• Dr A A Mundewadi

Huntington's Disease – Modern (Allopathic) Versus Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Huntington’s disease (HD), also known as Huntington’s chorea, is a rare, degenerative neurological disease with a strong hereditary component. Children with one affected parent have a 50 percent chance of inheriting the disease. Symptoms are progressive in nature and include involuntary jerky movements, impaired muscular coordination, falls, slurred speech, difficulty in swallowing, mood changes, and dementia. Symptoms usually become apparent during middle age, and death may occur from between ten to thirty years. Rarely, children too may be affected with a juvenile form of the disease, which progresses much faster than the adult-onset disease.

The basal ganglia and the brain cortex are the parts most affected by HD. The faulty HD gene produces abnormal triple nucleotide repeats, the sequence of which is repeated several times over. Patients with HD have 36 or more repeats (normal people have 26 or less); this causes formation of an unusually large Huntingtin protein, which is toxic and gradually causes degeneration of the brain.

HD can currently be neither prevented nor cured; however, several medicines in the modern (Allopathic) system of medicine can help alleviate symptoms. Most of the medicines work by modulating neurotransmitters and include tetrabenazine and duetetrabenazine. Useful medicines also include antipsychotics like risperidone, olanzapine and haloperidol; antidepressants like citalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine and nortriptyline; and mood-stabilizers like lithium. In addition to medications, the long term management of people with HD includes graded physical exercise, proper nutrition, and planned care-giving.

Ayurvedic treatment is especially useful in the treatment of Huntington's chorea, since Ayurvedic medicines are very useful in the treatment of nervous system disorders. Ayurvedic medicines help to regenerate nerve cells, brain cells, and repair the damage to the nervous system. Usually, degeneration of nerves involves damage to the outer covering of the nerves; this results in impaired functioning of the nerves, with a loss of nerve conduction and control of the limbs. This results in severe impairment of the motor as well as sensory components of the nervous system. In this disease, there is a degeneration of the brain due to deposition of abnormal Hungtingtin protein.

Ayurvedic treatment consists of oral medication as well as massage of the entire body with medicated oils, followed by fomentation; other procedures are also prescribed as required. Panchkarma procedures help to reduce the number and dosage of oral medications, thereby reducing the chances of long term complications and bringing about increased compliance. Results are also faster and much more apparent; patients with moderate or advanced symptoms may see significant improvement with just 7-14 days of treatment! Once the symptoms are stabilized, further treatment can be planned as needed, while carefully monitoring the patient on a long term basis. This reduces the treatment free interval, thereby considerably reducing financial burden and emotional stress for patients as well as caregivers.

Ayurvedic treatment can therefore improve or bring about a near cure in patients with Huntington's disease. It is important to commence treatment at the earliest possible, in order to bring about maximum improvement. Regular treatment is essential in order to obtain the required results. To sum up, Ayurvedic treatment is very effective in the management of Huntington's disease or Huntington's chorea.

Ayurvedic Herbal treatment, Herbal medicines, Huntington's disease, Huntington's chorea

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