Huntington’s disease, also known as Huntington’s chorea, is an inherited, autosomal dominant, progressive, degenerative disease usually seen in middle age. Common symptoms of this condition include sudden, jerky, involuntary movements (chorea) throughout the body; problems with balance and co-ordination; slurred speech; swallowing problems; cognitive defects; irritability or depression; and dementia. This condition is believed to result due to dysfunctional metabolism of cholesterol resulting in degeneration of the brain cells and their interconnections.
The Ayurvedic treatment of Huntington’s disease is aimed at controlling the symptoms and treating the basic cause of the disease. Medicines like Kutaj (Holarrhina antidysentrica), Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Patha (Cissampelos pareira), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Guggulu (Commiphora mukul), Psyllium (Plantago ovata), Lashuna (Allium sativum), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) are used to regulate and normalize the metabolism of cholesterol. Medicines like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Mandukparni (Centella asiatica) are used to prevent or slow down the degeneration of the network of brain cells and improve dementia, and cognitive and speech defects.
Depression and irritability can be treated using medicines like Brahmi-Vati, Saraswatarishta, Laxmi-Vilas-Ras, Drakshasav and Shrung-Bhasma. Involuntary, jerky movements of the body are treated using medicines like Bruhat-Vat-Chintamani, Maha-Vat-Vidhvans-Ras, Vat-Gajankush-Ras, Sinhanaad-Guggulu, Vish-Tinduk-Vati, Dashmoolarishta, Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata), Erandmool (Ricinus communis), Deodar (Cedrus deodara), Shalparni (Desmodium gangeticum), Prushnaparni (Uraria picta), Bala (Sida cordifolia) and Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta). The entire body is massaged using medicated oils like Mahanarayan oil, Mahamash oil and Mahasaindhav oil. This is followed by steam fomentation of the full body by using medicines like Dashmool-Qadha and Nirgundi-Qadha. Panchkarma procedures like ‘Shirobasti’ and ‘Shirodhara’ are also quite useful in this condition and need to be given periodically on a long-term basis.
Patients affected with Huntington’s disease need to exercise regularly, maintain proper nutrition and take up physiotherapy and speech therapy. Family counseling and genetic counseling are also recommended in this condition.