Posts tagged Kerala Home of Ayurveda dateJanuary 20, 2013
Name: Thor Larsen
During my routine yearly physical check up four years back, my cholesterol levels were found to be on the high side… no doubt my high pressure job and fast track lifestyle were contributing factors .My wife is from India- from the beautiful state of Kerala- and it was she who convinced me that we should try Ayurveda rather than modern western medicine to bring it under control. Ayurveda is the world’s oldest system of healing- and one that believes in holistic healing based totally on Nature. I was fascinated by the idea so we scheduled a trip to Kerala, where we consulted a famed Ayurvedic physician or vaidya. It was then that I learned that according to Ayurveda, the three vital energies in a body are known as doshas. They are the Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas. These three energies are balanced in a proportion that is unique to every individual, rather like his fingerprint. If this balance is upset, ill health occurs. An unbalanced Kapha lies at the root of excess production of cholesterol in the body. To lower cholesterol naturally, Ayurveda recommends balancing Kapha dosha with dietary recommendations that will balance the overall fat metabolism. A Kapha balancing diet also includes many healthy grains. Barley enhances fat metabolism. Oats provide the needed fiber, as long as it is whole oats, not processed oats. Quinoa provides zinc, which enhances fat metabolism. Amaranth is also recommended.
I learnt that there way many ways to lower cholesterol levels naturally. Guggulu is a traditional Indian herb which contains guggulsterones which have been proven to reduce the levels of cholesterol on regular use. It works on the liver by increasing the metabolism of the harmful cholesterol known as LDL. Alfalfa helps in clearing arteries congested with cholesterol. . The bark of the Arjuna Tree when taken in powder form has beneficial properties. This can dissolve the cholesterol that accumulates in the coronary artery and reduce the possibility of heart attacks. Coriander is a very good diuretic. It makes the kidneys perform better so that they flush out the excess unneeded cholesterols from the body. Holy basil has the capacity to dissolve the accumulated cholesterol from the arteries into the person’s bloodstream. Garcinia inhibits the synthesis of lipids and fatty acids and lowers the formation of LDL and triglycerides. Garlic can disintegrate the blood cholesterol and hence free up the arteries. With the ‘vaidya’s valuable guidance I worked out a new routine of diet, exercise, and yoga that has been immensely beneficial to me.
I make it a point to drink lots of water every day, in which a few coriander seeds have been boiled. I also have a glass of milk boiled with a clove of fresh, crushed garlic. Almonds and walnuts are also eaten daily. I avoid sweet, sour and salty foods, including processed foods and pickles. Soy and soy products, fresh vegetables and fruits are taken in plenty, and the Ayurvedic preparations that have been prescribed to suit my specific constitution are taken regularly too. I have quit smoking, am off alcohol. Even though I am back in Norway, I am in regular touch with my vaidya in Kerala, and am happy to report to him that I have never felt better!
The word ‘Charaka’ literally means ‘wandering’ or ‘touring’. One of the greatest Ayurvedic physicians of all time was called Charaka because he was constantly travelling far and wide in Ancient India, healing, teaching and spreading the message that health and disease are not predetermined. Charaka lived between the third and second centuries BC, and was the court physician of the Buddhist King Kanishka. He was also the author of the one of the oldest and the most important ancient authoritative writings on Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita, which is truly an encyclopedia of health, as it covers information right from birth to death.
The Charaka Samhita provides guidelines to doctors, nurses and patients about their role in curing a disease. Charaka taught that life may be prolonged by human effort and attention to lifestyle. He gave great emphasis to cleanliness and described an ideal daily routine. The Charaka Samhita has discussions on treatment and explanations on the various root cause of the diseases. It presents most of the theoretical principles of Ayurveda and concentrates on the branch of Ayurveda called Kayachikitsa or internal medicine.
