Motor Neuron Disease (MND) is an uncommon, progressive condition that affects the brain and the nerves. The disease is marked by the degeneration of motor neurons — that is, the nerve cells that control the movement of the muscles by transmitting signals from the brain.
The term ‘Motor Neuron Disease’ (MND) broadly refers to a group of severe neurodegenerative conditions. In most patients, MND causes the degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons, and adversely affects the functioning of the nerves in the spine and brain over a period of time. The motor neurons degenerate progressively and rapidly; thereby leading to weakness and wasting of muscles. As the condition progresses, patients start losing mobility in the limbs, and experience difficulties with speech, breathing, and swallowing. Eventually, the disease leads to respiratory failure.
MND is considered a fatal disease, though some patients can survive with the condition for several years. Once the symptoms of the disease become noticeable, doctors usually predict a life expectancy of 2-5 years for most patients. However, based on the rate of progression of the disease in individual patients, nearly 20% of the MND patients can live for up to 5-10 years after the disease is diagnosed.
According to research, the occurrence of MND is higher in people aged more than 50 years as compared to younger adults. Moreover, men are at a higher risk of developing the condition than women.
According to Ayurveda, diseases like MND are a result of Vata derangement. The Vata bio factor is responsible for functions of the central, autonomic, and peripheral nervous systems. Vata controls the brain’s cognitive and neurocognitive function, all kinds of body movements, as well as the respiratory, blood, lymphatic, excretory, and reproductive systems.
Types of Motor Neurone Disease (MND)
Motor Neurone Disease can be categorized into the following five types, depending on the affected motor neurons:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), which is the most common type of MND that affects neurons in the brain and spinal cord
- Primary Lateral Sclerosis, which affects neurons in the brain
- Progressive Bulbar Palsy (PBP), which involves the brain stem
- Progressive Muscular Atrophy (PMA), which affects the motor neurons in the spinal cord
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), which is an inherited condition that affects children.
Motor Neurone Disease (MND): Causes
The exact cause of the occurrence of MND is not clearly known. Nonetheless, doctors believe that MND can either occur due to hereditary (inherited) factors or some sporadic/random factors.
In patients affected by MND due to hereditary factors, the condition is usually presented at birth. However, except for Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), the symptoms of MND usually become noticeable only after 40 years of age. Nearly 10% of all MND cases are linked to hereditary factors.
With regard to random factors, experts are of the opinion that MND can occur due to viral, toxic, and other environmental factors. MND occurs randomly in almost 90% of cases.
Motor Neurone Disease (MND): Symptoms
The symptoms of MND follow a pattern that can be divided into three stages the initial stage, the advanced stage, and the end-stage.
At The Initial Stage
- Constant Fatigue
- Weakened Hand Grip
- Slurred Speech
- Pain In Muscles
- Cramps And Quivers
- Weakness In Arms And Legs
- Problems In Swallowing Food
- Loss of Balance
- Shortness of Breath
- Abnormal Emotional Responses, Like Laughing or Crying Involuntarily
- Weight Loss.
At The Advanced Stage
- Difficulty In Moving
- Shrinkage of Muscles
- Pain In Joints
- Breathing Difficulties
- Swallowing Problems Which Cause Drooling
- Jaw Pain
- Personality Changes
- Changes In An Emotional State.
At The End Stage
- Complete body paralysis that prevents the movements of all parts of the body
- Severity of breathing/respiratory problems.
Motor Neurone Disease (MND): Alternative Treatment
There is no treatment for Motor Neurone Disease (MND). Doctors usually depend on various therapies and exercises for reducing the impact of progressive MND symptoms on the patient’s life.
MND symptoms can be managed with the help of alternative medicine. Planet Ayurveda offers some excellent herbal products which can be extremely beneficial for MND patients. These products are:
1. Vrihat Vatchintamani Ras
Vrihat Vatchintamani Ras is an Ayurvedic formulation available in tablet form which is prepared from a combination of several powerful natural ingredients including Swarna Bhasma (Calx of Gold), Rajata Bhasma (Calx od Silver), Loha Bhasma (Calx of Iron), Abhraka Bhasma (Calx of Mica), Pravala Bhasma (Calx of Coral), Mukta Bhasma (Calx of Pearl), Suta Bhasma (a compound of purified Mercury and purified Sulphur), and Aloe Vera juice extract.
