Guillain-Barre Syndrome – Causes , Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment



Guillain-Barre Syndrome: An overview

Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious autoimmune condition in which the healthy nerve cells in the sufferer’s peripheral nervous system — the part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord — is attacked by his/her immune system; thereby resulting in weakness of muscles, numbness, and even paralysis.

More specifically, in people affected by the rare Guillain-Barre syndrome disorder, the myelin sheaths of peripheral nerves — the nerves connecting the brain to the rest of the body and transmitting signals to the muscles — are targeted by the immune system. The key factors which are believed to be responsible for triggering this condition are stomach flu, lung infection, or any other viral or bacterial infection.

Guillain-Barre syndrome can be of different types. However, the most common form of this condition is called Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathy (AIDP), which damages the myelin sheaths. Another fairly common type of Guillain-Barre syndrome is called Miller Fisher syndrome, in which the cranial nerves get damaged.

The treatment of Guillain-Barre syndrome mainly focuses on managing the severity of symptoms and reducing the time-period of this disorder because there is, so far, no permanent cure for this condition. Nonetheless, most of the sufferers of this condition gradually recover fully from it.

Causes of Guillain-Barre syndrome

The exact cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome is not known; although its occurrence is generally linked to improper immune response to some previous infectious illness. Some of the viral and bacterial infections which are considered the triggers of this condition are:

  • Diarrhoea or stomach flu
  • Respiratory/lung infection
  • Campylobacter infection (mostly resulting from uncooked meat)
  • Influenza
  • Mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr virus infection)
  • AIDS or HIV
  • Mycoplasma pneumonia (Pneumonia caused by bacteria-like organisms)
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma (Cancer of the lymphatic’s)
  • Childhood vaccinations (in rare cases)

It has been observed that men have more chances of contracting Guillain-Barre syndrome as compared to women; with the risk of the condition increases with age.

Symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome

One of the first symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome is a pricklyor tingling sensation in the legs, feet, and toes. Since the symptoms of this disorder progress very quickly, this prickly sensation moves upward rapidly to the arms and fingers. This progression of the disorder from the lower to the upper part of the body is called ‘symmetrical ascending radiculopathy.’

Along with the tingling sensation, some of the other symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome are:

  • Weakness in leg muscles (weakness moves upward and gets worse with time)
  • Severe pain in the lower back
  • Difficulty in walking steadily
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Severe nerve pain
  • Fast heart rate (Tachycardia)
  • Cramp-like pain, worsening at night
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Difficulty in eye or face movement; and in talking, chewing, or swallowing.

Diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome

The diagnosis of Guillain-Barre at the initial stages is quite difficult because the symptoms of this disorder are very similar to some of the other neurological conditions which affect the nervous system. Hence, for confirming the diagnosis of Guillain-Barre syndrome, doctors ask the sufferers of this disorder to undergo some tests. These tests include:

  • Spinal tap
  • Electromyography
  • Nerve conduction tests
  • Blood tests to check sodium and potassium levels
  • MRI of spinal cord

Treatment of Guillain-Barre syndrome

For treating the sufferers of Guillain-Barre syndrome, doctors mostly focus on reducing the severity of the immune attack as well as supporting the body functions — like the lung function — during the recovery of the nervous system.

In Ayurveda, there are some excellent herbal formulations which can be very effective in managing the symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome. These formulations are prepared from 100% pure and natural herbs and are chemical-free and extremely safe to use.

herbal remedies for guillain barre syndrome

The herbal formulations which can especially be beneficial for the patients of Guillain-Barre syndrome are:

  • Ashwagandha Capsules

These capsules are prepared from a small herb called ‘Ashwagandha’ (Withania somnifera)which has abundant health benefits. Pure extract is used for the formulation. This herb has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, and it supports the body’s immune system. In addition, Ashwagandha also nourishes the brain to enhance its functioning; promotes the body’s overall well-being; and is useful in managing stress, weakness, and fatigue because of its rejuvenating properties.

Dose – 1 to 2 capsules twice daily with plain water after meals.

  • Brahmi Capsules

Brahmi capsules are prepared from the potent creeping herbal extract called ‘Brahmi’ (Bacopa monnoieri), which is considered a powerful brain tonic. This herb, with anti-oxidant properties, has known properties in treating stress, increasing mental capability, improving metabolism, and enhancing brain functioning by promoting coordination between the different parts of the nervous system.

Dose – 1 to 2 capsules twice daily with plain water after meals.

  • Boswellia Curcumin Capsules

To prepare this wonderful herbal formulation, a combination of pure extracts of two powerful anti-inflammatory herbs is used — Shalakki (Boswellia serrata) and Curcumin (Curcuma longa). These herbs have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. Hence, Boswellia Curcumin capsules are extremely effective in managing Guillain-Barre syndrome and other neuromuscular disorders, and also for treating arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Moreover, these capsules are also beneficial in treating viral and bacterial infections.

Dose – 1 to 2 capsules twice daily with plain water after meals.

  • Hakam Churna

This is an amazing herbal powder which is prepared from a number of useful, natural herbs. The combination of these herbs is helpful in balancing Vata, Pitta and Kapha — the three energies of the body, according to Ayurveda. These herbs also support the digestive system and help in maintaining overall health. The herbs which are used for preparing Hakam Churna are: Kalonji (Nigellia sativa), Methi (Trigonellafoenum graceum), Chandershoor (Lepidium sativum), and Ajwain (Trachyspermum ammi).

Dose – 1 teaspoon full twice daily with plain water after meals.

  • Jeevantayadhi Ghrit

Jeevantayadhi Ghrit is an excellent herbal formulation prepared from three main ingredients — ghrita (ghee), cow’s milk, and Jivanti (Leptadenia reticulata) — and a few other beneficial herbs.

Dose – Half to one teaspoon with lukewarm water daily, once or twice.

The symptoms of Guillain-Barre syndrome can be managed if patients take half spoon of Jeevantayadhi Ghrit, once or twice a day, with milk.

Conclusion: Along with taking these herbal formulations, the stress of recovery which these patients of Guillain-Barre syndrome undergo can also be managed with the help of support from family and friends, and by taking expert advice from a professionally-trained therapist.

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  1. Sanjay Rai October 23, 2017
    • Avatar of Shalini Jaiswal Dr. Shalini Jaiswal December 12, 2017

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