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Ayurvedic medicines have clearly helped people across the world in leading healthier lives. But, like any other stream of medicine, Ayurvedic therapies and medicines, can also bring about adverse effects, if they are incorrectly used, administered in the wrong manner, or are prescribed by unqualified practitioners.
As consumers, it is our responsibility to check the credentials, training and experience of all practitioners when seeking therapies. You should also disclose all the details of all the other medicines that you may already be using, to avoid any potential herbal interaction during the treatment process.
In fact, the International Society for Ayurveda and Health (ISAH), in the United States suggests the use of Ayurvedic therapy only if prescribed and supervised by a trained ayurvedic practitioner.
Ayurveda For Kids
Having said this, you should be a lot more cautious in your approach when you are seeking treatment for pregnant women or kids, else, it could lead to a lot of complications.
Ayurveda, being a holistic way of healing, focuses more on overall wellness of an individual, rather than just curing the disease. Ayurvedic Medicine has eight branches and the paediatrics, which includes caring for infants and newborn is referred to as 'Bala tantra' or 'Kaumarabhritya'.
Special care is required when treating children, as their tissues (referred to as 'dhaatus') are still developing during childhood. Balatantra involves caring of the child from foetal stage to adolescence.
Ayurveda believes that most diseases during childhood are caused due to an imbalance in kapha dosha. Therefore, importance is given to balance kapha dosha with the right treatment and medication.
Safety Of Ayurvedic Medicines For Kids
Ayurvedic medicine uses several treatment methods and medicines. Majority of the Ayurvedic medicines are safe and effective when it comes to treating kids. However, some of these medicines may contain herbs, metals or minerals that may be harmful for your kid, especially, if used without the direction of a trained practitioner or when used improperly.
For instance, some of the herbs may even interact with conventional medicines. Furthermore, if they contain metals such as lead, it can be poisonous.
When preparing Ayurvedic medicines, heavy metals are usually included into the formulations to improve the potency of the medicines and add therapeutic properties. But, in traditional preparations, these metals are generally purified before using it in the drugs, as mentioned in the 'Rasa Shastras'.
For instance, the metal in the preparation of Ayurvedic medicines is purified through multiple heating and cooling cycles and by adding some specific 'mineral herbs' in the traditional method of preparation of medicines. However, in modern formulations, the concentration of heavy metals may be high due to poor quality control, which may lead to adulteration, or contamination.
Medicines To Avoid:
So, how would you decide if any particular medicine can be administered to your child or not? The answer is simple. Do not give any medicine without consulting a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner. However, to help you out, here's the list of ayurvedic medicines that you should avoid giving your kids.
1. Jayapala - Croton tiglium
2. Snuhi - Euphorbia nerifolia
3. Vishamushti/Tinduka/Lakucha - Strychnos nuxvomica
4. Danti - Baliospermum montanum (Used in Dantyarishta)
5. Parasika Yavani - Hyoscyamus inibar/Hyoscyamus niger
6. Ahiphena - Papaver somniferum - Opium
7. Bhanga - Cannabis sativa
8. Karaveera - Gloriosa superb
9. Arka - Calotropis gigantean
10. Dhattura - Datura metal (used in Kanakasava)
11. Vatsanabha - Aconitum chasmanthum/Aconitum ferox
12. Gunja - Arus precatorius
13. Karaveera - Nerium indicum
14. Sarpavisha - Snake poison
15. Bhallataka - Semecarpus anacardium
16. Shringivisha - Aconitum chasmanthum
17. Langali - Gloriosa superb
Some Ayurvedic medicines such as those mentioned below may contain heavy metal ingredients in low quantities. It is best to avoid using medicines containing these ingredients.
• Mahayograj Guggulu - lead, mercury, arsenic
• Swama Mahayograj Guggulu - gold
• Navratna Rasa - mercury
• Mahalakshmi Vilas Ras - gold, mercury
• Balguti Kesaria - mercury
Here is the list of Ayurvedic ingredients that may have mineral origin, and you can try to avoid using them:
• Manashila - Also known as realgar
• Rasa Sindhura - A compound of purified mercury and purified sulphur
• Hingula - Cinnabar
• Gauripashana - Arsenic, arsenic oxide
• Makaradhwaja - A compound of purified mercury, sulphur and gold
• Haratala - Arsenic trisulphide
• Rasa Karpura - Hydrargyri subchloridum
• Girisindura - Red oxide of mercury
• Tuttha - Copper sulphate
• Parada - Mercury
• Sindhura - Red oxide of lead
Some Precautions to take:
1. Always consult only licensed, experienced Ayurvedic physicians for treatment, especially, when it comes to your kid's growth and development.
2. Just as in conventional medicines, Ayurvedic medicines can also have some side effects on infants. Therefore, in case you notice an allergic reaction after giving any medication, consult your doctor immediately.
3. When purchasing medicines, buy directly from an Ayurvedic practitioner, if possible, as most doctors prepare their own medicines. But if your ayurvedic doctor does not give self-prepared medicines, consult him for a trusted company that prepares medicines based on ayurvedic principles.
4. Do not purchase any medicine online or from unknown people and companies. Follow the guidance of your doctor when purchasing medicines.
5. As far as possible, accept freshly prepared decoctions, rather than using ready-made and preserved ones.
6. If you are taking any other medicines or supplements, discuss that with your Ayurvedic practitioner, as Ayurvedic supplements may interfere with those medicines. For instance, the Ayurvedic medicine 'Shakhapushpi', may interfere with 'anti-epileptic' medications, while Ayurvedic herbs may be toxic for those receiving chemotherapy for certain types of cancer.
7. Finally, remember, Ayurvedic medicines should be treated as seriously as conventional drugs, when it comes to safety. So always consult a licensed Ayurvedic practitioner to know more about the best medicines to be given for your child's growth and development.
Do you depend on Ayurveda for the health of your child? Please share your experience with us.