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Malnutrition is a state of nutritional imbalance in the body and can refer to:

  • Undernutrition: Inadequate intake of essential nutrients and calories. 
  • Overnutrition: Taking more than the required amount of calories and certain nutrients.

However, the term is more often used for people who are undernourished. However, people can consume excess calories and still be malnourished as they may not be eating enough nutritious foods. This can lead to protein, mineral and vitamin deficiencies. 

Undernutrition is typically prevalent in areas that don't have adequate access to food and clean drinking water. 

Overnutrition is more prevalent among the urban population of developing countries and the low-income groups of developed countries. Apart from an unbalanced diet, medical conditions like malabsorption syndrome may also cause malnutrition.

Regardless of the type, malnutrition is a serious health condition that needs to be treated promptly and thoroughly. 

People with malnutrition commonly experience weight loss, fatigue and dizziness. However, some people may not have any symptoms. Symptoms of severe malnutrition include low energy levels, swelling in the stomach and legs and short stature.

The conventional treatment methods aim at treating the underlying cause of malnutrition and replacing the missing nutrients often with supplements and diet.

Homeopathic treatment works on a similar basis. Homeopathic doctors prescribe a constitutional remedy to the patient that helps heal the cause of malnutrition and they suggest certain lifestyle and dietary changes so the condition doesn't revert as is usually the case with supplements.

Additionally, homeopathic remedies also for malnutrition also focus on reducing emaciation and wasting. Some of the common remedies used to treat malnutrition are abrotanum, aceticum acidum, arsenicum album, baryta carbonica, calcarea carbonica, calcarea phosphorica, hepar sulphur, hydrastis canadensis and iodium.

  1. Homeopathic medicines for malnutrition
  2. Dietary and lifestyle changes for a malnutrition patient as per homeopathy
  3. How effective are homeopathic medicines and treatments for malnutrition
  4. Side effects and risks of homeopathic medicine and treatments for malnutrition
  5. Takeaway
  • Abrotanum
    Common Name:
    Southernwood
    Symptoms: Abrotanum is known to be the best remedy for people with marasmus (especially in the lower extremities) with a good appetite. It also helps reduce the following symptoms:
    • Persistent hunger
    • Progressive emaciation even though the person has a good appetite
    • Gnawing and cutting pain in the stomach at night
    • Indigestion, the person throws up offensive fluid 
    • Passing undigested food
    • Slimy taste in the mouth
    • Skinny face with blackheads

Symptoms become worse in cold air and improve on moving around.

  • Aceticum Acidum
    Common Name:
    Glacial acetic acid
    Symptoms: This remedy is best suited for people with debility and wasting. It helps treat malnutrition by reducing the following symptoms:
    • Fermentation in the stomach
    • Stomach cancer
    • Sour belching
    • Vomiting 
    • Excessive salivation and burning waterbrash (sudden salivation due to indigestion)
    • Hyperchlorhydria (higher than normal levels of gastric acid in the stomach)
    • Gastralgia (pain in the stomach or upper abdomen)
    • Intense burning pain in the chest and stomach, followed by a feeling of coldness in the skin and cold sweat on the forehead
    • Burning sensation in the stomach as of an ulcer
    • Vomiting after consuming anything
    • Gastric distress on consuming cold drinks
    • Intense thirst with a burning sensation in the stomach
    • Emaciated and pale face 
  • Arsenicum Album
    Common Name:
    Arsenious acid, arsenic trioxide
    Symptoms: This remedy is best suited for people who feel extremely tired after the slightest activity. They also experience irritability, weakness and burning type of pains in their body. Arsenicum Album helps treat malnutrition by reducing the following symptoms:
    • Inability to bear the smell or sight of food
    • Extreme thirst, though the person cannot drink more than a small quantity of water at once 
    • Burning and pain in the stomach
    • Craving for coffee, milk and acidic food
    • Nausea, retching and vomiting every time the person eats or drinks anything 
    • Anxious stomach
    • Prolonged belching
    • Heartburn
    • Throwing up green mucus, bile, or blood
    • Indigestion on consuming acidic food, ice-cream or drinking ice cold water. 
    • Gastralgia after even a small meal
    • A feeling of icy coldness in the body along with fatigue and faintness along with gastralgia
    • A feeling as if everything swallowed is stuck in the oesophagus, as if the oesophagus is closed and no food will pass through

Symptoms become worse at midnight, in cold or damp weather, on consuming cold food or drinks, and near the seashore. The person feels better on elevating their head a bit, from warmth in general and after taking warm drinks.

  • Baryta Carbonica
    Common Name:
    Carbonate of baryta
    Symptoms: This remedy is best suited for infants, old people and people who often experience swelling in their tonsils. It helps to treat the following symptoms:
    • Waterbrash
    • Hiccups
    • Tenderness in the epigastric region (area right above the stomach) after eating warm food
    • A sensation of weight in the stomach along with pain right after meals
    • Gastric weakness in old people

All the complaints worsen when the person thinks about the symptoms or lies on the painful side. Symptoms improve better on walking in open air.

  • Calcarea Carbonica
    Common Name:
    Carbonate of lime
    Symptoms: Calcarea carbonica helps treat malnutrition by reducing the following symptoms:
    • Heartburn
    • Loud and sour burps that occur frequently and leave a sour taste in the mouth
    • Loss of appetite caused due to working too hard
    • Stomach cramps that worsen on drinking cold water and applying pressure to the affected area
    • Insatiable hunger
    • Aversion to hot and fatty and boiled foods and meat. Instead, the person craves eggs, sweet and salty things, cold drinks and things that cannot be digested such as coal or pencils 
    • Intolerance to milk, 
    • Epigastric region painful to touch
    • Hyperchlorhydria

Symptoms aggravate in cold and humid weather, from exertion, on standing and during a full moon. They become better on lying on the painful side, after sneezing and in dry weather.

