Therapies (Holistic & Alternative Medicine)

Wellness is on a high with light-headed therapy

CBD added to tea

Dope, no, Cannabis-based therapy, yes.  Wellness is trending towards therapeutic drugs.

One day its Tumeric lattes, now CBD treatments are all the rage advocated by Jennifer Aniston and, of course Gywneth Paltrow. CBD or cannabidiol is a natural ingredient, extracted from agricultural hemp. It can be added to many a spa treatment, laced in chocolate, packaged as a spray for your bag and purchased over the counter in Harrods as well as other stores.

A derivative of the marijuana plant, CBD oil is legal in the UK as long as it does not contain more than 0.2% of THC, the crucial component that gives cannabis its psychotic effects. Cannabis can be divided into three sectors – recreational, medical and wellness. The latter is the most widely available through products that use CBD oil, a product that does not make users high. Today it is used in beauty products and dietary supplements.

Since becoming legal in the UK last year, it is popping up everywhere. Raw, CBD reportedly is bitter so adding it to products helps. You can nibble on CBD petit fours – try cannabis and grapefruit marshmallows and a Green Monkey soft drink.  It’s a key ingredient of salads and cakes served in a Brighton restaurant which offers a full menu of CBD dishes. There are Wellness Cafes in London such as Kalifornia Kitchen. And check out your shakes and juices, chocolate and mints all rumoured to have therapeutic effects with this “wonder“ingredient.

CBD is one of at least 85 cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis and is popular for its medicinal benefits.  These include the antioxidants within CBD which help to neutralise free radicals and treat signs of ageing. Scientists believe its anti-inflammatory properties can calm inflamed acne. The fatty acids within CBD can soothe itching and inflammation from eczema and psoriasis by combating the excessive water loss of the conditions. Other reported benefits of CBD include pain relief, reducing anxiety and depression and improving cognitive function and memory.

With so many benefits, this natural oil is appealing to those who care about what they eat, drink or apply to their skin. Now that we have climbed out of the cannabis closet we can look forward to high afternoon teas with cannabis chocolate brownies which will give more than a sugar rush. But of course we need to follow the weed etiquette which is now available. CBD is a natural way to wind down, a calorie free option to replace  alcoholic and calorific effects of a glass or two of wine, a soothing way to relax physically and mentally. It’s a form of meditation and a catalyst for creativity. But as is the norm, good things come with a warning – inhaling CBD be harmful to lungs and some edibles can be poisonous.

Rudding Park in Harrogate is one of the first spas in the UK to introduce a range of treatments using Cannabidiol products. The hotel and spa has collaborated with MariPharm, a supplier of high quality CBD products, to create a range of experiences which could assist with pain relief, promote anti-ageing, reduce anxiety and depression and support overall positive mental health. All MariPharm products are of pharmaceutical grade and are produced using a unique extraction process, guaranteeing the highest quality at all times.

Outside the UK, the effects are more heady. Welcome to Medical Marijuana. Last year Canada became the second country to legalise recreational marijuana. America’s Colorado, Florida and California have relaxed laws but consuming weed for pleasure is still illegal. Brands are jumping on the bandwagon to cater to a discerning wellness cannabis scene. Marijuana which contains the psychoactive THC and CBD, the non-intoxicating compound derived from the cannabis plant is now becoming part of a wellness lifestyle. According to the California Dept of Public Health cannabis can only be purchased at retail outlets licensed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. The city of West Hollywood has licences for upscale cannabis lounges – around Sunset Strip and Santa Monica Boulevard.

Read here for medicinal plants

Bhutan The Land of Happiness

Elevated Kingdom of Bhutan

Bhutan

There is a place in the world where the wealth of the country is measured by happiness.  Squeezed between the mighty neighbours of China and India there lies this place – a Land of Happiness.

The tiny kingdom of Bhutan sits peacefully and snuggly amongst the majestic amphitheatre of the Himalayas. This remote place cuddles culture and adventure in its unspoilt and unexplored environment. Stemming from its Buddhist tradition, it has inherited the title of a spiritual and happy destination. Back in the eighth century, the tantric master guru Rinpoche brought Buddhism to Bhutan. Many others masters followed resulting in a plethora of monasteries, temples and holy sites., Bhutan is often quoted as being one of the most blessed places to visit and is the last existing Mahayana Kingdom in the world.

