Neuropathy & Ayurveda

Ayurvedic Doctor
Some ayurvedic herbs may relieve neuropathy symptoms. (Image: nilanewsom/iStock/Getty Images)

Neuropathy, also commonly known as peripheral neuropathy, is a condition in which nerves that carry information to and from the brain and spinal cord become damaged. Symptoms of neuropathy typically include numbness, pain and tingling in the hands and feet. There are a variety of causes of neuropathy; one of the most common is diabetes. Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine, offers potential relief for symptoms of this condition. As always, talk to your doctor about using ayurvedic herbs to treat neuropathy.

Ayurvedic Classification

Neuropathy is considered a vata disease in ayurvedic medicine. Vata, one of three constitutional categories known as doshas, is associated with the energy of wind and is responsible for activating the nervous system. Vata controls some of the most fundamental processes in your body, such as cell division, heart function and waste elimination and is regarded as the most powerful dosha. According to ayurvedic philosophy, people whose predominant dosha is vata are more susceptible to neurological conditions such as neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, anxiety and insomnia.

Manjishtha

The ayurvedic herb Manjishtha, common name Indian Madder, improves a number of diabetic complications, including chronic infections, retinopathy -- a degenerative condition of the retina of the eye, inflammation, kidney damage and neuropathy, according to ayurvedic practitioner and Chinese Herbalist Sebastian Pole, author of the book "Ayurvedic Medicine: the Principles of Traditional Practice." Manjishtha also has a calming effect on the nervous system that makes it useful as a treatment for some forms of epilepsy. Contact a health practitioner familiar with its use for dosing guidelines for your individual needs.

Blood Sugar-Lowering Herbs

Ayurvedic herbs may be helpful for lowering elevated blood sugar that can lead to nerve damage and neuropathy. Among herbs used for their blood sugar-lowering effects in ayurvedic medicine, Gymnema sylvestre; Coccinia indica, also known as scarlet gourds; fenugreek; holy basil; and Eugenia jambolana, also known as jamun, have been studied the most by scientists. In randomized, case-control human trials, all but E. jambolana measurably lowered blood glucose. Two ayurvedic formulas, Ayush-82 and D-400, also demonstrated ability to lower blood sugar. Psyllium and guar gum, both forms of dietary fiber, have also been shown to help with blood sugar management.

Castor Oil

Castor oil is recommended as an ayurvedic treatment for a variety of conditions, including epilepsy, paralysis and foot neuropathy, according to Karta Purkh Singh, author of the book "The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs: The Most Complete Guide to Natural Healing and Health With Traditional Ayurvedic Herbalism." Apply a moist castor oil pack by soaking cotton flannel in castor oil and applying to the affected area. Alternatively, a more convenient form of water-soluble castor oil gels are available. Discuss taking castor oil with your doctor to ensure your safety.

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