Ayurveda, the Science of Life, provides a bright light of guidance for parents who are in the childbearing and rearing phase of life. Unless you live in ‘granola’ towns such as Asheville, NC or Boulder, CO, it may seem like you are swimming upstream to adopt a whole foods, organic lifestyle, but it is well worth the effort! It is ideal for both parents to start an Ayurvedic program before conceiving a child, but implementing Ayurvedic principles at any point will be a blessing to the whole family. Maybe you are in a partnership where you are the only one who cares about wellness. Never give up! With loving persistence and education, you may see your beer-guzzling, barbecue-loving partner start to see the light.
To begin, consult with a professional Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner. She or he will take into account your family’s specific needs. While insurance does not typically cover Ayurvedic care, many flex spending programs now reimburse people for it. Plus, just a couple of consultations with a practitioner go a long way. If you do not have one in your town, find one you like online and talk over the phone, FaceTime or Skype. Check out books from the library or purchase them online. Perfect Health for Kids by John Douillard and Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra are two nice titles to get your feet wet. Also, buy or check out Ayurvedic cookbooks.
Next, determine everybody’s doshas in your family. Ayurvedic diagnostic strategies provide tools for helping individual family members trouble shoot specific imbalances. Understanding if your child is primarily Vata (wind and air), Pitta (fire and water) or Kapha (earth and water) is very helpful. She or he will be predominantly one dosha, with another dosha in close second (this is called your subdosha).
A predominantly Vata child will have a small appetite and tend toward constipation or hard stools. They have a cold body temperature and are lightweight.
Pittas have a healthy (and in some cases ravenous) appetite and tend toward loose stools. They run hot and have a medium build.
Kaphas may eat large quantities and gravitate toward heavy, sweet and carbohydrate-filled foods. They have large quantities of stool and occasional bouts with constipation due to the clogging caused by over-consumption of heavy foods.
They run cool and clammy and have heavy builds. Once you understand your child’s dosha, you can use nutrition and lifestyle to encourage balance for each child. Vatas find balance in foods, herbs and practices that are warm, grounding and nourishing; pittas by cooling and alkalizing; kaphas by light and mobilizing.
The number one treatment method in Ayurveda is a whole foods diet. Whole-plant herbal supplementation reinforces nutritional healing. See some general ideas listed below. Contact a practitioner for Ayurvedic dosha diagnostic help as well as ideas for clinical problem solving for you and your children.
Easy Ways to Incorporate Herbs for
Children and Teens
• Add any one of the following green powders to smoothies: spirulina powder, kelp powder, barley greens, etc. This is quick and easy to have in the morning before school.
• Take spirulina tablets. This is particularly helpful for teen girls one week before and one week after menstruation.
• Boost immunity with the Ayurvedic supplement called Chywanprash. Take 1 tsp. per day. It is safe for children. The Vadik Herbs brand is nice: www.vadikherbs.com.
• Use an alcohol-free Vitex Tincture, taking one dropper full per day, for 30 days, or two months, or even longer for persistent hormone balance problems such as PMS or menstrual headaches: http://www.amazon.com/Natures-Answer-Vitex-Berry-1-Ounce/dp/B00014F9YC.
• Mix rose petal preserves in warm milk with cinnamon or nutmeg: http://www.mapi.com/maharishi_ayurveda/products/ayurveda_herbal_remedies/rosepetal.html.
• Take triphala tablets, two at night before bed for one-three months, as a mild laxative, detox agent and rejuvenative.
• Eat Ayurvedic energy balls.
• Mix dosha-specific powdered herbs with raw honey and then roll into little balls. You can store these in the fridge or a glass container at room temperature and eat them once a day.
• Take oral B12 tablets under the tongue, around a teen’s menstrual cycle.
• Eat figs. They have more calcium content than whole milk. Try making fig syrup or add figs to the Ayurvedic energy balls.
• Add fresh flaxseed oil (it spoils quickly) to salad dressings or smoothies.
• Make and consume homemade yogurt.
• Try making a sarsaparilla brew with your child/teen with other herbs.
• Shred burdock root in stir fries or use in soups.
• If using herbal teas to provide medicinal support, mix with peppermint, lemon balm, lemongrass, sassafras and hibiscus to make the taste pleasant and sweet.
Patricia Wickman is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Certified Panchakarma Technician and Registered Yoga Teacher. She loves people and enjoys inspiring individuals to perceive their beauty and potential. She owns Radiant Living Yoga and Ayur-veda, LLC. For more information visit: www.rlyaa.com.