• Dr A A Mundewadi

Porphyria – Modern (Allopathic) Versus Ayurvedic Herbal Treatment

Updated: Mar 16

Porphyrias are a group of inherited metabolic disorders, in which deficiency of enzymes causes a buildup of porphyrins, which are required for the synthesis of hemoglobin in red blood cells. This abnormal buildup affects the skin, nerves, brain, and internal organs, causing symptoms like severe abdominal pain, constipation, vomiting, muscular pain, convulsions, tingling, weakness, confusion, hallucinations, high blood pressure, tachycardia, itching and rash. Acute intermittent porphyria (AIP) is an acute manifestation of this condition.

The abnormal buildup of porphyrins causes urine to be typically red colored with the excretion of porphobilinogen, and this is diagnostic of the condition. Symptoms are precipitated by medications, fasting, smoking, infections, surgery, stress, alcohol, menstrual hormones, and exposure to sun. Treatment in the modern (allopathic) system of medicine is with intravenous glucose, simple pain killers, and oral or intravenous Hematin. While the acute condition can be treated adequately in a well equipped hospital, modern medicine cannot prevent further episodes, other than by recommending avoidance of the precipitating factors as well as all unnecessary medications.

The pathology suggests disturbed metabolism and creation of unhealthy blood tissue and vitiated pitta. Features are indicative of Raktapitta disease moving in the downward direction. Depending upon the exact pathophysiology, skin, brain and kidneys are also liable to be affected.

Treatment involves correction of faulty pitta and normalization of blood tissue, correction of metabolism, along with control of a disturbed vata. Other symptoms can be concurrently treated with Ayurvedic medicines. Most patients can be well controlled with Ayurvedic therapy of a few weeks to a few months. Recurrent attacks of pain can be well controlled, provided the patient meticulously avoids all known aggravating causes. Patients having severe neuropsychiatric symptoms may require prolonged treatment of about 6-10 months.

After the initial treatment, once all symptoms have gone in complete remission, it is usually sufficient to just observe the patient for any signs of recurrence or relapse. Most day to day medical issues can be easily handled with Ayurvedic medication, and the patients as well as caretakers quickly learn to manage the situation on their own. It is fortunate that most Ayurvedic medications are well tolerated by patients suffering from porphyria, and so affected individuals need not get intimidated by the long list of Allopathic medications which they cannot take.

Porphyria patients can thus be comprehensively treated and managed on a long term basis with the help of Ayurvedic herbal medicines.

AIP, Acute intermittent porphyria, Ayurvedic treatment, herbal medicines

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