Ayurveda for Teens (and Kids)
The following article is excerpted from the book: Super Healthy Kids — A Parent’s Guide to Maharishi Ayurveda, 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 visit here.
“The Vedic approach to health is the approach of Natural Law, which is inscribed in every grain of the human physiology and is easily accessible to anyone within the intelligence of his own body. This has provided a direct path for prevention, restoration, and maintenance of balance in the natural relationship between intelligence and the physiology — between the body and its own inner intelligence. With this, the possibility has arisen for the individual to really enjoy balanced, healthy life in happiness — the goal of an affluent society.”
—Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Super Healthy Kids — A Parent’s Guide
Why Not Choose the Most Effective Health Care for Your Child?
Of all the gifts you offer your child, nothing is as precious as good health. As a parent, you have the power to guide your child to a lifetime of healthy habits and healthy living.
While this is certainly an enormous responsibility, it doesn’t have to be a burden. With the natural, simple principles outlined in this book, parents throughout the world are helping their children grow in health and happiness day by day.
Unlike Western medicine, which focuses on crisis intervention (and is very good at it), the natural health-care system presented in this book, called Maharishi Ayurveda, will improve your child’s health every day of the year. It will answer those important questions every parent asks: What can I do to keep my child as healthy as possible? What are the right foods for my child to eat? What if my child doesn’t like the “standard” diet? How much exercise does my child need? What if my child is not “average” but is his own special case?
The fact is, every child is his own special case. In nearly thirty years as a practicing physician, I have never met two children who are exactly alike. Every child needs to be treated as an individual, by taking into account his or her own mental, physical, and emotional makeup. Maharishi Ayurveda recognizes that every child has different needs, and therefore may require different foods, daily routines, or exercise programs to stay healthy.
If this sounds complicated, don’t worry. When you start using these natural health-care principles, your job will become easier. For it is my experience that when a child starts to follow his natural rhythms and eats the foods his system needs, he will immediately feel healthier and will spontaneously start making healthier choices.
My Own Story
Let me reassure you by telling my story. When my twin daughters were born, I was a practicing physician in upstate New York. I had been born and raised in India, and my parents relied on many natural remedies from the traditional system of medicine in India (called Ayurveda) while I was growing up. However, my husband and I were trained as medical doctors and thus consulted medical doctors to treat our daughters.
After a complicated pregnancy, the twins were born ten weeks early and were underweight. Because their digestive systems were very weak, they had to remain in the hospital for six weeks. I was not able to breast-feed them and they couldn’t tolerate many of the baby formulas that the hospital tried.
The girls’ immunity was also very weak, and even after they left the hospital, they were constantly sick. They were not able to eat much and their weight remained low. It was a great challenge for me to follow the pediatrician’s recommendations. Antibiotics were repeatedly prescribed for my tiny girls. They even had to take prophylactic antibiotics to prevent ear infections. (MAPI editor’s note - prophylactic use of antibiotics means one is taking them to prevent an infection instead of to treat an infection. A physician might give you antibiotics prophylactically if you are immune compromised.)
The antibiotics produced many unwanted side effects: low appetite, further weakening of the digestive system, and diarrhea. The girls were generally unhealthy, unhappy, cranky, and poor sleepers. This meant three years of sleepless nights for me.
Exhausted and fed up with the negative side effects of the prescribed treatments, I decided, “Enough is enough.” I turned to my own roots, to the health-care system of my ancestors. In the late 1980s, I was fortunate to learn about Maharishi Ayurveda, which was available in the West at that time and was so much more comprehensive and complete than the Western medical approach I had been using. It appealed to me, and I started using it immediately.
In just a short time, my daughters’ health turned around 180 degrees. The simple, natural treatments of Maharishi Ayurveda simultaneously built up their immune systems while restoring natural balance to problem areas.
Now that they are grown, they recognize that they can maintain healthy balance with the natural procedures of Maharishi Ayurveda and rarely have to consult a doctor. If they start to feel ill, they know how to quickly restore balance to their bodies. They see clearly that when they take herbal compounds instead of antibiotics, they don’t suffer negative side effects. Instead they feel stronger, healthier, and more energetic. They are extremely healthy and happy, and excel in many different sports.
