Natural and holistic remedies might divide opinion among the medical fraternity but for the rest of us, they’re worth considering. Homeopathy, reflexology and aromatherapy might not be nature’s magic bullet for health woes, but there’s evidence to suggest that all three ameliorate, if not always cure, common ailments with muscle pain proving particularly amenable. Ayurveda too is often written off as a souped-up sort of beauty treatment but that, even more so than with other holistic therapies, would be unfair. As Dr Nilesh Wakde, ayurvedic practitioner and owner of the Hammersmith based Dr Wakde’s Natural Health Clinic, points out: it’s not just about getting to grips with the symptoms – it’s about overhauling your lifestyle.
And Dr Wakde isn’t the only one trumpeting the benefits of an altogether healthier lifestyle. In the USA, Dr Fabrizio Mancini argued that with better eating, proper exercise and a healthy respect for emotions, common health complaints could be dramatically reduced. It’s common sense really and Ayurveda, although tarred with the hippy brush, is full of it. It’s not, of course, just about massage although that is a big part of it. A course of treatments at Dr Wakde’s clinic begins with an hour-long consultation to get to the bottom of health problems and work out what treatments, natural supplements and dietary changes could be made to tackle the underlying causes of an illness. It’s complementary and designed to run alongside mainstream medical treatment, but based on patient testimony, it certainly seems to help.
I arrived at the clinic without any real health concerns beyond the everyday stress and shoulder pain that comes with spending a lot of time loitering at a computer trying to hit deadlines. I’m certainly not the first to arrive on Dr Wakde’s doorstep complaining of low level back pain either, and as a result, he had an all-natural solution ready to go. Massage is one of the best-known parts of the Ayurvedic regime and it’s there for reasons that go well beyond enjoyment. Apart from having a measurable effect on stress levels, massage also helps to relieve muscle pain, with hot stone or steam therapy acting like a natural sort of deep heat treatment. With my tight shoulders in mind, Dr Wakde prescribed a stress-busting massage with a spot of steam therapy to dispatch knots and generally loosen things up a bit.
I was whisked off to one of the treatment rooms; a spartan if comfortable affair that leaves you in no doubt that Dr Wakde’s is a clinic and definitely not a spa. Although there was music playing softly in the background, the therapist was businesslike and got straight to work on my shoulders. Ayurvedic massage isn’t the most soothing kind, although it’s certainly more relaxing than a Swedish pummelling. Not that you escape the pummelling altogether – there were a few moments where I was wincing rather than relaxing although they were few and far between. Most of the time, soothing strokes stole the show, complimented by Dr Wakde’s homemade, nut scented oil. After winding down with the massage, a steam machine was wheeled out for phase two: intensive unknotting. Starting with the lower back and working up, steam is combined with massage to really get rid of stiffness and I have to say, it really worked. A massage with steam is one of the nicest things you can ever hope to have and gets rid of knots with minimal pain – definitely a bonus. Once I’d been thoroughly massaged, I was asked to turn over for the final flourish: a head massage. While it didn’t do much for my back, it did wonders for my stress levels and left me half asleep.
Verdict: Don’t go to Dr Wakde’s expecting a spa experience – you won’t get one. What you will get is an excellent massage and instant relief from any stress you might have been harbouring. At just £59, it’s money well spent.
Backache Therapy Massage with Ozone Steam costs £59 for an hour. For more information, see www.dr-wakde.com or call 020 8432 2726
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