Kwashiorkor, also known as malignant malnutrition, is a condition resulting from a severe deficiency of protein in the diet. In very poor countries, this condition results from famine, limited food supply and poor education. The presence of this condition in developed countries is a sign of abuse and neglect and may be seen in children or the elderly. Common symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, skin and hair changes, diarrhea, enlarged abdomen, rash, edema and in the late stages shock and coma.
Providing adequate calories and protein is usually sufficient to correct Kwashiorkor, provided treatment is started early. Patients in shock may need hospitalization and intravenous infusions. Ayurvedic treatment is given to correct the problems associated with this condition. Most patients affected with this condition for a long time are not able to digest ingested food. To improve the digestion and absorption of food, medicines like Shankh-Vati, Laghu-Sutshekhar-Ras, Agnitundi-Vati, Lashunadi-Vati, Chitrakadi-Vati, Hingashtak-Churna, Samudradi-Lavan, Vishwa (Zinziber officinalis), Marich (Piper nigrum), Pippali (Piper longum), Chavya (Piper retrofractrum) and Chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica) can be used. These medicines can also be used to treat lactose intolerance, which develops in most children affected with this condition.
Stunted growth can be treated using medicines like Laxadi-Guggulu, Trayodashang-Guggulu, Shrung-Bhasma, Shankh-Bhasma, Praval-Panchamrut-Ras, Asthishrunkhala (Cissus quadrangularis) and Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu. Repeated courses of a medicated enema known as ‘Tikta-Ksheer Basti’ is also very useful for this purpose. A massage of the entire body using medicated oils like Mahanarayan oil, Mahamash oil and Chandan-Bala-Laxadi oil is also quite useful in improving the metabolism of the body and creating a sense of well being. Emotional and psychological problems can be treated using medicines like Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus) and Mandukparni (Centella asiatica).
General tonics like Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Drakshasav, Saarivasav, Panchamrut-Parpati, Suvarna-Parpati, Tapyadi-Loh and Punarnavadi-Mandur can be used to help children affected with this condition to put on weight; to normalize changes in muscle, skin and hair; and to return to physical, emotional and psychological normalcy at the earliest. Ayurvedic treatment for Kwashiorkor may be given in combination with modern treatment. The advice of a Nutritionist is recommended in order to overcome nutritional deficiencies in a scientific and practical manner.