The use of Vrihat Vatchintamani Ras tablets can support mental health, promote healthy functioning of the brain, keep the nervous system healthy, treat pain, manage tumors, and balance Vata and Pitta doshas.
Dosage: 1 tablet, twice a day.
2. Brahmi Capsules
A standardized extract of ‘Brahmi’ herb (Bacopa Monneiri) is used for preparing these capsules. The herb is widely known for its therapeutic value and is considered an excellent health tonic, aphrodisiac and memory enhancer.
Brahmi capsules can promote mental health, relieve inflammatory conditions, strengthen the immune system, regulate blood pressure, reduce stress and anxiety, and remove free radicals from the body.
Dosage: 2 capsules, twice a day.
3. Ashwagandha Capsules
The preparation of these capsules involves a standardized extract of ‘Ashwagandha’ herb (Withania Somniferum). The potent herb is widely used in Ayurvedic formulations because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
The use of Ashwagandha capsules can enhance mental health, support nerve functions, improve brain function, enhance heart health, strengthen the muscles, manage inflammation, rejuvenate the body, and balance Vata and Pitta doshas.
Dosage: 1 capsule, twice a day.
4. Shilajit Capsules
For preparing these capsules, a standardized extract of the ‘Shilajit’ herb (Asphaltum) is used. The herb is considered an excellent adaptogen, restorative, rejuvenating and ‘Rasayana.’
Shilajit capsules can rejuvenate brain cells, relieve mental and physical stress, increase stamina, boost metabolism, eliminate toxins from the body, strengthen the muscles, and support the immune system.
Dosage: 1-2 capsules, once or twice a day.
5. Gotu kola Capsules
The preparation of these capsules involves a standardized extract of ‘Gotu kola’ herb (Centella Asiatica). The herb is widely used in Ayurvedic formulations because of its ability to promote overall health.
The use of Gotu kola capsules can maintain brain health, maintain a healthy metabolic rate, support healthy blood circulation, pacify Pitta dosha, and balance the body’s three psychic energies Satva, Rajas and Tamas.
Dosage: 2 capsules, twice a day.
Planet Ayurveda’s herbal products for managing MND symptoms are prepared from 100% pure and natural herbs. These products do not contain any chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors, binders or fillers. The products are safe to use, but should ideally be given to MND patients in consultation with an expert Ayurveda practitioner.
Q. Which is the most common type of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)?
A. The most common type of MND is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).
Q. What is a person’s lifetime risk of developing MND?
A. A person’s lifetime risk of developing MND is nearly 1 in 300.
Q. Do MND patients show the signs of Dementia at a later stage?
A. Yes. Around 15% MND patients show the signs of frontotemporal Dementia at a later stage.
Q. Why do MND patients find it difficult to keep their head upright as the disease progresses?
A. MND patients find it difficult to keep their head upright because of the weakening of the neck and shoulder muscles.
Q. Why do MND patients increasing experience breathing difficulties?
A. MND patients increasing experience breathing difficulties because the disease affects the respiratory muscles.
Q. Does MND affect intellect and memory?
A. No. In most cases, MND does not affect intellect and memory.
Q. Does MND affect the senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing?
A. No. MND does not affect these senses of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.
Q. Does MND have a direct impact on bladder and bowel functions?
A: No. MND does not directly affect bladder and bowel functions at initial stage. However, bowel functions may get affected at a later stage due to immobility and dietary changes.
Q. How is the progression of MND generally measured for the patients?
A. The progression of MND is generally measured in terms of difficulties experienced by patients while carrying out their day-to-day activities.
Q. In which age-group is the highest incidence of MND usually recorded?
A. The highest incidence of MND is usually recorded in the 50-70 age-group.