Murray Garrard checks out Bahrain’s Ayurvedic clinic...
Time Out Bahrain staff
You’d think they were protesting about the war in Afghanistan, or of the building of a nuclear power station in their back yard. But the people who staged an angry mass overdose of homeopathic pills (to apparently demonstrate their ineffectiveness) across the UK last month reveal the growing distrust of alternative medicines around the world.
But are alternative medicines bogus? And does it matter that the pill you are taking, the energy work you are undergoing, or the massage that you are having has not undergone decades of research proving that it has the desired effect?
One form of alternative treatment that is used by billions of people worldwide is Ayurveda. Pre-dating conventional medicine (as we know it) by about 2,000 years and native to the Indian sub-continent, Ayurveda (meaning the science of life) has not been spared the wrath of the pharmaceutical company-backed lobbyists trying to get all non-chemical (and incidentally, less profitable) forms of treatment banned. But if it’s good enough for the entire population of India, then it is more than good enough for us.
One of Ayurveda’s most respected and most experienced practitioners in Bahrain is the affable Mr Ravikumar at the Kottakkal Ayurvedic Centre in Juffair. An offshoot of the well-known Kottakkal Ayurvedic Centre in Kerela, the centre is a God-send for most of Bahrain’s Keralite residents, who view it as a GP Surgery, detox clinic and hospital combined.
Dr Ravikumar, who qualified as an Ayurvedic doctor in 1994 after nearly six gruelling years of study and internships, is nothing if not modest. ‘In Ayurveda we are improving our clinical wisdom every day, so I can’t say I am experienced.’ Nevertheless, with queues for his clinic filling the waiting areas of the clinic, it is clear it is not a position that is widely held.
Ayurveda, like many alternative medicines, is not something that necessarily translates well across cultures. Couched in terminology that occasionally veers off into Hindu ritualism, locating the crux of the treatment can be a challenge. Dr Ravikumar provides a refreshingly concise and comprehensive sound bite. ‘ Ayurverva is the science of life and healthy living and it views man as an integral part of nature. Ayurveda provides treatments for all disorders, both those of the body and of the mind. We advise on many things in order to maintain good health, everything from medication, behaviour, food habits etc.’ Basically, if there is something wrong with you, they can generally try to fix it.
With one notable exception. ‘Most patients will not come to us in acute conditions, such as when they have had a serious accident.’ So, if you arm is hanging off, or you have sliced yourself in two, this is probably not the first place to head (after all, a massages and herbs can do only so much), but for anything minor, Dr Ravikumar is your man. Indeed, even if you are popping antibiotics, you can still benefit from a visit to the clinic. ‘We have a lot of people coming to us who are not getting permanent or proper results from conventional medicine or other systems, they are coming here. Sometimes we are advising them to continue with their medicines but also incorporate our systems within that.’
And with separate male and female treatment facilities catering to people from all different cultures (though the majority of patients, as one might expect, are from India), you needn’t worry about standing out in the crowd. And since people don’t only get ill during working hours, the centre is open seven days a week.
To avoid queues, it is always best to book in advance if possible. The centre is open between 9am-1pm and 4pm-9pm seven days a week. To book, call 17 813 150. On Fridays there are no appointments and all patients must queue. Fridays tend to be reserved for those people who cannot make any other time (such a Indian labourers who have little control over their time off and their ability to travel) so unless your case is urgent, it is best to postpone until another time. Treatments range in price from BD2.200 for a chack-up to BD25 for an eight-hand massage.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be seriously ill to turn up to the Kottakkal Ayurvedic Centre. Since Ayurveda is concerned with the general health and mental wellbeing, those feeling stressed, tired, overweight or even too thin can benefit as much as those who are feeling utterly grotty. The centre runs five therapies all at incredibly reasonable prices:
• Detoxification Therapy A programme that purified the body and cleans the mind. • Slimming Programme Composed of massages, steam therapies and dietary regimes. • Rejuvenation Therapy Helping to refresh the mind, massage based. • Weight Gaining Package Apparently there is a massage that can make you fat (horror of horrors - as an alternative, stay in Bahrain for more than a month). • Deep Relaxation Package Herbal relaxation massages and oil treatments.