The Charaka Samhita is divided into eight sthanas or parts which are again divided to 120 chapters, and some them are in the fields of physiology, etiology and embryology. Interestingly, the Charaka Samhita is not an original writing of a single person but a continuation and renewal of an ancient knowledge system, proving that Ayurveda is a product of constant verification, fine-tuning and authentication by an active community of physicians. To this day, vaidyas or Ayurvedic physicians hold this treatise in reverence. This is especially true in Kerala, the sunny state in South India where the vaidyas are renowned for their knowledge of the Charaka Samhita.
The First Among Equals
Charaka was the first physician to present the concept of digestion, metabolism and immunity. He understood the fundamentals of genetics- he knew the factors determining the sex of a child and taught that a defect in a child, like lameness or blindness, was not due to any defect in the mother or the father, but in the ovum or sperm of the parents. He studied the anatomy of the human body and various organs. He gave 360 as the total number of bones, including teeth, present in the body. He wrongly believed that the heart had one cavity, but he was right when he considered it to be a controlling centre. He claimed that the heart was connected to the entire body through 13 main channels. Though he was mistaken in some respects his knowledge on anatomy and various organs of human body was amazing.
Charaka carried out extensive work on the respiratory system and placed great emphasis on the diagnostic part of the treatment. He classified everything from the solar calendar to the timing of the birth of a child. This legendary physician identified eight stages of a disease from its inception to the culmination. He also laid great emphasis on the timing and manner of the collection of medicinal plants. His most famous quote is “A physician who fails to enter the body of a patient with the lamp of knowledge and understanding can never treat diseases. He should first study all the factors, including environment, which influence a patient’s disease, and then prescribe treatment. It is more important to prevent the occurrence of disease than to seek a cure” – and these words of wisdom hold good to this day.
Name: Bernhard Becker
I was diagnosed with diabetes in 2005, and since I have always believed in the healing powers of Nature, I decided to go for Ayurvedic treatment rather than conventional western medicine. I knew that Ayurveda is a 5000 year old system of healing that has been tried and proved effective over the centuries, and that its goal is total well being of mind, body and soul. So I came to Kerala, a tropical paradise in South India where some of the world’s finest Ayurvedic physicians practice Ayurveda in its purest form.
My physician told me that diabetes is called Premeha or Madhumeha in Ayurveda , and that over 20 types of diabetes have been identified in this system of medicine. The line of treatment followed is strictly according to the individual’s constitution. After a thorough examination, a special case sheet detailing my profile and the pathology of the disease was prepared. My ‘prakriti’ or type of constitution was identified, and the protocol to be followed determined.
Step by Step Procedures
The first step was to modify my diet. This involved reduced intake of sugar and simple carbohydrates, and greater emphasis on complex carbohydrates. Protein intake was be decreased as higher intake can damage the kidneys while fat intake was also limited as digestion of fat becomes difficult due to deficiency of other pancreatic enzymes. I was given plenty of fresh green vegetables like bitter gourd, string beans, cucumber, onion and garlic, fruits such as Indian Gooseberry and jambul fruit as well as grains like Bengal gram and black gram.
The next step was the cleansing program Panchakarma. This included herbal massages, herbal steam sauna, and fasting to cleanse the body.google Following these, I was given an herbal purge for the liver, pancreas, and spleen. Next, colon therapy was administered to cleanse the digestive tract. Along with this was I was also given several Ayurvedic medicines prepared from a combination of natural herbs that maintain normal blood glucose level. In addition, physical exercise, breathing exercises and yoga play an important part in the holistic healing process.
Today, I no longer suffer from the excessive urine formation as well as the excessive thirst that use to trouble me before commencement of treatment. My previous weight loss has been halted, and I no longer feel fatigued all the time. The burning feeling in my palms and soles has disappeared, and whatever skin or other infections I pick up heal quickly. Of course, I follow the careful regimen that has been recommended for me. I drink at least one tablespoon of bitter gourd juice daily, to reduce my blood sugar. I vary this with a tablespoon of Indian gooseberry juice mixed with a cup of fresh bitter-gourd juice. Another option is to mix and grind seeds of 100 gms of Fenugreek, 50 gms turmeric and white pepper. One teaspoon of this powder can be taken with a glass of milk twice daily. I have also found that putting one cup of water into a copper vessel at night, and drinking the water in the morning is very effective. I have stopped smoking and avoid sleeping during the daytime. I am careful about avoiding sugar in any form- rice, potato, banana, cereals and fruits containing high percentage of sugar content. I exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and am well again- thanks to Ayurveda.
