Gait, balance, hand coordination, vision, speech, swallowing, cognitive, mood problems, and fatigue are all related to the ataxia that develops because of cerebellar atrophy. Ataxia was once referred to as the “Drunken Sailor” syndrome a few hundred years ago. We can relate big time.
The gait problems that arrive with the symptoms from Superficial Siderosis are just one of many that fall under the authority of ataxia.
The nature of Gary’s cerebellar atrophy has dropped almost every single symptom directly in our lap. Vision issues have made driving no longer possible. Speech, swallowing, and coordination problems are intensified by fatigue. Cognitive issues appear to be evening out some as of late so being the glass half full part of this partnership I’m going to chalk that up to some positive effect of the green tea. As for mood, well we’ve been married 37 years, so we deal with that in our way.
We hope to avoid going down the “overmedicated prescription” road. That’s not to say if a pharmaceutical medication turns out to be something necessary we’d turn away from it, but we’re still hoping to explore any natural or alternative medicine that might offer some relief. One of these alternative medicine disciplines is Ayurvedic medicine.
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old discipline of physical healing that originated in India. Traditional Tibetan and Chinese Medicine can both trace their roots back to Ayurveda and the philosophy of Mind, Body, and Spirit.
In 2009 a joint study in India was conducted by the Department of Neurology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Advanced Ayurvedic Research Unit, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and Psychiatric and Neurological Rehabilitation, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences. In this study, they sought to discover if traditional Ayurvedic medicine could have a positive effect on balance issues caused by cerebellar ataxia.
“Comprehensive treatment of progressive cerebellar ataxias has remained elusive to a large extent. There are as yet no approved drugs or disease-modifying therapies for this problem and till date, there is no documented Allopathic treatment effective for cerebellar ataxias. Ayurveda describes this condition as kaphavrita vyana vata (occlusion of vyana vata by kapha dosha) under vata vyadhi (neurological diseases) and specific treatment regimens have been described to combat the various symptoms seen in the course of the disease. The aim of this study was to assess objectively the improvement in balance in progressive degenerative cerebellar ataxias following one such mode of treatment.”¹
They chose ten patients for their study between the ages of 12 and 60 who all had progressively worsening cerebellar ataxia and had failed to show any improvement from any previous treatments. A combination treatment was applied. Shirobasti for the men ( warm oil on the head/scalp)or Shirodhara (warm oil on the forehead) for the women for a length of 45 minutes. Full body massage and 10-15 minutes of sitting in a Bhashpa svedana yantra (customized wooden box) with vapors warm enough to induce sweating. Treatments were administered daily for 14 consecutive days.
The subjects were prescribed: Two Dhanvantaram capsules 101 soft gel three times a day, One Ashwagandha 500mg three times a day and 15 ml Maharasnadi kashayam three times a day for a 30-day period.
“In this study, we have reported our preliminary observations of the effect of Ayurvedic treatment in patients with degenerative cerebellar ataxia. Though molecular genetic research has completely revolutionized the way in which the progressive cerebellar ataxias are classified and diagnosed, it is yet to produce effective gene-based, neuroprotective, or neurorestorative therapies.  With due acknowledgement of the limitations of open-label study on a small heterogeneous group of progressive degenerative ataxias, we report encouraging observations in treatment of this debilitating disorder for which there is no effective therapy till date. Though Ayurvedic treatment has been reported to be effective in other neurodegenerative conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease,  to the best of our knowledge, there are no reports of similar beneficial treatment in progressive degenerative cerebellar ataxias.
“ While before treatment all the patients had one or more abnormal balance indices, following treatment, 40% of patients showed normal balance indices”