Ayurveda for Autism: An Extensive Guide
Autism is a neurodevelopment disorder that is Caused by abnormal brain functioning. It results in difficulties in the development of social and emotional communication, along with repetitive mannerism and narrow interest. Boys are 3-4 times more likely to get affected by autism than girls. The effects of autism are seen at the age of 1-2 years when the child suddenly starts losing language and social skills.
Ayurvedic take on Autism
According to the Ayurveda, Autism is the imbalance of Vata Dosha – one of the three bodily humors that is responsible for several psychiatric and neurological disorders. Mental disorders in Ayurveda are categorized under the classification of Unmada, which is a set of actions displayed by the contortion of normal brain functions like memory and behavior.
Causes of Autism
According to Ayurveda for Autism, there are several factors during pregnancy that can lead to autism. Past deeds of life and abnormal pre conceptional activities and abnormal thoughts of parents may play a role in the development of this mental condition. Improper diet and activities like smoking and drinking during pregnancy may also lead to autistic behaviour. The child is affected by autism in the fifth or sixth month of gestation. Internal or external injuries to the developing brain, along with elements and poisoning, also lead to the development of autism.
Diagnosis of Autism
* Impairment in Social Interaction: This includes impairment of non-verbal behaviors like facial expressions, body gestures, eye to eye gaze and postures that regulate social interaction. Inability to develop peer relationship is also a common symptom of autism, followed by lack of enjoyment, interest, and social or emotional reciprocity.
* Impairment in Communication: Lack or delay of development of a language or repetitive use of language is a big sign of autism. The inability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others is also a common symptom to look out for.
* Repetitive Behavior: Repetitive or stereotyped motor activity along with a restricted pattern of interest is another common symptom of autism.
* Digestion Problems: This includes poor digestion and absorption, increased appetite, bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive tract problems.
Ayurveda necessitates therapies that not only heal at the physical and mental level but also help at the spiritual level. Ayurvedic treatments include process-based therapies that are used to encourage the development of the brain and reduce or restrict behavior problems pertaining to the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Integrated therapies for autism prescribe external Ayurvedic massages and therapies for management. These therapies are used to improve GIT functions, accomplish behavioral modifications, improve sleep quality, eliminate toxins and pathogens, and promote absorption of vital nutrients. Few of the therapies are discussed below.
1. Sarvanga Abhyanga (Full Body Stimulation Massage)
Sarvanga Abhyanga is an Ayurvedic massage technique in which several masseurs massage your body in a synchronized manner. This technique is used to relax and strengthen the body, tone up muscles, improve blood circulation, mobilize and dislodge toxins, relieve pain, and induce sleep. This therapy is excellent for both healthy and sick people. It is used to treat various health problems like skin disorders, dystrophy, muscle pain, body ache, arthritis and diseases of Vata, like autism. This therapy is generally performed on an empty stomach.
2. Shiro Pichu (Overhead Application of Specific Oil)
Shiro means head, and Pichu means a sterile cloth dipped in herbal oils. Shiro Pichu is a therapy which involves keeping a sterile cotton pad or a sterile cloth soaked in warm and medicated herbal oil on the head of the patient. The cloth can either be kept over the head or the forehead. The therapy lasts for 45 to 60 minutes, and the composition of the medicated oil depends upon the condition of the patient. Shiro Pichu is used to treat psychological and neurological disorders, relieve migraines, headaches and improve memory. Additional benefits include inducing sleep, treating scalp diseases and preventing hair fall.
3. Swedanam (Medicated Fomentation)
Swedanam is an Ayurvedic therapy in which the patient is given a steam bath. The patient is made to lay down in a steam chamber, and steam is passed in the chamber for a specific time. This therapy is used to help patients suffering from arthritis but also provides other benefits like reducing pain, stiffness, tenderness, heaviness in the body and promoting overall well-being.
4. Takradhara (Pouring medicated buttermilk over the head)
Takradhara is an Ayurvedic therapy that is performed with medicated buttermilk. Takra means buttermilk, and Dhara means pouring. Therefore, this treatment involves pouring medicated buttermilk either on the head or the complete body of the patient. This therapy is used to treat Vata-predominant and Pitta-aggravated diseases like autism. It is also used to treat Alzheimer’s, psoriasis, spondylitis, stress, anxiety, depression, paralysis and chronic insomnia.
5. Patra Pinda Sweda (Fomentation with Leaves/Churna)
Patra Pinda Sweda is a form of sweat therapy that uses leaves of medicinal plants to induce sweating. Patra means leaves, pinda means bolus, and Sweda means sweat. Therefore, Patra Pinda Sweda is a therapy that uses leaves of medicinal plants to apply heat to the body using a bolus. The ingredients include lemon, turmeric powder, Rasnadi Churna, fenugreek, and other oils and herbs. It is used to treat problems like spondylitis, bursitis, arthritis and paralysis.
6. Shirodhara (Oil Dripping Therapy)
Shiro means head and Dhara means pouring. Therefore, Shirodhara is a therapy that includes pouring of medicinal liquids over the forehead of the patient. Benefits of Shirodhara include reducing memory problems, improving concentration, increasing blood circulation, improving vision and treating eye problems.
7. Shiroabhayanga (Head Stimulation Massage)
Shiroabhayanga is a therapy that involves massaging the head, neck and shoulders with herbals oils that provide medicinal benefits. It is used to treat insomnia, lower blood pressure, remove dandruff and cool the eyes.
Clinical outcomes of the Therapies
One of the primary results of Ayurvedic therapy is an improved gastrointestinal function. Improved gastrointestinal functions include improvement in digestion, absorption of nutrients and the smooth expelling of waste in the form of faeces. Another important outcome from these therapies is a positive behavioural modification. After the therapy, the child will become calmer, responsive and interactive.
Improved brain functionality, like improved concentration and memory, is also noticed. Sleep disorders are one of the biggest challenges that autism patients commonly face. Ayurvedic therapies are known to improve sleep quality in patients drastically. Lastly, it detoxifies the body. Toxins present in the body are responsible for certain skin and scalp problems which lead to irritability. Toxins also lead to infections and diseases. The therapies mentioned above act on these toxins and eliminate them.
That being said, if a child is diagnosed with autism, parents should embrace the problem. They should understand that the treatment of autism is a slow process in which each therapy contributes to the improvement of the condition. For more extensive therapies and treatment, visit the Buddhi Clinic today and take the first step towards a healthy lifestyle for you and your child.