Ayurvedic treatment for Dementia or Cognitive impairment

Dementia or Cognitive impairment

Know More on Psychiatry/Mental diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Dementia or Cognitive impairment  Ayurvedic treatment

WHAT IS DEMENTIA OR COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT ?

Dementia generally refers to memory loss and is quite a common condition. The risk of developing dementia increases as one ages, and the condition usually occurs in people over the age of 65.1

This condition is not mentioned as a separate disease entity in Ayurvedic classics and is considered as a natural part of ageing, but sign and symptoms of dementia can be understood in details as per Ayurvedic concepts of cognition.2

A resembling term used for dementia in Ayurved is Smritivibhransha (Smriti – memory; vibhransha - destruction). When on account of the psyche (Manas) being clouded with obsession and delusion i.e. Rajomohavritatmanah, the retention of true knowledge is destroyed leading to loss of memory (smriti), rational thinking (dhee) and retaining power of the mind (dhriti). This state is called the derangement of memory (Smriti).2

Dementia is a Yapyavyadhi (palliative condition) as per the Ayurvedic understanding. Early detection and early treatment is required to prevent the progress of the disease.2

Causes

Dementia or Cognitive impairment

DEMENTIA OR COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT CAUSES

Dementia involves damage of nerve cells in the brain, which can occur in several areas of the brain. Dementia affects different people in a different manner that depends on the area of the brain that is affected.3

Some common but different types of Dementia seen clinically are Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Lewy body disease etc.3

There are many factors which can cause dementia. Some of these like age, cannot be changed or controlled while others can be controlled to reduce risk.3

Risk factors that can't be changed

  • Increasing age.
  • History of dementia in family
  • Long standing cognitive impairment

Risk factors that can be changed/controlled

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Risk of heart disease
  • Depressive state

Symptoms

Dementia or Cognitive impairment

DEMENTIA OR COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT SYMPTOMS

Dementia a group of related symptoms that are associated with decline of the capacity of brain and its abilities. This causes following symptoms1:

  • Loss of memory
  • Slow speed of thinking
  • Problems with language
  • Poor understanding
  • Poor judgement skills

Diagnosis

Dementia or Cognitive impairment

DEMENTIA OR COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT DIAGNOSIS

A diagnosis of dementia requires that at least two central functions of the brain to be impaired and interfere with daily living. These functions are of memory, language skills, ability to focus and pay attention, ability to reason and problem-solve, and visual perception.3

Doctors check for medical history and conduct a physical examination.3

As no single test helps diagnose dementia, a number of tests may be needed to find out the problem.3

  • Cognitive and neuropsychological tests: These test for thinking skills
  • Neurological evaluation: This evaluation tests for language, senses, balance, and reflexes
  • Brain scans: CT or MRI scans look for any evidence of stroke / bleeding in brain or tumors. Additionally, PET scans show patterns of brain activity.
  • Laboratory tests: Simple blood tests can detect problems in the body which may affect functioning of the brain, e.g. vitamin deficiencies.

Management

Dementia or Cognitive impairment

AYURVEDIC TIPS FOR DEMENTIA OR COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT

In Ayurveda, management of Alzheimer’s is done using herbs that act as Medhyarasayana . Additionally Panchkarma is prescribed for improving quality‑of‑life of the patient and family members.2

Intellect promoting or Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica Linn.), Yastimadhu (Glycirrhiza glabra Linn.), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia (Wild) Miers) and Shankhapushpi (Convolvulus pleuricaulis Chois) may be beneficial in these conditions2.

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

Dementia is an outcome of the aging process. Diet should be aimed at slowing the aging process and nourishing the nervous system.

  • Dry vegetables, meat, sesame, germinated cereals, pulses should be used in diet.
  • Avoid our, saline, pungent and alkaline food items. Also avoid contradictory food, unwholesome and Abhisyandi (those which obstruct the channels of normal circulation) putrid and stale food.2

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

Similar to diet, you should avoid lifestyle regime that accelerates your. This includes daytime sleeping, heavy alcohol intake, excess physical activity and overworking.3

Some asanas that are helpful are as follows -

  • Suryanamaskara:

It is a whole body exercise and is particularly helpful because it encourages you to breathe deeply and rhythmically.

  • Pranayama

Bhramari Pranayama is known to increase positive thoughts and feelings of happiness. 

FAQS

Dementia or Cognitive impairment
  1. Why is stress bad for my health?
    Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior. If left unchecked, stress can contribute to many health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Some of the common effect that stress can cause but we may not realize are -
  • Headache,
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Change in sex drive
  • Stomach upset
  • Sleep problems etc.

Hence it is very important that stress should not be ignored as a condition and immediate medical support should be sought for it.

  1. What are the reasons for depression/How does depression happen?

There are no specific reasons that can lead to depression. Every person responds to any situation in different ways.

Yet, depression can happen to anyone and at any age, but often begins in adulthood. Depression is now being diagnosed in children and adolescents too. There are no specific risk factors, but following things increase the chances of someone to have depression -

  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Major life changes, trauma, or stress
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications
  1. What is addiction? How does it affect someone?