Ayurveda is more than a science and art- it is a philosophy of life, which believes that a healthy body is essential for peace of mind and spirit. To attain this, it advocates several preventive and healing therapies that purify and rejuvenate the body, mind and soul. One such therapy is done with kizhis where heated herbs, oils, powders, and other prescribed materials are tied into muslin bags to form boluses. These bags are then placed with varying degrees of pressure on different body parts, with special focus on areas where the marma- or nerve points – are located. This is followed by specific massages, done using the fingers, heel of the hand or palm. The pressure application varies according to the nature of ailment and the spot. This therapy is basically a perspiration induced body scrub followed by a special bath. Kerala, which is famous for its 5000 year long tradition of Ayurveda, has refined this technique to perfection, and its many renowned Ayrvedic centres offer several different types of kizhi, that are tailored to a patient’s constitution and specific needs.
Navarakizhi is a rejuvenation therapy that is very useful during the convalescence period of injury and trauma, and also in cases of muscular wasting, arthritis, general weakness, paralysis, and pains related to the joints and sore muscles. This fomentation technique makes use of an indigenous variety of rice that has medicinal properties known Navara or Njavara. Pouches or kizhis are made of Navara rice is that cooked in cow’s milk along with certain herbs. Medicated oil is first smeared on the head and body of the patient, and the body is then massaged with these rice bags. The temperature of the kizhi is regulated depending on the tolerance capacity of the person. The procedure is done in seven different postures. After the treatment, the rice paste sticking onto the body is removed and warm medicated oil is once again applied on the body. Finally the patiient is given a bath in moderately warm water. This treatment is recommended for those with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It makes the body supple and removes stiffness, promotes sound sleep and makes entire body strong, sturdy and well developed. A course of Navarakizhi boosts the immune system and slows down the ageing process. It improves the luster and texture of the skin, sharpens the vision and the sensitivity of the other sense organs as well.
Other types of Kizhi
Other types of kizhi are recommended for specific conditions. Mutta Kizhi is a form of treatment where boiled eggs and herbal powders are made into pouches and then applied to the body, along with hot medicated oils. Mutta Kizhi is very effective in facial paralysis and hemiplegia. Then there is Naranga Kizhi which is done with linen bags containing cut and fried pieces of lime, garlic, dill seed powder and rock salt. It is a method of therapeutic sweating and as moderate heat is required to sweat, the bundles have to be warmed up periodically by dipping in warm medicated oil. Podikizhi is a therapy that is mainly done with the powdered roots of 12 herbal plants such as alpinia galanga, ricinus communis, sandalwood and dry ginger. Elakizhi is a treatment that uses medicated leaves and oil while Mamsa kizhi is type of massage that uses kizhis containing meat and oil. Whatever the type of kizhi that is recommended this wonderfully relaxing treatment leaves the patient glowing with a feeling of well being that comes when the body, mind, and soul are in perfect harmony.
The term “yoga” brings to the mind images of sages practicing meditation techniques and postures designed to bring spiritual awakening and inner peace. Yet Yoga is closely connected with Ayurveda, the 5000 year old science of life that is the world’s oldest system of holistic healing. They are both branches of the great tree of Vedic knowledge that embraces the entire universe. It is true that Yoga is not a medical system in that it does not deal with physical or psychological problems or their treatment in a primary manner while Ayurveda deals with every facet of medicine. Ayurveda also includes rituals, mantra and meditation for healing the mind and soothing the spirit- and this is the meeting point of Ayurveda and Yoga. Yoga for healing should be applied according to Ayurvedic guidelines of diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.
