What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. It is considered a holistic medicine system as the fundamental principle of Ayurveda is based on the balance of mind, body, and spirit.
There are eight branches (Ashtangas) in Ayurveda. They are
- Kaya Chikitsa (General Medicine)
- Bala Chikitsa (Paediatrics)
- Graha Chikitsa (Occult and Tantric Medicine)
- Oordhwanga Chikitsa (ENT)
- Salya Chikitsa (Surgical treatment)
- Damshtra Chikitsa (Toxicology)
- Jara Chikitsa (Geriatrics treatment)
- Vrisha Chikitsa (Aphrodisiac Treatment).
While Ayurvedic rejuvenation treatment is very popular, the curative treatments that Ayurveda offers are also gaining attention worldwide. Thus, it is a complete system covering all areas of the human body and mind. Ayurveda is known to have highly effective treatments for autoimmune conditions like Rheumatoid Arthritis, neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and lifestyle-related diseases like obesity, depression, and anxiety. Kerala Ayurveda treatment is considered to be the most effective and authentic Ayurvedic treatment method.
Increasing interest and popularity of Ayurveda has also created few undesirable side effects. Firstly this has created some unfounded myths and beliefs related to Ayurveda and secondly this interest has led to mushrooming of lot many quacks and unauthorized centres disguising as Ayurvedic treatment centers. However, with due diligence and careful selection, one can find the right Ayurvedic treatment centres to address their problems.
History of Ayurveda
Ayurveda was developed during the Vedic period in India and has been in practice for more than 3000 years. The first recorded forms of Ayurveda are in the Vedas which are the ancient Indian texts. Charaka and Sushrutha (who both lived in 5th- 6th century BCE) are the two main pioneers of Ayurveda. Sushrutha Samhita, Charaka Samhita, and Ashtangahrudaya are the main texts in Ayurveda. These three texts explain in detail the various diseases and their treatment methods.
Ayurveda is probably the oldest system of medicine which is still practiced. While India remains the home and main center for Ayurvedic treatment, it is gaining popularity in many of the European countries. Germany is said to be the nerve center of Ayurveda in Europe while other countries like Switzerland, Sweden, and UK are also joining in thus making Ayurveda popular.
Kerala, which is a state on the southern tip on India, has a prominent role in maintaining the Ayurveda tradition all along. The state has a rich heritage of fauna and flora primarily due to the tropical climate and rainforests. The rich flora is a source of a wide variety of herbs and plants with medicinal value. Many Ayurveda physicians used to visit Kerala for these medicinal plants and later made it their home.
Ashtavaidyas in Kerala Ayurveda are considered to be the masters of all the eight branches (Ashtangas) of Ayurveda and also the Ashtangahridaya text. Initially, there were eighteen such families of Ashtavaidyas in Kerala. Some of those families have become extinct and some have merged with other families. Currently, there are eight families of Ashtavaidyas with only four families practicing Ayurveda now. However, this long tradition and culture of Ayurveda in Kerala has meant that there are quite a few reputed Ayurveda practitioners and hospitals still functioning in the state.
As per Ayurveda school of thought, everything in the world is made up of the following five elements
and that each person these elements in them as three Doshas
- Vata: Qualities reflecting the elements of Space and Air
- Pitta: Qualities reflecting the elements of Fire and Water
- Kapha: Qualities reflecting the elements of Water and Earth
The health of a person will be vibrant when the proportion of these doshas is closer to the natural/birth constitution. When there is an increase or decrease in the proportion, imbalance sets in resulting in diseases. These imbalances can occur because of lifestyle changes (following a dosha aggravating diet), stress etc.
Ayurvedic doctors while examining the person also look at the proportion of the three doshas in the person. To do this, doctors may ask many questions about the lifestyle, diet, family history etc. After a detailed personal evaluation and consultation, the doctors prepare a custom treatment plan based on all these information. The treatment also puts significant emphasis on preventing diseases by correcting the imbalances. This is one of the reasons behind the tremendous interest in Ayurvedic Rejuvenation and wellness treatments.