Healthy and holy. The kingdom  is dotted with wellbeing retreats and therapeutic, mineral-laden hot springs. The Gasa Hot Spring is in the west, Dhur Hotel Spring in the centre and Dhuenmang in the south are highly revered medicinal waters and believed to cure many ailments. Traditional Bhutanese medicine is based on Sowa Rigpa,known as the Amchi system of medicine which is one of the oldest and well documented medical traditions of the world.

Bhutan’s elevated natural surroundings are often laced in transparent mist,  oxygenated in unpolluted air. Glacier-fed rivers and lush, aromatic forests provide the ideal terrain for hiking, trekking, kayaking and mountain biking activities. And with over 670 species of birds recorded, this is a favoured destination for bird lovers and ornithologists.

Happiness and harmony weave through the land’s rich and colourful culture expressed through traditional festivals and acrobatic mask dance performances which celebrate the kingdom’s independence and sovereignty.

Almost cut off for centuries, Bhutan unlocked its doors to foreign visitors in 1974 and today fiercely guard its ancient traditions by controlling tourism numbers to maintains its beauty and serenity for its own people and visitors alike. National parks, nature preserves and wildlife sanctuaries are protected and cherished – visitors pay a fee for the honour of entering this kingdom rooted in happiness.

Dating back to the 17thcentury, Bhutan is a recognised wellbeing escape.  This is the land where happiness is measured and is rooted in  Gross National Happiness (GNH). This grandiose term is defined as a holistic and sustainable approach which balances material and non-material values with the conviction that we all search for happiness.

GNH confronts global, national and individual challenges by pointing to the non-material roots of wellbeing, offering ways to balance and satisfy needs within the limits of what nature can provide. In our world, this is hindered by boundless consumerism, widening socio-economic inequality and instability causing a decline and ultimately a depletion of natural resources. Climate change, species extinction, growing insecurity, instability and conflicts are not only diminishing our well-being but are also threatening our survival.

Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness is based on four pillars of belief. Firstly, good governance which determines the conditions and social values in which Bhutanese thrive. Secondly, sustaining socio-economic development to ensure households and families enjoy free time and leisure. Thirdly, preserving the Bhutanese culture by developing cultural resilience, maintaining cultural identity, knowledge and practices to overcome challenges and influences. Fourthly, environmental conservation to provide essential services and the aesthetic values and harmonic healing of the natural land.

Happiness is the foundation of the Kingdom of Bhutan so if you are looking for a destination and a land of happiness, you will find it here tucked away in South Asia.

Visas are necessary to help preserve the kingdom’s pillars of belief to maintain Gross National Happiness. A small price to pay to hear the silence in nature’s sound, to breathe the purity of the air and absorb the vivid colours and of course share the genuine smiles of the people. Happiness is …..

If you wish to travel to the land of happiness contact http://www.bhutanlhtours.com/

For more information: https://www.tourism.gov.bt

The scenic vistas of Bhutan

Scenery of Bhutan

Soma Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Village

cottage style accommodation

Natural village setting

Soma Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Village is a healing and wellness resort dedicated to the “Science of Life” to restore physical, mental, spiritual and emotional equilibrium.

It is conveniently situated 21 kilometers from Thiruvananthapuram International Airport in Kerala and 9 kms from Kovalam. Majestically, it sits on the incline of a hill overlooking the sea.

This award-winning resort and sister property to Somatheeram Research Institute & Ayurveda Resort offers authentic ayurveda treatments, yoga and meditation tailored to guests needs. And with specially prescribed massages and therapies, Manaltheeram offers therapies  effective in treating various conditions such as arthritis, rheumatism and paralysis.

Accommodation is rustic-style houses and thatched garden cottages resting on the slopes giving the atmosphere of  village life embracing tradition, culture and nature. The coconut trees dotted around and splashes of yellow marigolds add colour and the concept of rejuvenation to this eco-resort.  In addition, the herb garden cultivates rare varieties preserved for use in medicines and other preparations. The open air restaurant at Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Village maintains a garden ambience with its wicker chairs, lawns and paved paths.

The  resort offers Ayurveda residential holistic programmes for “Panchakarma” and “Wellness” , all supported by a team of Ayurvedic doctors and mail & female masseurs to provide the best result in shortest time.

For reservations or more information on Manaltheeram Ayurveda Beach Village http://www.manaltheeram.com/

For more information on India, read here

yoga next to the sea

Perfect setting for yoga

 

 

Somatheeram Ayurveda Village, Kerala, India 

The pool

Somatheeram Ayurveda Village

Somatheeram, is the world’s first Ayurveda centre set in a resort ambiance offering Ayurveda treatments and programmes for its guests who travel from all corners of the world.

