How it works
Originating in India, the ancient system of ayurveda, meaning ‘science of life’, is a combination of natural healing techniques that aim to balance the mind and body and remedy root causes of ailments, rather than specific symptoms.
Practitioners of Ayurveda believe that a balance of key body processes, known as doshas, is important in maintaining physical and emotional wellbeing.
Depending on the life history and constitution of individual patients, a personalised balance of meditation, exercise, diet, herbal remedies and massage is prescribed.
What it could help
Pain, headaches, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, depression, IBS, lethargy, panic attacks, anger, high blood pressure.
There has not been a huge amount of research into the effects of ayurveda for stress and related symptoms. The majority of clinical trials have been very small and used unreliable methods.
In its nature, Ayurveda is also very varied so it can be difficult to study objectively or pinpoint what exactly is healing the patient.
What to expect
The first session will begin with an extensive history of your health and lifestyle, some tests such as heart rate and questions about your sleep pattern as the therapist tries to understand your dosha imbalance, and suggest the right treatments. Your dosha imbalance will determine what treatment course you will be given, and how many sessions you would need. Typically, for stress, the therapist would suggest a selection of dietary changes, herbal remedies, massage, yoga, meditation and breathing techniques, which it is completely up to you to maintain. Some treatment courses require some preparation before each session, or for you to be dressed in a particular way (eg for exercise), and your therapist should explain this in advance.
Practitioners should be fully trained in all treatment areas in order to perform ayurveda, particularly as it claims to also be suitable for all ages. There is no specific qualification, so ask about this and their training. Choose a practitioner who is accredited by a professional body, such as the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association (see below). Research into the dangers of the oils and medicines used in some ayurvedic treatments has suggested, while completely natural, they can be dangerous, interact with medicines, and have unknown effects. Keep your GP informed.
Find out more
Find a therapist
Depends on the course prescribed for you, and the practitioner’s experience and training. Check prices with your therapist before booking appointments.
Initial sessions take about two hours and cost in the region of £50; subsequent appointments up to 90 minutes cost about £30. These do not include the costs of any herbal remedies or medicines that may be recommended.