medication is prepared with Trikatu powder . A treatment methodology was planned to enable recovery of the patient along with complete coma reversal, regained sensorium and increased muscle power.

Nasya facilitated with the administration of powder and smoke formed the basis of the Ayurvedic intervention alongside biomedical therapies. Pradhamana Nasya was performed with Trikatu Churna (ingredients used were Sunthi (ginger), Marica (black pepper) and Pippali (long pepper)). This Churna (powder) was blown into the nostril of the patient using a 15 cm long, double-sided open tube. This procedure was performed at a stretch for a period of seven days .

The next step was treating the patient using inhalation of fumes from a Dhuma stick. This was made up using five drugs (Vaca - sweet flag, Hingu - asafoetida, Guggulu - Indian Bedellium, Jatamansi - musk root, and Amalaki - Indian gooseberry) that were collectively referred to as Sankhyasthapna drugs (drugs that restore consciousness). The procedure was continued for seven days, three times in each nostril (every time during the morning hours) .

Every day, vital data of the patient was taken note of. These consisted of information about blood pressure, temperature readings, heart rate, fluid status, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation to evaluate the patient's metabolism, heart function, vascular integrity and tissue oxygenation.

Daily assessment of the patient involved monitoring the below criteria before and after Nasya:

Eyes open

Verbal response

Motor response

The first response noticed was that of eyes opening on the 3rd day after the Ayurvedic treatment was initiated.

According to Charaka Samhita (Sanskrit text on Ayurveda), when Vata affects an already disturbed mind, it can bring about unconsciousness. The similar effect can be brought about by Pitta and Kapha as well, leading to the unconsciousness of the person .

Trikatu is found helpful in treating coma. When in powdered form, its Tiksna (sharp) tendency directly simulates the brain. The stimulation of the brain is a result of the effects of the powder entering through the cribriform plate and then acting on the neurotransmitters of the brain so as to stimulate the excitatory neural activity. Smell and tastes, among all sensations, are the ones that project to the high cortical areas and also to the limbic system. This justifies why certain tastes and odours can evoke strong emotional reactions.

According to Vagbhata (one of the most influential classical writers of Ayurveda), the drugs administered through the nose enters the brain and pacifies the doshas. The reason behind selecting consciousness restoring drugs was the idea that they would act through their Virya (potency). The medicines in this group have properties such as Usna, Tiksna, Vyavayi and Vikasi - all that contribute towards the simulation of the brain .

In the case of the recovery of the woman in a coma, it was confirmed by the doctors that as the route of administration was completely different, when Nasya was practised, there was no scope of drug-drug interaction .

The marked improvement in the patient was seen just after fourteen days of the Panchakarma therapy . The medical study on this Ayurvedic treatment formed the base to give a ray of hope to comatose patients proving that Ayurvedic drugs do come handy when other medicines might have failed.

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