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Autism and Ayurveda: An Overview

Autism and Ayurveda: An Overview

by Kottakkal Support July 03, 2017

Autism and Ayurveda Kottakkal Ayurveda

Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which includes Asperger Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Rett Syndrome, are neuro-developmental and neuropsychiatric disorders of unknown etiology, though they all show a strong genetic basis. They are detected in childhood and continue into adulthood.

These disorders have a variety of consequences that negatively impact how the person processes and interprets information, their ability to focus, basic social interactions and their ability to learn.

Both ADHD and autism frequently co-occur. ADHD within ASD is present 30 - 80% of the time and the presence of ASD within ADHD is 20 - 50% of the time. Both are neurodevelopment disorders that share the phenotypic similarities. 

Autism Through the Lens of Ayurveda

Autism and ADHD are not mentioned in any of the classical Ayurvedic texts, but Charak Samhita, one of the most authoritative medicinal texts in Ayurveda, says that a disease that has not been described in the text by name can be understood, managed and treated based on the following principles: 

  • Samuthanavishesha (Based on etiology) 
  • Sthanantargatwam (Site of affliction)
  • Vikarprakriti (Nature of disease)
  • Adhisthanatarni (Site of imbalanced Doshas)
The Management and Treatment of Autism in Ayurveda
The Etiology of Autism: Prenatal
  • Beeja dushti: Beeja can be translated to encompass ovum and sperm. Beeja dushti together signifies abnormalities in the ovum and sperm. 
  • Garbhokapatkarbhava: Poor diet and lifestyle of the pregnant woman that can harm the fetus.
  • Kala: Time is considered a very important factor affecting the development of a disease. The age of the mother and father at the time of conception, the time of delivery and the age of the baby when born.
  • Atmakarma: Actions in a previous life are believed to affect a baby's health.
  • Aashaya dushti: Ashaya is the uterus, other reproductive organs and also the endocrine system. These are important players in the process of conception and fetal growth. Abnormalities in the reproductive and endocrine systems in the mother and father can be a factor in autism. 
  • Upaklista sattva: Imbalanced Manasika Doshas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.) 
  • Utsanna bahu dosha: This is a condition where all of the Doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha and the Manasika Doshas, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) are imbalanced in a woman before she conceives.
The Etiology of Autism: Natal 
  • Upaksheena deja: This is when the woman is pregnant and all three types of Shareer Dosha: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and all three types of Manasika Dosha: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, are imbalanced.
The Etiology of Autism: Postnatal
  • Manovaha srotodusti: Srotas are channels in the body and they play an important part in our physiology. Any kind of abnormality or imbalance in the srotas (Manovaha srotodusti) leads to an obstruction in the normal function of the organs associated with it. 
Comparative Diseases In Ayurvedic Texts
  • Based on the clinical symptoms of ASD and ADHD, they can be compared to Unmad, specifically Agantuj Unmad.
Clinical Features of Unmad
  • Mano vibhrama - mental confusion
  • Buddhi vibhrama - impaired intelligence
  • Samjnajnana vibhrama - impaired consciousness
  • Smrti vibhrama - impaired memory
  • Bhakti vibhrama - loss of desire
  • Sila vibhrama - inappropriate behavior
  • Chesta vibhrama - abnormal activities
  • Acara vibhrama - impaired socialization skills; unable to follow commands
The Doshas Role In ASD and ADHD
  • Vata and Pitta and Rajas are all three in excess in ADHD.
  • Kapha and Tamas are in excess in ASD.
The Elements in the Development of Autism 
  • Doshas - Tridosha, Rajas and Tamas
  • Dushya - Ras
  • Srotas - Manovaha
  • Nidan - Beeja dushti, Avarana
  • Adhisthana - Hridya, Mana
  • Roga Marga - Madhyama
  • Rogasthana - Manovyapara and Shareerachesta
  • Rupa - Vibhrama of Manas, Budhi, Smriti, Bhakti, Sanjyana, Sheela, Chesta, Achara

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