Ayurvedic Medicine Treats Macular Degeneration

Ayurvedic Medicine Treats Macular Degeneration

There is a 5,000 year old form of traditional healing that comes from the Indian subcontinent that is called Ayurvedic medicine. This practice remains in the shadows of other alternative treatments given its unique remedy applications that still seem too foreign for mainstream America. However, this outlook may soon be changing due to some promising research regarding how Ayurvedic medicine treats macular degeneration. 

An Ancient Wonder

The term Ayurvedic comes from the ancient language of Sanskrit. 

  • ‘Ayu’ means “all aspects of life from birth to death”
  • ‘veda’ means “knowledge, learning, or right living” 

Two texts that date back to the turn of the first millennium BC which have become the hallowed guides of Ayurvedic medicine are Charaka Samhita and Sushrut Samhita. Charaka Samhita, is used by Ayurvedic physicians to help determine a diagnosis and offer applicable treatments to patients. Sushrut Samhita is the first comprehensive surgical text ever discovered which was used to treat the many combatants injured during frequent warfare at the time of its writing. 

Similar to Chinese medicine, Ayurveda is based around five elements:

  • Space
  • Air
  • Fire 
  • Water 
  • Wood

Being able to maintain these elements is essential for optimal health and Ayurvedic medicine uses what is known as the three humors called doshas to determine the best course of action. Each dosha presents clues that every individual can be diagnosed through. When it comes to vision and how macular degeneration may be targeted, the three doshas that correlate to the eyes are:

  • Vatta (wind, air element) – Small, dry, active, brown, black
  • Pitta (bile, fire, water) – Sharp, penetrating, green, grey, yellow
  • Kapha (mucous, water, earth) – Big, attractive, blue, thick eyelashes

By first determining what dosha a patient is, the Ayurvedic practitioner can then craft a valid course of action. According to a conceptual study published in the International Ayurvedic Medical Journal, 

“The  overall  results  of  modern  treatment  in both types of ARMD [age-related macular degeneration] are not very encouraging. Ayurvedic treatment including Basti, Virechana, Nasya, Rasayana Chikitsa etc. play a significant role in controlling the disease and increases blood circulation  and nourishes retina. The disease cannot be cured 100% but can be  kept  stable  in  that condition through Ayurvedic drugs and therapy.”

Through the Ayurvedic Lens

As the macula is the most reactive part of the retina it is considered the layer of nerves essential to sight. In Ayurvedic medicine, this area is referred to as “the seat of AlochakaPitta, which is a fraction of Pitta”. Pathology of the macula spoils AlochakaPitta and can cause a spiral into other health compromises.

Symptoms associated with macular degeneration that Ayurvedic doctors can decipher the proper treatment from include:

  • Blurred Vision – Constant blurring then focusing is the first stage of macular degeneration
  • Black Circle – A floating black circle while focusing is the second stage of this disease
  • Visual Distortion – Shapes squeezed or slanted, lines are wavy or zig zag in the second stage
  • Missing Info – Missing or mis-sized letters while reading is within the last stage

Macular degeneration through the Ayurvedic lens is all about preventing or treating the spoiled Pitta. By strengthening Pitta and adopting some lifestyle changes, you can help slow AMD (age-related macular degeneration) progression.

Applying Ayurvedic Medicine for AMD

Although it may sound like a foreign alternative approach, applying Ayurvedic medicine is easy and highly beneficial for preventing AMD, as well as enhancing overall optical health. These are some applications that you can start implementing right now.

Add Fruit

Many fruits offer high antioxidant activity that immediately start searching for free radicals which are a major link to macular degeneration. Some fruits recommended in the Ayurvedic diet include:

  • Black grapes
  • Bananas
  • Amla which is Indian gooseberry

Tonify the Brain

By stimulating the brain, optical health can thrive. Ayurvedic medicine formulates a variety of brain tonics to activates the optical nerve and other essential sight functions. These brain tonics should include Shatavari, Ashwagandha, and Vidari which are three commonly used herbs for systemic healing. 

Medicated Head Massage

Bringing more circulation to the macula can only be a good thing. These are the Ayurvedic medicinal oils recommended before washing the head:

  • Tungadrumadi Tailam
  • Ksheerabala Tailam
  • Jeevaneeya Keram

Work With An Ayurvedic Doctor

If you can find an Ayurvedic doctor (searching in an Indian community can help) there is a list of AMD treatment recommendations that may be beneficial. However, these can only be applied with professional guidance as you will notice the unique herbs, oils, and pastes that are more familiar to an Ayurvedic practitioner. 

Indian health blogger, Sidharth Sharma, writes these examples of how an Ayurvedic doctor may approach the prevention or treatment of macular degeneration. Some of these treatments, although found beneficial by Indian patients, can seem highly unorthodox.

Virechana (Therapeutic purgation [cleansing]) – This therapy is one of the best therapies for the treatment of age-related macular degeneration. It is done with the administration of herbal medicines after internal and external oleation [preparatory fat].

Nasya (Nasal medication) – A procedure in which medicated oil, or herbal juice, is instilled inside the nostrils after oleation and fomentation [wet heat application] of the face and neck.

Netra Dhara (Eyewash) – The treatment of age-related macular degeneration also includes pouring thin streams of herbal medicine over the closed eye from a certain height which is called Netra Dhara. This procedure is carried out during the day.

Lepa (Application of herbal paste) – The application of herbal paste on the skin surface of the eyelids is called Lepa. It can be done with the paste of Lodhra (Symplocos Racemosa), Nimba/neem (Azadirachta indica), Shigru (Moringa Olifera), Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis), Eranda (Ricinus communis) depending upon the doshas vitiated [spoiled].

Netra Tarpana (Eye rejuvenation) – This treatment of age-related macular degeneration includes the warm medicated ghee [a type of butter] which is then poured into the eyes and retained inside an herbal paste boundary.

Taila Shirodhara – In this process lukewarm medicated oil (Sesame oil medicated with herbs like Brahmi, Shankhapushpi, Yashtimadhu, Chandana, etc) is poured over the forehead in a rhythmic manner from a perforated pot suspended above forehead.

Takradhara – The ayurvedic treatment of age-related macular degeneration includes Takradhara also. In this therapy, lukewarm medicated buttermilk (medicated with Amalaki and other herbs) is poured over the forehead in a rhythmic manner just like in [Taila] Shirodhara.

As conventional medicine continues to search for a cure, Ayurvedic medicine treats macular degeneration with thousands of years behind it. Giving this natural approach a try is a leap into ancient medicine that may open a whole new way to tackle this debilitating disease.