SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Ayurvedic Treatment

The atrophy (reduced bulk and weakness of muscles) of spinal muscles mostly affects infants and children, though adults are being a victim. As a result, they can’t properly use the muscles. it is caused by damage of nerves in brain and spinal cord and hence the messages are stopped or interrupted to pass from brain/ spinal cord to the target muscle. But their intellect is not affected. There are various types of SMA with different signs and symptoms and severity. SMA is incurable. Only symptomatic management is available. 

SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms depend on the type of SMA. 

Type 0- it is the rarest but, most severe form of SMA. It is congenital (seen from birth) in origin. Baby with type 0 SMA will have less movements in mother’s womb, and they show difficulties like joint pain, muscle weakness, breathing difficulty from early infancy itself. Most of them don’t survive due to severe breathing problem. 

Type 1- this is the most severe form. Child is unable to hold its head straight or sit without support. Other symptoms are loose arm and leg muscles, swallowing problems, weakened breathing muscles etc. They may survive up to 2 years of age due to breathing issues. 

Type 2/ chronic infantile SMA- develops after birth (6-18 months old babies). Lower body is affected more. The child can sit or walk with support. 

Type 3/ Juvenile SMA- starts from early childhood to adolescent period. This is the mildest form of SMA. The child can stand or walk without support, but there may be slight difficulty with running, getting up from sitting posture etc. Supports are needed (eg: wheelchair) in later life. 

Type 4- starts in adulthood. Common symptoms are muscle weakness and twitches, or breathing difficulties. Arms and legs are the most affected parts. They need support throughout the life. Exercise will help a lot to tackle the symptoms. 

SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Ayurvedic Analysis

Mamsadhatukshaya (disabled muscle tissues) is characterised by reduced size of mamsadhatu (muscles) and weakness. 

SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Causative Factors (Ayurveda)

Beejabhaga avayava dushti (genetic factors) is the reason for mamsakshaya from birth and it cannot be cured. Agnimandya (reduced capacity of transforming energy in mamsadhatu/ muscle tissue) will be there leading to disordered dhatuposhana (tissue nourishment). Vata will be in a vitiated state as it fails to coordinate the normal functioning of body. 

Possible Complications of SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Disease

Failure to thrive is the major complication. If the patient survives, they will have difficulty to perform daily activities (eg: swallowing, walking, climbing stairs etc). 

Other systemic diseases and precautions to be taken

Consider the history of other diseases (eg: heart disease) before planning treatment. 

SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Disease Management with Ayurveda Treatment

Only symptomatic management is available for this disease as it develops due to beejabhaga avayava dushti. Internal medications (for pacifying ama/ immature dosha, agnimandya and removing srotorodha) along with snehana (internal and/ or external), swedana (eg: njavara kizhi), nasya (nasal instillation of medicine), vasthi (with decoction, oil), lepana (external application of pasted medicine) etc are provided along with physiotherapy/ yoga/ pranayama/ psychotherapy. 


Diet must contain whole grains, nuts, pulses, milk, meat soup, yoghurt, vegetables, sweet fruits etc. Avoid excess intake of spicy/ bitter/ astringent tastes. Drink plenty of water. 


Exercise helps a lot to improve muscle strength and power. It can slow down the damaging in muscle tissue. Follow the instructions of the physician before planning exercise. 

SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) Preventive Aspects in Ayurveda

It cannot be prevented as it is a congenital disease. 

Importance of Diet

Proper diet can prevent the disease progress. Vata aggravating food items must be avoided. 


Exercise regularly. Eat healthy balanced food. Avoid sedentary habit. Daily oil massage is recommended before bath. Ensure adequate sleep. Drink more water.

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