The Healing Tools
The healing tools of Yoga Therapy or Yoga Chikitsa include postures known as asanas, various forms of breathing techniques known as pranayamas, relaxation techniques which are called Pratyaharas, sound therapy or mantras, kriyas or purifying processes, bandhas and mudras which bring conscious control over involuntary muscles, marma that manipulates the body’s energy points and dhyana or the art of stilling the body. The asanas are considered the ‘external’ tools of yoga and are used primarily for treating musculo-skeletal disorders. Asanas are used to indirectly treat many other conditions, and are in fact, an ideal form of exercise for everyone. Asanas work best along with an Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle.
Pranayama is considered an ‘internal’ tool of Ayurveda that deals with Prana or vital energy. It is used to treat conditions of the respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems. It has a powerful impact on all physical and psychological condition. The purifying process called kriyas are classified into six divisions and each of these is again subdivided. Bandhas and mudras, by controlling the semi voluntary and involuntary muscles, influence the activity of the nervous system as a whole, and help to tone internal organs, decongest them, and stimulate healing. Pratyahara internalizes the energy needed for deep healing and true meditation. Dhyana is reflective meditation that allows the mind to heal itself.
Yoga can be of immense value in many situations from child birth to preventing athletic injuries. The practice of yogic exercises helps to preserve and improve movements in joints. Backache and muscle spasms, different forms of arthritis, spondylitis and scoliosis can all be treated with Yoga Chikitsa. Paranyama can be of great benefit to asthma patients and other respiratory conditions, and has a positive effect on the cardio- vascular system as well.
There are many experts in Yoga Chikitsa in Kerala, the state in South India which has a tradition of Ayurveda that is as old as Ayurveda itself. Their personal experiences can help you work out a system of yogic exercises that will not only build up resistance to disease, but improve your recuperative powers. Yoga adds a spiritual and psychological dimension to Ayurvedic treatment, and Ayurveda brings to Yoga a time tested system of diagnosis and treatment that is in harmony with Nature. Thus both Yoga and Ayurveda are necessary for the total well being of the individual.
Name: Dr. Nikki Chaturvedi
City/Country: Delhi/ India
I have been suffering from asthma for the past 10 years. As a practitioner of conventional western medicine, I opted for prescription drugs and a bronchial dilator to get relief. When I was a House Surgeon, I became interested in Complementary forms of Medicine, and decided to try Ayurveda, because it heals with Nature. My best friend is from Kerala, and she assured me that the purest form of Ayurveda is still practiced in that state. So, before joining for my post graduate course, I took a break and went there. I consulted a famous vaidyar- or Ayurvedic physician- who took a careful medical history and made a detailed physical examination, to determine a treatment plan best suited to my constitution. According to Ayurveda, asthma can be related to any of the three primary factors- Vata, Pitta or Kapha – that govern all the functions of the body. These three vital energies are carefully balanced in a unique ratio in every individual, and any imbalance causes disease. When a Vata imbalance is dominant the throat is aggravated. There is dryness which shrinks the bronchial trees and leads to wheezing. When a Pitta imbalance is dominant, the bronchia are more reactive which creates toxins that clog the bronchia and make breathing difficult. When a Kapha imbalance is dominant, lubrication and moisture balance are disturbed and generate too much mucus which causes allergic asthma.
My treatment was a two step procedure. I first underwent a therapy called ‘snehana’ which included both external and internal forms of oil treatment. Specially prepared herbal oils were massaged into my skin for 10 days. This was followed by a daily intake for 7 days of pure medicated ghee made from cow’s milk. During this period, I also underwent a sweat or fomentation therapy called swedana. It involved steam box treatment as well as placement of hot boluses of rice and special herbs wrapped in a cloth over certain points of the body. Following snehana and swedana therapies, a one-time laxative therapy, was administered. Finally therapeutic vomiting therapy was initiated- this is very important in diseases involving respiratory distress. This completed the purification, or first part of the treatment. The second part involved herbal therapies to help re-establish normal physiological function in the affected tissues and organs.