This award winning Ayurveda wellness eco resort is set in tropical gardens and enjoys a beachfront location in  Kerala, South India. It is located on Chowara Beach with over 15 acres of greenery, just 9 km south of Kovalam Beach in Trivandrum, Kerala.

In this peaceful and harmonious environment traditional ayurvedic therapy and yoga are practised. The range of Ayurveda treatments and packages include rejuvenation therapy, panchakarma, detoxification, body purification, slimming, stress management, anti-ageing, and various clinical curative treatments. The treatments are designed around therapies, a healing diet and herbal medicine, formulated under the supervision of experienced and qualified doctors and therapists.

Dosha-specific, organic, vegetarian dishes from an extensive, creative menu are served in the restaurant 200 feet above sea level complemented with superb panoramic views.

Accommodation takes the form of traditionally Kerala-style houses and cottages, all air-conditioned and equipped with modern amenities.

Somatheeram is internationally recognised for its achievements in health, social responsibility and  environmental preservation. It is the recipient of 35 major international and national awards for excellence in  Ayurveda treatments & Yoga. Of note, it holds NABH (National Accreditation Board for Hospitals and Health Care providers) accreditation,  “India’s Best Ayurvedic Resort”, including “HALL OF FAME” an Honour granted by the Government of India.  It has also been awarded “Kerala State’s Best Ayurvedic Resort” (by Government of Kerala) six times.

The essence and soul of Somatheeram is the ancient medical science of Ayurveda treatments  and Art of Yoga & Meditation.

For reservation or more information: http://www.somatheeram.in/

For more information on India read here

BSI accredited

Accredited status

Eco Wellness In A UNESCO World Heritage Setting

 

….Wellbeing in tune with nature’s life forces….

Ecological Wellness can be found in the heart of the majestic Sahyadris mountain range in the Western Ghats of Maharastra: a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering holistic rejuvenation of mind, body and soul according to ancient Ayurvedic principles.

Dharana at Shillim Estate Retreat and Spa  is an eco-wellness retreat, three hours south east of Mumbai or just over two hours from Pune. It sweeps over 3,000 acres of its own fertile valley, scattered with ecologically-designed luxurious villas, with a focus on environmental sustainability. Guests are encouraged to take short excursions, hikes and nature walks through the rice fields, bamboo plantations, lush fields and organic garden which all nurture a thriving flora and fauna eco system.

At the heart of the retreat is a philosophy of ‘Dharana’ (pronounced Dah-na) – a way of life that promotes health and wellbeing in line with the life forces of nature.  Dharana is the sacred sense of stability achieved when one aligns the inner core to the outer environment, the starting point for any form of healing.

The Dharana way of life aims to help achieve long-term internal and external wellbeing through tailor-made programmes, helping guests to choose lifestyle options that balance energies and focused on achieving calmness and contentedness.

Shillim’s extensive range of wellness programmes are all designed to help guests establish healthy habits for life. Dharana wellness experts integrate the essential philosophical, spiritual and artistic wisdom of past civilizations with contemporary, life-enhancing practices and modern diagnostics.

Dharana Life Science Programs offer a comprehensive, bespoke healing regime with deliberate attention to key issues including conflict resolution, stress management, anti-aging, weight management which focusing on fitness through wellness activities and cognitive stimulation, mindfulness through meditation and nourishment through sustainability. A consultation is offered to every guest by resident Dr. Arun Pillai, who curates a bespoke programme dependent on guest’s needs – ranging from three to 27-day schedules. The itinerary encompasses Dharana traditions including Acupressure, Acupuncture, Reiki, Pranic Healing, Ayurveda, Yoga, Chakra Cleansing, Shamanism, Meditation, Naturopathy, Hydro Therapy, Ozone Therapy, Fire Healing, Music, Dance and Body Work.

