Ayurveda moves with the times

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Sravanthi Challapalli

Chennai, June 19

IT's a nondescript old building wedged among many others on Chennai's busy Gowdiya Mutt Road. But for some time now, the Coimbatore-based Arya Vaidya Pharmacy's (AVP) clinic and dispensary has come to represent a ray of hope for an unlikely clientele - young men and women still in their early '20s who work in the IT and ITES sectors.

The stress caused by their work, the odd timings that it demands, the job's sedentary nature and the erratic eating patterns that so develop have many falling prey to a range of ailments including obesity, digestive disorders, premature greying and hair loss, cervical spondylitis and back aches, not to mention insomnia. Dr Deepa Jayaram, Senior Physician at the clinic, says Ayurveda has a lot to offer people with these complaints. She says at least 50-60 patients from the IT sector consult her every month. She adds that the traditional science is also contemporarising itself to become patient-friendly.

"Ayurveda is not just about bitter kashayams," she says, adding that for the modern patient who has no stomach for the odd-tasting brews, AVP is putting them into tablets which are easy to swallow. "The world is changing, so should we," she says. With the frequent travelling that goes with most executive jobs nowadays, Ayurvedic medicines become cumbersome to carry and a treatment regime becomes inconvenient to stick to, especially if it involves liquids or a certain measure of preparation. So a treatment that earlier required a patient to use a precise 10 drops of a certain oil now comes in a capsule which can be taken orally, she says.

Says Dr P. T. Chacko, Chief Medical Officer, Sanjeevanam, the holistic health and wellness centre run by the city-based Cholayil group, "We get a lot of people suffering from sleeplessness, acidity, constipation and depression, which are typical of the lifestyle they follow. We prescribe yoga, meditation and pranayama to relieve the stress and administer medicines to give them relief from the symptoms," he says.

Sanjeevanam, in fact, has tied up with a number of companies in the IT and BPO sectors such as HCL, Office Tiger and Satyam Computers, whose employees get a discount on the treatment fees and the naturopathy restaurant that the health centre houses.

When asked why this group of employees seems to prefer Ayurveda to allopathy, Dr Deepa candidly says they try it only as the last resort. Dr Chacko attributes it to the facilities being more visible now, and claims natural medicine has better solutions to problems. Much can be achieved with simple therapies such as an oil massage on the scalp just once a week, claims Dr Deepa, adding that it can prevent or arrest a slew of problems. As part of its modernisation process, Ayurveda is also acquainting itself with other systems of medicine and making sure it can be combined with them and adjusted to a patient's busy day rather than the other way round.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 20, 2005)
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