  • Calcarea Phosphorica
    Common Name: Phosphate of lime
    Symptoms: Calcarea phosphorica is best suited for anaemic children who are irritable and have weak digestion. It is also given to infants who want to nurse frequently and vomit easily. This remedy helps treat malnutrition by reducing the following symptoms:
    • Excessive gassiness
    • Extreme hunger with gassiness and thirst, which is relieved by sour belches
    • Heartburn
    • Vomiting, especially in children

Symptoms become worse in cold and damp weather and especially with melting snow. Symptoms get better in a warm and dry atmosphere and in summer.

  • Hepar Sulphur
    Common Name:
    Hahnemann's calcium sulphide
    Symptoms: This remedy is suitable for people who often have a sensation as if wind is blowing on some part of their body. It helps treat malnutrition by reducing the following symptoms:
    • Aversion to fatty foods and craving for strong-tasting foods, acidic foods and wine
    • Frequent burps without smell or taste
    • Abdominal distension
    • A burning sensation in the stomach
    • A feeling of heaviness along with pressure in the stomach even after having a small or light meal

All complaints become worse in cool and dry winds, and on lying on the painful side. They become better in damp and humid weather, post meals, in warm conditions and when the person wraps their head.

  • Hydrastis Canadensis
    Common Name:
    Golden seal
    Symptoms: Hydrastis anadensis is most suitable for people who experience thick yellowish secretions from their mucous membranes (inner lining of some organs like the nose, eye, mouth and gut). It helps treat malnutrition by healing the following symptoms:
  • Iodium
    Common Name: Iodine
    Symptoms: Iodine is best suited for people who are physically very weak and start sweating after a bit of work. It helps treat malnutrition by reducing the following symptoms:
    • Excessive hunger and thirst
    • Worry and anxiety on skipping meals
    • The person loses weight even after taking a healthy diet
    • A throbbing sensation deep in the stomach

Symptoms worsen when the person is quiet, sitting in a warm room, and is lying on their right side. They become better after walking in open air.

Living a healthy lifestyle not only improves overall health and helps achieve better recovery, but also promotes the action of homeopathic remedies. Dr Hahnemann, the father of homeopathic medicine, recommends making the following lifestyle changes in order to achieve complete therapeutic benefits from the homeopathic medications and maintain good health: 

Do’s: 

  • Include nutritious foods in your diet. 
  • Live in hygienic conditions.
  • Follow an active lifestyle.

Don’ts: 

  • Do not consume liquids with strong odours and beverages like coffee and herbal teas and liquors prepared from medicinal herbs and spices.
  • Avoid physical and mental exertion.
  • Avoid negative feelings like sadness and anger.

According to the holistic principles of homeopathy, nutritional disorders are not only caused due to nutrient and micronutrient deficiencies but also due to the body’s inability to absorb and assimilate food. Homeopathic treatments enable the body systems to optimally utilise nutrients from food. Moreover, the treatments provide long-term relief as they act on a fundamental level, unlike conventional supplements, which may cause recurrence of malnutrition, if discontinued.

Though there isn't much confirmatory evidence of the benefits of homeopathic medicines for malnutrition, there are some studies that indicate the benefits of these remedies. 

A pilot study done in India indicated that homeopathic remedies are effective in treating malnutrition in children aged one to four, especially when taken along with appropriate dietary and lifestyle modifications. 

Another study published in the Indian Journal of Research in Homeopathy found that alfalfa can be used to treat malnutrition along with some other conditions like anemia, headache, fever, depression and lethargy.

Homeopathic remedies are made from highly diluted natural substances. They don't have any side effects or toxic properties. Since the medicines are taken in small doses, they are safe for children as well as pregnant women. However, it is important to take homeopathic remedies according to the prescription of a qualified homeopathic doctor as not all medicines suit everyone well.

Malnutrition is a term used for both under or over nutrition. It is a severe condition that needs to be addressed promptly and comprehensively. Homeopathic remedies are effective in treating malnutrition by improving appetite, reducing digestive problems and enhancing overall health of the patient. Homeopathic remedies are not only effective but also safe and do not produce any side effects. Homeopathy can be taken as a standalone therapy or along with conventional medicines for treating malnutrition. Consult a qualified doctor before taking any remedy.

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References

  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Malnutrition
  2. Oscar E. Boericke. Repertory. Médi-T; [lnternet]
  3. National Health Portal [Internet] India; Nutritional Disorder
  4. PS Chakraborty et al. Alfalfa - A multicentric clinical verification study . Year : 2011 Volume : 5 Issue : 3 Page : 36-43
  5. Wenda Brewster O’Reilly. Organon of the Medical art by Wenda Brewster O’Reilly. B jain; New Delhi
  6. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Malnutrition. Philadelphia; [Internet]
  7. National Health Portal India. Centre for Health Informatics. National Institute of Health and Family Welfare: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India; Malnutrition and Homeopathic Management
  8. Goda Sujata C., Ambekar Neena B., Tamboli Prashant, and Broker Devangini. Exploring the role of homeopathy in the management of malnutrition in children in the age group of 1 to 4 years: A pilot study. JISH. 2018 September;1(01):12-20.
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