Dr. Madhumitha Krishnan, M.D. (Ayu), CCCE, is a practitioner of Ayurveda Pediatrics with over 10 years of experience in working with young children suffering from complex ailments. She has a special interest in handling cases involving special needs children. Additionally, she is a certified childbirth educator through CAPPA (Childbirth and Postpartum Association). Her interest lies in empowering couples and equipping them with simple tools to navigate various stages of pregnancy, including labor, postpartum care, breastfeeding techniques, and child care.
Let us get some insights into Dr. Madhumitha Krishnan's journey, experiences, and success with Himani Negi and Dr. Keerthi S Narayan from MedBound Times.
Himani: Please tell us something about yourself for our MedBound community and all the other readers who will come across this article.
Dr. Madhumitha: I am an Ayurveda pediatrician as well as a childbirth educator. For the past 8-9 years, I have been working on cases related to specially-abled children, particularly those with cerebral palsy and spastic cerebral palsy. I have found that simple Ayurvedic treatments can bring about significant improvement in these children. I have also worked with children with autism, ADHD, epilepsy, as well as common conditions like the common cold, asthma, and skin issues. Since pediatrics is a vast subject, and my work is not restricted to one particular condition.
Himani: How did your journey in Ayurveda begin? What motivated you to enter this field?
Dr. Madhumitha: When I was about to complete my 12th grade education, I was torn between pursuing Biotechnology and a career in medicine. It was then that my father suggested considering Ayurveda if I chose the medical path. Intrigued by the idea, I decided to give it a try, and looking back, I can confidently say that it was the best decision I ever made. Being involved in Ayurveda right from the beginning has been an amazing experience. Although I had moments of self-doubt, I am now certain that I am in the right place and find immense happiness in what I do.
Himani: Interesting, ma'am! Before we proceed, I would like to know your opinion on the repercussions of casually taking Ayurvedic medicines, as many people believe that Ayurvedic medicines have no side effects.
Dr. Madhumitha: Usually, if any medicine has an effect, it can have side effects. Some Ayurvedic medicines are mostly available as health supplements, such as Triphala, Shatavari, Ashwagandha, etc., and they are loosely used by many people. As rightly said, these medicines have "Rasayana" properties and can be used for different conditions but they can also have complications in individuals for whom they are not suitable. For example, Triphala is often used for digestive issues, but its uses go beyond that. When people don't realize the negative effects and take these medicines in the wrong dosage, at the wrong time, or in the wrong combination, it can have negative effects and lead to misconceptions about the efficacy and safety of Ayurvedic medicines. For any medication, it is always preferable to take consultation with a certified medical practitioner.
Himani: Correctly said, ma'am. It is very important that people should understand that self-medication may be self-harm. As most of us know that Ayurveda does not give immediate relief, we would like to know the challenges/problems that you faced as an Ayurvedic physician.
Dr. Madhumitha: It is true that people believe in Ayurveda but mostly for chronic conditions and not for acute conditions. There are certain conditions where Ayurveda is far more effective as compared to other systems of medicine. People are inclined towards symptomatic treatment requiring immediate relief in conditions like 'running nose' where in expecting it to stop/arrest and rather not addressing the issue completely resulting in repeated visits to hospitals. But there is a shift in the mindset of people now which says ' instead of popping a pill and getting rid of the symptom, let's address the main issue causing it and that is where ayurveda, yoga, AYUSH medicine systems have the added benefit of removing the source of the problem leading to betterment of the patient. It is only in recent years many people have realized that Ayurveda has answers for conditions apart from leg pain etc., yet there is a long way to go for them to make the first choice of seeking Ayurveda.
As an Ayurvedic pediatrician, the first challenge that I have faced is that people are unaware of pediatrics as a branch of Ayurveda too. But now, there is a change and people are being familiar, earlier people did not even know that 'Ayurveda pediatrics' existed. I would really want patients to make it a first choice. It is happening but a long way to go!
Himani: Can you share some interesting career-related cases/events that have left an impression on you, or any unforgettable case?
Dr. Madhumitha: The first case that comes to my mind is, of course, the special children with whom I passionately work. Two main cases that strike my mind are as follows:
1st case - A 11-month-old girl who had not attained 'neck holding', and her mother was upset for obvious reasons and looking for help. (Although it was the 'covid period' and I have a small child at home), yet I thought that 'I should do this' and went forward to treat that child. It was quite an amazing experience that I could see that child sit, stand, and walk (with support). The part which amazed me more was the change in her 1st MRI report which said that she had Grade II HIE (Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy), while in the second MRI, there was no apparent abnormality in the brain, which was quite impossible for me as well to believe!
The second case that I would want to share is the first case that came to me during my initial years of practice. He (the patient) came to me when he was 3 years old unable to walk or stand by himself, but after 2 sittings of treatment, he could climb a ladder. So, that was yet another amazing experience that I had. The change was so apparent in that child which blew my mind!
So these are 2 cases that come to my mind, but in every case, I have seen some improvement and difference, which is truly amazing. Another case that I wish to share is about a child whose part of the brain was missing, (reports said), and came to me with unachieved 'neck holding'. So within 7 days of starting the treatment, the child started turning over by himself, and the mother was amazed to watch this!
I have seen phenomenal changes happening within 7–10 days of treatment, which is very great and encouraging to me as well.
Himani: Any case you would want to share where you have recommended your patient to reach out to Allopathy?
