Aromatherapy can be used as safe natural remedy for minor ailments of children, as apart from providing the comfort of healing without the worry of unknown side effects of over-the-counter medications, it has been noticed that the natural vigour and powerful immune response of children makes them highly responsive to aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy treatment methods can come in handy on minor day-to-day issues concerning children, like using Lavendar sitz bath to heal baby’s diaper rash, cider vinegar and lavender to improve healing of swollen bruised knees, and tea tree oil to save the day when mosquitoes attack during an outing.
However, the natural remedies work best when used at the start of an illness. Some of the popular essential oils that help treat children’s ailment are tea tree oil, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, sandalwood, chamomile, bergamot, bergamot, mandarin, and St. John’s wort usually sold in form of herbal oil.
Method of use of essential oils
It is best to use essential oils diluted in carrier oil (the exceptions being tea tree and lavender). The dosages and formulas for children should be only half of those for adults, depending on child’s body weight and constitution. For young children, this implies that 1 to 3 drops of essential oil should be added to 1 ounce of carrier oil.
Initially, allow the child to sniff the oil. A patch test can be done before use to check for sensitivity or allergy. Lavender or chamomile can be used even on a sensitive child.
Uses of essential oil for children
Diaper rash is often the result of yeast overgrowth. A daily lavender sitz bath can help in rapidly eliminating candida and soothe irritation. Add 1 to 3 drops of lavender oil to the bath tub filled up to the level of baby’s hip with tepid water, and agitate the water to disperse oil. Allow the baby to sit in the tub for five to fifteen minutes.
Chamomile is beneficial for teething and also soothes pain and calms baby’s nerves. Prepare a blend of 1 ounce of carrier oil with 6 drops of chamomile. Warm the oil and massage the blend along baby’s jaw and around the ears.
You can make a wound cleaner by adding a part of tea tree oil to 16 parts of water and shake vigorously. Wash the wound with this solution. Even when you are in the woods and no sanitary facility is available, the mixture serves as an effective disinfectant.
For skinned knees and bruises, fill a bowl with equal parts of cool water and apple cider vinegar and put 6 drops of lavender. Dip in a diaper or flannel and wring out excess liquid and apply to bruised area.
Lavender oil offers immediate and effective relief from sting of insect bites. For bites and stings, the oil can be used directly by dabbing the lavender onto the bite as required.
Lavender oil is very popular in healing burns. Apply undiluted for emergency care of burns. Add 6 drops of lavender in to a lukewarm tub and allow the child to sit in the tub for some-time.
Cold and fever
Add 2 drops of eucalyptus or tea tree oil to bath water when you bathe your child. Also, six to eight drops of eucalyptus oil can be added to a diffuser or warm-air vapourizer and used in your child’s bedroom to cleanse and purify the air.
Peppermint and eucalyptus are helpful cooling oils that can render comfort during fever. However, peppermint oil should be used only 1 drop at a time, as too much can be stimulating. To cool fever, add 1 to 2 drops of peppermint oil to a bowl of cool water and apply with a sponge or forehead compress. However, remember not to use peppermint oil on an irritated skin.
For respiratory tract infection, place the child in a full bath with 3 to 6 drops of eucalyptus oil. For sore throat, steam inhalation with eucalyptus oil is good.
To one ounce of carrier oil, add 2 drops of lavender, 1 drop of eucalyptus and 2 drops of chamomile and give a gentle warm massage on the areas of most discomfort during a cold. When massaged onto chest and back, these oils apart from loosening mucus also helps the child to get well due to anti-infectious properties of the oil.
Tuck the child into bed and massage gently with an ounce of carrier oil added to 4 drops of chamomile. Use a warm flannel or heating pad.
At the onset of ear tourble, mix 3 drops of chamomile to a bowl of hot water and apply a warm compress over the ear. Reapply as it cools, and adding more chamomile may be needed. Dab a cotton ball with 3 drops of chamomile, 3 drops of lavender and an ounce of carrier oil, and gently place the cotton ball in the ear and replace it with fresh cotton ball thrice a day. Continue until the pain is gone. Moreover, if your child is prone to ear infections, a massage with St. John’s wort herbal oil is worth trying as maintenance care.