My physician also advocated changes in my lifestyle. Yoga is very helpful because the various stretching and contorting positions assumed in yoga improve the function of the respiratory tract. He also suggested I take up swimming for it is an excellent exercise to strengthen the lungs. My diet includes lots of celery as it has antispasmodic properties which are beneficial in the treatment of asthma. I take a mixture of 1 tablespoon of water and 2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice twice a day and alternate this with a teaspoon of fresh ginger juice mixed with a cup of fenugreek decoction and honey to taste. A glass of 2/3 carrot juice, 1/3 spinach juice drunk thrice a day, is also another option. At bedtime, I drink a cup of milk in which three cloves of garlic have been boiled. I avoid all foods that are difficult to digest such as all animal products, milk and pulses as well fried and spicy food. At the same time, I drink plenty of fluids to facilitate easy digestion. It has been a long time now since I have had the recurrent breathlessness, wheezing, chest tightness, or coughing that had caused me such distress earlier… and I am using this opportunity to say a big “Thank You” to my Ayurvedic physician in Kerala!
The name Dhanvantari is one that is one that inspires devotion in all those who practice Ayurveda, the world’s most ancient system of healing. Lord Dhanvantari is in fact considered to be the God of Ayurveda and physician to the Gods. The name has also been applied to other legendary as well as historical physicians and to a legendary King too. According to mythology, the Gods and the Demons both desired the elixir of eternal youth, amrit. In their search for this nectar of immortality, they churned the divine Ocean of Milk. As the churning progressed, 14 gems were produced, and one of them was Lord Dhanvantari. He rose from the ocean, an awe-inspiring vision with four arms. In one hand, He held the conch shell, the auspicious symbol that spreads positive energy and purifies the very air with its sonorous call. In the second hand, He held his Divine Weapon the Chakra, signifying that Ayurveda can destroy any evil force that attacks the body and mind. In His third hand was the Jalouka or leech, used in bloodletting, one of the principal detoxifying procedures in Ayurveda, while the fourth hand held the pot of elixir , which would eliminate all disease and ensure immortality. Lord Dhanvantri is regarded as the incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself and in some parts of India, His appearance on earth is celebrated every year a few days before Deepavali, India’s Festival of Lights.
The Physician with the Divine Touch
The name Dhanvantri is also associated with one of the great sages who practiced Ayurveda in ancient times. Based on Vedic traditions, he is regarded as the fountainhead of Ayurvedic knowledge. He perfected many herbal- based remedies and natural remedies. This legendary physician is credited with the discovery of the antiseptic properties of turmeric and the preservative properties of salt which he incorporated in his cures. He was also the world’s first surgeon, and his skill was so great that he is regarded as the pioneer of modern medical practices like plastic surgery. All his surgeries were performed without anesthetic, and in spite of the primitive instruments he used, his success rate was impressive. As a result of the brilliance and achievements he displayed in the field of medicine, he was chosen as one of the Nine Gems in the early Indian ruler Vikramaditya’s court. Dhanvantri taught surgery methods and procedures to Susrutha who is regarded as the Father of Ayurvedic Surgery.
Patron Deity of Physicians
Every practitioner of Ayurveda will seek the blessings of Lord Dhanvantri before starting treatment. And it is not only physicians who seek his blessings. Lord Dhanvantri is worshipped by one and all for freedom of illness, and the boon of good health and peace of mind. In Kerala, often described as the home of Ayurveda, there are eight renowned families of Ayurvedic physicians who worship Lord Dhanvantari as their family deity. They are known as the ‘Ashta vaidyas’ and the present generation follows the same protocols and procedures for treatment that their forefathers have been practicing for centuries. There are also many famous temples in Kerala dedicated to this Divine Healer. Over the ages, His name has come to be associated with excellence in healing, for He is the role model of the caring physician who upholds the nobility and dignity of the profession of medicine.
