By Harsh Kanchan
For centuries, we have known gold as a precious metal prized for its rarity and material value. But Ayurveda doctors claim it has benefits for children’s health and immunity too! Gold is one of the oldest metals mined and was traditionally part of ancient healing systems, believed to have preventive and curative properties for children in the form of Swarnaprashana or administration of gold.
This unique practice finds mention in Jataka Samskaras, one of the most well received classical texts in the science of Ayurveda, where Acharya Kashyapa who coined the term ‘Swarnaprashana’ for administration of gold, elaborates upon the procedure, indications, counter indications, ingredients and quantities. As per this practice, gold was ground thoroughly along with water, honey, and ghee and other herbs on a clean stone facing the east and given to children in liquid, semi-solid or paste form.
Traditionally, Swarnaprashana is believed to have the following benefits:
- Improves intellect, digestion, metabolism, immunity, and physical strength.
- Promotes longevity.
- Considered auspicious.
- Improves skin tone.
- Protection from bacterial infections.
- Prevents common recurrent infections, asthma and other allergic conditions.
- Improves memory, attention span, concentration and learning ability.
- Reduces temper tantrums, attention deficits, bed-wetting and other neuro-psychosomatic problems.
- Improves speech, hearing and visual acuity.
According to Ayurveda experts, regular administration of Swarnaprashana for a period of 24 months could boost the resultant benefits among children. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor before deciding to go ahead with any treatment.
Who can benefit from it?
Swarnaprashana is considered effective, in Ayurveda, for those children who are otherwise healthy, but have compromised breastfeeding and suffer from minor functional problems of metabolism. It acts holistically at the level of nutrition, metabolism, and aids in intelligence, growth, development, physical strength, and fertility.
When should it be commenced?
‘Shaishava Avastha’ or childhood is the right period from which Swarnaprashana can be commenced. Childhood is the period of growth spurts. For realising the benefit of the practice as an immuno-modulator (that works on improving the immune system), it can be administered in infants. This is because the period from birth till the baby turns one year old is considered to be the most vulnerable time for infections due to the immune system not being fully developed. The administration of gold is beneficial during post-natal care up to one year of age and also during adolescence. Swarnaprashana is said to regularise hormonal functions among adolescents. As a general tonic, it could be administered in any age group.
How to attain authentic Swarnaprashna?
As there are a number of forms of Swarna mentioned, picking the right form is a tricky task. Acharya Kashyapa mentions about ‘Kanaka’ (a synonym of gold) ground along with water, honey, and ghee. The idea behind this could be that as per the availability at that time in its pure form, gold could be administered directly and by rubbing on a stone, micro particles might be procured effortlessly.
Later, other forms of Swarna were mentioned in Ayurvedic texts, especially use of gold in “bhasma” or ash form, following the advancement of pharmaceutical methods in Ayurveda like Rasasastra (metallurgy) as a separate branch. Any form of gold, that has better bioavailability, is believed to be the better choice for internal administration.
Depending upon the form to be used, suitable processing should be adopted; that is, proper purification has to be performed for administering Swarnaprashna and Swarna Bhasma in its purest form.
What studies indicate
Pharmacological studies showed specific and nonspecific immune responses, which were modified in a positive manner in Swarna Bhasma-treated mice. It also had a stimulatory effect on peritoneal macrophages, which may be helpful to fight against infections. Another study suggests a significant stimulatory effect of gold chloride on female reproductive activity in immature rats.
(With inputs from Dr Neeraj Jaswal, Ayurvedic expert with Art of Living’s Sri Sri Tattva Panchakarma. Views are personal.)