Navarakizhi and pinda sweda as muscle-nourishing Ayurveda procedures in hemiplegia: double-blind randomized comparative pilot clinical trial

J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Jan;20(1):57-64. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0919. Epub 2013 Jul 12.


Introduction: Hemiplegia and the Ayurvedic description of ardhanga disease presents with comparable clinical features. This pilot trial compared two traditional procedure-based treatments: Navarakizhi, a massage of cooked navara rice in a medicated hot bolus, and pinda sweda, a similar massage made of a different type of rice. This article also describes the steps of a double-blind trial in Ayurveda, which was hitherto considered difficult to perform.

Methods: Eighteen (18) patients suffering from hemiplegia with disease duration of 6 months to 2 years received treatment with navarakizhi or pinda sweda for 7 days. Both groups received the same Ayurvedic oral medications for 14 days. All steps of randomization and blinding of procedure-based therapy in Ayurveda are described. The physiotherapist evaluated muscle tone, muscle strength, tendon reflexes, range of movement, and balance of functional abilities at baseline, 7 days, and 14 days after starting therapy. Both patient and the assessing physiotherapist were blinded.

Results: Intraquartile range values showed better range in patients who received navarakizhi than those who received pinda sweda.

Discussion: A larger trial is needed to confirm the superiority of navarakizhi over the rice varieties in treating hemiplegia. This study demonstrates that double-blind randomized clinical trials are possible in Ayurvedic settings, ending the long-debated controversy in trial methodology involving procedure-based traditional medicines.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hemiplegia / physiopathology
  • Hemiplegia / therapy*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Lower Extremity / physiology
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Medicine, Ayurvedic*
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Reflex / physiology
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Upper Extremity / physiology