Since that time, I have taken the training in Maharishi Ayurveda that is available to physicians. This has been an amazing and gratifying experience, especially when I work with children. Let me tell you the story of one of my young patients. (The names of the children and parents have been changed throughout the book to protect their privacy.)
Marta was eight years old when her mother brought her to see me. She was frequently ill, unhappy, and exhausted, with large dark circles under her eyes.
Her mother explained that Marta had allergen reactions, seasonal breathing difficulties, and a facial tic (involuntary muscle spasm). I also saw that her head constantly jerked around, her eyes blinked incessantly, and her legs and arms were subject to unexpected spastic movements.
Marta’s movements annoyed her classmates, which made her self-conscious and caused the movements to increase. She had very few friends. A neurologist had prescribed conventional medications, but these drugs had not helped reduce the movements and had actually created additional side effects, such as occasional constipation, headaches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. In addition, Marta suffered from sleep problems, which her mother thought could be due to the medication or the reaction to allergens. Marta’s mother had already made the decision to stop the medications before consulting me. She also said that her daughter was frightened of anyone in a white coat who would prescribe or perform more blood tests and other diagnostic tests.
Right away I reassured Marta that she was going to be all right. I told her that her health would improve and that we would be using natural and gentle treatments that would not harm her. I tried to explain that we were partners in this game, that I would try to help her get better and that she could help me by taking her herbal preparations and following the instructions I gave her. I said that she would be making herself better. Marta seemed relieved but understandably skeptical.
I also told her which foods would help restore balance to her body, and taught her how to do a special herbal oil massage, called an abhyanga, to soothe and balance her nervous system. Maharishi Ayurveda herbal supplements were recommended to help with her response to allergens, promote healthy breathing, support digestion, and help with occasional constipation.
Within just a few weeks, her mother reported that these recommendations had created a remarkable improvement in Marta. She was eating better, sleeping better, and was no longer awakened by breathing issues in the night.
At that point, I started her on herbal preparations to support her neurological system. Over the next few months, Marta steadily improved. The involuntary movements in her legs diminished by 90 percent. The uncontrollable bobbing of her head and neck was remarkably reduced. Soon it happened only occasionally, when she was under stress or tired or when exposed to a situation that made her feel very self-conscious.
In the process of restoring balance, Marta learned which foods, behaviors, and routines helped correct her imbalances. She learned what triggered health problems and how to prevent them. She learned how to take care of herself. Without realizing it, she started experiencing greater self-awareness, understanding her own physiology and how its biological inner intelligence functioned. She tuned in to her body in a very natural way without any struggle, without analyzing or rationalizing.
Six years later Marta is a young teenager. She looks beautiful and seems confident. Her breathing is completely normal. She has not had involuntary movements for many years, although she still has an occasional facial tic when under stress. Marta looks forward to living the life of her dreams.
Cover photograph by Randy Griffin, Flickr © 2012
Note from authors:
The educational information included in this book is intended to help parents improve the health of their children and is not in any way intended as a substitute for standard medical care from a primary-care medical doctor or pediatrician. No part of this book is intended to diagnose or treat any disease or to replace standard medical care. While the self-care approaches outlined in this book have been safely used by hundreds of children and adults, as with any health approach, the results cannot be guaranteed. The authors, publisher, and Maharishi Ayurveda Products International are not responsible for any adverse effects that may result from the herbal and self-care approaches outlined in this book. Consult with your health-care professional before giving your child any herbal products, remedies, or procedures described in this book and before making any changes in your child’s current medical treatment.
Maharishi Ayurveda offers valuable complementary recommendations to supplement the advice of the medical doctor but is not meant in any way to replace it. Even to use Maharishi Ayurveda properly, it is recommended that you consult a medical doctor or expert who is trained in Maharishi Ayurveda to receive a proper assessment and individualized recommendations.
To make an appointment with a qualified expert in Maharishi Ayurveda, please contact: www.theraj.com.
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.