Cerebral palsy refers to a group of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle co-regulation. Symptoms include a lack of muscle co-ordination when performing voluntary movements (ataxia); stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes (spasticity); walking with one foot or leg dragging; walking on the toes, a crouched gait, or a 'scissored' gait; and muscle tone that is either too stiff or too floppy. Cerebral palsy is usually due to brain damage in the first few months or years of life, brain infections such as bacterial meningitis or viral encephalitis, or head injury.
The Ayurvedic treatment of cerebral palsy focuses on stimulating the presenting symptoms and attempting to reverse the brain damage. A group of herbal medicines called 'Medhya' are very useful in improving the functional capacity of the brain and may also help in regeneration of damaged brain cells. These medicines include: Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Jyotishmati (Celastrus panniculatus), Kushmand (Benincasa hispida), Ustukhudoos (Lavendula stoechas), Ashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera ), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Abhrak-Bhasma and Suvarna-Bhasma. Some of these drugs are also useful in preventing or reducing convulsions.
Medicines which act on the 'Majja' dhatu (tissue) are useful in this condition and include Guduchi, Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Panch-Tikta-Ghruta, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Gugulu, Brahmi-Ghruta and Pancha-Gavya-Ghruta. In addition, other medicines are used which improve nerve conduction and muscular co-ordination. These medicines include Kaishor-Guggulu, Yograj-Guggulu, Vatagajankush-Ras, Mahavat-Vidhwans-Ras, Tapyadi-Loh-Ras and Vish-Tinduk-Vati.
Massage of the entire body with medicated oils like Maha-Narayan oil, Maha-Mash-oil and Maha-Saindhav-oil are very useful. Specialized Panchkarma procedures like Shiro-Basti, Shiro-Dhara as well as prolonged courses of Basti (mediated enemas) are also very useful in this condition.
Although cerebral palsy may not be fully cured, Ayurvedic treatment can definitely help to reduce disability and improve the functioning of the affected individual to a great extent.