QUESTION: I just keep thinking about my last client and need to run something by you. He is a 5 years old mildly autistic boy. Mainly Vata constitution I think. His Mum took him out of school 2 weeks ago as she realized it made him anxious. She told me he didn’t poo for nearly 2 weeks. He has now been to the loo and is doing a lot better at home so home schooling for the foreseeable future. But he has the worst vertical grooves on every finger nail I have even seen.
I have recommended a Reduce Vata lifestyle and diet which they are doing. (including lots of sesame oil massage etc.) What else can I recommend for him as he is only just 5. Also he wouldn’t let me take his pulse and I only had very quick looks at his tongue. I am worried about these deeply set grooves though.
ANSWER: The fingernail groves are coming from a high level of vata - problem of apana vayu. This is coming from the chronic constipation and the accumulation of ama in his colon. The vata reducing lifestyle with oil massage is very important, good advise.
For additional treatment he could take a 1/2 of a level teaspoon of ghee in warm water to hydrate the colon and increase the bowel movements, do this 2 times per day, morning and evening. Any oil would work for this - it just depends if he can do it. The advantage with this method (internal snehana) is that it reduces vata very quickly. It is better for a child than using laxative herbs which tend to over stimulate apana vayu.
Another easy thing to do is to get triphala in tablets or capsules and give him one (dose of 400 to 500 mg) morning and another in the evening after food. This will reduce vata in the colon and increase absorption of nutrients in the colon. By doing this the grooves in the fingernails will disappear in a year or so.
Basically autistic behavior is a vata condition. Of course like all disorders in Ayurveda there are different doshas that cause different forms of autism. We can say that autism is a hypo-vata condition where the normal movement of vata is suppressed. The causes are many, the treatment always includes vata reducing therapies, such as oil massage. These oil massages, if done in the same direction as the normal movement of the five vayus, will re-establish the correct movement of vata.