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The eye is an important sense organ of our body that allows us to see our surroundings. Any acute or chronic disorder affecting the eyes can affect the vision.
Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine, offers natural eye health care therapy called Akshitarpan or Netratarpan that helps to improve the vision and relieve the symptoms of some of the eye diseases.
Akshi-tarpan, also known as Netra-tarpan is an ayurvedic procedure in which a medicated ghee is retained over the eyes for a specified duration of time. Once the eyes are covered with the medicated ghee, the patient is asked to gentally open and close the eyes several times before the ghee is removed. The ghee is considered to strengthen and nourish the eyes and helsp to improves the vision. The therapy also involves a gentle massage of the structures surrounding the eyes such as the head and the face before the ghee is removed. The procedure of Akshitarpan is described beneath:
Akshitarpan involves 3 stages: Purva Karma (Pre-treatment procedure), Pradhana Karma (Main Treatment) and Paschata Karma (Post-treatment procedure).
1. Purva Karma (Pre-treatment procedure)
The pre-treatment involves the preparation of the patient for the therapy. During Purva Karma, the patient is examined to understand his or her Prakriti (the basic constitution) and the Vikriti (morbidity or the disease state). The eyes are examined to evaluate the vision and the signs of a disease. This helps to decide the treatment line-up, and the materials and medications that may be needed for the therapy. During Purva Karma, the eligibility of the patient for the Akshitarpan treatment is also assessed.
Preparation for the treatment:
The materials and medications needed for the treatment are collected prior to the procedure. They include the medicated ghee or supernatant layer of medicated ghee depending on the disorder to be treated.
Immediate Purva karma:
The immediate Purva karma is a part of the pre-treatment for Akshitarpan that is carried out just before the therapy if person has gone through whole Panchakarma Detox, which involves:
2. Pradhana Karma (Main Treatment):
The Akshitarpan treatment is preferably done in a season that is neither too hot nor too cold. The treatment is conducted in the morning or evening.
The treatment begins with allowing the patient to lie down on the back with a proper neck support. Then, an Akshitarpan cabinet or ring is constructed around the eye by placing the rings of flour over the eye sockets. The place where the rings meet the eye sockets must be sealed with wet flour to prevent the ghee from leaking or escaping during the process.
The Akshitarpan ring is filled with the lukewarm medicated ghee. The temperature of the ghee is constantly managed by the ayurvedic therapist so it is not too hot, not to cold. The patient is instructed to keep the eyes closed while the ghee is being poured into the ring. Later, the patient is advised to open and close the eyes repeatedly. This allows the inner parts of the eyes to come in contact with the ghee.
The medicament is left in place for a specified duration of time depending on the disorder to be treated. For example; according to ayureda texts, it is kept in place for about 30 seconds for treating the diseases affecting the eyelids and for about 3 minutes for treating the diseases affecting the sclera.
3. Paschata Karma (Post-treatment procedure)
After retaining the ghee for the stipulated period, it is drained out by making a hole or a small opening at the bottom of the ring. Then, the eye is irrigated thoroughly with lukewarm water. The patient is advised to avoid the exposure to strong winds, bright lights, mirrors, and other luminous objects following the procedure.
The medicated ghee used in Akshitarpan is believed to have the ability to penetrate through the channels of the body. Hence, when it is applied to the eyes, it aims to reache deeper layers and cleanses the external as well as deeper ophthalmic structures.
The medicated ghee possesses lipophilic properties, which facilitate the transportation of the medication into the cells as the cell membranes are made up of lipids. Hence, the therapeutic action of this procedure occurs at the cellular level.
This phospholipid nature of the ghee also allows for the entry of the medication into the eyes through the cornea. The corneal epithelial layer is permeable to the lipid-soluble substances; hence, it allows the lipid-soluble ghee to cross the corneal epithelium to reach the inner layers of the eyes.
This enhances the action of ghee by allowing better absorption of the medication through the corneal surface.
After Akshitarpan procedure, the patient may experience an improvement in the vision and relief from the ophthalmic symptoms, which may be traditionally assessed through the following signs:
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Ayurveda stads for extensive and elaborate clinical examination to understand thenature of the disease