The super seeds mentioned below may be tiny, but, they are huge in their nutritional value. Let us take a look at the multiple health benefits of these common super seeds and their ayurvedic uses, and determine how best we can incorporate them in our regular diet.
Flaxseeds, also known as linseeds, are a rich source of dietary fibre, Omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, helps increase good cholesterol levels (HDL) and lowers bad cholesterol (LDL), apart from promoting fertility, relieving constipation, improving immunity and preventing cancer.
Flaxseeds are being used in Ayurvedic preparations for ages now, due to their therapeutic properties. Seeds and oil of the plant are used for their medicinal value. Flaxseeds are known to increase volume of urine, are beneficial in treatment of respiratory disorders, useful for colds, coughs, sore throat, and pulmonary complaints. Ayurvedic treatments suggest infusion made by soaking 30gms of powdered seeds overnight in a glass of water, and can be given with limejuice to treat tuberculosis with beneficial results.
Ayurveda also suggests that the seeds are helpful in treatment of gonorrhoea, irritation of genito-urinary organs, cystitis, nephritis, when taken in the form of tea repetitively. Ayurvedic physicians recommend hot poultice of flaxseed oil in treating eczema and other skin disorders.
However, it is to be noted here that flaxseeds are heat producing, and hence it should be used under the guidance of an Ayurvedic physician.
To include them in your diet, ground flaxseeds are the best, as they are easily digestible. You could grind them in small quantities and store in an air-tight container and consume them quickly, as they have a short shelf life. They can be added to yogurt, oatmeal, whole wheat flour, desserts or shakes.
The sesame seeds possess nutritive, curative and preventive properties. The copper content present in them offers relief from rheumatoid arthritis, while magnesium present in the seeds improves cardiovascular health and lung functioning, prevents migraines and osteoporosis.
Sesame seeds are used in the treatment methods and therapies of Ayurveda. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the sesame seed is sweet, astringent, pungent, bitter, and has heating effect. Sesame seed oil form a fundamental part of Ayurvedic massages, due to their calming, nourishing and warming effect. A self-massage with sesame oil promotes physical strength, nourishes muscles and bones, helps better joint movement. In Ayurveda, Sesame seed oil is an inevitable ingredient for Panchakarma therapies. Further, according to Ayurvedic physicians, it helps promote sound sleep, strengthens intellect and nervous system, thereby nourishing hair and skin.
Sesame seeds can be consumed by adding to dips. They can also be added to vegetables, chicken, garlic, ginger and soy sauce or included in bread and muffins.
They are an excellent source of vitamin E, neutralises free radicals and prevent asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. The high magnesium content in them helps in blood pressure management, headaches and migraines, and promoting healthy teeth and bones.
The benefits of sunflower seeds are plenty including controlling cell damage, thereby preventing cancer, due to the presence of selenium. Ayurveda says, sunflower seeds help reduce inflammation, helps in cholesterol management, and improves detoxification.
Sunflower seeds are best stored in refrigerator. They can be added to salads, scrambled eggs, or in hot or cold cereals. Grinding a cup or two of sunflower seeds in a food processor with lemon juice and garlic, creates a delicious nutty spread to boost your immune system. They say, quarter cup of sunflower seeds a day, keeps heart troubles away.
Havard University, University of California San Diego, Scripps Clinic, Mt Sinal University, University of California San Francisco and Duke University have got together for the project. Titled as ‘Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative (SBTI)’, the study is conducted at the ‘Chopra Centre for Wellbeing’ in California. Operated by wellness expert Deepak Chopra, the centre had earlier conducted a study on a small scale to find out the effects of yoga and meditation on gene expression.
Speaking on this, Chopra said that the findings showed that a week’s practice of yoga and meditation led to increase in expression of genes that support rejuvenation of the body, while a reduction in genes associated with stress response was noticed.
In the SBTI study, researchers plan to analyse the impact of Ayurvedic treatments on the genes of participants, like for instance, certain hormones associated with metabolism and mood swings, bacteria present in the gut and on skin, inflammation markets, stress makers, weight, and so on.