Addiction refers to the dependence on a legal or illegal drug, alcohol or medication. When addicted, people are not able to control their use of the substance, and may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Alcohol/drug addiction can cause serious, long-term consequences, including problems with physical and mental health, relationships, employment, and the law.

  1. Why do I feel anxious without any apparent reason?

While the exact cause of generalized anxiety isn't fully understood, it's likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include over activity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behavior or it may be genetic in origin. Often use of drugs, smoking or alcohol can be an underlying cause of anxiety.

However, many people develop anxiety for no apparent reason and it is therefore advisable to report it to the doctor and work towards managing the condition.

  1. Do children suffer from depression?

While depression is generally associated with adults or senior citizens, it is not uncommon for children to be diagnosed with both depression and an anxiety disorder, or depression and general anxiety.

Children whose parents have depression are at a greater risk of being depressed. Depression in children often presents with irritability, difficulty sleeping or concentrating, Change in school grades, getting into trouble at school, or refusing to go to school, change in eating habits etc. These symptoms should not be ignored and possibility of depression in such children may be considered.

  1. How is Bipolar disorder caused? Is it only genetic?

A lot of research in neuropsychology has shown that there is research has shown that there is no single cause responsible for BPD. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase risk. Genetics is just one of them.

While research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others, it is also seen that genes are not the only risk factor for bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that identical twins share all of the same genes.

  1. Are phobias serious to a personal health?

Generally speaking, a ‘phobia’ is an overwhelming and unreasonable fear of an object or situation that poses little real danger but provokes anxiety and avoidance in the sufferer. Although many feel that phobias are harmless, they can be destructive to those who have them, causing the following problems that affect many aspects of life - such as social isolation, depression, lead to substance abuse, and may be the reason behind suicide too.

  1. Are there any specific herbs that are specifically used to improve mental faculties?

Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia describes the various herbs and their qualities in details. Certain herbs belonging to the class of Medhya drugs such as Mandukaparni (Centella asiatica), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nordostachys jatamansi) and Yastimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra) are considered amongst herbs that improve mental faculties and should be used often as a part of diet and lifestyle especially for children.

  1. What are the common symptoms of dementia? Is any memory loss called Dementia?

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. A common symptom is memory loss but it is not the only symptom. Other problems can be low thinking speed, diminished mental agility, problems with language, understanding and judgement.

People with dementia can become apathetic or uninterested in their usual activities, and have problems controlling their emotions. They may also find social situations challenging, lose interest in socializing, and aspects of their personality may change.

  1. I often forget things or important tasks. Do I have Alzheimer’s disease?

Occasional forgetfulness or missing things due to lack of concentration or time may not necessarily be a serious condition. But if you continuously forget things or tend to forget simple day to day tasks – this may be an indication of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Any progressive memory loss should not be ignored and bought to medical attention, even if it seems negligible or not serious.

  1. I had a road rage incident today, I feel nervous and afraid to ride on the road again. Why is this so?

It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it. This “fight-or-flight” response is a typical reaction meant to protect a person from harm. Nearly everyone will experience a range of reactions after trauma, yet most people recover from initial symptoms naturally. Those who continue to experience problems may be diagnosed with PTSD. Anyone can develop PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans, children, and people who have been through a physical or sexual assault, abuse, accident, disaster, or many other serious events. This needs to be bought to medical attention and can be managed with counseling and therapy.

  1. What are the consequences of inattentiveness or weak memory of school children? Does this need to be cared for?

A weak memory leading to learning problems can have long term adverse social and economic outcomes. They include grade repetition, behavioral disorders, mood and self-esteem difficulties and school failure during the school years, and unemployment and poverty in adulthood. By using medhya rasayana, Ayurved promises improvement in working memory and improved grades ad performance among school children.

  1. What is post partum depression? Does every new mother go through it?

New mothers generally report ‘baby blues’ immediately after childbirth, which commonly include mood swings, crying spells, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. These symptoms typically begin within the first two to three days after delivery, and may last for up to two weeks. But some mothers experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression (PPD). Uncommonly, an extreme mood disorder called postpartum psychosis also may develop after childbirth.

References

Dementia or Cognitive impairment
  1. NHS Choices. Dementia. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia-guide/pages/about-dementia.aspx accessed Aug 27th 2016
  2. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. Vidhyotini Hindi Vyakhya- Sastry K & Chaturvedi G – Editors. Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011
  3. Mayo Clinic. Dementia: Symptoms and causes. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20198504 accessed Aug 27th 2016
  4. Tiwari RS, Tripathi JS. A critical appraisal of dementia with special reference to Smritibuddhihrass. AYU. Jul-Sep 2013; Vol. 34(3): 235-42
  5. Dabur: Ayurvedic products and drugs. Available at http://www.daburmediclub.com/product.aspx accessed on Aug 19th 2016.

Disclaimer: The information on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or ayurvedic treatment of psychiatry-mental-diseases and/or dementia or cognitive impairment without consulting the doctor. Consult your physician before beginning an exercise regime. "While we have products /ayurvedic medicines for psychiatry-mental-diseases and/or dementia or cognitive impairment , you must consult an authorized physician before taking any of the products. For more information on products, visit www.dabur.com or call 1800-103-1644"