Dr. Arun Pillai, Director of Wellness says, “We focus on the five core elements (earth, fire, water, air and sky) to design the Dharana programme.  The programme starts with a full body composition analysis to determine the prakruti (nature/issues) and identify the doshas (the three energies that define every person’s makeup) of our guests. We aim to make Dharana as a way of life and not just a programme so that all our guests can sustain a healthy lifestyle and lead the ideal wellness path within and outside the retreat” 

Nourishment through Sustainability: The holistic approach of the Dharana programme is folded into every aspect of the retreat, especially at the wellness restaurant – The Green Table – which takes inspiration from a planetary diet, incorporating the five elements of Ayurveda (Water, Air, Fire, Ether and Wind), with special emphasis on organic ingredients.  The menu is a 100% forest-to-table concept with all ingredients sourced from the Shillim forest and farm. The Chef’s commitment in using organic, locally-sourced and sustainably-grown ingredients of the highest quality is apparent in every dish served from the Ayurveda Thali to the à la carte selection. Healthy offerings at The Green Table can be complimented with an aromatic treat at the Tea Room, emphasizing the medicinal properties of different ingredients and illustrating the ancient Asian culture of healing.

Getting there from the UK

Direct flights go from both London and Manchester to Mumbai approx. 9 hours, plus 3.25 hour road transfer, or indirect flight to Pune, approximately 12.5 hours with a stop-over in Delhi or Abu Dhabi followed by a 2.5 hour road transfer.

https://www.shillim.in/

 

 

 

 

Mountains bring a breath of fresh air for asthma sufferers

 

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With around 5 million people in the UK suffering from asthma and a startling rising death rate of 20 per cent in five years, cures and relief therapies are vital, especially after the 2018 summer with its heatwave, hay fever and high pollen counts.

Air pollution causes the inside of lungs to become inflamed which makes it difficult for those with asthma to breathe.  Less pollution means less inflammation making breathing easier.

Zero pollution, clean air, low levels of humidity and natural breath-taking scenery are the ideal environmental conditions for asthma suffers. And these vital statistics can be found in mountain terrains such as the Southern French Alps which offers 12,000-km² of pollution-free purity. The air in the Southern French Alps has more benefits than other Alpine areas due to its unique low humidity and lack of heavy industry and benefits from 300 days of sunshine per year, topping up vital Vitamin D.

There have also been multiple studies over the years into the effectiveness of high altitude treatment for  those suffering with lung diseases.  High altitudes allow for clearer air and are mostly free from bugs such as dust mites which can cause asthma symptoms to worsen.

High-altitude treatment for asthma sufferers is not a new concept. People with lung diseases have been sent to the mountains as treatment for over a century.

 

For information on mountain escapes ideal for asthma sufferers, www.undiscoveredmountains.com

 

 

Peruvian Healing

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From healing spa treatments from indigenous Andean plants and herbs to cleansing ceremonies bathed in mystical culture, the Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel is offering wellness experiences that allow guests to connect with the cosmic energy of ancient Peruvian civilisations, while touring nearby natural and cultural sites.

Treatments focus on local ingredients and curative Peruvian traditions. Pinda-style massages use warmed compresses loaded with Andean natural medicinal herbs and therapeutic natural scrubs use pink salt from Maras, an ingredient used over the years  by the Incas for its high mineral content.

Other indigenous ingredients include Muña, renowned for being a digestive aid as well as its soothing and calming effects on aches, pains and arthritis. Coca leaves are loaded with vitamins, protein, calcium, iron and fibre that help to counter the effects of high altitude in the Andes. Quinoa, the Andean powerhouse grain, is loaded with amino acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients and has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years in Peru and was the nucleus of the Inca diet. Treatments using quinoa tap the nutritional benefits to prevent premature aging of sensitive and dehydrated skin.

The other spiritual and wellness experiences, beyond the hotel, connect guests with the cosmic energy of ancient Peruvian civilisations with visits to natural and cultural sites. The Machu Picchu Mystical Tour takes guests to the historic sanctuary with a local shaman who uses his natural gifts to help them discover the spiritual and  natural energy sources that surround Machu Picchu.

Guests can also participate in the Payment to the Earth Ritual.This traditional practice of making offerings to Pachamama, or Mother Earth, has been passed down from the time of the Incas, as Ancient Peruvians held Pachamama sacred. This ritual remains a part of daily life for many locals in surrounding regions of Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. With a shaman and private interpreter as guides, guests can discover a realm beyond the physical world and become more open to emotional and spiritual healing.

 www.sumaqhotelperu.com

Ayurveda, the European way

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Editor’s Review

It has been a very busy year so far and it’s starting to show. I’m eating more of the wrong foods to cope with looming deadlines, my mobile takes priority, my weight is nudging the scales and my skin has lost that freshness. I have no time to just be….

