Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is characterized by a severe difficulty in breathing, anxiety, agitation and fever. This condition usually follows a few hours or days after a severe insult or injury to the body like sepsis, trauma, drug overdose, blood transfusions, or major lung infections. A reduced level of oxygen in the blood is typical of this condition.
ARDS is a very serious condition and all affected patients need to be hospitalized in an intensive care unit for treatment and supportive care. While there is no specific modern treatment, intravenous fluids, antibiotics, steroids, and mechanical ventilation with oxygen form the mainstay of management. The Ayurvedic management of this condition consists of treating the basic pathology of the disease, reducing and preventing further organ damage, and preserving life.
The air sacs and the surrounding small blood vessels in the lungs get severely damaged in this condition. This causes either a collapse of the alveoli or an accumulation of fluid; both situations lead to a diminished exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and highly reduced levels of available oxygen for the body tissues. Modern medicine uses steroids to reduce the lung inflammation. Ayurvedic medicines like Ras-Sindur, Malla-Sindur, Sameerpannag-Ras, Shwas-Kas-Chintamani-Ras, Shrung-Bhasma, Vishan-Bhasma, Pushkarmool (Inula racemosa), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Kantakari (Solanum xanthocarpum), Praval-Bhasma and Praval-Panchamrut are used for this purpose. These medicines reduce lung inflammation and open up the airways.
The consistently low level of oxygen in the blood causes damage to other vital organs in the body, like the kidneys and the liver, and predisposes to a multi-system organ failure. Ayurvedic medicines like Nardiya-Laxmi-Vilas-Ras, Maha-Laxmi-Vilas-Ras, Siddha-Makardhwaj-Ras and Hemgarbha-Ras are used to increase the blood pressure, improve the circulation and provide more oxygen to the vital organs. Punarnavadi-Qadha (decoction), Punarnavad-Guggulu, Goksuradi-Guggulu, Mahamanjishthadi-Qadha, Saarivadi-Churna, and Yava-Kshar are used in combination with the above-mentioned medicines to improve organ perfusion, reduce inflammation and swelling, and reduce the circulatory load on the lungs.
Medicines like Sukshma-Triphala, Triphala, Arogya-Vardhini, Triphala-Guggulu, Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Guggulu (Commiphora mukul), Kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Daruharidra (Berberis aristata) and Sharpunkha (Tephrosia purpurea) are used to treat infection and reduce toxicity which can further damage the entire body system.
Ayurvedic medicines can thus be used to improve treatment outcomes in ARDS and increase the chances for survival and a complete recovery. Since these patients are seriously ill, all medicines have to be fine-powdered and administered through a naso-gastric tube, along with honey and milk. In the current scenario, using Ayurvedic medicines for such patients involves a lot of medico-legal implications. The relatives need to sign a consent letter before the commencement of treatment, which clearly indicates the seriousness of the situation, and the fact that Ayurvedic medicines can at best be provided as supportive treatment, in addition to modern treatment and supportive management and care. Hospital authorities too need to give either a written consent or at least implied oral consent for the simultaneous administration of Ayurvedic medicines. Considering the high mortality of this condition, a joint treatment approach could definitely work out to benefit all such patients.