Ayurveda For Teens and Kids (Part 2)
The following article is excerpted from the book: Super Healthy Kids, A Parent’s Guide, with permission from the author, Kumuda Reddy, M.D. To comply with US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules for marketing herbal supplements, small portions of this book excerpt have been modified or removed, specifically where references to diseases, or possible health claims, are made. To read or purchase the complete unedited book, Super Healthy Kids — A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, by Kumuda Reddy, M.D. and Linda Egenes, please visithere.
I’ll never forget the first day that I met Jonah, an extremely thin eleven-year-old who looked like he might be nine or ten. He was tired and withdrawn. His mother was exasperated and told me that he had been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It was beyond her belief that a child could have an adult disease like that.
I first reassured her that IBS could be addressed easily with Maharishi Ayurveda, especially in its early stages. While relating his medical history, his mother said that Jonah was always a fussy eater. He didn’t like many foods, ate irregularly, and had the habit of drinking ice-cold sodas from an early age. His routine meal was a peanut butter sandwich. He hated any fruits, vegetables, lentils, or beans.
As a young child, Jonah was prone to constipation. Things gradually worsened after he turned nine, when he began to experience gas and bloating and was under stress at school. He was also developing sleep problems. He loved sports, but he dropped out of the soccer team because he was not able to keep up with it. He played music in a band, but he felt that he was not enjoying anything. Jonah found school and homework to be tedious, and he was not able to perform at his optimal level. Lately he had started missing days at school, and he was also having bouts of diarrhea along with constipation. His mother thought that he was getting depressed.
With all these problems, he became even more of a picky eater, because he felt uncomfortable after eating just about everything. He had lost twenty pounds in the last six months. Conventional medical doctors had prescribed antidepressants, vitamins, and foods with roughage, but he could not tolerate any of them because they made his stomach hurt.
My first recommendation was a simple diet that included rice, pasta, and easy-to-digest vegetables such as asparagus, sweet potatoes, and cooked carrots. I also recommended herbal supplements to restore balance to his digestion and elimination. Other herbal formulas helped relieve the mental stress, insomnia, and fatigue.
Over the next few weeks, I kept a close eye on his diet, gradually adding foods that he could tolerate. Within a month his physiology started functioning normally. He began sleeping better, reported less stress, started eating regular meals, and was able to digest many foods without experiencing bloating or indigestion. Best of all, he said he was feeling happier inside.
At this point I strongly recommended that he learn the Transcendental Meditation® technique for stress reduction, which he did along with his mother. That proved to be a turning point in his life. Over the next few months he enjoyed a tremendous boost in energy and put on the weight that he had lost. Now after three years, he and his mother feel that IBS is far behind him.
What is Maharishi Ayurveda?
Before going any further, you probably want to know exactly what “Maharishi Ayurveda” means. Veda means “knowledge,” and Ayur means “life.” The word Ayurveda means “knowledge of life.” Ayurveda is the oldest continuously-used health-care system on earth. It is part of the Vedic tradition of knowledge that originated in India.
The word “Maharishi” refers to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique. (And Maharishi Ayurveda Products International, the herbal products company. Ed.) Starting in the 1980s, Maharishi has revived the Ayurvedic health-care system and has brought this valuable knowledge to the West. While much of the original knowledge of Ayurveda had been lost, Maharishi has revived its true basis — consciousness — and its integration with body, emotions, and the environment. This restored knowledge of Ayurveda is called Maharishi Ayurveda.
Maharishi Ayurveda is sometimes used interchangeably with the terms Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health or Maharishi Vedic Medicine, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll use Maharishi Ayurveda here.
In the next chapters, I’ll explain in detail the natural, simple health-promoting measures that are offered by Maharishi Ayurveda. For now, I just want to point out some of the major differences between Maharishi Ayurveda and Western medical treatments.
When you and your child walk into the office of a physician who practices Maharishi Ayurveda, you can expect a completely different experience from your standard visit to the doctor. For one thing, a physician trained in Maharishi Ayurveda is never too busy to listen. In fact, listening to the patient is an important part of the diagnostic procedure.
In Maharishi Ayurveda, the health expert trained in traditional Ayurvedic principles and practice (called a Vaidya), considers not just the headache or stomachache or insomnia, but looks deeply into the diet, lifestyle, and behavior of the child to see what might be causing the imbalance. In fact, during the diagnosis the mother fills out a questionnaire to describe in detail the child’s likes and dislikes, dietary habits, daily routine, and emotional makeup as well as the standard medical history.
Rather than being confronted with frightening machines and clinical smells, the child is diagnosed using a simple, caring technique called pulse diagnosis. By placing three fingers on the child’s radial pulse at the wrist, the physician trained in Maharishi Ayurveda is able to diagnose the child’s psycho-physiological tendencies, body type, and the underlying cause of imbalances and symptoms. With this gentle and noninvasive technique, the physician gains insight into the underlying imbalances and specific causes of the health problems that the child is displaying. For this reason, the physician is able to give a completely individualized treatment program, based on the child’s pulse assessment.
The treatments are simple and natural, and children tend to like following them because they bring relief in a gentle, natural way. Let’s say the child has trouble sleeping. After determining the cause, the physician trained in Maharishi Ayurveda may recommend simple changes to bring the entire system back into balance. These may include changes in the diet or the daily routine (such as eating the main meal at noon instead of at night, or eating more cooked foods instead of raw foods). Other pleasant treatment modalities such as aroma therapy, music therapy, or stress reduction techniques may be recommended to bring the body back into alignment with its own natural rhythms. Maharishi Ayurveda herbal formulas may also be recommended to correct the specific imbalance. If the cause is more emotional or mental in origin, treatments will take that into account.
You can see how effective it is to treat the health problem by adjusting the diet and daily routine. This is a more permanent and effective solution than simply prescribing a pill to mask the symptoms and letting the child continue to make the same mistakes in diet and daily routine that created ill health in the first place. Rather than creating negative side effects, this natural approach of Maharishi Ayurveda boosts immunity and actually creates side benefits, or unexpected positive changes, in overall mental, physical, and emotional health.
Maharishi Ayurveda is adept at preventing problems before they arise. It is such a sophisticated system of health care that it even takes the seasons and weather into account, including adjustments in diet and routine to prevent seasonal illnesses such as colds, flu, and sun sensitivity from cropping up. Seasonal checkups can keep the whole family at a level of health that you might not think possible.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.