Odontsetseg.G, Ph.D., Vice Director of Otoch Manramba University, Consultant of Manba Datsan Hospital talks to us about baby health.
–What can we learn about the nature, growth, and illnesses of babies in the traditional medical theory? Many of us are still wondering if it is safe to use herbal remedies with babies.
-Traditional Mongolian Medicine is dedicated to all age groups. Our hospital, Manba Datsan, treats kids of all ages. As doctors, there are a lot of things about children that we need to keep in mind depending on their ages and physical characteristics, in terms of illnesses. The doctrines of TMM indicate that young people, especially young men are much easier to diagnose and treat than women, and it goes on to say that treating 10 men is equal to treating 1 woman, but treating 10 women is equal to treating 1 child. Diagnosis of any disorders of infants can be challenging as the illnesses get worse quickly. Therefore, TMM has separate chapters on disorders of children in its doctrine. Growth of the child is calculated every week from the development of the fetus in the womb until the birth and then different treatments, diagnostic methods, preventive healthcare is proposed to children depending on their ages. For that reason, in traditional medicine, calculation of human age is determined after taking everything including embryonic period, nature, biorhythm and astrological chart into account.
–The diagnosis of younger children seems unique?
-Observation of symptoms is one way of diagnosing younger children and pulse diagnosis is performed to detect any underlying condition. Pulse diagnosis can’t be done in children aged under-five years as physical development and digestive bile element, separating nutrients from the waste, is rapid. Instead, analyzing the finger and ear vein is performed. Generally, the same method is applied to children aged 5-12 as the process of separation of nutrients from the waste is not complete yet.
–Let’s talk about common disorders in children. Statistics show that children aged 0-15 are usually showing symptoms of pneumonia or a common cold.
-Younger children present an increased state of phlegm element in nature due to their age and characteristics, which may cause damage to the lung, respiratory system, stomach, spleen, liver, and gallbladder, as all these organs are associated with phlegm or Bad-kan element. When children have a cold, they are at greater risk of developing pneumonia, whereas adults usually deal with mild upper respiratory tract infection. So it’s important to keep your kids cold-free. In addition, please make sure your children have an appropriate diet, a healthy lifestyle and longer hours of naps than adults do. Daytime naps and early bedtime is crucial for children to have a good rest, but not much for adults. It seems that an unhealthy lifestyle and improper use of medicines are the main factors resulting in poor diets and a variety of illnesses. One of our core responsibilities as a parent in today’s modern society is to care for our children and young adults must care for their parents aged over 70 too.
–How effective is traditional medicine for common cold and influenza?
-Many children are being admitted to Manba Datsan hospital for common cold or flu. Even during the early symptoms of flu or cold, parents nowadays are using antibiotics without consulting a doctor, which is wrong and then eventually turn to traditional medicine. There are different types of therapies available for flu and cold, such as herbs, throat spray, compress, moxibustion, and clinical massage.
–What could happen to a child as a result of incomplete treatment of flu?
-Flu is a hot disorder. Depending on the cause, whether it is contagious or non-contagious, different treatments will apply. Because of its hot nature, it can be combined with the air element, causing damage to children’s heart and bone structure, leading to a slow down of bone growth. If it is combined with serosal fluid or chuser In the Tibetan term, it can cause different types of allergies. Generally speaking, complications of any disease will lead to ultimate death, therefore, prevention is vital and action must be taken following the onsets of any diseases. Negligent parents are failing to have their sick children treated on time and it becomes more complicated for both parents and hospitals when it comes to urgent treatments.
–What are the downsides to having your tonsils removed? At what age should they seek treatment if they have tonsillitis?
-If your tonsils are enlarged or inflamed, you should seek treatment for it right away regardless of your age. Tonsils play specific roles in the health of the body so it is wrong to perform a tonsillectomy. Surgery is carried out when a certain organ becomes non-functional, or in a case where the organ harms other organs, that’s when the surgery is the only option. Please pay close attention to the wellbeing of your children and whenever they are ill, take them to the nearest hospital, no matter how old they are.
–How to treat diarrhea in children?
-Moxibustion on related points and herbal medicine are the best treatments. Also, external therapies can be applied. Since a greater amount bad-kan element is found in the stomach, children can fall sick quickly if they are eating all wrong. Traditional medical treatment is highly effective in treating vomiting and diarrhea in children.
–What treatments should be advised for children with mouth ulcers or sores?
-In traditional medical theory, there is a chapter on treating children’s mouth disorders, which suggests rinsing, wiping the mouth with herbal medicine, as well as certain herbal medicines are recommended to fight the infection. Special chants or prayers by the monks are recommended too. Traditional medical remedies have been treating not only pediatric disorders, but people of all ages too. About 70 years ago, Mongolian people had great knowledge of traditional medicine and its effectiveness. However, for the last 70 years, people have lost such knowledge and keep asking questions like “Can children take herbal medicine?” or “Is traditional medicine effective in treating children?” and are somehow become doubtful about the effectiveness. Once again, traditional medical remedies are best for children and have no side effects.
–In recent years, allergy is quite common among children. Even infants have allergies nowadays. What’s triggering them?
