The commonest forms of headaches in the modern world is “Migraine”. Migraine medically is said to cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually just one side of the head. Migraines are often accompanied by mild or sever nausea, vomiting and in most cases extreme sensitivity to light and sound. A migraine attack can cause significant pain that lasts for hours to days and can be so severe that the pain is disabling to a great extent. Aura signalling an impending migraine may occur before or with the headache. These include flashes of light, blind spots or tingling on one side of the face or in your arm or leg.
Although the causes of migraine aren’t understood, genetics and environmental factors may appear to play a role. Various theories and researches are begin conducted to find out the exact cause of migraine. One of the researches mention that migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals-including serotonin which helps regulate pain in the nervous system also may be involved. Serotonin levels drop doing migraine attacks. This may cause the trigeminal nerve to release substances called neuropeptides, which travel to the brain’s outer covering (meninges)…resulting in migraine pain.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of health considers the body as a combination of the 5 natural elements and the 3 humours/bio energies (vata, pitta, kapha), the balance of which leads to health and the imbalance leads to disease. Panchakarma therapy is used for the maintenance of health and eradication of diseases from their root and Nasya karma is one of them. In this this therapy, the medicine is administered through nose either in the form of ghee, oil, powder, liquid or smoke. According to researches, it is particularly useful in the treatment of diseases occurring in the organs situated above the clavicle but indirectly it works on the whole body by improving the functioning of the endocrine glands and nervous system.
Nasyam/nasal administration of medicine is proven to be an effective treatment for migraine. Below is a citation from a research (Vipin Kumar in IJAPR 2018:5(7):100-102) as to how nasyam is effective for migraines.)
Nasal route of drug administration is the natural choice for the treatment of local nasal disorders as well as other supraclavicular diseases. This transmucosal nasal drug delivery is a non-invasive drug administration route. Due to large surface area, high vascularity, avoidance of hepatic first pass metabolism and gut well metabolism, it has occupied a very important place in the field of drug delivery technology.
Mode of action of Nasyam:
Ayurvedic view: according to ayurvedic texts, nasa/nose is the gateway to Shiras (head). The medicines administered through nose as nasya reaches to the brain and eliminates morbid doshas responsible for producing the diseases.
Modern view: nasal route is easily accessible, convenient, and reliable with a porous endothelial membrane and a highly vascularised epithelium that provides a rapid absorption of compounds into the systemic circulation, avoiding the hepatic first pass elimination. In addition, intranasal drug delivery enables dose reduction, rapid attainment of therapeutic blood levels, quicker onset of pharmacological activity and fewer side effects (IJCPR research paper Vol. 9, no. 4, July 2017, pp. 5-13). The nasal delivery seems to be a favourable way to bypass the obstacles for blood brain barrier allowing direct drug delivery in the biophase of CNS active compounds. The pharmacodynamics are as follows:
Vascular pathway: the nasal tissue is highly vascularised making it an attractive site for rapid and efficient systemic absorption. Rich vascular plexus persists topically administered drugs to rapidly achieve effective blood levels which avoiding intravenous catheters. Vascular path transportation is possible through pooling of nasal venous blood into the facial vein which occurs naturally. The facial vein has no valves. It communicates freely with the intracranial circulation. It communicates through pterygoid plexus.
Neurological pathway: olfactory nerve is a chemoreceptor in nature. It is known that through olfactory pathways this nerve is connected to limbic system and hypothalamus which are having control over endocrine secretions. Moreover, hypothalamus is considered to be responsible for integrating the functions of the endocrine system and the nervous system. Drugs administered through the nasal route stimulate the higher centres of brain which shows action on regulation of endocrine and nervous system functions.
As discussed above, we observe that medications administered through the nasal route affect the nervous system and the endocrine system. Migraine is generally due to the weakness in nervous system or imbalances in the hormones. The medicated ghee or oil reaches to brain via nasal route and acts on higher centres of brain controlling different neurological endocrinal and circulatory functions thus showing local as well as systemic affects.
Ayurveda as a science believes in complete wellness which means balancing the various aspects of the body—like physical, physiological, psychological and spiritual aspects. The various forms of treatments adopted to treat a disease includes therapies to balance the above aspects of health. Nasyam is one of the Panchakarma treatments which helps is treating and reducing the various diseases of head and neck region. It is also part of the daily regimen (dinacharya) which is advised in Ayurveda for maintenance of good health. Migraine as explained previously is a condition which affects al the aspects of health and originates in the shiras (head) region. Therefore, Nasyam is considered as one of the most effective treatments which when administered with proper diet and exercise regimen helps not only to prevent but cure occurrence of migraines completely. By balancing the various endocrine systems and brain functions it helps to make sure that the physiological reasons for the migraine are completely eradicated and cured.

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