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Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla
Raksha Ayurvedalaya: The Family Wellness Center

Stroke and Ayurvedic Treatment

Stroke is the term used to describe a sudden loss of function in a portion of the brain. Typically, that loss of function results in difficulty in moving an arm or leg (paralysis). There may be loss of feeling or peculiar sensations in the same areas.

A stroke may also appear with problems relating to speech or vision, or as a convulsion. The loss of brain function is due to a sudden reduction of the blood supply to a portion of the brain. The reduced blood supply may be due to clogging of the blood vessel by thickening and hardening of the vessel wall (atherosclerosis) or rupture of the blood vessel with bleeding (haemorrhage). Once started, a stroke can continue to damage the brain either by clotting around an obstruction or by further haemorrhage.

Pakshaaghaata is the Ayurvedic term for paralytic affliction. The Ayurvedic texts generally attribute such condition to a block in Vaata’s movement.

Some strokes, known as transient ischemic attacks (TIA) cause symptoms that last only for a short time. The cause of such attacks is not certain but is generally thought to be due to a spasm of a blood vessel to the brain. A TIA can have many forms, from a momentary change of vision to a brief paralysis of a limb. Sudden lapses of attention or passing out are sometimes the only evidence of a TIA. When brain tissue is damaged by a stroke, it may recover fully, partially or not at all. Recovery may occur in a few hours or days, or may stretch out over many months. The major causes are hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), high blood pressure, and diabetes, which often hastens hardening of the arteries and increases blood pressure. People, who smoke or are overweight, are more prone to it.

While there is little that can be done to stop a stroke while it is occurring, there is much that can be done to treat and diminish the consequences of a stroke.

The majority of people who survive a stroke do well in terms of living at home, moving about independently and carrying out the normal activities of daily living. Thus, having a stroke definitely does not mean that one’s life is irreparably damaged.

Anti-vaata drugs such as Vaata chintaamani ras, Ekaanga veera ras, Vaata gajaankush ras etc., are used to treat this condition. In addition, a special regimen, including snehana (medicated oil application), pinda swedana (fomentation), nasya (nasal drops) and basti (special type of enema therapy) strengthens the muscle tissue and restores the neuromuscular function. These therapies expel toxins from different channels. They clear disturbances or blockades, increasing peripheral blood supply.

Recovery of Damaged Brain Tissue

A damaged brain can heal. Sometimes the healing is rapid and complete when the damage is minimal, as with a TIA. But, recovery can also occur after a regular stroke when the damage is greater. Recovery may be complete but usually, after a regular stroke, it is partial. However, the recovery of brain function can be quite significant, because other parts of the brain can assume some of the functions of the damaged portion. Thus, it is very important to keep the possibility of brain function recovery in mind and do everything that will encourage recovery.

Regaining Muscle Function

When the brain is damaged by a stroke, the muscles controlled by the portion of the brain are affected. For example, when certain parts of the left-brain are damaged, the right arm or leg may be weakened or paralysed. Initially after the stroke, the muscles are limp and move poorly or not at all. As time passes, whether they begin to function appropriately again or not, the muscles become tense.

Fortunately, muscle function can be recovered, and the brain is able to substitute some new connections for damaged ones. Furthermore, muscles unaffected by the stroke can learn to do new things and thereby substitute for impaired muscles. This recovery process requires pancha-karma therapies and rehabilitation measures. However, nothing will work unless the patient himself or herself actively, persistently and regularly is involved in this programme. Only personal effort will make the programme work.

There is another important issue to remember. Unused muscles atrophy; they lose size and strength. In the process of atrophying, they also often scar and become less flexible. The processes of atrophy and scarring can only be prevented by use of the muscles. In ayurveda, ‘abhyangana chikitsa’ or massage therapy, works on this principle. Massage therapy gives the patient adequate exercise by passive movement of muscles and joints.

Recovery of Mental Abilities

After a stroke, some people’s emotional states change and they become susceptible to what appear to be rapid mood swings. They may laugh or cry suddenly, or become angry or withdrawn. While these mood changes are not a consequence of altered thinking, to other people they may appear to be a result of thought changes. Mood changes are actually a result of damage to brain tissue and usually cannot be controlled by the patient. It is important for families and caregivers to recognise this and find ways to compensate or minimise the impact of outbursts. It may be that the emotion fragility is also a product of frustration, anger and depression, which are common among people who have had strokes. Difficulty in speaking after a stroke may happen. It is usually caused by loss of ability to understand or by loss of control of speech muscles, or by both. Whatever the cause, immediately after the stroke many people will not speak at all. Then abnormal speech will appear and improve gradually until normal or nearly normal speech returns.

It is important to recognise that sometimes, poor thinking is largely a result of reduced speed of thought. However, just as people with strokes can learn again how to do physical activities such as walking and eating, they can also learn, to some extent, to think and speak again. In all these areas of mental recovery, patience and assurance have a very important role to play.

Managing Abnormal Sensations

Abnormal sensations, because of a stroke, can be quite bothersome. Sometimes there may be simply numbness, but there can also be pain in the affected portion of the body or loss of the normal sensation. Commonly such sensation disappears or subsides significantly. However, sometimes they persist. When they persist, people sometimes gradually lose notice of them. Ayurvedic drugs such as Mahaa vaata vidhwansan ras can sometimes be effective without causing undesirable effects.

Ayurvedic Remedies

Gunja taila is one of the effective external applications in paralysis. It is prepared by boiling together, the pulp made of equal quantity of Gunja seeds (rattee or ghunghachee) and long pepper, in til oil or mustard oil, (four times of the pulp) and buttermilk, (four times of the oil) on slow flame. After evaporation of the water content, it is bottled and used as a liniment.

Take the decoction of the bark of the root of drumstick with fried asafoetida and rock salt in doses of 20 ml. This is to be taken for a minimum period of 40 days.

Dashmoolaarishta is very effective for toning up the nervous system. About four teaspoonful of it mixed with equal quantity of water is given twice daily until the symptoms subside. Mahaa narayana taila is good for external massage.

Warning Signals

  • l Sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg.
  • Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye.
  • Sudden difficulty in speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
  • Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness, or sudden falls, especially in conjunction with the other warning signs.
  • Occasionally, strokes cause double vision, drowsiness, nausea or vomiting.

Because, warning signs sometimes may last only for a few minutes and disappear, it may be tempting to ignore them. However, these mini-strokes could be your body’s warning of a future full-blown stroke. So, even if the symptoms go away quickly, seek medical help right away.

Risk Factors

  • l High blood pressure.
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Heart disease.
  • History of stroke, and
  • Diabetes.


As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. Hence Standard Ayurvedic Treatments are always individually formulated. This article is intended only for information. It is not a substitute to the standard medical diagnosis, personalized Ayurvedic treatment or qualified Ayurvedic physician. For specific treatment, always consult with a qualified Ayurvedic physician.


Dr. Murali Manohar Chirumamilla, M.D. (Ayurveda)
Plot No. 13, H.No: 16-2-67/13,
Ramamurthy Nagar (CBCID Colony),
Landmark: Kukatpally Area, Metro Train Pillar No. MYP 29.
PIN - 500 085. Telangana State


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