Marma Chikitsa is a powerful tool of Ayurveda, the mother of all healing systems. Marma means ‘key point’ and refers to the vulnerable spots in our bodies. The application of pressure at these points induces a flow of the vital energy known as ‘prana’ along a complex system called ‘nadis’. These the pressure points within the body are usually close to the skin surface, where important nerves form junctures with muscles fibers, veins, bones and joints. There are total 108 marma points in the body in which 64 are considered as kulamarma or deadly points which can be used either to heal or to harm the body. The mind is considered as the 108th marma. The other 107 marma points are distributed among muscles, vessels, ligaments, bones and joints and are called Mamsa Marma, Sira Marma, Snayu Marma, Asthi Marma and Sandhi Marma respectively. These marma points are centers of vitality and intelligence. They are infused with life force and imbued with consciousness. Their healing effect on the body is far reaching because they serve as ‘portals’ to the body’s inherent wisdom and healing energy The injury to some of these lethal marma points can lead to instant death, so the treatment must be done only by trained Ayurveda professionals.
Why Marma Chikitsa?
Marma Chikitsa actually releases and guides the flow of energy within the body to create pathways of inner healing. It has four basic purposes. The first is to remove blocks in the energy channels. The second is to bring the doshas or the body’s vital energies into harmony. The third purpose is to remove physical, mental and emotional rigidity, whether it is rigidity of ideas, feelings or movements. Finally Marma Chikitsa presents an opportunity to experience powerful and dynamic transformation, to go outside one’s comfort zone and to explore new horizons.
Marma Chikitsa is basically a neuromuscular and orthopedic science. Oil therapy is an important part of the treatment, and warm medicated oils are applied in large amounts all over the body, with special focus on the marma points and trouble spots. Many different types of medicinal and herbal oils are used. The Western Ghats in Kerala, the lush green state in South India, are rich in unique herbs with special healing powers that are used for Marma Chikitsa. The world’s leading practitioners of Marma Chikitsa are therefore found in Kerala, which has been considered to be the home of Ayurveda for the past 5000 years.
A Non-Surgical Option
Marma Chikitsa is used to treat a wide range of diseases through the most sophisticated and unmatched manipulation and massage techniques. Dislocation of shoulder, ankle or knee can be corrected by manipulative methods without surgical intervention. Similarly, conditions like disc prolapse, cervical spondylosis and frozen shoulder can be corrected non- surgically too. It has also been proved that paralysis and musculo-skeletal deformities can be corrected by sustained therapeutic procedures of Marma Chikitsa. To put it in a nutshell, Marma Chikitsa is a non-invasive treatment that invokes the self-healing powers inherent in the human being. It does so by working with 108 subtle and sensitive energy points to open energy channels in the body and produces a healing effect that induces total well being.
If you suffer from sinusitis you will agree that the dull headache, blocked nose and general malaise that are the result of blocked sinuses all leave you feeling truly miserable. Modern western medicine can bring some relief, it is true, but do you know that there is an ancient system of healing that treats sinusitis most effectively, without any chemicals? We are referring of course to Ayurveda, the Mother of all healing systems that has its 5000 year old roots in India. Kerala, the greenest state in India, is especially famed for its Panchakarma treatments, especially Nasayam, which is very useful in treating all ailments above the neck, including sinusitis.
Ayurveda points out that the nose is the only sense organ that is directly connected to the brain. In Nasayam, medicated oil, powders or herbal juices, are administered through the nose for a prescribed period of time. The nerve endings located in the mucus membranes are stimulated, and the impulses are transmitted to the central nervous system. This results in better circulation and oxygenation and more nourishment to the organs, as a consequence of which diseases will subside. According to Ayurveda, Prana or life energy enters the body through breath taken in through the nose. Nasal administration of medication helps to correct the disorders of prana affecting the higher cerebral, sensory and motor functions.
