Care of the New Born, Ayurveda insights

WHAT ARE COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE NEW BORN ?

New born’s are very difficult to diagnose as they do not speak up for themselves. Common problems associated with them are recurrent cold and cough, fevers, jaundice, dysentery, diarrhea, skin rashes etc. There also many genetic and hereditary disorders like bleeding problems, cardiac problems etc; but I will discuss about them in another post.

HOW CAN THEY BE DIAGNOSED ?

As mentioned earlier it is difficult to pinpoint an exact transition in infants due to their inability to speak. Hence many a times these disorders are caught up when they are grave. Also these disorders expose the child to many injurious chemicals in form of antibiotics and other pediatric medications which may cause secondary problems and lessen their immunity.

WHAT CAN BE ILL-EFFECTS OF ANTIBIOTICS AT AN EARLY AGE ?

An infants liver is barely able to digest milk. Hence we slowly relax their diet over months. But infections force the body to digest harmful chemicals in terms of medicines which may harm the sensitive liver and other organs. In my practice i have seen such children develop many immunity problems, early loss of vision, premature hair fall, loss of concentration, bone pain, muscle pain and other disorders.

HOW DOES AYURVEDA HELP IN EARLY DIAGNOSIS ?

Ayurveda has described many methods to diagnose child problems Some may be sound vague but are extremely useful. For example Kashyap samhita [a book specially dedicated to paedatrics] mentions licking the belly of a crying infant. If it tastes bitter than most probaly the infant is suffering from stomach pain maybe due to worms. I have used such tips in my practice and found them to be highly useful. Ayurveda mainly emphasis on prevention of disease and hence an healthy breast milk ensures a healthy child.

WHAT ARE SIGNS OF HEALTHY BREAST MILK?

Ayurveda has a unique method to test healthy breast milk. I use it al the time with great effect in my clinical practice. Put a small amount of breast milk in a cup of water and observe.

  • If the milk blends with water its healthy.
  • If it sinks it will cause cough and other respiratory problems maybe even indigestion and worms.
  • If it floats then it will prove a bit hot to the infant may cause diarrhea etc.
  • If it floats and breaks it may cause neurological problems.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO MAKE THE BREAST MILK HEALTHY ?

Generally I prescribe some herbs to women in form of decoction or tea. This is known as STANYA SHODHAN KADHA [stanya == breast milk, shodhan == purification and kadha == tea]. Though the formulation differs from patient to patient i will enlist a general herbal formula which all women can take

  • Patol 4gms [Tricosanthes diocia]
  • Pittpapada 4gms [Fumaria indica]
  • Arjun 4gms [Terminalia cuneata/ arjuna]
  • Ashwagandha 3 gms [Withania somnifera]
  • Sunth 2gms [Zingiber officinale, dried ginger]
  • Trifala 6gms [Three myrlobans, Terminala chebula [harada], Terminalia bellerica [Beheda]
  • Phyllanthus emblica [Avala]] Vekhand 2gms [Acorus calamus]
  • Punarnava 3 gms [Boehrrahvia repens]
  • Gokhru 3gms [Tribulus terristeris / Pedalium murex]

Crush these herbs in 8cups [500ml] of water and reduce to 1 cup[60-70ml] filter and drink empty stomach. The filtrate must be soaked in 4 cups of water and reduced to 1cup and take it in the evening. Take whatever herbs one may get from above formula. You can replace Patol, Pittpapda with Rose petals and Shatavari [Asparagus racemosus]. Take this decoction for 10 days and check the breast milk.

WHY DO INFANTS DEVELOP PROBLEMS WITH UNHEALTHY BREAST MILK ?

A simple explanation I provide is that after delivery there is some amount of Kapha dosha [phlegm] in the child’s digestive canal. This Kapha can be correlated to amniotic fluid  which is sucked out after delivery. However some amount of it remains inside. In certain children this lodges exactly near the hepatic openings in the intestine. When breast milk enters the body the digestive juices are not appropriately secreted and the milk breaks lining the inner part of the intestine. Over time small micro organisms [fungus, bacteria] get developed here . These are known as KRIMI in Ayurveda. These Krimi are different from Janta [worms] however they may transform into them. On deeper level these Krimi absorb the nutrients of the infant and shed their waste [aflatoxins etc] in the infant’s blood stream. This waste in terms of enzymes, immunoglobins etc cause many immunological problems in the child making his system weak and prone to disease. Ayurveda mentions Jatkarma to prevent this problems.

WHAT ARE JATKARMA MENTIONED IN AYURVEDA AND WHAT IS THEIR IMPORTANCE ?

