Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is an injury caused by an impact to the head from direct blows or sudden body movements. Diffuse axonal injury involves widespread injury to the brain instead of localized damage, and constitutes one of the most common types of TBI. This condition can result in severe physical, cognitive, behavioral and emotional deficits.

The acute phase of TBI, when the patient is unconscious or critically ill, is best managed in intensive care. Ayurvedic herbal treatment can be initiated once this critical phase has passed, and the sooner treatment is started, the better will be the overall results. Treatment is aimed at healing the damaged nerve cells, improving neuromuscular coordination and treating the physical, cognitive, behavioral and emotional difficulties that result from TBI.

Medicines like Maha-Vat-Vidhvans-Ras, Vat-Gajankush-Ras, Bruhat-Vat-Chintamani, Vish-Tinduk-Vati, Agnitundi-Vati, Kaishor-Guggulu, Trayo-Dashang-Guggulu, Abhrak-Bhasma, Trivang-Bhasma, Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Kuchla (Strychnos nuxvomica), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Naagbala (Grewia hirsuta) and Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) are used to normalize nerve and muscular function.

Medicines like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Jayphal (Myristica fragrance) and Sarpagandha (Raulwofia serpentina) are used to treat cognitive, behavioral and emotional problems. Medicines like Maharasnadi-Guggulu, Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata) and Tagar (Valeriana valichii) are used to control pain and muscular spasm.

The entire body is massaged using medicated oils like Maha-Narayan-Oil, Chandan-Bala-Laxadi-Oil, Bala-Oil, and Saindhav-Oil. This is followed by medicated steam fomentation using Dashmool-Qadha or Nirgundi-Qadha. These procedures are believed to strengthen muscles and stimulate the nervous system. Modified massage procedures like “Pinda-Sweda” and “Pizichil” can also be used for specific situations. Some physicians advocate the use of medicated enemas called “Basti”, which are believed to regulate the “Vat” dosha and normalize nerve impulses.

It should be kept in mind that the response of patients to treatment can be highly unpredictable. Sometimes, patients with severe injury and an apparently major nervous system deficit make a dramatic and early recovery, whereas other patients who are comparatively not as handicapped take a longer time for improvement. Nevertheless, all patients do benefit from herbal medicines and Ayurvedic treatment procedures.

Ayurvedic herbal therapy can thus prove to be a valuable treatment modality in the management of TBI. Speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, recreational therapy, and counseling needs to be given as required. Ayurvedic medicines can help shorten the duration of treatment and improve the extent of recovery in TBI.

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