Ayurveda 
for Children with Juvenile Arthritis

"When diet is wrong, Medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct, Medicine is of no need."

Ayurvedic proverb


What is Ayurveda? 
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term and means Science of Life (Ayu = life and Veda = science). It is a holistic system of medicine and lifestyle that has proven its effectiveness over time originating in India more than 5,000 years ago. It has survived as an unbroken tradition. In 2014, the Indian Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (abbreviated as AYUSH) was founded to educate about complementary and alternative medicine systems and to compile research findings.


Ayurveda is an energy system and keeps its focus on balancing the energies to avoid disease. The three pillars of health of this ancient healing system are a balanced mind, a balanced diet and a balanced sleep. Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of addressing the root of a disease rather than the symptoms. Paraphrasing this approach metaphorically, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of finding the criminal and not to console its victims. It is a long-term holistic education that does not translate very well into our modern times. It is therefore the task of the Ayurvedic Health Advisor to develop long-term health maintenance protocols, to educate and keep clients engaged, inspired and adherent to the Ayurvedic approach to health and longevity with the goal of restoring, optimizing and maintaining one’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual well-being while balancing life with other obligations. 
 

In the United States, we now are on the fourth generation that eats non-nutritional foods. Many individuals suffer from a chronic subclinical nutrient deficiency. Eating junk food, consuming foods that the body cannot digest, indulging in cravings, having poor sleeping habits from a very young age will manifest in an imbalance and produce “mala”, the Sanskrit term for biological waste that accumulates in the tissues of our body. Ayurveda’s main concern is to restore and maintain healthy digestion and elimination. If the digestive system is compromised by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle, “ama”, the Sanskrit term for toxins, accumulates in the tissues and affects the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual body. It literarily clogs up the system and suppresses “agni”, the Sanskrit term for digestive fire with the result of further toxification, which can be the beginning of a downward spiral. Accumulation of ama over years eventually will rob agni of its power and degeneration begins. Ojas, the Sanskrit term for vigor, health, immunity, and longevity begins to weaken and the immune response to fail.


What happens in an Ayurvedic examination?
The Ayurvedic Health Professional is focused on any specific challenges with appetite, digestion, elimination, sleep, energy level, daily schedules, and regular practices, typical food choices, eating habits, current stressors and emotional state. Once the intake, which also includes the observation of physical signs, is complete, the Ayurvedic Health Advisor moves on to determine your child’s constitution, the balance of her basic energetics, her doshic balance and assesses the state of ama, agni and ojas. Next, a quantifiable goal that can be reached within a predetermined time frame will be discussed with you, the parent and your child. According to the findings and your willingness to follow the guidelines, the Ayurvedist will customize a health maintenance protocol which may consist of healthy life style changes, healthy food and beverage choices, Ayurvedic cooking with culinary herbs, meditation, breath work, safe exercises and creative pursuits.


There is no Ayurvedic non-drug drug that works like a drug as you find it in the modern medical world. Ayurveda works slowly, but slowness is part of the therapeutic intervention. Slowness holds space for mindfulness, for gradual, incremental changes in diet and lifestyle. 

"Ayurveda, a science of eternal healing, is compared to a vast ocean,

and studying Ayurveda to swimming across.
A true teacher can teach one how to swim,

but the swimming is up to the student … it is a lifelong journey.”
Caraka Samhita, Sutrasthana, Chapter 30


In consultation and coordination with your child’s primary healthcare provider, I recommend integrating the comprehensive holistic approach of Ayurveda between your child’s doctor visits and monitoring potential benefits of this whole person care approach.