Ayurveda has mentioned many remedies for this entire process. These are known as Jatkarma and have been prevalent in many Indian households as traditions. However they are losing importance with time and advent of modern health care systems. When a child is born a mixture of honey and leaf juice of Bhringraaja [Eclipta prostrata] is rubbed on his tongue which makes the child vomit and expels out the Kapha. This one step is very important and I have seen many infants get cold and cough in India [urban areas] these days as the method is not followed. There is process of giving gold in indirect form to children to improve their cognition. Certain Dhups [fumigation] with herbs [Neem, Tulasi, Guggul] are done to prevent viral infections. The choice of food after months is also taken care of with respect to the digestive power of the child. Many other samskaras as naming of the child, piercing his ear [Hindu tradition, this is said to improve his immunity] etc . have been first mentioned in Ayurveda. Kashyap Samhita also mentions the use of specific toys with strict preparation protocols for the child. This toys are selected with great care as they improve the overall cognition of the child.

WHAT IS BAALGUTI ?  

Balguti is traditional mixture of certain herbs which are used and administered for one year to a child to improve his immunity. They are very effective and individual herbs in it tend to cover all disorders of the child from stomach ache to fevers to flatulence etc. Though the ingredients are mostly standard and available with any herbal shops every healer has his own combination. I would put up a very easy one for general use

  • Manjishta [Rubia cordiolia]
  • Ativisha [Aconitum heterophyllum]
  • Nagarmotha [Cyperus rotundus]
  • Kakadsinghi [Pistacia integerrima]
  • Vekhand [Acorus calamus]
  • Sagargota [Caesalpinia crista]

One piece of each on a clean slate [silver/ wooden] take some breast milk [first 6 months] or water [after 6 months]. Rub each of this herbs once or twice. Once all herbs are rubbed, mix the blend with a drop of honey. You can use a gold wire to mix it. This helps in improving cognition. Heat the gold wire till red hot and them use it mix the blend. Rub this blend on the child tongue every morning. Doing this for one year is highly beneficial and prevents many disorders. Apart from this I also advice mothers to administer some amount of castor oil to the child once every 20 days to clean the bowels. If administration is not feasible, they can put 2 -3 drops of slight warm oil in the navel or keep a cotton soaked in castor oil at the anal canal of the child as pessary. This helps evacuate any worms and keeps the appetite strong.

WHY IS THE ADMINISTRATION OF GOLD AND SILVER IMPORTANT AT SUCH A TENDER AGE ?

Ayurveda believes that a humans cognition reaches its maximum limit by 2 years. After that only the memory is improved. This fact is also now established by modern science. Gold is said to be the best for improving cognition along with silver. Hence administering gold and silver in indirect form helps improve intellect. I have seen its practical effect many times in my practice. In the above mentioned Balguti process, one needs to pre heat the silver slate before mixing the blend and use gold to mix it. This process altogether helps in general immunity of the child.

CAN YOU SUGGEST SOME HOME REMEDIES FOR COMMON AILMENTS OF INFANTS ?

STOMACH ACHE, FLATULENCE, CONSTIPATION AND CRAMPS.

Put castor oil pessary as mentioned earlier. Put a pinch of asafetida in boiling water till it dissolves. Add bit of salt . Apply this paste around the navel. You can also add few drops of Eucalyptus oil in the mixture. Take 1tsp of Tulasi leaf juice [Basil. Ocimum sanctum]. In it rub a pinch of asafetida and little honey. Rub it on the child tongue. This all remedies done together help immediately. Apart from this one can boil handful of Rose petals in water few raisins and filter it. add sugar and give the child spoon by spoon. This helps in evacuation of bowels and relieve abdominal flatulence, pains constipation etc.

The indian screw nut [Murudsheng, Helicterus isora] which is available with many Balgutis is an excellent remedy for cramps. Rub the fruit in Tulasi juice or plane honey and rub it on the childs tongue. This helps alleviate the symptoms.

COUGH  

Rub bark of Arjuna [Terminalia arjuna] in honey and rub the blend on the infants tongue.Similarly the bark of Beheda [Terminalia bellerica] can be used. Apart from this other herbs are Pomegranate rind and Kakadsinghi [Pistacia integerrima]. If the infant suffers from cold and mild fever along withe the above remedy Ativisha [Aconitum heterophyllum] must be added to the mixture.

COLD AND FEVER, VIRAL INFECTIONS  

Boil few Tulasi [basil, Ocimum sanctum] leaves, Rose petals in 1 cup of water. Filter it and administer spoon by spoon every 3 hours. This will relieve the symptoms soon. Mint leaves/ rosemary leaves can also be used. If the child has associative cough the above remedies can be used.

