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Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis in Tibet Medicine

by Dr. Phuntsog Wangmo

I would like to share some information about the disease of multiple sclerosis, called Tsakar in Tibetan, and its diagnosis and treatment from a Tibetan medical perspective.

The four Tantras say when the body develops it develops first through the channels and nerves, and then we sustain life through these channels, and then towards the end of life we get ill through these channels. Tsakar or multiple sclerosis is difficult to diagnosis because it is similar to other diseases such as paralysis and sinusitis and Bell's Palsey.

We divide the diagnosis and treatment of Tsakar into four parts:

  • Causes:  Primary and secondary
  • Categories:  General and individual
  • Symptoms
  • Treatment

We consider multiple sclerosis to be a neurological or nerve disease caused by strenuous physical labor or too little movement or exercise, high fever, poisoning, physical trauma to the body, and wind or blood imbalance.

We classify all diseases by general and individual categories. All neurological diseases are classified under the general category. We also consider the chronology of the disease, whether the symptoms are relatively new or longstanding.

Under the individual category there are two specific or particular considerations to determine diagnosis and treatment:

  • The location of the disease, whether it is in the upper or lower extremities or the torso.
  • The three humors, wind, bile or phlegm with which Tsakar is connected .

The disease can manifest in different parts of the body. If it manifests in top part of the body, symptoms are frequent blinking of the eyes, some numbness or lack of sensation in the lips, lack of muscle tone in the face as in Bell's Palsey, and dizziness.

If the disease manifests in the torso, there will be the inability to sit up straight, irregular gait, memory loss, shortened sleep cycle, vomiting, vision problems such as seeing double, vision is cloudy or not clear or loss of vision; if the disease is associated with the verbal channel there may be a loss of speech: either completely blocked or difficulty speaking, the person may have frequent body itching, an inability to tolerate loud sounds, loss of muscle strength and dexterity of the extremities, may talk incessantly, shiver often without reason, lose sensitivity in one side of the body, the person may feel  the torso is swollen, have incontinence or the inability to urinate, have constipation, the temperature of the body may be too hot or too cold, or the body may feel too tight or too loose.

If the disease manifests in the extremities, symptoms include tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes, numbness in the arms and or legs, inability to lift the arms or legs, loss of sensation in the arms and legs, and the extremities may be swollen.

If the disease is just beginning, the first symptom is tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes, and slowly everything gets progressively worse.

In Tibetan medicine all diseases are divided into hot and or cold disease. Disease caused by overexertion, physical trauma, poisoning, high fever and wind and bile (Kritpa) imbalance are considered hot diseases. Wind and blood imbalance or wind and phlegm imbalance are considered cold diseases

Treatment or cure:

In the beginning of the disease if the disease is strong, it is good to do heat treatments. These include moxabustion on the palms and soles of the feet, on the 13th vertebrae, points on each side of the occipital condyle, points just below the big toe joint, and points on the pads of the fingers and toes.

If the disease is considered hot the treatment is as follows:

  • Herbs with different ingredients such as minerals and gems and metals.
  • Herbs and strawberries(the fruit and plant parts), and nettles taken with cooled boiled water with white sugar added.
  • The diet should be fresh, nutritious food, barley soup, yogurt and buttermilk.
  • A small amount of bloodletting to open the channel where the disease resides, to reduce the heat and cleanse the blood

If the disease is cold the treatment is as follows:

  • Take herbs proscribed with brown sugar.
  •  Moxibustion on 6th and 7th vertebrae, point on the middle of the sternum, point on the center of the head.

If the disease is old and has spread to different parts of the body treatment is as follows:

  • Medicine is used to absorb and concentrate the disease in one part of the body.
  • Use herbs to cleanse the nerve channel.
  • Use herbs to balance and keep the nerve channel strong.
  • Use the extract of boiled herbs in a warm bath or bathe in natural mineral springs.
  • Massage in a warm comfortable place with sesame oil, aged butter or ghee, and oil with nutmeg added , and acupressure on beforementioned moxibustion points.