Cerebral palsy is a devastating movement disorder caused by disruptions in brain development, but there are a number of home remedies and natural treatments that can mitigate the symptoms, including the use of acupuncture, fish oil, echinacea, ginger, physical therapy, dietary therapy, peppermint essential oil and apple cider vinegar, among others.
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What is Cerebral Palsy?
Characterized as a disorder of movement, muscle tone or posture, cerebral palsy usually appears in early childhood or infancy. Most cases of cerebral palsy are caused by an interruption of brain development, resulting in impaired reflexes, insufficient muscle development, uncontrolled movements, balance issues and difficulty walking, along with a reduced range of motion due to joint stiffness. These issues can often get worse with age, but they can manifest in different levels of severity, often depending on the underlying cause of the condition. For example, some people with cerebral palsy are able to walk, but others cannot. Vision and hearing issues, going so far as blindness and deafness, may also be present in some cases, while other people are unaffected in this way. Perhaps most notably is the impact this condition can have on cognition, leaving some completely unaffected, while others show significant signs of cognitive impairment.
In terms of other symptoms, partial paralysis (on one side of the body), excessive weakness in certain muscle groups, difficulty walking, drooling, problems with swallowing and chewing, weak fine motor skills, eye muscle imbalance can also affect many people suffering from cerebral palsy. If you notice development issues with your child, you should immediately get him or her assessed by a doctor, and while there is no formal cure, there are a number of different strategies, therapies, medications and even surgical procedures that should be discussed with your doctor. The factors that can contribute to the development of cerebral palsy (causing the interruption of brain development) include genetic mutations, infections to the infant or pregnant mother, fetal stroke, oxygen deprivation to the brain, or an injury to the brain in the early years (bad falls or accidents). However, all of the details of cerebral palsy risk factors, potential complications, and formal treatment strategies are beyond the scope of this article. There are, however, a number of home remedies and lifestyle choices that can be made to lessen the impact of cerebral palsy and improve quality of life for those suffering from this disorder.
Home Remedies for Cerebral Palsy
There are many remedies that give relief from cerebral palsy. Acupuncture, fish oil, echinacea, ginger, physical therapy, dietary therapy, peppermint essential oil and apple cider vinegar are some of the most effective remedies that can be used.
When it comes to the body not behaving properly, particularly the muscles, it can often be caused by a lack of oxygenated blood. Ginger has long been considered a circulation-stimulating remedy and has the ability to send more blood to the extremities and limbs, helping regrowth of tissues, additional energy and flexibility, a reduction in inflammation and pain, and eliminating numbness. Ginger can be consumed in a raw form or as tea, and can be applied directly to the site of pain or muscle impairment for quick results.
Few alternative therapies have been as successful in treating cerebral palsy than acupuncture. By focusing on key nerve centers and pressure points, acupuncturists can not only help to reduce the pain caused by this condition, but also improve flexibility and muscle control. In the case of eastern traditional medicine, there is a great deal of skepticism, but without reliable treatments in place for cerebral palsy, the benefits of acupuncture have been very clear.
Most doctors will recommend long-term physical therapy for anyone suffering from cerebral palsy, as the condition will usually only get worse with age. Consistent therapy to improve flexibility and muscle control is an essential part of living a normal life with cerebral palsy. This can also help with fine motor control problems, which can often require around-the-clock care, due to an inability to feed oneself, so physical therapy is essential.
This powerful herb has a number of effects on cerebral palsy, most notably an increase in circulation, meaning that fresh, oxygenated blood is delivered to the limbs and extremities more readily. Secondly, the active ingredients in echinacea have been linked to stronger neural connections and a reduction in nervous disorders. Combined with its ability to soothe muscle spasms and increase muscle control, these benefits make a daily dose of echinacea a harmless and very helpful way to treat this disorder.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Anecdotal evidence has pointed to peppermint essential oil being great for relieving the pain and inflammation associated with cerebral palsy. You can topically apply this oil to joints and muscles, and the cooling, anti-inflammatory oil will do the rest, providing temporary analgesic relief and additional blood flow to those extremities.
Since the damage to muscle development in cerebral palsy takes on many different forms, speech therapy is often required, or recommended, so that those muscles are kept in shape, and communication can continue for the sufferer. This is also important for feeding oneself and maintaining the ability to chew and swallow on one’s own.
Cerebral palsy affects many different systems in the body, including the digestive and excretory systems, so certain changes should be made to one’s diet and eating habits. For example, the time required for meals can be longer due to challenges with chewing or swallowing, foods with broths and gravies can help with common constipation problems. Hard, stringy foods, as well as nuts and seeds, should be avoided, as swallowing is often a difficult aspect of eating for those with cerebral palsy.
Apple Cider Vinegar
This popular home remedy is often used to reduce the muscle spasticity associated with cerebral palsy. The health benefits of ACV are well known, so it comes as no surprise that it could also be effective as a topical agent for muscle spasms and malfunctions, as well as digestive stimulant.
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are integral anti-inflammatory agents in the body, are also important for neural connections and communication between the brain and body. Furthermore, brain tissue development can be stimulated by an excess of these “good” fats in the body. Great sources of omega-3s are salmon, tuna, walnuts, soybeans, spinach, and flaxseed oil.
To relieve the pain and inflammation caused by this movement disorder, many people have turned to epsom salt baths. Simply mix hot water and Epsom salts, along with some sea salt and any other essential oils you may choose, and then soak parts of the body in this mixture that are inflamed or painful. Relief should be quick and long-lasting!
Prebiotics and Probiotics
The effects of cerebral palsy on digestion and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients is quite serious, so improving the functioning of the body in these areas in any way is crucially important. Adding foods that have prebiotics and probiotics to your diet can help ensure a healthy gastrointestinal environment so nutrients can be effectively absorbed and used by the body.
Yoga and Meditation
Many people suffering from cerebral palsy have found relief and comfort in mental therapies and approaches like yoga and meditation. These embrace the idea of the body and mind being linked, and have shown the ability to improve the strength of the immune system, boost circulation, lower stress hormones, and relieve inflammation. If a patient is able to do the requisite movements, these strategies are highly recommended.
Final Word of Warning
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong affliction, and these treatments are considered complementary treatments and lifestyle adjustments, not cures. Again, it is highly important to speak with a medical professional if you believe your child is developing at a reduced rate, and from there, appropriate therapies and treatment approaches can be discussed.