The treatment commences with the pre-conditioning of the person’s body. This involves a short oil massage of the head, face, and neck followed by brief steaming. Next, the person lies down comfortably with his neck slightly raised and head lowered. His head is maintained at a lower position by keeping the pillow below the neck. This position will facilitate the direct passage of the drug. Placing the medicine above hot water gently warms it and then it is made to flow in to one nostril, while the other is kept closed. The same process is carried out in the other nostril also. For the administration of the drug a cotton swab, tube or dropper may be used. Ghee, oil, powders and herbal extracts are the medicines used.. The patient must spit out all the impurities and the medicine that reaches his mouth. The spitting is repeatedly carried out while the patient is turned on both sides in the prone position. The sole, shoulder, neck, ear and palm are gently massaged after the administration of the drug. The whole process takes about 20 to 30 minutes and to get effective results it is continued for 7 to 21 days.
There are different kinds of Nasyams based on the difference in the type of medicines used, depending on which ailments are being treated. Nasyam is highly effective for different kinds of migraine, hormonal imbalances, paralysis, mental disorders, premature graying of hair, loss of smell and taste. It can even make the voice clearer. The therapy is beneficial if done on a regular basis, because it keeps the eyes, nose and ear healthy. Nasyam is also a powerful rejuvenative therapy as stimulates the brain cells and promotes intelligence and memory power and prevents ageing. So let your nose lead the way to good health and longevity with Ayurveda’s Nasayam Therapy.
Extended treatments give wonderful results for good health management.
“Frequent headaches and migraines left me feeling deeply distressed and depressed” said Antoinette Bardot, a resident of Paris, “So when a friend suggested an Ayurvedic therapy called Sirovasti, I was intrigued. I did some research and learned that Ayurveda is the world’s oldest system of healing, and that all its therapies are completely nature- based. I was also quite thrilled to learn that Kerala has some of the finest Ayurvedic physicians in the world. I have always wanted to visit Kerala, that beautiful state in South India that is called ‘God’s Own Country’ so I decided to come and have the treatment done here.”
The Ayurvedic physican that Antoinette consulted in Kerala explained to her that Sirovasti is a procedure in which medicated oil is retained on the head for a prescribed period of time. She had to have hair cut short- she saw some patients, who were willing, even to shave their heads completely for this purpose. Warm herbal oils were then applied all over her body to nourish the nerve endings and prepare the body for the main treatment. She was seated on a comfortable chair and a cylindrical leather cap, about 10 inches high, and open on both ends was placed securely on her head. The cap was made of smooth, soft leather and was kept in place by tightly wrapped cloth bandages that also served the purpose of preventing leakage of oil.
The oil used for Sirovasthi is a combination of gingelly oil, staff tree, castor oil, ghee, common milk and medicated herbs like black gram, winter cherry, bala, and bacopa. The herbs and oil are boiled in a specific manner in order to extract their full medicinal properties. Then the oil is taken at a comfortable temperature, and poured into the cap from a prescribed height, until the head is completely covered in oil. It is retained on the head for a maximum of 45 minutes, by which time discharges start coming from the nose and mouth. The oil is then drained by bending the head slightly and making small openings in the bandage. The palms, shoulders, soles and ears are next warmed with a gentle massage after which fresh oil is applied on the body and a bath with lukewarm water is given. The treatment is continued for seven days, and a full course involves 7 days of preparation and another 7 days of post treatment procedures as well. The physician will also prescribe a special diet as well as some medicines called kashayams and lehyams.
Effectiveness and Benefits
Sirovasti is highly recommended chronic headaches and migraines, as well as diseases of the eye and ENT problems. The treatment shows positive results in cases of facial paralysis and mental disorders. Cervical Spondylosis and dryness and itching of the scalp are some of the other conditions for which Sirovasti is indicated. During the process, the medicated oil acts on the person’s brain and tunes up the central and autonomous nervous system, as the spinal cord, peripheral nerves and the sympathetic nerves all receive the medicinal effects of the oil. As a result, the mind is relieved of stress and strain and nerve disorders are cured. In the case of Antoinette, she got immense relief from the headaches and migraines that plagued her… and once the treatment was over, she finally realized her dream of touring God’s Own Country as well!