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Coming back a Full Circle – My journey back to the basics in line with Ancient Wisdom

Learning from Ancient Wisdom

“Are you out of your mind? You are willing to move cities just because of this? Your daughter just has a case of childhood asthma or baal-damaa! In all probability, it will go away by the time she is 8 or 10 years old, though there is a one-third chance it may return in adult-hood and only a one-third chance that it will last life-long. She just needs to take these preventive inhalers twice a day on a regular basis and she will be fine. The steroids in these are very effective and your daughter should not have any attack of breathlessness. If she does, you must always keep this other inhaler handy. And within a matter of a few minutes she will be back to normal breathing. You don’t need to worry or go helter-skelter…you can continue like life is normal.” 

This prognosis was given for our daughter, when she was a little over 1 year old, by a leading paediatrician and echoed by a pulmonary function specialist in 2008. It sent me reeling. Was it a case of SNAFU? Call it a mother’s paranoia or whatever…I panicked at the mention of the word “steroid” because of my aunt’s experiences with their long-term usage. She attributed her brittle bones, her weak heart and her sensitive skin to the steroids that she had been using over the years for her asthma. The doctors explained to me the “latest discoveries in steroids”. I listened patiently. I rationalised. But I still could not let go of a primordial deep-set fear. 

The long and short of it was that I quit my job as a senior level management professional on a rather maudlin note knowing that the Tata group and corporate India could always find a replacement, but my daughter would not find another mother!! 

While we started her off on the preventive inhalers, we embarked on an exploratory journey into finding cures in alternative healing practices. Triggered by a talk given by Dr Andrew Weill on holistic healing and wellness for an individual, without getting constrained by the boundaries of medical schools, we started experimenting with everything under the sun – 

Home Remedies in line with principles of Ayurveda – with the help of Dr Vasant Lad’s book on Home Remedies and Dr David Frawley’s book on Ayurvedic Healing

Ayurvedic remedies – by an excellent doctor trained at the Sri Sri Ayurveda Centre at Bangalore, Dr Rakhi Pandita)

Homeopathy – with an excellent doctor who was referred to us, Dr Meenal Sohani

Aromatherapy using rubs and compresses

Grandmothers’ home remedies through internet searches, talking to friends and family, etc 

Yoga through fun and games

First and foremost, we just became more observant and mindful. Apart from the typical triggers like dust, dust-mites, mold, pollen, etc, we observed that certain “wrong” foods would trigger off allergy or asthma attacks. Some because they were just incompatible with her, some others because of chemical additives which caused allergic reactions. We learnt what to avoid, what to augment, and what foods and spices to use as remedies…. 

With these home remedies, dietary modifications and special herbs, we experienced first hand the value of the Hippocratic philosophy – “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”! 

Ancient or traditional wisdom, coupled with modern tools of scientific research, led us to discoveries of all types of connections – food-body-mind-lifestyle. And we felt safer especially as regards the risk of long term side effects, since these have been tried and tested over millennia or the daadimaa ke nuske which have definitely been tried over several generations! Weaving in all these changes in our regular living helped us focus on a prevention-alleviation cycle.

The sum and substance of these experiments – we were able to knock off the preventive inhalers before she turned two and half!!!