DIARRHEA

First let the child pass the motions to throw out the toxins as many a times we quickly block them which leads to other disorders.. If the motions extend more that 10 then Apply ginger juice around the navel. This stops diarrhea. For internal use, rub Jaiphal [Mace, nutmeg, Myristica fragrans] in water to obtain a paste. Add a bit of powdered sugar and rub it on the infants tongue. This helps. Apart from that some amount of the paste must also be applied on the Anterior fontanelle [Skull opening on the scalp which closes with time. It can be palpated as a soft depression]. If the child has lost much fluids a cloth soaked in water prepared by boiling rice must be placed over the skull opening. This acts as a saline injection and replenishes the child. This is also useful in places where small children suffer from water borne diseases like cholera. Lime juice 1/tsp and cows ghee [clarified butter from cow’s milk] 1/2 tsp administered after interval of 10 -15 mins helps arrest loose motions. Administration of pomegranate juice in such cases is also very helpful. All this disorders keep a strict check on the breast milk. In case of cough its better to avoid breast milk at night and give the child gruel water prepared by boiling rice.

CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE DIET OF A NEW BORN WITH SUBSEQUENT PROGRESSION ?  

As per Ayurveda the child has to be progressively terminated from breast feeding around the 6th month. From then onwards we start with pomegranate juice as it is the best for the heart. Orange juice and other citrus fruits are not recommended. The can be started slowly after the 8th month. Along with this I prescribe a very special supplement derived from a millet in India known as Nachini or Ragi [Elusine coraciana] Its extract known as NACHINI SATVA is best for bones and growing children You get this readymade in the stores It is available in two varieties “with sugar” and “without sugar”. The one without sugar is to be preferred. Boil 10gm of the flour with equal quantity of milk [cow’s milk] and water till milk remains. A bit of cardamom, saffron and sugar is added for taste. Feed this to the child in the afternoon. This helps strengthen bones, improve digestion and immunity. Heavy cereals like rice, grams [Grren gram etc; daals] can be started with slow progression from 7 – 8th month. These heavy foods must be first administered for lunch followed by very light food [Juices, Nachini Satva] after sunset as the digestive channels close in the body with sunset.

IS OIL MASSAGE BENEFICIAL FOR A NEW BORN ?

Many practitioners have different theories. In india its a custom to massage the new born with oil. On my side I do recomend this as it strengths the bones, promote hair growth and also makes he skin soft. It improves digestion and expels out toxins. There are many oils to choose from.One simple oil is to boil

  • 20gms Vekhand [Acorus calamus, sweet flag]
  • 20gms Rose petals
  • 10gms Ashwagandha [Withania somnifera]
  • 20gms of Khus [Vetiver zizanoides]

in 300ml of water and reduce to 100ml. Filter the tea. Add virgin coconut oil/sesame oil and boil till oil remains. Filter and store. Each day warm teh oil slightly and massage the child. This massage is done in a specific way where the child is placed on the lap of the masseur and the oil applied from top to bottom first on the back and then on the front. The child is then bathed with warm water with proper pressure to take out the oil. This helps evacuate dead skin and also water retention. Mothers may observe that the child may loose weight after massage. This is good as when the child is in the womb its cells bloat by absorbing too many fluids. This all gets blown away by the massage and the skin becomes supple soft, circulation improves and the bones become strong. In case the above herbs are not available, one can use Almond oil, Olive oil or even ready made Ayurveda oils like Chandanbalalakshaadi Taila. Apart from this one can apply a paste prepared by crushing Almonds and rose petals in milk to form a scrub and slowly massage the body and then give a bath.

IS THERE ANY SPECIAL FORMULATION OR REMEDY TO EXPEL OUT PLACENTAL REMAINS POST DELEIVERY ?

This is very important for health of the mother. Lots of time after pregnancy or maybe miscarriages the placental remains are not expelled properly leading to infections and immunity problems. Since we talk about child care i would concentrate on new mothers and leave to discuss miscarriages in another posts. In India there are many traditional remedies consisting of confectionery prepared from Sesame, Dink [gum of Acacia arabica, Sterculia urens] , Methi [Fenugreek] which are given to new mothers to clean the placental remains.

A home remedy I suggest is to make a small herbal tea from following

  • Mint leaves 5-10
  • Rosemary leaves 5-10/ Lemon Grass/ Tulsai leaves 5-10
  • Dried ginger 1gm
  • Sesame seeds 5gms
  • Rose petals 5gms
  • Poppy seeds [Khaskhas, Papaver somniferum] 3 gms.

Boil in 4cups of water reduce to 1 cup. Filter add jaggery or honey and drink 2 times a day for one week. This evacuates all remaining clots from the uterus.

Prataplankeshwar rasa [http://nlam.in/form_disp.php?20f07591c6fcb220ffe637cda29bb3f6] is a good medicine used by vaidyas after delivery to ensure that the uterus remains healthy and post complications are prevented. Can be taken under supervision.

I have tried to cover as many aspects of infant care. I have not included any disorders of children above 2 years. I may put up a separate thread for it. Since the topic is vast it is possible I may have left out many things. I would like if you can post those points so that I can answer them. Also many herbs mentioned here are found worldwide in any Ayurveda or herbal stores [even chinese only one may need to know the name]. In case one may not find certain herbs they may point it out so that I can put up an alternate therapy. I have restricted in giving too many remedies to avoid confusion.