Ayurveda Medicine in Sri Lanka: Improving Health for 5000 Years

I recently had the opportunity to experience Ayurveda at the Barberyn Reef Resort in Beruwala Sri Lanka. Ayurveda has become a household name with all those interested in "alternative medicine". Yet Ayurveda is not an alternative medicine. It is one of the oldest forms of medical science known to man - originating 5000 years ago. It is a way to a healthy and long life and can complement modern medicine. See our full story on the Barberyn Ayurveda experince.

 

Ayurveda therapy has two main objectives which are to treat the symptoms of a disease and to help individuals to strengthen their immune system.

 

Ayurvedic medicine treats body, mind and spirit of a person as a whole entity. It works on the basis that mind and body affect each other, and together can overcome disease.

 

Ayurveda therapy seeks to treat and cure illness and to help individuals to strengthen their immune system.     At the Barberyn Resort’s clinic, there are treatments using a holistic approach of diet, medicine, and external remedies to treat thousands of ailments from gastritis to gout.

 

Ayurveda gives equal importance to the maintenance of health and the curing of a disease. It does not simply suppress the disease, but rather aims at removing the disease from its root.

 

Ayurvedic principles state that the imbalance of the three biological energies (Tri Dosha) creates a disease - due to years of poor diet, weak digestion, improper metabolism and incomplete elimination of waste matter, inadequate sleep, pollution, stress and production and accumulation of bio-toxins (Ama) etc.

 

During the initial Shodana (purification) process, these toxins are collected from various parts of body and expelled through the nearest outlet. Then, the Shamana (pacifying treatment) or the rejuvenating treatment will have better and long lasting effect on body.

 

The experience has four main inter woven elements.  The setting, tranquil and serene, the healing treatments, the meals, and the prescribed tonics and medicines. 

 

Detoxification is translated into going to the bathroom a lot to pass away toxins in the body. Perspiration is also a way to pass toxins so air conditioning is not encouraged.  I was given various remedies in pill form, some that I had to add to warm water, and others that were in a tonic.  They were made from the 1000s of herbs and mineral found naturally around Sri Lanka and cooked, boiled, or rolled into the various forms which I ingested.   The science of Ayurveda has learned over 5000 years, which natural herbal combination and form is the solution for each disease.

 

Kashaya Paana (Decoctions)

A range of herbal medicines prepared according to individual prescriptions each day. Over 40 dry and fresh ingredients (bark, root seed, flowers etc) can go into the preparation of this medicine which is boiled in earthen clay pots over a long period of time.

 

Shareera/Sarvanga Abhyanga (Ayurvedic Body massage)

Abhyanga is indicated daily for a healthy individual, especially in neuro-muscular diseases (Vaata Vyadhi); it is done with herbal oils as mentioned in Ayurveda. Abhyanga strengthens and tones up muscles, removes fatigue, improves blood circulation, improves sleep, revitalizes the body and delays geriatric changes. The selection of the type of oil depends on the condition of the body, diagnosis of the physician. The duration of the treatment is usually 30-40 minutes.

 

Shiro Abhyanga (AyurvedicHead massage)

A head massage with application of medicated oil. Shiro Abhyanga improves the eye sight, color, texture and volume of hair, strengthens the musculature of head, neck and shoulders, removes headache, brings good sleep, relaxing and helps delaying decline of sense organs and aging. It is useful in Vaata Vyadhi (neurological conditions), Ardita (facial Paralysis), Pakshaghata (Hemiplagia) and ShiroRoga (different types of headaches).

 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture treats patients by insertion of solid, generally thin needles into the body. It integrates meridian distribution, reflexological concepts, the trigger point model, and anatomical insights (such as dermatome distribution) for insertion of needles. Acupuncture's greatest effectiveness appears to be in symptomatic control of pain and nausea, insomnia, weight loss etc.

Acupuncture originated in China and has been practiced for over 2,500. . The general theory of acupuncture is based on the premise that there are patterns of energy flow (Qi) through the body that are essential for health. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease. Acupuncture corrects imbalances of flow at identifiable points close to the skin.  The needles are placed about the body to bring the energy flow back in alignment. 

 

 

Akshitarpana (Nourishing Eye treatment)

A method of keeping medicated oils over the eye in a small artificially created tank, with the help of special pastes. The treatment is continued for 5-10 minutes.

