How Ayurveda Views Sciatica: The Gait of the Eagle
Sciatica is nerve pain in the legs caused by the irritation and compression of the sciatic nerve. Pain from the sciatica nerve originates in the lower back, and radiates deep in the buttock, and travels down the leg. Usually, it affects only one leg.
Ayurveda calls sciatica pain Gridhrasi. The word gridhra means “eagle” and the person with sciatica walks with a gait similar to how an eagle walks. The inflamed sciatic nerve also looks like an eagle’s beak. Ayurveda classifies Gridhrasi, a neuro-muscular disorder, as one of the 80 types of vata disorders.
Sciatica is caused by the imbalance of vata, the dosha responsible for all bodily movement, and kapha, the dosha responsible for lubricating the body. According to Ayurveda, the symptoms resulting in Gridhrasi requires both detoxification and a holistic approach to healing, including changes in diet and lifestyle.
Herbal Supplements You Can Take Today for Sciatica
- Gandharvahastadi Oil: Mild laxative to detoxify excess vata from the body
- Anu Oil: Use for nasal oil therapy to balance vata dosha
- Manasamitra Vatakam: Decreases stress and induces a natural restful sleep
- Rasnairandadi Kwatham: Quick and natural pain relief
- Sahacharadi Kwatham: Quick and natural pain relief
- Valiya Sahacharadi Oil: External self-massage with warmed oil to relieve pain and promote muscular strength
- Karpuradi Oil: External self-massage with warmed oil to relieve pain and promote muscular strength
- Sukumara Ghritam: Nourish and protect the nerves and muscles
If you would like more help selecting the right products for your sciatica pain, book a consultation with our experienced Ayurvedic doctor.
What Causes Sciatica?
In this section, Dr. Vishwanath Guddadar, our in-house Ayurvedic doctor, will take you through one of his most recent cases in assisting a client with relieving sciatica pain.
A male, 45-year-old client, a software engineer, came to Dr. Vishwanath suffering with pain in his lower back that radiated down the right posterior buttock, thigh, knee, calf, and into the foot. He also had stiffness in his lower back, tingling sensations, heaviness in both legs and difficulty walking. The pain started 11 months before he sought Ayurvedic healing.
He had consulted with an orthopedic doctor and was prescribed pain medication and an external pain ointment. He had temporary relief, but over time the pain and tenderness increased. Ayurveda and holistic healing were his last hope.
Learn Some Ayurvedic Terms: Symptoms of Sciatica
- Ruk: pain
- Toda: pricking sensations
- Muhuspandan: tingling sensations
- Stambha: stiffness in waist, buttocks, thighs, knees, feet
- Sakthikshepanigraha: restricted movement of the legs
Physical Examination of the Client: Relate to Any of These?
The client’s pulse, blood pressure, cardiovascular system, nervous system, respiratory system, tongue, and elimination (urine and stool) all were normal. His constitution is vata dominant and some pitta. He had a medium amount of strength and moderately strong digestion, but his sleep was disturbed due to the pain from sciatica.
Excess vata was the key factor responsible for the client’s entire condition, including the sciatica.
After a complete assessment of diet and lifestyle, Dr. Vishwanath pinpointed the triggering factors for the vata dosha aggravation. Due to his profession, the client often worked more than 12 hours a day and would be unable to sleep all night due to the stressful job. He then drank coffee and tea three to four times per day to compensate for the lack of sleep.
He ate meals at irregular times and often skipped lunch or ate while working. On the weekends, he would wake up late and would skip breakfast and eat a late lunch. He also had poor food choices and lacked proper nutrition. Many natural bodily urges were suppressed like urine, stool, sleep, hunger and emotions of fear and worry.
All of this adds up to deep vata imbalance because his habits did not follow the natural rhythm of the body. Dr. Vishwanath recommended the following changes to balance vata and relieve pain.
Vata Reducing Lifestyle Changes
- Avoid over exertion and mental stress
- Create a regular daily routine for meals and sleep
- Avoid foods that aggravate vata: cold, light, and dry foods like crackers and leftovers
- Full body oil massages every day before bathing
- Mindfully do all activities and do not over schedule tasks
- Avoid staying awake late at night and do not sleep during the day
- Start practicing yoga and pranayama to help reduce stress
For the first three days, Dr. Vishwanath prescribed a mild laxative with Gandharvahastadi Oil to start the process of removing the excess aggravated vata dosha. He started doing daily nasal oil therapy with Anu Oil and took Manasamitra Vatakam to improve sleep, rest and relaxation.
After the first three days, he was advised to take Rasnairandadi Kwatham and Sahacharadi Kwatham to relieve the pain. The client used Valiya Sahacharadi Oil and Karpuradi Oil daily during a self-oil massage to relieve the pain, stiffness and tingling sensation.
He took Sukumara Ghritam to nourish and lubricate the pelvic muscles and nerves and reduce vata dosha.
This whole course of treatment was done for two months. After two months of therapy, the client was experiencing a lot less pain and stiffness and his sleep was greatly improved.
After just four months, the pain, stiffness, tingling sensation, and all other symptoms were completely gone after the client followed the diet and lifestyle changes and used the prescribed herbs.
By following a proper daily routine for vata, he was able to reduce his stress and focus more clearly on his work. Since vata represents all movement, it is very important to maintain a regular daily schedule to keep vata dosha in proper balance.
To fully heal chronic nerve pain like sciatica requires a multi-step approach. When vata has deeply aggravated the nerve tissue, it helps to have an Ayurvedic practitioner recommend the right products to speed up the healing process.
It’s important to identify the root causes and make the appropriate changes to your diet and lifestyle. Following the advice from a personalized Ayurvedic consultation will change your life and will give you the knowledge required to maintain your best health.
If you book a consultation, you will receive a personalized diet, lifestyle, and herbal protocol that will balance your doshas and relieve pain.
To learn more about vata and back pain, you may also read our other articles: 6 Tips for Relieving Back Pain with Ayurveda or Heal Your Back Pain With Ayurveda.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Kottakkal Ayurveda products and this information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. If you have serious, acute, or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at email@example.com and we will provide you with one of our affiliated Ayurvedic professionals. Check with your doctor before taking herbs when pregnant.