It may affect the bones, the membranes of the brain, leading to meningitis, or the glands when it is called scorfula. It may be caused when a person pricks himself with anything sharp infected the with germs, or inhalation of dust particles mixed with the tiny microbe. As the main factor responsible for the disease is the susceptibility to it, as a constitution weakened by continuous ill-health, a lowered power of resistance, heredity, an unhealthy atmosphere, excessive use of intoxicants, over-indulgence in sex hard work asthma and diseases of the metabolism like diabetes. It is a disease of filth and poverty and does not attack persons living in clean surroundings and having sufficient means to feed themselves properly.
In Ayurveda it is called Rajyakshma, the king of disease. Moon, the king among the satellites of the earth, according to our mythology, was supposed to have been afflicted because of a curse of Brahma, the creator and hence the name, Rajyakshma has been given to this ailment.
In the early stages of the disease, there is an irritating cough, particularly in the morning, either without an expectoration or with a clear mucus or phlegm. The first sign of the disease is a blood-flecked phlegm accompanied by fever in the evenings and below normal temperatures in the early morning and also night sweats. When the symptoms are aggravated and emaciation has set in, the second stage is supposed to have been reached. If extreme care is not taken and treatment is not done it may spread to the throat and the intestines. The terminal stage comes when the illness reaches deep into the lungs and they are full of cavities. The voice of the patient may become husky at this stage, there may be diahorrea and extreme prostration, with the patient being unable to leave the bed and finally. The death comes because of extensive haemorrhage.
The duration of the illness depends on 4 factors-
(i) The intensity of the infection;
(ii) The age of the patient;
(iii) The stage at which the disease has been recognised; and
(iv) The natural resistance of the body.
If the disease reaches the intestines, there is inflammation of the bowels with impairment of digestion, distension of the stomach, rumbling noises in the abdomen and a persistent ache. If the small intestine is involved, the patient is constipated but when the large intestine becomes seat of the ailment, diahorrea is the result. Emaciation increases faster than in pulmonary TB. In scorfula, or TB of the glands, inflammation is the chief characteristic. Tumours form and they suppurate giving a foul smell. When the disease attacks the bones, the bones start crumbling and a state known as caries of the bones results. When it reaches the spine, there is curvature and the patient is unable even to stand erect. TB of the bones affects young people.
Treatment of tuberculosis has two faces:
(1) preventive, and
(2) curative or remedial.
The preventive aspect is more social than medical. It is from the slums that the disease starts its fatal march. Provision of clean, healthy surroundings with properly ventilated and clean houses is the first imperative. Detection and isolation of the victims of the disease is the second most important thing that can be done. Thirdly, the diet is of primary importance. Plenty of milk, butter, black gram eggs, ground of the various varieties, turnips, beet root, spinach and other green vegetables, fruits, etc. are the other preventives. As has been stated earlier, it is a disease of filth and poverty.
The treatment of a case of tuberculosis must start with the isolation of the patient and his removal to a sanitorium if the disease has been detected at a secondary stage. If that is not possible, he should be housed in an airy room where there is enough sunlight.
Garlic is a wonderful drug for in the cure of TB. Thirty grains of garlic boiled in about eight ounces of milk and two pounds of water should be administered in two doses in the day. But the medicine is ready only when the whole decoction has been reduced to one fourth of its original quantity.
Ayurveda recommends Vasa (adhatoda vasica) for tuberculosis. One ounce of the juice from the leaves of the drug given thrice in the day with honey provides relief. But the useful drug is Naradiya Mahalakshami Vilasa Rasa which contains traces of gold. It should be administered in three doses of 200 mg each in the day. Swarna Vasant Malati is the drug in cases where there is excessive fever, sweating and burning sensation on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet. Rudanti (cressa crestca) given in 2 gm. doses twice daily reduce the virulence of the disease.
Drakshasava should be administered in one ounce doses after meals. It should be mixed with an equal quantity of water. Chyavanaprasha Avaleha is another good remedy to give strength to the patient. The dosage in the beginning should be two teaspoonfuls with milk on an empty stomach twice daily, but as the patient gains strength, it should be increased. Long pepper in powdered form should be given in one teaspoonful doses twice daily.
In the initial stages of the disease, when there is dry cough, fever in the night and weakness, the following medicines should be given:
Suvarna Vasanta Malati Rasa 250 mg.
Praval Pishti 500 mg.
Amritasatva 250 mg.
It should be administered with preserve (murabba) of amla, thrice daily.
In case there is bleeding then the following drugs should be administered.
(1) Vasantamalati 120 mg.
To be taken in morning and evening with goat’s milk.
In cases of high temperatures of tuberculosis, the following prescriptions should be administered:
(1) Muktapanchamrita 120 mg.
Pachanana Rasa 120 mg.
Amritasatva 240 mg.
To be taken morning and evening with honey.
(2) Chandramrita 1 gm.
Sitopaladi 12 gm.
To be mixed with honey and to be used as linctus.
Dried fruits, particularly dried grapes, almond oil, etc. are useful in this condition. Drumsticks, patola and kundru are the best vegetables recommended for a consumptive patient. Products of the goat, its milk, flesh and even urine, are useful for a TB patient.