Giant cell arteritis, also known as temporal arteritis or cranial arteritis is an inflammation of the lining of the arteries, most commonly in the temporal scalp. Common symptoms include persistent head pain and tenderness, usually in the temple area; decreased vision; scalp tenderness; jaw pain; pain and stiffness in the neck, arms or hips; sudden, permanent loss of vision in one eye; fever; and weight loss. Old age, female sex, white race, and the presence of polymyalgia rheumatica are risk factors for giant cell arteritis.
The Ayurvedic treatment of giant cell arteritis is aimed at treating the symptoms of this condition and preventing complications like blindness, stroke, angina and aortic aneurysm. Medicines like Triphala-Guggulu, Yograj-Guggulu, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu, Maha-Manjishthadi-Qadha, Saarivadi-Churna, Chandrakala-Ras and Sutshekhar-Ras are used to reduce pain and inflammation in the cranial arteries. Herbal medicines which can be used for this purpose are: Bahava (Cassia fistula), Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia), Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Daru Haridra (Berberis aristata), Takla (Clerodendron phomodis), Karanj (Pongamia pinnata), Khadeer (Acacia catechu) and Bhrungraj (Eclipta alba).
Sudden, permanent blindness can be an immediate complication of this condition. This results from swelling in the cranial arteries, which cuts off blood supply and nutrients to the delicate tissue of the eyes. This can be prevented with the timely use of steroids. Ayurvedic medicines like Tapyadi-Loh, Ekangveer-Ras, Kaishor-Guggulu and Maha-Manjishthadi-Qadha can also be used for this purpose. In the acute condition, localized blood-letting from the temple areas with the application of leeches can help to tide over the crisis, by reducing pain and inflammation. Ayurvedic medicines need to be continued for a long time in order to prevent a relapse of the condition and long-term complications like aortic aneurysm and stroke.
Because of the risk of serious complications, giant cell arteritis needs to be diagnosed and treated promptly. Education and awareness about this disease in the general public is necessary to enable them to seek medical help at the earliest.