There were two main reasons for my trip to India this year: primarily, to continue my studies in Ayurveda (Indian Natural Therapies) with Dr. Arun Sharma, the director of Ayuskama in Dharamsala, India and secondly, to find a ‘magic treatment’ to heal my back pain that I hadn’t been able to find in Western medicine. And I succeeded with amazing triumph!
I had been suffering from chronic lower back pain with radiating pain into my right hip and leg for the last 2 years. I did not know what caused it nor how to successfully eradicate it. An x-ray film showed no significant deviations of the bony structures in my spine. In conventional medicine the most popular treatments for back pain are various forms of Massage, Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Physiotherapy, Acupuncture, Hypnosis, Yoga and even Psychotherapy. None of them were able to give any long-term relief. In the end it wasn’t just the physical pain that made me take painkillers, anti-inflammatories and glucose injections. It was the mental exhaustion caused by days of agony and the longing for just a few hours without aching discomfort in the body.
The diagnosis after an MRI scan was pretty clear for Dr. Arun: two bulged discs between L4/L5 and L5/S1 which had been causing inflammation in the surrounding tissues and causing irritation to lumbar nerves.
Dr. Arun’s first order was complete REST. However, there was a big difference between my understanding of ‘rest’ and his. It wasn’t until he explained to me in greatest detail what happens to the vertebrae while continuing to walk, sit or to carry a backpack on my shoulders that I actually started to rest recumbently most of the time.
Dr. Arun started me on several herbal medicines with anti-inflammatory properties, including internal use of castor oil to clear any signs constipation. According to Ayurveda, there is a high correlation between chronic constipation and back pain. The physical treatments began with a reducing and drying therapy called Rukshanam to remove any superficial toxins, stiffness and to open up the body’s channels for external medications to access damaged structures.
Steaming and external oleation through massage – Abhyanga (Indian Oil Massage) was part of my daily routine. After one week the doctor added different ayurvedic techniques: Kati Vasti, Patra Pinda Sveda and Passive Stretching into my treatment plan. In Kati Vasti the effected lumbar area gets flooded with warm herbalised oil, held in place with a dough dam. Patra Pinda Sveda describes a sweating therapy, in which fresh castor leaves are fried with other herbal ingredients, tied into boluses, dipped into warm medicated oil and applied over the affected body part. I experienced the first positive change in the pain pattern after 2 weeks.
My own responsibility was to do my prescribed back strengthening exercises on a daily basis. As with most chronic diseases, patience and persistence are keys to success. After an initial improvement, there was a time when negative symptoms returned. However, the great psychological support of Dr. Arun Sharma made it easier to deal with the occasional healing crisis. He then applied Lepan – an herbal paste on my lower back and taped it up tightly. It was the best posture training I have ever had and the continuously nagging pain slowly subsided day by day.
The Medicated Enema treatment called Vasti gave the final healing effect. On alternate days for a period of one month, I received medicated oil and a special herbal decoction inserted rectally. Due to the fact that the colon is very close to the spine, rectal medications can both be absorbed more rapidly and act more effectively. Literally, every day I felt the chronic inflammation being pulled out of my body. Recuperative aftercare is equally important, as the body needs time to fully recover and delete pain memory. But what an amazing path of healing to obviate the need for surgery and its' attendant side effects!
Prior to this year's trip, I had seen Dr. Arun for a partial tear of the anterior crucial ligament in my knee joint, amenorrhea and chronic constipation. Ayurvedic medicines in combination with knowledge about appropriate lifestyle changes have cured these conditions. Over 7 months in total studying with Dr. Arun, I have witnessed significant improvements in cases of psoriasis and other skin disorders, relief of arthritic pain as well as easing of stress conditions like insomnia and depression.
After 60 days of continuous treatment, strengthening exercises, posture training and lots of patience on both sides – doctor and patient - I am returning home to Hanmer Springs, New Zealand pain-free and gifted with incredible shared knowledge and experience for patients of my own Ayurvedic Practice ani HEALTH CARE (www.anihealthcare.co.nz).
Thank you Dr. Arun and his great team at Ayuskama!