This treatment is useful in certain ocular diseases. It improves the eyesight and strengthens the internal and external ocular muscles.

 

Karna Purana/Tarpana (Nourishing ear treatment)

A method of pouring medicated oil into the ears or, in a variation, keeping medicated oils inside the ears in a small artificially created tank, with the help of special pastes. The treatment is continued for 5-10 minutes. This treatment is useful in certain neurological complaints of ear, loss of hearing and tinnitus etc.

 

Mukha Lepana (Facial treatment)

Herbal pastes are used for cleansing, smoothening, clarifying and revitalizing the tired, blemished or wrinkled skin of face and neck.

 

Avagaaha (Herbal tub bath)

Herbal roots, leaves and other raw materials are boiled. The water is then poured onto the patients. Different types of herbal decoction are used, according to prevalent ailments and the condition of the patient.

 

Shirodhara (methodical flow of medicated liquids on head)

Shirodhara is a procedure consisting of continuous pouring of medicated oil onto the forehead of the patient for subsequently increasing duration of time. The medicated oil or the medicated liquid is chosen as per the disease and body type of person.

Shirodhara is an excellent Ayurveda therapy for stress management, relaxation and for the treatment of diseases connected with head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, throat as well as neurological conditions like paralysis, migraine, insomnia, Parkinsonism, Cerebral atrophy, tinnitus etc (Vata Vyadhi).

 

Vamana Karma (Emesis Therapy)

Vamana is the first and foremost of Panchakarma therapies, designed to remove the vitiated Dosha (especially vitiated Kapha Dosha) through the oral route. In this procedure, vitiated Dosha (accumulated biological toxins and residual matter) are brought to the stomach and expelled through vomiting. It is useful in treatment of Ama related conditions (bio-oxidants), bronchial asthma, indigestion (Agni Mandya), overweight condition, other certain respiratory tract related diseases and psychological disorders. As this is a major Panchakarma procedure, administering the procedure is totally dependent on the decision of the consulting physician

 

Virechana Karma (Purgation Therapy)

This is the second Karma in the chronology of Panchakarma. It aims at bringing out the vitiated Dosha (especially vitiated Pitta Dosha) from the lower end of the digestive tract (anal route). It is indicated for the treatment of metabolic disturbances (Paitika Vyadhi), overweight condition (Medo Roga), certain ano-rectal conditions, chronic constipation, indigestion (Agni Mandya) etc. As this is a major Panchakarma procedure, administering the procedure is totally dependent on the decision of the consulting physician.

 

Vasti Karma ( Medicated Enema Therapy)

In Ayurveda, medicated enemas are mainly categorized as oil enemas or decoction based enemas. Vasti, which is administered through the anal route, is an unparalleled therapy useful for a multitude of diseases, as it directly stimulates the gut brain. Therefore it is useful in many neurological, metabolic, degenerative, reproductive, and psychological as well as gastro-intestinal disorders. But beneficial results will only be experienced if a careful after-therapy regime is followed for a stipulated time period. As this is a major Panchakarma procedure, administering the procedure is totally dependent on the decision of the consulting physician

 

FOOD!

The food, which is of six main tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent) and many sub tastes, has been mentioned in classic books about Ayurveda, some of them up to 5000 years old, along with the food’s characteristic properties: Guna (property), Virya (potency), Vipaka (post digestive effect) and Prabhava (special attributes).

In Ayurveda, there are many classifications for food and beverages –depending on taste- properties, depending on the body’s ability to digest and metabolize food, beneficial in specific disease conditions, depending on seasons to consume specific food etc. As they consider all these aspect at the same time, a conscious attempt is made to include all tastes in every meal - in specific combinations for each individual.

 

The food is considered as the Prana (life sustaining energy) for human beings, that is why you should eat every meal consciously experiencing the aroma-taste -its pleasant warmth and mouth watering sensations.

 

 

It was the first time that I experienced Ayurveda treatment.   Although I do not, nor expected to, fully understand this science, I know the impact that it had on my body and overall well being. After my 10 day stay, I felt refreshed, invigorated, and with more energy than I have had in 10 years.  I did not feel that I was treated for my symptoms but that I was truly healed.  For me, Ayurveda is a treatment that I would recommend for all.  And to experience it at the Barberyn Resort is the ideal setting to made well from dedicaated and capable experts in the field.  In combination with Western medicine I believe that Ayurveda will lead to a better, longer, and healthier life. 

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