Leukodystrophy – Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

About Leukodystrophy

Leukodystrophy is a term used for a group of rare and genetic disorders in which the ‘white matter’ of the brain (‘leuko’), the spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves are affected; leading to the loss of normal brain functioning. Leukodystrophy disorders are metabolic and progressive conditions, which worsen over a period of time.

The disorders grouped under Leukodystrophy are a result of a specific gene abnormality which affects the production of a substance called ‘Myelin’ or causes its breakdown. Since the myelin sheath is a fatty covering which encases and insulates the nerve fibres in the nervous system, any damage to this sheath hampers the normal functioning of the nerve tissue that lies underneath it.

Medical practitioners have already discovered nearly 52 types of Leukodystrophy disorders, including Metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD), Globoid Leukodystrophy (Krabbe disease), Canavan’s disease(Spongy degeneration), Adult-onset autosomal dominant leukodystrophy(ADLD), Fabry disease, and several others.

In these disorders, the Myelin sheath either gets damaged or develops abnormally. In other words, Myelin is affected differently in different types of Leukodystrophy disorders — the patients affected by the condition may lack myelin, or have decreased myelin, or may not achieve normal myelination, or the myelin which is formed may break down.

Most of the Leukodystrophy disorders are ‘inherited’ disorders — that is, family genes pass down these disorders from one generation to the next. However, though some Leukodystrophy disorders may not be inherited, they are still caused by a genetic mutation. As such, one child in a family could get affected by Leukodystrophy, while the others might not.

Symptoms of Leukodystrophy

The symptoms of Leukodystrophy disorders chiefly depend on the pace at which the white matter gets damaged in the affected person. As such, the onset of symptoms of these disorders may vary from patient to patient.

Nonetheless, the common indications of the onset of Leukodystrophy generally include gradual and subtle changes which hint at the following problems:

  • Seizures
  • Muscle control disorders
  • Balance and mobility problems
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Bladder problems
  • Behavioural changes
  • Learning disabilities
  • Problems linked to vision, speech, and hearing
  • Problems in chewing and swallowing food
  • Developmental delays

Diagnosis of Leukodystrophy

The diagnosis of Leukodystrophy is generally quite difficult; and it often requires expert inputs from various specialists, including geneticists, neurologists, and metabolic physicians. In addition, several tests have to be carried out in order to confirm the diagnosis of this condition. These tests may include:

  • Psychological and cognitive tests
  • Blood and urine analysis
  • Nerve conduction tests
  • Nerve biopsy
  • Genetic testing
  • CT scans
  • MRI scans

Treatment of Leukodystrophy

Most types of Leukodystrophy, there is no cure. As such, the line of treatment of these disorders mainly focuses on managing their symptoms, with medications as well as special physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

According to Ayurveda, Leukodystrophy is a disorder called ‘SarvangavataVyadhi,’ because of which the ‘Vata’ in the body gets aggravated. Ayurvedic experts recommend the use of some specific herbal formulations for effectively managing the aggravated ‘Vata’, and for providing relief to the patients suffering from these disorders.

Some of the most beneficial herbal formulations for management of Leukodystrophy are:

Ashwagandha Capsules:

These capsules are prepared from the pure and standardized extract of ‘Ashwagandha’ herb (Withania somnifera). This herb has proven usefulness in treating nervous breakdown, anxiety, stress, fatigue, palpitation, ageing, and debilitating conditions. Hence, Ashwagandha Capsules can boost mental and physical stamina, relax the muscles, and act as an excellent tonic to soothe the nerves.

Patients of Leukodystrophy disorders should be given two Ashwagandha Capsules with plain water two times a day, after meals.

Arogyavardhani Vati:

This herbal product — in the form of tablets — combines a number of beneficial herbs and minerals which can promote overall good health, by pacifying the body’s three energies: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The key components of these tablets are ShudhGandhaka (Sulphur) purified; TamraBhasma (Copper) purified; ShudhParad (Mercury) purified; Shuddh Guggul (Commiphora mukul) purified; LauhBhasm (Iron) calcined; Abhrakabhasma (Mica); Amalaki (Emblica officianalis); ShudhaShilajatu (Asphaltum); Katuka (Picorrhizakurro); Haritaki (Terminalia chebula); Vibhitaki (Terminalia bellerica); and Chitrakamoola (Plumbagozeylancia).

For managing Leukodystrophy disorders, Ayurvedic experts recommend two Arogyavardhani Vati tablets twice a day, with plain water, after meals.

Gotukola Capsules:

This wonderful herbal product is prepared from pure extracts of ‘Gotukola’ herb (Centellaasiatica), which is useful in managing mood disorders and depression, anxiety, and stress. It is also helpful in retaining hormonal balance by improving microcirculation in glands. Gotukola Capsules are beneficial in balancing the Vata, Pitta, Kapha doshas; and psychic energies — Satva, Rajas and Tamas. They also maintain healthy blood circulation, healthy brain, and healthy metabolism.

The recommended dosage of Gotukola Capsules for Leukodystrophy patients is: 1-2 capsules twice a day with plain water, half an hour after meals.

Brahmi Capsules:

Prepared from the standardized extract of ‘Brahmi’ herb (Bacopamonnieri), which is considered a potent brain tonic since ancient times. This herb has noteworthy anti-oxidant and anti-anxiety properties. It boosts memory; rejuvenates the mind; improves concentration and quality of consciousness; and manages anxiety, stress, and blood pressure. Brahmi capsules are helpful in keeping the brain healthy and improving retention power.

To manage Leukodystrophy, two Brahmi Capsules should be taken with plain water twice a day, after meals.

Medhya Churna:

Medhya Churna is an amazing herbal powder, prepared from herbs which can manage mental and nervous disorders, improve memory and retention power, lower the anxiety levels, improve concentration, enhancing coordination and speaking abilities, and boost confidence.The herbs from which Medhya Churna is made are Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acoruscalamus), Pipali (Piper longum), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Sonth (Zingiber officinale), Patha (Cissampelospareira), Brahmi (Bacopamonnierri), Ajmoda (Carumroxburghianum), Marich (Piper nigrum), Shwetjeerak (Cuminum cyminum), and Krishna jeerak (Carumcarvi).

Leukodystrophy patients should be given one teaspoon of Medhya Churna two times a day with water or milk.

Conclusion: The herbal formulations mentioned above can be very effective in management of Leukodystrophy symptoms. Since these formulations are prepared from pure herbs and minerals, they can benefit Leukodystrophy patients by managing the symptoms of genetic and metabolic disorders in a safe and natural way.

Dr. Vikram Chauhan (MD-Ayurvedic Medicine) is an expert Ayurveda consultant in Chandigarh (India). He has vast experience of herbs and their applied uses. He has successfully treated numerous patients suffering from various ailments, throughout the world. He is CEO and Founder of Krishna Herbal Company and Planet Ayurveda in Chandigarh, India. WEBSITE – WWW.PLANETAYURVEDA.COM

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