Down syndrome is the most common genetic disorder that causes severe learning disability in children. Children with Down syndrome have some distinctive features which include flattened facial features; a protruding tongue; a small head; upward slanting eyes; unusually shaped ears; broad, short, hands with relatively short fingers; and poor muscle tone causing excessive flexibility. Down syndrome is not inherited, but is caused by 3 types of genetic variations involving the 21st chromosome, which include the Trisomy 21, the Mosaic Down syndrome and the Translocation Down syndrome. Advancing maternal age and a family history are risk factors for this condition. Complications of this condition include heart defects, leukemia, a susceptibility to infectious diseases, dementia in later life, and other structural and functional problems in the body.
The Ayurvedic treatment of Down syndrome is aimed at improving physical and cognitive deficits, preventing complications and attempting to normalize life for the affected children, to the extent possible with medicines. Medicines like Trayo-Dashang-Guggulu, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu, Vish-Tinduk-Vati, Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Sunthi (Zinziber officinalis), Marich (Piper nigrum), Pippali (Piper longum), Yashtimadhuk (Glycerrhiza glabra), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Patol (Tricosanthe dioica), Draksha (Vitis vinifera), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Kuchla (Strychnos nuxvomica) and Indrayav (Holarrhina antidysentrica) can be used to improve muscle tone and co-ordination. Massage of the entire body using medicated oils like Mahanarayan oil, Mahamash oil and Mahasaindhav oil is also very helpful.
To improve cognitive performance and prevent dementia, medicines used are: Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis), Vacha (Acorus calamus), Jyotishmati (Celastrus panniculatus) and Kushmand (Benincasa hispida). In order to reduce susceptibility to infectious diseases, medicines used are: Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus), Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Pippali, Yashtimadhuk, Abhrak-Bhasma, Laghu-Malini-Vasant, Madhu-Malini-Vasant and Suvarna-Malini-Vasant. Medicines like Laxmi-Vilas-Ras, Shrung-Bhasma, Laxadi-Guggulu, Arjunarishta, Arjun (Terminalia Arjuna) and Amalaki can be used to reduce disability from heart defects. Medicines like Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu, Laxadi-Guggulu, Suvarna-Bhasma and Heerak-Bhasma can be used to prevent or treat leukemia. In order to improve or correct hearing loss and poor vision, medicines like Tapyadi-Loh, Kaishor-Guggulu, Punarnavadi-Guggulu, Abhrak-Bhasma and Ekang-Veer-Ras can be used.
A judicious combination of Ayurvedic medicines can thus help to reduce physical and mental disability and dramatically increase the life span for people with Down syndrome. All such patients should be under the regular care and supervision of a team of physicians specializing in Down syndrome.