Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Utmost care is needed while treating the infants and children. Every bit of these basics are taken care of and explained in Ayurvedic pediatrics, especially by master Kashyapa in his treatise Kashyapa Samhita.
Even while providing warmth to the infants, Kashyapa has mentioned the mildest form of swedana or sudation named Hasta Sweda. We will have a look at Kashyapa’s method of dealing infants with mridu-hasta-sweda in this article.
Mrudu Hasta Sweda
Mrudu Sweda (mild sudation) to infants and kids through Hasta Sweda (warm hand fomentation) as explained by Kashyapa
Hasta = Hand or hands
Sweda / Swedana = Sudation, fomentation, sweating treatment, steaming treatment
Hasta Sweda is a type of Tapa Sweda (heat provided by directly bringing the heated materials in contact with the body or body parts) in which warmth is provided to the body or body parts (infants in this case). This is the mildest form of direct sudation.
Acharya Sushruta has already mentioned Hasta Sweda – provision of heat by means of warm hands as a type of Tapa Sweda.
Acharya Kashyapa, the master of Ayurvedic paediatrics has gone one step ahead and emphasized the use of hasta-tapa-mridu sweda i.e. mild sudation through means of warm hands to infants of 4 months age. He opines that the infants and children will be very tender enough to undergo sudation therapies and therefore softer measures and methods of sudation like hasta sweda shall be used.
How should Hasta Sweda be given in infants?
This type of mrudu hasta sweda can be provided in the below said ways –
- The body will normally have temperature (heat), so does the hands. The hands shall be used to provide warmth to the infants and child.
- The hands shall be made warm by placing them over (little distance away from) the fire or burning coal or hot pan. These warm hands shall be used to provide heat to the infant. The infant should be made to lie in a place where there is no breeze before doing this procedure. Care should be taken not to burn one’s hand while making them warm.
- Alternatively friction between two palms for some time produces heat. This heat shall be used to give sudation to the infants and children.
Similarly Vastra Sweda shall be given to children. Vastra Sweda or hot cloth sudation is another form of mild sudation which can be used for giving heat to infants and children. Hot water sponging or bath is anyways a traditional practice which is being followed through ages.
Mrudu Vastra Sweda
Mridu Vastra Sweda – mild hot cloth sudation (fomentation)
Acharya Sushruta has included vastra sweda given through hot cloth in Tapa Sweda. This too can be considered as Mridu Sweda or softer way of providing sudation. This sudation can be given to person of any age but it will be one of the best choices other than hasta sweda to infants and children.
How to do Vastra Sweda in infants and kids?
Vastra Sweda or hot cloth sudation (fomentation) can be done in the below mentioned forms –
A big piece of cloth or towel, sufficiently thick or folded into 2-4 folds is taken. This cloth is heated by placing it on a hot pan. The temperature is checked. When it is warm or tolerably hot (as could be tolerated by the infant) the cloth shall be applied to the child and given a soothing sudation.
Alternatively fomentation also can be given. The cloth is dipped in hot water (or made hot in an oven) and squeezed thoroughly to remove all water. The temperature of the cloth is checked and is used to give a soothing warm sudation to the infant.
Hot water bath or sponging given to the infants is nothing but an evolved form of vastra sweda.
Graduation of Swedana
Graduation to higher forms of swedana in growing children
Acharya Kashyapa advices gradual graduation of sudation methods as the children grows in age. According to Kashyapa, as the children grow up in age, the tenderness and delicacy associated with the infancy will gradually disappear. The body of the growing kids starts getting stronger and more matured. With ageing process the children will learn to tolerate hardships and also harder forms of treatments. Therefore the harder forms or intense forms of swedana therapies i.e. Ushma, Upanaha and Drava Swedas should be gradually brought into practice as the children grow and mature in terms of age, strength and endurance.
Just Before Finishing –
This article touches upon hasta sweda and its variant vastra sweda, the types of mridu swedas (or mild sudation) and tapa sweda which can readily be used to give warm comfort and mild sudation to infants and children as explained by Kashyapa. These forms can be used for adults too.
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