Due to its complex inputs including emotions, thoughts, stress, diet etc., the body’s healing system is little understood. As far as Ayurveda is concerned, the therapies and practices are not done in isolation. Rather than focusing on local symptoms, the diagnosis is systemic in Ayurveda. Western medicine has now realized that factors like ‘stress’ and ‘inflammation’ connects several diverse disorders, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Ayurveda is widely practiced in India. There are atleast 2,458 Ayurveda hospitals currently in India, under the government’s Directorate of Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Sidha and Homeopathy). However, in the west, there have been few scientific studies on the safety and efficacy of the system. But, this perception is now changing, said Dr. Rudolf Tanzi, Professor at Harvard University and co-researcher at the SBTI study.
Learning from our past, it makes sense to turn to ancient remedies and wisdom, like for instance, Ayurvedic medicine. The results range from effects of meditation on beneficial gene activity, to Ashwagandha on treating Alzheimer’s pathology, all of which continue to be promising, said Tanzi.
Tanzi who is researching gene mutations associated with Alzheimer’s Disease, said that the study can also shed light on genes related to brain functioning and chemicals which are turned “on” or tuned “off” when an ayurvedic diet and lifestyle is followed.
Such information will help in not only understanding how Ayurveda works at cellular level, but will also help in incorporating it into a modern healthy lifestyle, said Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, Professor, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences and co-researcher on the study.
According to Ayurveda, our body has the ability to heal itself. Further, the substances derived from nature have in them a life force, which also plays an integral part in the process of healing. Together, these two forces help stimulate healing, while also maintaining balance of bodily systems.
Natural remedies often have a beneficial effect on more than one system of the body. Each plant, from which essential oils are distilled, has different medicinal properties, unique to itself. Therefore, plant-based remedies have been more useful in treatment common ailments and Ayurveda and Aromatherapy heavily relies on such remedies.
Aromatherapy is one of the most powerful forms of medicines as it incorporates use of highly concentrated substances for which large quantities of plant material is used. Aromatherapy helps in treating almost every aspect of health.
Here is a list of some aromatherapy blends which you could use to meet your individual needs:
For better digestion
Aromatherapy improves functioning of digestive system by acting on the mucosa and lining of the intestine. The taste and smell of essential oils affect digestion by stimulating saliva and gastric secretions. The odour of digestive-support essential oils has a stimulating effect on the appetite and increases hunger. Some aromatic herbs and spices when used in meal preparation are beneficial in maintaining health and efficient digestion and in elimination of waste and toxins. The spasmolytic properties of essential oils are inevitable in treating digestive system disorders, while the carminative volatile oils help in expelling gas and relieves pain that accompanies flatulence.
For a soothing abdominal massage, blend together 8 drops of chamomile, 4 drops of angelica, 3 drops of cardamom in 1 ounce of carrier oil, and massage onto abdomen as needed.
Blend together 3 to 5 drops of chamomile and 1 to 2 drops of citrus aurantium (peel) in 1 ounce of carrier oil, and use as a tummy ache blend for kids. The number of drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil can be reduced depending on the age of the child. Pour a small amount of blend into your palm after warming the oil, and apply by gentle massage in clockwise direction.
Due to the analgesic and anti-inflammative power of essential oils, Aromatherapy has a therapeutic effect on headaches. Local application of peppermint is quite beneficial for most headaches including migraine. Massage a few drops of peppermint and lavender oil into temples and forehead as required (only in small quantities). Aromatherapy can stop a full blown migraine attack if used at the first sign of migraine.
For sinus headaches, do steam inhalation with 4 drops of eucalyptus oil and 4 drops of peppermint oil. Add these oils to steaming water, and inhale the vapours.
Take 4 drops of Rosemary, 2 drops of Lavender and 1 drop of Juniper, and mix in half-ounce of carrier oil. Apply this to the back of the neck and shoulders, and use as tension headache massage.
Add 4 drops of Rosemary and 2 drops of pine, with 2 drops of eucalyptus oil and soak in your bath water for 20 minutes.
For Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps are often due to poor circulation in the muscle tissue, which leads to cramp. The warming effect and increased local blood circulation brings rapid relief. Black pepper, rosemary and ginger are good circulatory stimulants, and using these oils in a blend or as therapeutic baths may be of help.
7 drops of black pepper, 6 drops of Rosemary, 5 drops of Juniper, can be mixed in 1 ounce of Arnica oil. Massage them into muscles before exercise to stimulate circulation.
Blend together 2 drops of eucalyptus, 10 drops of lavender, and 6 drops of wintergreen in an ounce of carrier oil and massage into affected area to relieve pain. This blend is good for arthritis, back pain and general pain.
For stiff and sore muscles, make a tea with one-and-half cups of grated ginger. Pour the strained liquid into bath, and add 6 drops of rosemary essential oil. Soak for 20 minutes.
For Respiratory issues
Essential oils are ideal for treating respiratory system conditions. The volatility of aromatics allow their easy inhalation into nasal passages and lungs as molecules get airborne. This brings the essential oils into direct contact with infected area for localized treatment. Various methods can be used to inhale the essences like electric diffuser, steam inhalation, or even through topical application. In fact, even a drop of essence on a pillowcase is helpful to relieve minor congestion.
6 drops of eucalyptus and 2 drops of tea tree oil blend can be added to simmering water, and used as steam inhalation for 15 to 20 minutes. More essential oils can be added to this as needed. This helps to loosen mucus congestion.
For sore throat, mix together 3 drops of tea tree oil in a cup of warm water, adding 1/8th teaspoon of sea salt to it, and gargle as needed.
Every individual adopts different strategies for weight loss. While some hit the gym, others try crash dieting, while the rest pop weight loss pills. Although, all these may yield instant results, they may be temporary, unless you take the extra care to maintain weight. However, ayurvedic treatments, combined with yoga and simple exercises, though slow in showing results, are natural and healthier than any of these quick-fixes.
Ayurveda adopts various approaches in inducing weight loss. Ayurvedic treatment plays a crucial role in the weight loss of the patient, as it combines drugs, diet regime and exercise. It is important to understand that it is the combined effects of all three that the patient need to follow for long-lasting results.
Ayurvedic treatment centres adopt specific treatment methods like Panchakarma for treating obesity, after taking into consideration the health parameters of every individual. Apart from these, the patients are also given medicines with specific fat-fighting herbs like Triphala, which constitutes Amalaki, Haritaki and Bibhitaki. Amalaki works as natural antioxidant and removes excess inflammation from the body and improves lean body mass and maintains healthy blood sugar levels, Haritaki supports body’s natural cleansing process and removes toxins in the colon, while Bibhitaki effectively reduces accumulation of fat and fluids in the body. There are several other herbal treatments for obesity that form part of ayurvedic treatment process.
Drink a glass of lukewarm water with lime juice and honey early in the morning on empty stomach, as this helps reduce cellulite in the body.
Eat smaller meals every three hours to neutralize the acids that are formed. Avoid white starch, maida, milk products, red meat, egg yolk, prawns etc. If you wish to build lean muscles, lean meat is permissible, along with other weight loss routines. Do not go on crash diets as it hampers metabolism of the body resulting in long-term side effects.
Lunch should be your biggest meal of the day, constituting 50% of your calories. Ayurveda believes that your digestive fire is strongest during this time of the day. Eat least calories at dinner, and the ideal dinner time should be before 7pm, as body’s digestion gets weaker at night and the undigested food is turned into toxins and stored as fat. Dinner should include light, easy to digest food, including soups or cooked veggies.
The gentle flow of yogasanas helps in improving flexibility, strengthening muscles, increasing movement of joints and improving posture. The asanas that may be of help with specific problem areas and help boost metabolism are Bhujangasana, Adho mukha svanasana, Matsyendrasana, Balasana, to name a few. Pranayama is also a powerful exercise that helps fight obesity. Kapalbhati pranayam purifies the body by releasing toxins and toning the abdominal area. Anulom Vilom and Surya Bhedan Pranayama are also effective breathing techniques for losing weight. These need to be practised, however, under guidance of an expert.
