Frequently Asked Questions For people considering using Ayurveda to treat macular
degeneration (or indeed any other health condition), and in particular using its
residential treatment regime known as panchakarma therapy), the following information
will provide some practical guidance.
Probably the easiest way to find out more is to enter the term Ayurveda into a search
2. What is Maharishi Ayurveda Hospital? Maharishi Ayurvedic Hospital specialises
in treating people, often with chronic conditions which do not respond well to allopathic
medicine, using a pure and authentic form of Ayurveda.
The highly expert treatment
at the hospital and the excellence of the doctors (known as vaidyas) is most likely
distinct from some of the recent manifestations of Ayurveda in the West, and indeed
in India itself - where Ayurvedic ‘spas’ have sprung up mainly to cater for stressed-out
The hospital takes its name from, and is associated with, the founder of the Transcendental
Meditation movement (Maharishi Mahesh Yogi).
The senior Ayurvedic doctor at the hospital, Dr. Raju, is an extraordinarily skilled
and insightful Ayurvedic healer of international renown, and indeed - I travelled
to India from the UK specifically to have treatment under his guidance.
3. What can I expect during my stay? You will receive a treatment program known as
panchakarma therapy, consisting of a range of complex and highly refined physiological
procedures and usually executed using herbalised oils and/or ghee (clarified butter).
The procedures will often be administered by two Ayurvedic technicians working together,
and always of the same gender as you. This is supplemented by individually prescribed
Although most of your treatments will notbe topical to your eyes, it is highly likely
that you will have at least one type of procedure that is -Netratarpana. Other panchakarma
therapy procedures you may receive include Shirodhara, Takradara, Patra Pottali,
Basti, Pitzachilli, Udvartana and Nasya. Again, entering these terms in to a search
engine can prove useful.
For most people, the ideal recommended stay is 23 days,
though other periods may be appropriate. This is something to be sure to discuss
with the hospital.
While there, you will follow a vegetarian diet and have your own
air-conditioned private room (unless you request to share a room with a companion
or partner). If you find the room too dimly lit, particularly in the evenings,
do request an additional light, as I did. They immediately installed a ‘wall strip
light’ which was most effective.
I found that after my first ‘eye specific’ treatment
(on about day 4), it was a great strain to visually focus with attention to detail.
Therefore, reading (even out of my better eye) became impossible. You should therefore,
take LOTS of audio material to pass the time while you are resting in your room.
For the same reason, if it is at all possible, I would highly recommend that you
go with a companion or a partner.
4. Could my vision benefit from the herbs without the residential treatment? This
is best discussed with the hospital, addressing your query to Dr. Raju.
5. What if I have other health problems and take medication for them?
OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS This issue addresses perhaps one of the key differences between
Ayurvedic and allopathic approaches to illness (and indeed wellness). In general
terms, Ayurveda views the human body/mind system as one whole, consisting of discrete
yet essentially related and subtly intimate parts. To maximise the healing of one
part, the whole itself and all the out of balance (i.e. non-healthy) parts are simultaneously
addressed. If you have additional health issues therefore, they are highly likely
to be engaged as part of your overall treatment.
PRESCRIBED MEDICATION It must surely
be prudent to consider that Ayurvedic herbs will have the same capacity to engage
bio-chemically with prescribed medication as any other ingested compound (prescribed
or non-presccribed). Clearly then, it would seem sensible to discuss the matter
with your physician.
6. What happens after the residential treatment is over? Post-treatment (at home),
you will follow a daily herbal regime. I found it took a further 3 - 4 weeks before
I was comfortably able to read, drive and look at a TV or computer, so do bear this
It took 2- 3 months before I started to notice vision improvement (very subtle
at first), but this was fully consistent with the expectation I was given - as if
the treatment itself was akin to the planting of seeds, and the 2- 3 months post-treatment
period was akin to the period necessary for germination.
7. What is the best time
of year to go? Particularly for westerners, the best time to go is between October
- April, not only because of the more tolerable temperatures, but also because within
the Ayurvedic system, eyes are likely to respond better to treatment in cooler conditions.
In my case however, out of desperation, my first visit was in August - and it was
subsequent to this visit that most improvement happened.
If you are thinking of combining treatment with a holiday (vacation) in India, the
Ayurvedic doctors strongly advise to take the holiday portion before commencing treatment.
8. How can I be sure about the safety of the herbs? There appears to be some legitimate
concern as to the safety of some Ayurvedic herbs, particularly those which are imported
from India and sold direct to the public without regulatory health & safety testing.
The concern relates to the levels of ‘heavy metals’ in some preparations.
examination of the underlying issues reveals that the matter is not as straight forward
as one might imagine.
All I can responsibly say with certainty, is that none of the
herbal preparations that I have taken (from Maharishi Ayurvedic Hospital in Delhi)
have had any negative health consequences that I am aware of.