Rett syndrome is a rare neuro-developmental disorder found exclusively in girls, caused by defects in brain development due to a genetic defect. Individuals affected with this disease display an early normal growth, after which development eventually slows down and the characteristic symptoms of the syndrome start appearing. These include a loss of purposeful use of hands, distinct hand movements, brain and head growth retardation, a dysfunction of balance leading to difficult in walking, loss of coordination of eye movement and speech, convulsions, and intellectual impairment. The presentation of symptoms can vary considerably from person-to-person and the severity may therefore range from very mild to very severe. Treatment for this syndrome is complex and involves mainly supportive treatment by specialists from different heath care fields.
The basic aim of Ayurvedic herbal treatment is to help in brain development by attempting to normalise the metabolism of brain cells as well as neurotransmission between brain cells. It is not known whether herbal medicines directly help to normalise the abnormal expression of genes seen in this syndrome; however, the prolonged use of herbal medicines in high doses definitely improves symptoms and quality of life.
Long-term treatment for about one and a half years to two years can be given initially with a regular assessment for achievable benefits. Herbal medicines can be given to children in high uses without the risk of serious adverse effects even with prolonged use. Initial treatment gives an idea of the response of individuals to treatment and the objective benefits which are possible; this improvement with treatment can then be maintained or continued further with the use of small doses of herbs. Herbal medicines which act on the body and central nervous system, as well as herbal medicines which have a normalising action on metabolism, are especially useful in the management of Rett syndrome.
Medicines like Ashwagandha (Withanis somnifera), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Shankapushpi (convolvulus pluricaulis), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Bala (Sida cordifolia), Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Haridra (Curcuma longa) and Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) are especially useful in for reversing defects, both structural and functional, in brain cells as well as in the entire nervous system.
Medicines like Maha Vat Vidhvans Ras, Bruhat Vat Chitamani Ras, Dashmoolarishta, Kampvatari Ras, Ashwagandharishtta, Saraswatarishta, and Pathyadi Qadha are especially useful in reducing symptoms of abnormal movements and loss of balance and coordination.
Herbal medicines like Chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Musta (Cyperus rotundus) Nimba (Azadirachta indica), and Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), are especially useful in normalising the metabolism of different issues in the body.
Professionals from different fields need to be involved to adequately handle all the disabilities and medical issues related with this syndrome. The role of Ayurvedic herbal treatment is to reduce symptoms, bring about the maximum structural and functional improvement in the brain and central nervous system, improve quality of life and improve overall survival in individuals affected with Rett syndrome.