Case of a Little Boy with Asthma Allergies and Successful Treatment with Ayurveda
Total years in practice: 1
There is a little boy who is my son and I will fight all the demons for him. But what do I do when he falls sick?
Medical History: Let’s back up. Sid was born with such eczema the Pediatrician couldn’t tell if they were birth marks or just red inflamed angry rash he was covered in, like he was battle wounded. The Pediatrician told me, “He’s cooking inside.” He was not wrong. Sid was on an atopic march, at Yale, there was a special “Soak and Smear” therapy that was given to him for his eczema, and the little mite wore little socks on his hands, the only thing he wouldn’t pull out, for that darling boy had dexterity. At the age of 4 months, he was diagnosed with #anaphylactic allergies and as I left the Allergists’ office with a silver dart of an Epipen, armed with Benadryl, I went to my friends and burst into tears. He was so tiny and he even had an idiopathic anaphylactic shock so we were always hyper vigilant and I read book after book about how to do justice to his health while ensuring his protective and loving sister did not get neglected or try too hard to have things perfect in her life, if that makes sense. Sid had severe asthma and was on daily steroids (and many antihistamines) which made him restless, compounded by the fact he was naturally athletic, jumping out of his crib with all his security objects, the blanket his sister gifted him that still goes with him everywhere, and a host of hypoallergenic toys. He was on a #hypoallergenic formula the Doc said tasted awful but luckily he knew no better. Every new food was tested for five days and I was always cooking, I stopped working. The school even suggested I home school him but luckily I lived just a mile away and I felt he needed the socialization. My phone was always on, and I was always on alert.
Volunteering: In 1st grade with what was then the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis network we did a workshop, my daughter and I, in her class called the PAL (Protect a life) workshop, very benign and kid friendly. That made her feel more empowered and helped a lot of kids. Kids are the best. As I walked into their class one said, “You’re here to show us how not to die from food allergies.” How simple and beautiful are kids (I had tucked away the statistic about food allergy deaths of course). Then there was the “Alexander” series of books about an elephant who couldn’t eat peanuts in different situations - birthdays, airlines, one about his sibling...We read and re-read them and got copies for school and different settings. That’s another story.
ER Trips: Anaphylactic allergies to Dairy, (soy and wheat he exited), eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (except coconut), garbanzo beans - a whole host of environmental allergies and four anaphylactic shocks and a few asthma episodes later, Sid had been to the emergency room multiple times. Everyone knew us, they joked that Mom should get ER membership with coffee and a room to relax. One Doctor once turned to me and said, “And for Mom - multivitamins!” We met the kindest of people and the best of Doctors, somehow and we are so incredibly grateful. One time I slipped and to ensure nothing happened to Sid, took the fall and I got special treatment in the ER, X-Ray apart, they just let me sleep and fussed over me.
Finding Meditation: I was volunteering once and got a call that Sid had jumped off a bed and got 6 staples on his head. Another time he had a mild concussion. I had major depression. We were falling apart and we found meditation.
It wasn’t enough.
Medical History...contd...We found out Sid had herpes simplex (cold sore virus) but it was close to his eye. So that added to our list of things to watch out for. And then out of the blue we found out there was a peripheral blind spot in his eye and were told he may have a tumor so at the age of 8, Sid went through an MRI. It was loud and scary though he was told it was like being in a spaceship and we just stood by praying and reassuring him as best. Negative - but a battery of all kinds of tests, baseline images, years of retests and trudging to the institute of binocularity at Berkley and what have you. The final diagnosis was - congenital. He’s doing fine.
Learning Differences: Then there was the diagnosis of dyslexia, #speech, working memory, focus issues and learning differences. Not surprisingly, he also had an anxiety diagnosis as we all tried to work through these health issues, the flashbacks of ER visits and he felt inadequate in school and his life-threatening allergies made him feel scared and isolated. He was seeing a private therapist (as was I). We all volunteered wherever we could and covered every base that we ever could.
Empathy: When he was in preschool I told him about my sister having celiac and he burst into tears. Since he has been through it, he cannot bear anyone in pain or upset.
Why Ayurveda? So this was my motivation to start studying Ayurveda, a Medical Science in India and a form of alternative medicine in the US. I have a scientific background and I had to satisfy myself about the theory and application of Ayurveda before helping my son, and God knows he was aggravated.