Dr. Madhumitha: Usually, those cases come pre-diagnosed to us as they would have visited many doctors before reaching out to us. And many would have already been on medication too, so they come asking whether they can take Ayurvedic medicines along with pre-medications. But according to me, in cases of high fever, epilepsy, and conditions like these, I myself, recommend them to approach an allopath because nothing can bring down a 'high fever' as fast as an allopathic medicine. Especially in children who are on medication for a long time like for respiratory issues, immediate withdrawal of those medications is definitely not advised, as it can exacerbate the condition. Initially, I would take the reference of an allopathic doctor, consider their medication and then proceed with my treatment.
Himani: Insightful! Acceptance of Ayurveda is rocketing globally. So, what are your views on the same?
Dr. Madhumitha: It is starting to get recognized, especially in South-East Asian countries since most of their traditional practices of medicine are very similar to Ayurveda. The recognition and awareness towards Ayurveda are getting high even in Western countries as even Yoga has been practiced across the world. Surely there is awareness, but for various other reasons, Ayurveda is still not practiced full-fledged. One of my patients is from Ireland, and they are pretty amazed that even simple treatments in Ayurveda can be beneficial.
(Himan So it's not wrong when they say Ayurveda is not just about treatment, it is about the way of living.)
Himani: You have always seen a positive graph with your treatment, but are there any cases that made you feel, you could have done better? Is there any incidence that you can share?
Dr. Madhumitha: I do not say that we have answers for everything since every system of medicine has its own shortcomings. So, in my practice, I have seen a case of a skin condition called 'vitiligo'. Due to some reason, I had lost contact with her. And the non-availability of medicine, the distance was a problem. So, in this case, I feel that I could have done more.
Himani: So, was it the case that you could not contact her, or that you could not treat her?
Dr. Madhumitha: I did find results, but I have seen some of the other treatments acting at a sooner pace. But, in that particular patient, I did not get the results I hoped. Of course, it did not lead to any complications. There was another case of Epilepsy where the improvement and results that I was hoping for, were not achieved. I wished that she would come back for treatment, but due to various reasons, I missed out on that patient.
Himani: Nowadays, many Ayurvedic doctors practice allopathy and vice-versa. So, what are your views on this?
Dr. Madhumitha: I have seen many friends of mine who are good at what they do and practicing other systems of medicine, but in my personal view, I feel that I do not have the capability of doing so. So when I have to prescribe an allopathic medicine, I would rather take an opinion from an Allopathic doctor because I feel that when I look at a person through Ayurveda, I will definitely have a better understanding and a better approach.
Himani: Was pediatrics your pre-decided subject during B.A.M.S.?
Dr. Madhumitha: PG was something I always wanted to do, but the subject was not pre-decided. I had an option of choosing (Shalakya Tantra) ENT, Opthalmology but I chose Pediatrics and yes, there is no looking back till now since it has been quite an amazing journey so far.
Himani: What are your goals for the next 3 years where you have already achieved many things?
Dr. Madhumitha: My goal would be to reach a lot more pediatric patients, especially, specially-abled children, and help them through Ayurveda. Recently, I have started with Childbirth education which is to teach pregnant couples as to how to handle labor, post-partum care, childcare, etc. I have been integrating the principles of Ayurveda into that.
Himani: If you have to eat one food for 365 days. What would that be?
Dr. Madhumitha: Just as a very well-known saying 'An apple a day, keeps the doctor away.' Soon, I think Ayurveda practitioners are going to change that saying to 'An amla (Indian Gooseberry) a day, keeps the doctor away' because amla has many benefits. So, I would suggest that eating an amla every day is a fantastic thing to do.
Himani: What are your hobbies apart from practicing Ayurveda?
Dr. Madhumitha: Well, with a toddler at home, there is no free time. But yes, I have learned violin, trained in classical singing and I love reading books. I also enjoy writing, while I had an opportunity to work with an author named 'Neil Ray', on a book called 'The Autobiography of Time'. I had the opportunity to do a little editing on that book.
Himani: You surely are multi-talented!
Dr. Keerthi: Children nowadays develop respiratory-related issues at a very young age due to increasing pollution and they start taking allopathic medicines that might deplete their immunity. So is there anything that will boost their immunity from birth?
Dr. Madhumitha: Suvarna Prashna is one booster I would suggest which will not only increase the immunity of children but also can be used in general conditions as well. It has benefits on respiratory health, digestive health, intellect development, and in general immunity.
Dr. Keerthi: Would you suggest students take up B.A.M.S.?
Dr. Madhumitha: Learning about the Indian system of medicine gives us a perspective. Even while we were studying BAMS, we did learn about allopathic medicine, some basics of Siddha, and Homeopathy, to understand the different methods of treatment. So, I would definitely suggest taking B.A.M.S.; it is good. But I would say that irrespective of the system of medicine that you are studying, it is important to know different perspectives of other systems of medicine. It is important to have a different system of medicine and discuss it all together rather than just one branch of the system.
Dr. Keerthi: On a lighter note, any funny moments that you would want to cherish?
Dr. Madhumitha: Interaction with children is definitely on the fun side because they are on the naughtier side. So there was one child whom I had to interact with, who spoke about the speech he gave on Republic Day. For me, it was important as I was observing the milestone changes, but for the rest of them it was like 'What is this child even saying'. So to see them was funny!
Dr. Keerthi: What was your idea behind Childbirth Education?
Dr. Madhumitha: By giving some simple and practical tips, I could see changes in pregnant couples, starting from conception to delivery, which made me take up this role.
Dr. Keerthi: Finally, a message that you would want to share with society.
Dr. Madhumitha: The future is where people start working together and I hope that is where we are headed. Instead of putting down another person with regard to their knowledge, working together is far more beneficial.
Dr. Keerthi: A piece of sensible advice, Ma'am!
MedBoundTimes is extremely grateful to Dr. Madhumitha Krishnan for taking out the time and interacting with us.