Malnutrition is a condition that causes poor health from eating food that does not supply the right amount of one or more nutrients required for maintaining healthy tissues and function of organs (undernutrition).The nutrients can be carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins or minerals. It may also result from over consumption of wrong food like high calorie fat food (overnutrition). Though it can affect children of any age, it is mostly seen in young children. Homeopathic treatment of malnutrition uses natural methods to treat the root cause of the condition and should be used along side conventional treatment only.
Firstly it can occur from not taking enough food or taking diet of poor quality. Not taking a healthy and well balanced diet causes deficiency of nutrients leading to malnourishment. Poverty is one of the main causes in developing countries that cause lack of access to good nutritious diet. Next it can also occur if a child has problem with absorbing nutrients from some medical disease (eg crohn’s disease which is a type of inflammatory bowel disease in which inflammation can occur in any section of gastrointestinal tract leading to symptoms of abdominal pain, severe diarrhoea, weakness, weight loss; celiac disease Which is an autoimmune disease in which eating gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye triggers an immune response in small intestine of sufferer. It damages the lining of the small intestine’s lining and prevents absorption of nutrients. In this condition diarrhoea, bloating, weakness, weight loss, and anaemia occur mostly). Thirdly it can result when a child takes diet having indigestible and harmful food items that may cause loss of appetite leading to malnutrition.
In case of newborns, those who are not breastfed have high chances of malnutrition because breast milk provides the important nutrients to the baby for proper development. Lack of breastfeeding can expose the child to malnourishment because it deprives the child of nutrients for growth and development. Other than this children who have premature birth or suffer from excessive vomiting, persistent diarrhoea (loose stool), pneumonia (infection that causes inflammation of the air sacs in one or both lungs) have high chances of developing malnutrition.
The symptoms arising from undernutrition may include one or more of these symptoms including stunted growth (low height for age), being underweight, wasting (low weight for height or getting thin from rapid loss of weight or failure to gain weight), loss of fat and muscle mass, dry hair, brittle hair, dry and scaly skin, thin papery skin, increasing susceptibility of infections, hollow cheeks, sunken eyes, irritability, weakness, lethargy, impaired cognitive ability, slow intellectual development, mental retardation, anaemia, weak bones, weak immunity and catching the infections frequently and in severe intensity.
Intense protein deficiency leads to a condition called kwashiorkor that results in retention of fluid in the body and a protrusion of the abdomen. In this the child looks plump due to fluid retention and there is odema in legs and feet. Intense deficiency of calories results in a condition known as marasmus in which there occurs wasting and excessive loss of muscle and fat.
In case of undernutrition the signs and symptoms also depend upon the nutrient which is specifically deficient. For example if iodine is deficient then there occur problems with thyroid gland and issues with growth and development. In case of vitamin A deficiency there may occur dry eyes, vision problems and can even increase risk of night blindness. Diet deficient in zinc may lead to diarrhoea, loss of hair, stunted growth, appetite loss. If iron is deficient then it may disturb brain function, and stomach problems and cause anemia (lack of healthy red blood cells to transport the right amount of oxygen to the body’s tissues).
In case of overnutrition there mainly occurs obesity and getting overweight.
Homeopathic Treatment Of Malnutrition
Homeopathy offers supportive help in managing these cases. Firstly, a nutritious and well balanced diet needs to be started in these cases. Along with this and conventional help these medicines can be taken to treat the effects that have occurred from malnutrition (like weight loss, low immunity, weak bones, loss of fat, muscle mass, dry hair, dry skin). The homeopathic medicines can be taken for mild to moderate cases of malnutrition. These work by improving the body’s power to assimilate the food properly. However, in cases which are severe urgent help from conventional mode of treatment should be taken that may require intensive care and continuous monitoring.
This medicine is suitable for thin children having dry skin, earthy complexion. Their neck looks markedly thin. They are cross and irritable and cry easily. Along with this they have great weakness and tiredness. They get exhausted very easily. Hair loss may be present in them. They may be anaemic also.
It is especially suited to weak, malnourished children who are thin and have emaciated bodies but with large heads. With this the colour of the face is pale waxy. They may also have swollen abdomen. They have a tendency to excessive sweating on the scalp, feet. They have poor stamina with a tendency to get easily exhausted. Their muscles and bones are weak. The hair is brittle and fragile in them.
This medicine is prepared from fresh leaves and stems of plant Artemisia abrotanum commonly known as southernwood. It belongs to family composition. This medicine is well indicated for cases where emaciation of legs is prominent. Children needing it have pale, old looking faces, which are wrinkled with blue rings around the eyes. They are malnourished and have poor assimilation of food. They have decreased in muscle strength.
This medicine is prominently indicated for children who are emaciated with large abdomen. Their necks appear too thin and limbs are cold. They also have weak digestion. Next main characteristic feature to use this medicine is weak, thin and brittle bones. Along with this anaemia may be present.
This medicine is prepared from plant Lycopodium Clavatum commonly known as Club moss. It belongs to the family lycopodiaceae. It is indicated for malnourished children with weakness of digestion. They have alternate diarrhoea and constipation. They also have excessive gas along with a bloated abdomen. Mostly wasting of the upper body is seen among them and the lower one has fluid retention. Their muscle power is weak. They have poor circulation of blood along with coldness, cold limbs. They are very irritable in addition to the above symptoms.
It is a very valuable medicine when there is stunted growth (low height), thinning of the body. In cases needing it the face of the child appears bloated and along with swelling of abdomen. He is mentally as well as physically weak. Mental dullness and slow intellectual development is also present. Low immunity with a tendency to catch cold frequently is also there.
It is yet another significant medicine for these cases. It is prepared from dried bark of the plant Cinchona Officinalis belonging to rubiaceae. The indication for using it is excessive thinning of legs and arms. Children needing it have pale faces that look sickly with bluish rings around the eyes. Lips appear dry, blackish. Anaemia may be present in them. Another main complaint that they may have is diarrhoea along with marked weakness.
It is a natural medicine prepared from plant Medicago Sativa also known as California Clover or Lucerne. This plant belongs to the family papilionoideae. Its use is considered in case of malnutrition when weakness, exhaustion are marked. The child needing it is very thin with wasting of tissue and has a lack of appetite. This medicine helps to improve appetite, digestion and helps weight gain.
This medicine suits children in which there is emaciation in spite of good appetite. They have weakness, exhaustion and feel tired all the time. They have low immunity with a tendency to catch cold easily. They may have prominent diarrhoea with excessive wasting (weight loss).
Just like above medicine it is indicated where a child has weight loss and thinning even after having a good appetite. They have wasting of fat, muscles and glands in the body. With this I have excessive weakness. They have been sweating from doing slightest work. Their skin is dry, looks dirty yellow. Anxiety, restlessness, cross, irritable nature may be noted in them. Problems related to thyroid gland may be present in cases that require this medicine.
This medicine is indicated for children having weight loss with pale face and blue rings around the eyes or dark streaks under the eyes. Face may also look bloated. They also have marked anaemia. The skin is dry cracked in them. Exhaustion is also there. Mental weakness and slow, difficult comprehension can attend above symptoms.