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Bahrain is witnessing an increased interest in Ayurveda, which could help tackle the highly-prevalent lifestyle diseases in the country, according to a healthy lifestyle champion.
Tracey Burrows, a Bahrain-based yoga instructor and health coach, reflected that the trend is growing in the region, adding that the proximity of the GCC to India - the home to the ‘natural system’ - was a great advantage.
Ayurveda, which translates to ‘knowledge of life’, originated in India more than 3,000 years ago. The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Ayurvedic medicines are typically herbal with minerals and metal substances, while therapies include special diets, meditation, yoga, massage and others.
“As Ayurveda gains popularity, I see more facilities opening up around the GCC and more interest coming from different nationalities,” Tracey told the Gulf Weekly.
“I think it’s wonderful that Ayurveda is getting more attention nowadays and that there is such a growing interest.
“Given our proximity to India, the availability of good quality medicines, doctors and therapists, we in the Gulf are ideally placed to benefit from so much expertise when it comes to preventing the lifestyle-related diseases we see on the rise in the region today.
“The science of Ayurveda gives us knowledge of ways to prevent the risk factors of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and to manage lifestyle disorders.
“It shows us how to do this through proper diet, daily and seasonal regimens, detoxification and purification procedures such as panchakarma (method of cleansing the body of all the unwanted waste after lubricating it), meditation and yoga and natural supplements.”
The four main NCDs are cardiovascular, cancer, respiratory conditions and diabetes – all of which have a high prevalence in the region and account for 75 per cent of global fatalities. Experts have raised red flags about rising rates of lifestyle diseases in Bahrain and latest statistics show that a third of the nation’s citizens aged above 18 are overweight while 42.8pc are obese.
Bahrain is also one of the countries most affected by diabetes, with an incidence rate of 14.7pc in the adult population.
“In Bahrain, we have so much expertise and so many Ayurvedic facilities here and I have been able to introduce many people to these medicines and treatments,” said Tracey.
While crediting Ayurveda for its ways to deal with different aspects of life from infancy to old age, Tracey, however, stressed that medicines should only be administered by an Ayurvedic doctor.
Of the 13 licensed alternative medicine services in Bahrain, Ayurveda stands third with 13 centres, following cupping therapy (17) and massage (15). The genre also has the highest number of doctors or practitioners – 21, besides 14 technicians in the field.
National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) chief executive Dr Maryam Al Jalahma had earlier noted the country was keen to welcome more Ayurvedic centres, which offer natural treatments that complement conventional medicine.
Tracey experienced Ayurveda first in 2015 while staying at a Kerala hermitage when she met a visiting traditional Ayurvedic healer (Vaidya or doctor). She later returned to pursue her foundational studies on the subject.
“My personal opinion is that Eastern systems, including Ayurveda, focus on the importance of maintaining good health and healthy aging, as well as curing disease,” she explained.
“We are starting to look to these systems more and more for protecting our health and I see this reflected in the increased demand for Ayurveda in Bahrain. There is a plethora of Ayurvedic remedies and treatments being now used for help in recovery post Covid-19 and for the treatment and recovery from long-Covid.”
Tracey said she and her husband found they helped when they succumbed to the virus last year.
“Treatments are there for building optimal immunity levels, addressing digestive issues, reducing inflammation, strengthening the lungs, stimulating the lymphatic system,” she claimed.
Tracey is also helping women tackle midlife health challenges naturally, including menopause.
She explained that the lifestyle habits of Ayurveda, called ‘dinacharya’ (daily routine) provided a comprehensive system for supporting the mind and body amid changes.
“Ayurvedic medicines and treatments are found effective for balancing hormones and reducing the many side effects and symptoms that arise as we transition,” she added.
Among some simple tips for integrating Ayurvedic habits into daily life, Tracey suggested to start by focusing on the basic pillars of health - sleep, digestion, elimination, exercise and stress management.