A remarkable case study in a HIV positive patient, who was treated with black seed extract, resulted in a sustained remission, which indicates that it is a safe, accessible and affordable alternative to highly toxic antiretroviral HIV drugs that may already exist.
Also known as ‘black seed’, Nigella sativa has been under study for a range of health benefits, but, recently it has also been found to be a curative agent for potentially lethal viral infections, including Hepatitis C and now, HIV.
The case study, published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, described an HIV patient, who, after undergoing treatment with a black seed extract experienced a complete recovery, with no detectable HIV virus or antibodies against HIV in their blood serum, both during and long after the end of therapy.
This was a remarkable observation, according to researchers. They said that Nigella sativa possess several therapeutic medicinal benefits, but, its reversion of HIV infection is very rare, despite extensive therapy, which is highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART).
On the other-hand, the standard care offered for HIV treatment globally, anti-retroviral therapy, remains highly controversial, partly due to the adverse health effects of the drug, which may be more than that associated with the HIV infections, itself. Further, drug therapy may also place pressure on HIV virus to mutate and gain resistance. Finally, the ultimate death of the patient is attributed to the disease itself, rather than the treatment.
This is the reason that ancient healing food like black seed is considered generally safe, affordable and accessible, and the fact that it could hold a potential cure to HIV makes it more interesting.
Ayurvedic medicines bring hope for this disease, as they are completely safe and decrease viral load permanently. Patients are treated with a combination of medicines and Panchakarma body detoxification therapies, apart from usage of medicines. Ayurvedic centres provide treatment schedule of one to three weeks, wherein the patient is provided food and accommodation along with yoga training, acupressure, panchakarma and other detoxification therapies and medicines.
Ayurveda associates AIDS with “Kshaya” or “Ojakshaya”, which means ‘loss of energy’. Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhitha, Vaidyachintamani, Bhavaprakasha, mention the symptoms and causative factors and treatment for the disease.
Major symptoms associated with the disease are loss of appetite, drastic weight-loss, fatigue, lethargy, susceptibility to allergies, and contagious diseases, skin irritations, bronchial disorders, tuberculosis of lungs, damage to intestinal flora, varied body temperature, prolonged fever and sleeplessness.
Ayurvedic supplements are harmless without any side effects and there sure will be improvement, and not deterioration. As for general Ayurvedic line of treatment, the first step towards treatment is to ensure a good and healthy atmosphere for the patient. The patient should be given nourishing food that is easily digestible. He can continue to do easy exercise that does not strain his fragile health. He should continue to engage himself in fruitful activities.
The patient is given tonics and rejuvenators to boost immunity levels, to strengthen the system and stimulate appetite. After gaining strength, ‘shodhana’ techniques are used to expel body toxins by way of enemas, purgation and emesis. The medicines administered are gentle enough for the patient to withstand.
As a second step, the blood is purified with appropriate medications. Liver corrective measures are taken care of, and various immune-modulator medicines and antiviral herbal combinations are used in the patient.
A strengthening diet, along with medicated ghee preparations and soup are recommended. The Asavams and Arishtams of Ayurveda act as carrier to aid digestive process, and remove blockages in the flow of “Rasadi dhatus”.
Patient is also advised to continue regular exercise. If the patient is weak and incapable of exercising, ‘swedanam’ (steaming) is recommended, as it helps destroy virus in some cases.
The herbo-mineral compounds prepared based on the formulae prescribed by sages like Agasthya, Charaka, Sarangadhara and others are used for treatment of the disease, and they have yielded beneficial results in improving condition of AIDS patients.
Certain specific ayurvedic medications like ‘Amrutjeewan Rasayanam’, ‘Raktavardhak’ for immunity building and ‘Sookshma triphala’ for keeping infection at bay, may be of help.
The study involved about 2,768 subjects, wherein investigators from Netherlands and US found promising evidence that yoga is beneficial in managing and improving risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease. It has also been found to be a potentially effective therapy for cardiovascular health.
Yoga may provide the same benefits in reducing risk factors for heart diseases, as do traditional physical activities like brisk walking and biking, researchers said. The finding is significant, particularly for those who prefer not to perform traditional aerobic exercise and still achieve similar benefits.