The Trek to Vaidya Dr J: And once I was somewhat convinced, I took him to the Director of our Institute, our Professor and mentor and one of the world’s best Vaidyas for treatment. As Dr Jayarajan Kodikannath would tell us about the cases he handled in 25 plus years in hospitals like floppy babies and the most unheard of syndromes I was assessing Ayurveda. I also started my own treatment with Dr J and it was only when I had measures like my triglycerides halved and hypothyroidism reversed and there was no more hyperacidity after 40 years and anxiety reduced (it took one year and a #Panchakarma- #Shamana then #Shodhana)- that’s when my family and Sid himself were fully enrolled.
The Components of Turnaround : The minute Sid saw Dr J he burst into tears. And Dr J told me, it often happens that Rogis reveal themselves thus. He turned around Sid’s health and he counseled me often. It took a year. In one year, Sid was off his daily asthma medication and uses it only sporadically during far between episodes, his allergy panel started improving so much that the Allergist suggested challenges for cashew, eggs and a few other nuts. Cashew and eggs were anaphylactic allergies. Sid’s speech and reading improved. He wasn’t as anxious anymore, he was articulate and creative and funny and blossoming. He was more himself than he has ever been, living to our optimal potential is one of the goals in Ayurveda. He was doing other things, in terms of intuition meditation and Skybreathwork meditation (Art of Living) and learning differently with Slingerland and Making Math real (and visual spatial techniques because he is absolutely above the charts in those) and speech training but what was happening internally, changing his physiology? That was one piece of the puzzle we were addressing.
Ayurvedic Route: So what was the #Ayurvedic Route used? For a child with autoimmune conditions like Sid’s asthma and allergies, the route to take is to improve his immunity slowly and steadily, Dr J explained. His VyadhiShamatvam.
Prakriti/Vikrati (Body Constitution and Imbalance): Well, he had random aches and pains, cramping stomach pain and the rest is known. Our creative son is Vata Prakriti and chiefly, Vata Vikrati Dr J assessed. Baseline. So there was the whole dietary and lifestyle change that needed to be done, warm, unctuous, nourishing foods, a lot more water and a regular routine. The focus on the rasas (tastes) and what to minimize. The Dinacharya and Ritucharya...(recommended daily and seasonal routine).
Herbal Support: For Herbal support Dr J gave him, in slowly increasing doses (because of his allergies), Indukantham and Saraswath Aristham (they say Lord Dhanwantari Himself made this formulation) both legendary herbal combinations with amazing efficacy in all his imbalances from allergies to asthma to abdominal cramps to speech to focus to anxiety to dyslexia. No Ghritam because of Allergies. (Apologies to Dr J whom I have not consulted while writing this case from a Mom’s perspective). Brahmi was added after a year. There was Mahasudarshan during any herpes simplex outbreaks for a week (and we have avoided Ativar with that) and local application of coconut oil with turmeric (there are other potent applications but allergies make us vary). When he has cramping pain there is Dhanwantaram Gulika (on rare occasions when he is uncomfortable. There’s yoga too, he’s sitting in Vajrasana when that happens).
Sid calls all this the magic of Ayurveda. But it’s a Science. And an Art.
The Journey of Healing: This is complementary medicine - we see mainstream Doctors regularly as organically, Sid’s need for medication reduces and his health improves. Nothing happens overnight - it’s slow and steady. And while Ayurvedic management would vary for every individual, for Sid this means that we are addressing the root cause of his issues. We do regular follow ups every three months. It’s a journey, a journey of healing. Sid himself is so good natured and such a sport - but some things hurt like he can’t have a dog (allergies getting milder but still there) and badly wants one - he has to walk away from so many tempting situations - and foods. We also try not to pressure the kids. I have seen how skillfully Dr J and their meditation teachers and school teachers do that and love it because that is our philosophy. There is limit setting but freedom, that beautiful balance. Our kids also volunteer extensively, which, besides helping others, is very healing for them too.
What Can I Do as a Mom? For me this has meant becoming a healer. I’m in my second year of studying Ayurveda, disease management at Kerala Ayurveda, Milpitas now, am practicing at my own outfit with Vaidya Mamta Gupta and will soon be going for an India internship and it is intense. At 51 it is.
For me, as any Mother, I believe that every time I work for my kids, or anybody for that matter, I grow, I learn, my heart expands, my skills increase and I’m just doing my bit to make their lives easier and the world a better place. But I make so many mistakes and my daughter tells me about psychology, about being good enough. We are all good enough.
I am beyond grateful that my kids picked me to be their Mom. I love them and I hope I can be worthy of their love and trust. I’m certainly trying.
This case was treated by Dr. Dr Jayarajan Kodikannath of Kerala Ayurveda, Milpitas. I have graduated from this institute as Ayurveda Wellness Counselor.