Panchakarma treatment is a comprehensive body purification and cleansing process. The name Panchakarma means 5 actions and these five actions are
- Vamana(Emesis): Induced vomiting to release the body toxins
- Virechana(Purgation): Induced purgation through sweating, heated oil Ayurvedic massages
- Nasyam (Nasal medication): Medication administered through the nostrils
- Vasthy (Medicated enema): Medicated enema injected through the anal, urinary, vaginal channels
- Raktha moksham (Bloodletting): Blood purification process with the help of leeches.
Panchakarma treatment may not always have the above mentioned 5 procedures. The doctors will suggest the right procedures based on the body type and condition of the person.
Kerala Ayurveda tradition puts great importance on 3 phases of Panchakarma which are
- Poorva Karma where the actual preparation for toxin release happens in the body
- Pradhana Karma which is the main part of the treatment
- Finally, the Praschath Karma where the objective is to bring the body back to the normal condition. This helps in restoring the body immunity.
All these three phases are equally important in Panchakarma treatment. The top hospitals which provide the best Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala follow this method of treatment.
Common Myths about Ayurvedic treatment
Ayurvedic centers are for Ayurvedic massage only
Nothing is farther from the truth! This myth is the creation of some “Health resorts” with images of Ayurvedic massages in the name of treatment. Even though treatments like Pizhichil include Ayurvedic massage, this is never a standalone treatment. This can even be counterproductive for certain body condition
Ayurvedic treatment takes a long time to cure
Ayurveda is a holistic treatment method which considers the body, mind, and spirit as a whole. The focus is on treating the patient and not just the disease. Also, some people come to Ayurvedic centers as a last step when other medicines have failed. Here since the disease is almost in final stages, the curing or reversal will naturally take more time
Ayurvedic medicines are homemade, harmless and can be taken without prescription
Ayurvedic medicines produced by the best Ayurvedic hospitals undergo careful tests and certification process. Like any other medicine, these also have side effects, if not taken under the prescription of a qualified Ayurveda doctor
Anybody can practice Ayurveda
|This is completely false. Doctors undergo a 5-year course in Ayurvedic medicine under Government approved medical colleges|
|Ayurveda hospitals does not have processes and procedures and are not regulated|
Ayurvedic hospitals also get certified under NABH which is as per processes accredited by International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua)
How to choose the best Ayurvedic hospitals in Kerala?
The number of Ayurvedic centers are going up every year. This, of course, makes it difficult to find the right hospital for the best Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala.
While there is no best way to choose a hospital, below are some pointers which can help. The top Ayurvedic hospitals in Kerala generally score high on almost all of these parameters.
Some of the best Ayurvedic hospitals in Kerala are managed by traditional families of Kerala Ayurveda doctors. Some of these families have been treating patients for more than 300 years.
National Accreditation board for hospitals(NABH) is the most common accreditation standard for hospitals in India. This certification is also applicable to Ayurvedic hospitals with many of the best Ayurvedic hospitals already accredited. The certification process is rather extensive covering all the functions of the hospital.
Ayurvedic treatment requires the patient to be in the hospital for the entire treatment period. Hence the facilities in the hospital are very important for a comfortable stay.
In addition, there are few other considerations especially relevant for international patients.
- Experience in dealing with international patients.
- Staff proficiency in English and other languages like German, Russian, French etc..
- Proximity to international airports
There is no doubt that Ayurveda medical system has evolved to be one of the main alternative medical streams in the world currently. The government of India has created a separate AYUSH ministry (for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy). There are also many conventions and forums at national (India) level and international level which focusses on promoting Ayurvedic treatment in India. Many of the leading traditional Kerala Ayurvedic centers are taking a special interest in recovering old text and scriptures. This would be of immense help to the entire community.
It is INDHEAL’s conscious decision to partner only with those who offer the best Ayurvedic treatments. Here is a list of Top 10 Ayurvedic hospitals in India on INDHEAL platform.