-There are many types of allergies and some of them can be treated within a short time whereas others can take many years of treatment and also there are seasonal allergies to consider. There have been many cases where infants were prescribed strong antibiotics and in addition, food is one of the causes of allergies in children. In recent years, parents have been feeding their children with what they call “nutritious food” such as baby milk formulas, fruit squash, and juices, which are all preserved and canned. I reckon that babies who were fed with such food items since their births are at higher risks of developing allergies. Since allergy belongs to chuser or serosal fluid disorders and is associated with a gall bladder that disturbs serosal fluids in our bodies, choosing a treatment for gall bladder and serosal fluid itself is effective. I can guarantee that there are treatments available in TMM for chuser or serosal fluid-related disorders and because they are quite effective, the disorders become non-recurring after the treatment.
–Can you tell us more about cystitis, urinary tract obstruction and overactive bladder (OAB) in children? Many parents are surprised by the fact that their children can be affected by cystitis. What are the preventive methods for these illnesses?
-Pediatric bedwetting has many causes. Because of the cold nature of the bladder, the humid and cold environment can lead to urological diseases. In most cases, OAB, bedwetting, and urinary tract obstructions are caused by the imbalanced state of the “descending wind” element. However, sometimes the condition can be associated with the children’s psychology. For instance, if the child is left for days and months by his or her parents, it can be distressing for them and eventually they develop illnesses. It is important to find out if the cold wind element of the bladder is combined with hot nature or solely causing the disease, before prescribing any treatment. Of course, warm clothing is the best way for the prevention of any urinary diseases and also holding your baby in a squat position while they are peeing is a good preventive method for many urinary diseases. During the “squat position”, your baby feels the need to urinate and then the “descending wind” element acts as it should and also it helps to avoid having wet bedsheets. Parents need to be aware of harms of diapers as they are widely used for newborns and it can ultimately lead to the development of different types of a bladder infection, inflammation of the testicle and colitis. Particularly in Mongolia, it is cold in most of the months of the year, so it is important to teach your children to wear appropriate clothes and also knee-high boots in winter.
–Parents choose a variety of vitamins for their children to improve their immune systems. How important is a vitamin for us? What are the available methods in traditional Mongolian medicine for boosting children’s immune systems?
-It’s best to use some of the vitamins that are well researched. However, vitamins can’t prevent all diseases and improve immunity. Appropriate lifestyle and diet are vital for children’s health. Traditional medical sutras suggest that children and elderly people are easily tired and are more vulnerable to diseases. One of them is growing while the other one is declining. During childhood, all the internal organs are developed and their growth can be intense. For instance, children may experience pain all over her or his body during the development of their teeth, quoted by one of the ancient sutras. Children must receive the best care possible during these developing periods as they are worn out easily. Spending time with your children and especially rubbing their backs, arms, and legs with clarified butter before bedtime is important for good sleep.
–If you could tell us more about the guidelines for a healthy diet.
-Ever since the birth of your child, you should be striving to breastfeed them and also with natural products. It is good that we are at an advantage of providing ourselves with natural food products in our own country. It is our tradition that we start feeding our babies with bantan /meat broth/, which is soup with flour lumps and meat, from the age of 6 months and I think it is a perfect meal for children. Bantan and rice soup are some of the most appropriate food for children, and we should be able to gain the necessary nutrition from the food that we are consuming. Aside from the proper diet, as a parent, we should also be focusing on the mentality and good manners of our children. If you take care of your child until 16 years of age with a healthy body, and a positive attitude both mentally and physically, that would be the biggest investment in your children’s life.
–Are the babies’ health and wellbeing affected by their mother’s health during pregnancies?
-Of course, the mother’s mentality, diet, lifestyle during her pregnancy have a direct effect on the child even after birth and constitute irreversible characteristics. For that reason, maintaining a proper diet and mentality is essential. There are 7 types of body characteristics that contribute to every aspect of one’s life. For instance, a person with wind or air characteristics is more vulnerable to wind disorders and conditions that would give rise to such disorders and also organs that are associated with wind elements such as hearts, bones and large intestines are more vulnerable.
–There is a concept of disease-causing evil spirits that affect children in Traditional Mongolian Medicine. What symptoms would those who are affected present? Manba Datsan Hospital is known for treating such cases quite well?
-Children aged between 0-16 years are at a greater chance of being affected by such spirits and there are a total of 15 different types of evil spirits targeting children only. Certain methods could protect your children from such unfortunate situations. For instance, making chanted relics/protections for your children to wear, avoid taking your children out at night and applying ashes between your children’s eyes at night before going outside also known as “khar khalzan” by the locals, are the best ways to protect your children. If your child is already affected by evil spirits, I highly recommend taking action immediately. “Shirgeleh” is a method used by the locals, involving melting tin and putting it in water to cool down and then tucking it under the pillow or seeing traditional medical doctors who then would suggest necessary prayers or herbal medicines accordingly. Symptoms of children affected by evil spirits may include crying for no reason, vomiting, diarrhea, becoming timid or fearful and feeling sharp pain their ears. Manba Datsan Hospital is receiving patients both children and adults who are affected by disease-causing evil spirits and also you can get specially made relics from the hospital for your children. If your child starts crying in the middle of the night, while he or she is asleep, please find out if they are influenced by the spirits or if they are experiencing wind disorders associated with their hearts due to being scared, so that the right treatments can be prescribed by the traditional doctors.
–Thank you very much for giving our parents such valuable information. What would you like to say to parents in terms of raising their children the right way?
-Because parents play a major role in their children’s development, I think every parent should be willing to listen to doctor’s recommendations, expand their knowledge by reading a range of books related to children’s behavior and most importantly, be ethical and honest themselves. No matter how many children you may have, they all need to be loved unconditionally. Your children will eventually grow up and live their own lives, so please care for them as if they are your only child.
Thank you for talking to us.