Yoga incorporates physical, mental and spiritual elements, and has shown in various studies to be effective in improving cardiovascular risk factors, through reduction of heart attack and stroke risks.
The researchers said that this analysis was made to provide evidence about estimate of yoga’s effectiveness when measured against exercise and no exercise.
The results showed that risk factors for cardiovascular disease improved more in those doing yoga, than those doing no exercise and that yoga had a strong impact on these risks, comparable to exercise.
For instance, the Body Mass Index (BMI) was reduced, the LDL (bad) cholesterol reduced by 12mg/dl, and HDL (good) cholesterol increased by 3mg/dl, and the blood pressure and heart rate also dropped, along with cholesterol levels.
In comparison with exercise itself, yoga was found to have comparable effect on risk factors, as aerobic exercise. According to investigators, this may be because of yoga’s impact on stress reduction, leading to positive impacts on neuroendocrine status, metabolic, and cardio-vagal function.
Technically, yoga does not ‘count’ towards the 150 minute of aerobic exercise recommended by various organizations, but, it is considered as a form of muscle strengthening. The cardiovascular benefits found in this study come from muscle workout, and yoga’s effect on stress response or on mental health.
Yoga can affect the nervous system and stress response, through hormone function and reduction of inflammation.
It is a known fact that this is not certainly the first study that points out to yoga’s effect on heart health. But, the results are encouraging, as yoga may be a cost-effective way to help people improve their heart and metabolic health. Moreover, yoga can easily be practiced at home with little or no equipment.
The findings bear an important implication for acceptance of yoga as an effective therapeutic intervention. And best of all, when done in right manner, yoga can also offer significant benefits to mind as well.
With an alarming increase in the number of diabetes cases by the day, more people are looking at alternative remedies to control these lifestyle diseases. Although yoga and meditation are not a complete cure for diabetes, it definitely helps in keeping blood sugar levels in check in a more natural manner.
Diabetes is generally categorized into Insulin Dependent Diabetes (IDDM) and Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetes Mellitus (NIDDM). While the former is dependent on insulin, as it is the mainstay of therapy, the latter, which majority of the population have, does not always require insulin for its treatment and can be managed by oral anti-diabetic medications.
In diabetics, pancreas fail to produce adequate quantity of insulin, which is responsible for maintaining and controlling blood sugar levels, leading to diabetes.
Various studies have confirmed that yoga can positively stimulate pancreas, which is associated with cells related to insulin. Apart from pancreas, yoga also has an impact on the functioning of liver and kidneys. It does so by causing a mind-body co-ordination, which improves one’s emotional and mental stability.
Some particular asanas, breathing techniques, and mudras have an impact on pancreas, leading to stimulation of blood glucose levels.
Makarasana – stimulates kidney function, activates bladder and digestive system and counters diabetes.
Halasan – compresses abdomen, stimulates pancreas, promotes healthy thyroid and prostate gland functioning.
Matsyendrasan – tones spinal nerves, ligaments improves digestion, stimulates pancreas
Dhanurasana – reduces abdominal fat and obesity.
Paschimottasan – impacts spine and internal abdominal organs.
Mudras & kriyas: Pran Mudra, Apan Mudra and Surya Mudra are beneficial to diabetics. Kriyas that are beneficial would be the Nauli kriya and Danda Kriya.
Breathing techniques: Breathing techniques like pranayama helps, especially Kapalabhati and Anulom Vilom.
On the whole, a complete yoga practice, with its backbends, forward bends, controlled breathing, invigorating and calming poses are a balanced exercise regime to counter diabetes.
Regular practice of yoga and meditation removes stress. This in turn reduces the amount of glucagon and improves the action of insulin. Yoga is successful as it creates a balance in the nervous and endocrine system, which in-turn influences all other systems and organs of the body.
When practising meditation sitting in the Siddhasana pose, the energy is directed from lower psychic centres upward through spine, thereby stimulating brain and the whole nervous system. It redirects blood circulation to lower spine and abdomen, toning the lumbar region of the spine, pelvis and abdominal organs, in-turn stimulating pancreas and helping diabetic patients.