Radio Australia reports :Many foreigners are taking to India’s 5,000 year-old traditional form of healing, Ayurveda, in a big way. Ayurveda, the Indian science of healing, is often described as a way of life, rather than just a medical system.This traditional natural healing system, which has been practiced for over 5,000 years, has a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy and well-balanced lives.It is gaining huge popularity in the West.
Jayanthi Bhalla, a resident of London, is on holiday in the southern state of Kerala, the home of Ayurveda.Besides recharging her batteries, Ms Bhalla is also being treated for depression and diabetes.
Her routine for the last three weeks is fixed. Every morning two therapists mix warm sesame oil with indigenous herbs and gently smooth it all over her. The massage takes about two hours.
The treatment, including rinsing and effusions, are part of the Ayurveda cleansing therapy called ‘Panchakarma’ – detoxifying and purifying the body.
“There are no side effects and it’s very good, very good for your body. Best thing to use Ayurveda treatment than English medicine. Look – now I am fit and getting day by day younger,” she laughs.
In many places across India, Ayurvedic hospitals exist alongside those that offer modern medical treatments. Rather than dispense prescription drugs or perform surgery, these centres provide massage, herbal treatments and dietary advice — to cleanse the body of toxins, fortify the immune system and boost energy.
Herb-infused hot oil massage is crucial.Teenager Kirti Raj was paralysed from the waist down after a road accident two years ago.”After an intensive course of Ayurveda my sensation is slowly returning. It will take time but this is helping me a lot,” he said.
Kerala’s highly-developed healthcare system enables the state to attract patients from abroad. It’s becoming a multi-million dollar business, reaping the benefits of Ayurveda through health tourism.
The Western world, particularly Europe and the United States, has become increasingly fascinated with Ayurvedic medicine. Practitioners believe there is a general movement towards holistic healing systems and alternative therapies.
Mini Unnikrishnan is a doctor at a government hospital.”We are rejuvenating the whole body and maintaining the health of the body,” she said.”Every year, foreigners and so many people are coming… to maintain their health, to get away from diseases, as a preventive way they are (coming to) Kerala. Most of the foreigners are coming to get away from this new generation (of) new viral infections and the coming years are the days of Ayurveda definitely.”
The form of healing is for all sections of the society, not just for the rich and the famous.
Suman Billa, Kerala’s tourism secretary dismisses fears about any elitist patient preferences.
“I don’t think Ayurveda is class-specific at all. And I think in terms of what it is doing as a trend, it is actually a process of rediscovering your roots and coming back to a holistic medicine and holistic healthcare,” he said.
“If you go to a normal Ayurvedic doctor, I think the pricing is ridiculously low. Of course there are also high-end spas and Ayurvedic centres that charge exorbitant sums of money. But I think the class barrier is not on account of it being a particular science, it is on account of the facilities that are offered, which are extraneous to the medicine,” he said.
Laboratory and clinical studies on Ayurvedic herbal preparations and other therapies have shown them to have a range of potentially beneficial effects for preventing and treating certain cancers, infectious diseases, diabetes and aging, as well as promoting general health.
More than 4,000 delegates from 35 countries participated in a global Ayurveda festival focusing on public health held in Kerala last year.