Epilepsy Encephalopathies – Ayurvedic Herbal Medicine

Epileptic encephalopathies are a group of medical conditions characterized by epilepsy that are difficult to treat and are usually progressive. This group consists of eight age-related syndromes which include Early Myoclonic Encephalopathy, Ohtah Syndrome, West Syndrome, Dravet’s Syndrome, myoclonic status in non-progressive encephalopathy, Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, Landau-Kleffner Syndrome, and epilepsy with continuous surge waves. Usually refractory to standard anti-epileptic drugs, this condition led to progressive brain dysfunction and associated physical, mental, and cognitive disorders. This condition is usually seen in early childhood and is believed to be caused by brain damage due to excessive bursts of electrical impulses, during the stage of brain maturation. Severe cognitive, behavioral and neurological defects can be seen with this condition, which can even cause premature death. Affected people who survive to their teens show a decrease in epilepsy symptoms; However, residual neurological and cognitive disabilities are significant.

Most syndromes that are included in epileptic encephalopathy need to be treated aggressively with a combination of new antiepileptic drugs. This can partly control seizures: however, the overall prognosis in most affected individuals is still inferior. In such a scenario, Ayurvedic herbal medicines can be used wisely as supportive therapy to treat refractory seizures, improve and prevent cognitive, behavioral and neurological deficits and related symptoms, and improve long-term survival. Although traditionally refractory to standard treatment, supporting and supplemental herbal medicines, given in combination and high doses for long periods – often several years – can bring significant improvements and maintain beneficial effects.

Herbal medicines that are useful in this condition need to play a role in reducing the excessive release of electricity in brain cells, and preventing brain damage, and preserving and enhancing the structural and functional abilities of the brain to the maximum extent possible. Herbal medicines that are useful in the treatment of this condition include Ashwagandha, (Withania somnifera), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Shankapushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentina), Khurasani Ajwayan (Hyoscyamus niger), Pippalimool (Piper longum), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), and Haridra (Curcuma longa).

Other herbal and herbomineral combination drugs that are useful in the treatment of these disorders include Bruhat Vat Chintamani Ras, Maha Vat Vidhvans Ras, Vat Gajankush Ras, Brahmi Vati, Sarpagandha Ghan Vati, Dashmoolarishta, Ashwagandharishta, Syrup Shankhpushpi, Saraswatarishta, and Ras Unmadgajkesri.

Panchakarma Ayurvedic procedures such as Shiro-Basti, Shiro-Dhara, Nasya, Basti, and full-body massage followed by recommended steam medicinal decoctions, may also be useful in the treatment of epileptic encephalopathy. Medicines like Nirgundi (Vitex negundo) and Dashmool (Ten herbal roots) are beneficial in this procedure. Shiro-Basti involves retention of medicinal oils on the scalp, while Basti consists of the use of oil-using drug enemas or decoctions. Some programs of this procedure may be needed in patients who are refractory to other treatments.

Ayurvedic herbal medicines can provide an additional and supportive role in controlling symptoms significantly, improving quality of life, and increasing the overall lifespan of affected individuals who suffer from this condition. Ayurvedic herbal medicine thus has a significant role to play in the management and treatment of epilepsy encephalopathy.