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How to Prevent Age Related Macular Degeneration with Ayurveda
The Ayurvedic approach to prevent age related macular degeneration includes elimination of Ama (Metabolic toxins), detoxification, and improving nutrition to eye by administration of Chakshusya Rasayana (Rejuvenation for the eyes). The Ayurvedic treatment modalities include Panchakarma, external therapies, internal medications, and advice on food and life style changes. Proper care for the eyes is one preventive measure that helps.
The major procedures done for the treatment of age related Macular Degeneration are as follows:
- Virechana (Therapeutic purgation) – Virechana is done with administration of medicines after internal and external oleation and sudation. This helps in removing toxins from the body and bring equilibrium of the doshas especially Pitta.
- Nasya (Nasal medication) – A procedure in which medicated oil, or fresh juice of herbs, is instilled inside the nostrils after oleation and fomentation of the face and neck. Anu oil is commonly used for Nasya. However other liquid medium that can be used are fresh juice of durva, powder of Vidanga, Karpasasthyadi taila, Lakshadi taila, ghee, etc.
- Netra Dhara / Seka (Eye wash) – The procedure of pouring thin streams of herbal liquids over the closed eye from a height of 4 finger breath is Netra Dhara or Seka. This procedure is carried out during the day. Triphala decoction is generally used for this purpose. Other herbal decoctions mixed with honey can also be used. The herbal liquid is poured on the closed eyes through a funnel and the medicines flowing out of the eye is collected by holding a bowl against the temporal region just below the outer canthus.
- Bidalaka or Lepa (Application of herbal paste) – Simple smearing of herbal paste on the skin surface of the eye lids, avoiding eye lashes, is Bidalaka or Lepa. It can be done with paste of Lodhra (Symplocos racemosa), Nimba/neem (Azadirachta indica), Shigru (Moringa olifera), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Eranda (Riccinus communis) depending upon the doshas vitiated.
- Netra Tarpana (Eye rejuvenation in dry types) – Warm medicated ghee is poured into the eyes and retained inside an herbal paste boundary. Ghee is unctuous and cool, hence helps mitigate Vata and Pitta doshas. Common medicated ghrita used for Tarpana are Mahatriphala, Triphala ghrita, Patoladi ghrita, Drakshadi ghrita and Jeevantyadi ghrita.
- Anjana (Collyrium) – The application of medicine to inner aspect of the lower eyelid from the inner canthus to the outer canthus is Anjana. It can be done with special rod or finger. Vimala Varti, Bhaskara churna, etc can be used for Anjana.
- Shiro lepa/Tala dharana (Application of herbal pastes on the vertex) – Common herbal paste used are Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Kachoradi churna.
- Shiro Tarpana /Murdha Taila (Oiling the head) – Oiling the head is very effective in the management of stress, hypertension, improves vision and calms down Vata dosha. Oiling the head can be done in four methods – Shiro Abhyanga (Head massage), Shirahseka (Pouring medicated oil or liquid medium on the head in a rhythmic manner), Shiropichu (Placing cotton swab soaked in oil on the vertex), and Shirobasti (Retaining medicated oil on the vertex inside a leather cap boundary).
- Taila Shirodhara (in dry type) – In this process lukewarm medicated oil (Sesame oil medicated with herbs like Brahmi, Shankhapushpi, Yashtimadhu, Chandana, etc.) is poured over the forehead in a rhythmic manner from a perforated pot suspended above forehead.
- Takradhara (in wet type) – In this therapy, lukewarm medicated buttermilk (medicated with Amalaki and other herbs) is poured over the forehead in a rhythmic manner just like in Shirodhara.
In Dry ARMD, a combination of Snehana (Internal and external oleation), Nasya (Nasal medication), Anjana (Collyrium), Shiro Tarpana / Murdha Taila (Oiling the head), Tarpana (Application of medicated fat to the eyes), Shirodhara (Pouring of Medicated oil on the forehead in a rhythmic manner) and Rasayana (Rejuvenation) is advised.
For Wet ARMD, Snehana (Internal and external oleation), Shiro lepam (Application of herbal pastes on vertex), Takradhara (Pouring of Medicated buttermilk on the forehead in a rhythmic manner), Pratimarsha nasya (Smearing oil inside the nostril daily), Anjana (Collyrium), Tarpana (Application of medicated fat to the eyes) and Rasayana (Rejuvenation) is in effectively healing, and checking the degeneration of the macular system.
Diet guidelines for Age Related Macular Degeneration
- Include more of Vitamin A in your diet. Eat fruits and vegetables that have a deep orange or yellow color such as: carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, apricots, peaches, cantaloupe, oranges, papayas, and mangoes.
- Non vegetarian foods, like eggs, liver and fish are also conducive to eye health.
- Dairy products- cheese, fresh milk, butter, also possess a fair amount of vitamin A.
- Green leafy vegetables- kale, beet greens, Swiss chard, coriander, spinach, mustard and collard greens, help to improve the vision.
- Include antioxidants like lemon and berries in your diet.
- Include more of fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
Lifestyle Recommendations for Age Related Macular Degeneration
- Splash plain water in the eyes every hour.
- Avoid watching television, using the computer or reading continuously for long periods of time.
- Avoid improper postures while using the computer, watching TV or reading.
- Avoid straining the eyes to read small letters.
- Practice Trataka yogic exercise daily.
- Put a teaspoonful of Triphala coarse powder in a glass of water and let it stay overnight. Next morning strain the water with a fine cloth or filter and wash the eyes with it.
- Go to sleep by 10pm. One of the main causes of eye problems is lack of sleep. Without proper rest, eyes become tired, red, itchy, puffy, bleary, and bloodshot.
- Palming is an excellent way to give the eyes some rest when they are over-strained. Eyes need a break if they have been in front of a computer or TV screen, reading, driving, or doing close-up work, for too long a stretch. Simply rub the palms together for a few seconds and gently place them over the eyes. This provides an unbelievable deep rest that blocks out outside stimulation and helps tired, blurry eyes.
- Placing cooling cotton pads dipped in rose water, aloe vera, cilantro, or cucumber juices over the eyes is beneficial.
- Application of sandalwood powder and water on the forehead can soothe eye strain.
Ayurvedic Herbs and Formulations for Age Related Macular Degeneration:
Ayurvedic herbs and formulations,rich source of vitamins and antioxidants, that are beneficial in Macular degeneration are as follows:
Triphala (Combination of three fruits) – Triphala is an important medicine for eye health, especially blurred or impaired vision or to prevent eye disorders. Triphala strengthens the muscles of the eyes and improves eyesight. It is for both internal and external use.