Like Dr Jha, Dr Himanshu Garg, senior consultant in the department of respiratory and sleep medicine, Medanta, finds ayurveda and yoga often more effective than medicine in treating insomnia. “Most people who come to a multi-specialty hospital are chronic insomniacs who have visited general practitioners and are already having two to three anti-anxiety drugs a day but are still not able to sleep,” says Dr Garg. “Yoga and panchkarma work for both co-morbidity insomnia (caused by a medical problem such as pain or depression), or primary insomnia where the cause is mental stress,” says Dr Garg.
And the results show. “We diagnose the cause and treat it, but when that doesn’t work, alternative medicine does. Our target is to get them to sleep and to take them off dependencies, such as pill and alcohol. A combination of yoga and panchkarma, along with shirodhara — where oil is poured on the forehead to help you relax — helps people slow down and unwind enough to sleep deeper and longer,” says Dr Garg.
All these referrals — along with patients from the cancer centre, heart centre, respiratory medicine, psychiatry and medicine — end up in the care of Dr G Geetha Krishnan, who heads the department of Integrative Medicine & Holistic Therapies at Medanta. “We have started using scientifically proven alternative therapies extensively in conjunction with modern medicine to help patients recover in the most minimally-invasive way possible,” says Dr Krishnan. “Safety comes first and we do not use medicines with metals in them,” he adds. “That apart, the treatment is closely supervised by the medical team.”
For most chronic conditions, a series of sessions are needed, depending on the severity and duration of the problem. Back pain, which best responds to holistic medicine, is treated in 24 sittings, of which four to five would require the patient to visit the hospital for the whole day. The entire package for going pain-free without surgery costs Rs. 40,000. “That apart, we have specific yoga postures (asana) for different diseases that can be learnt in a week-long course. We also have daily stress-busting yoga classes for the families and friends of patients in the medicinal plant terrace at the hospital,” says Dr Krishnan.
Apollo Hospitals Educational & Research Foundation (AHERF) is also working at synergising the strengths of modern medicine with established health practices from various health traditions to deliver an effective integrative healthcare solution to patients. “Apollo Chennai offers integrative therapy that includes yoga, music, ayurveda, aroma therapy and Reiki, among others. The benefits of most of these treatments is established but not documented enough. How well traditional therapies work in conjunction with modern medicine has to be codified, and that’s a major area of research for the Apollo Group,” says Dr Anupam Sibal, Group Director, health services, Apollo Hospitals. The AHERF is working on developing management protocols and processes for a comprehensive preventive, curative and rehabilitative treatment programme for integrative medicine.
At the Fortis group of Hospitals, yoga and new-age therapies such as Reiki, pranic healing, reflexology and hypno-birth are already on the menu to help women go through childbirth without a problem. “Yoga, massages using aromatic oils, reiki, pranic healing, reflexology and Doula services — a Greek term for a labour coach to hold your hand and mentor you through childbirth — are just some of the maternity services we offer to women from the time they decide to conceive till their baby is a few years old,” says Anika Puri, head, maternity services, Fortis Healthcare. Add to that a fitness schedule with aerobics and light weights and you have new mum bounce back with no bad or painful memories of childbirth.
“Synergy between traditional and modern medicine is safe, non-invasive and gets results at no added cost. It a win-win situation for all: it helps doctors treat patients better and patients to recover faster. What else do you need from medicine?” says Dr Krishnan.