Is this just me or are we losing a sense of our existence, how we feel, how we view the world, who we are. Is there a disconnect between mind, body and spirit? Are we e-people, controlled by technology?

Slow forward to the gentle slopes of Austria, where church bells ring in synchrony with the collar bells attached to goats grazing. Where the Alps form a protective wrapping around the landscape – unpolluted air, solitude, silence. What better setting for an Ayurveda Resort amidst this cradle of tranquillity and peace in Hinterthiersee.

I was visiting for four days for a dose of holistic healing, European style, which meant local and seasonal food,  a western interpretation of treatments and, best of all, no jet-lag.

First was a consultation with the resident Ayurvedic doctor who proved intuitive and impressive in his pulse diagnosis and lifestyle evaluation. He delivered an accurate, informative assessment both with humour and an in-depth knowledge of Ayurvedic doctrines and healings. Based on my particular symptoms and constitution, a therapy plan was created which  combined herbal medicine, a nutrition programme with detox and supportive treatments.

Ayurveda is a system of medicine with historical roots in the  Indian subcontinent. It is the oldest form of medical science based upon the body’s protection of life against negative effects. Put simply, changes in the composition of the natural elements inherent within and around us  affect our health. When our “doshas” (bio-energies) are disturbed, the body becomes imbalanced,  causing illness. Diagnostic ayurvedic treatments can help to restore the body.

A salt rub is not for the faint-hearted, it’s vigorous and stimulating. Known as Upana, this Alpine scrub is used to release stressful energy and strengthen the immune system in preparation for cleansing and detoxing.  Its effects are then sealed in with a sauna visit.

The spa area houses a number of saunas differentiated by heat temperature and purpose.  The Kapha is a detoxifying steam bath, the Pitta a herb and clay sauna while the Vata is denoted as the gemstone and saltwater therapy.  There are several infra-red cabins,  a small gym, an indoor pool and various relaxation areas.

The resort exudes calm and intimacy which is visually reflected by a décor which splashes the colour purple alongside local timber panels to create an earthy feel.  Spiritual energy seems to ooze from buddha statues and handcrafted sculptures dotted around.

Meal times are quiet and pleasant. Each guest has an assigned table, a daily personalised agenda with personal encouragement and affirmations which I would read at regular times during the day. I would also peep enviably at those guests not following a specific programme – enjoying  seasonal, colourful dishes, artistically presented. For those of us on a stricter regime, the simple delicate detox dishes were served with encouragement and a knowing smile.

I was prepared for the  “purging cocktail” concocted to rid the body of toxins and waste products. It was administered by the medical team on the second day – so no cheating was allowed.  The remainder of the morning was confined to the room and close to the much needed facilities. I was grateful for the distraction of the mountain views from the balcony. Later, a belly massage continued the process, a treatment designed to strengthen and detoxify the tissues and release any blockages.

No caffeine, no sweet treats. I was suffering from a headache and tiredness from the previous day, natural reactions I was assured to a detoxification process. But to my delight, a head and body massage was on the day’s agenda, very timely. Billed as Shirodhara, this treatment is a traditional head treatment and body massage specifically to relieve stress-relating symptoms and it worked.

The atmosphere is cosy, friendly and supportive. Guests share their experiences in a positive light and are sympathetic to the effects endured. Many guests return  here for their annual MOT, some travel with supportive partners but most are alone. Days can be active with Yoga, Pilates, Qi Gong, Tai Chi walks, forest bathing and lectures, all providing a social opportunity or non-verbal company.

Guest rooms are tastefully furnished with amenities needed for this type of stay – a hot water bottle to help with liver detox and flasks for hot water, thoughtful and considerate, just like home!  And with 30 rooms and a staff of 50, service levels are high. The therapists are trained and conversant in the European Ayurveda discipline. Those I met monitored my progress along my ayurvedic journey.

When I left this inner sanctum to join the outside world, I felt consciously transformed, lighter in weight and freer of worries. My mind was now connected to my body and spirt.  The church bells seemed to be louder and more in tune and I noticed more goats munching  on the Austrian Alps. Ayurveda maybe ancient but it remains even more relevant today.

There are direct flights from the UK to Innsbruck and a one hour drive from the airport by taxi

Prices for a 7-day Pancha Karma programme are priced from € 1,525 excl. accommodation, single rooms from €166 pp/pn

European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof, Tyrol, Austria www.sonnhof-ayurveda.at

European Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof is included in the niche destinations distinctive portfolio www.niche-destinations.com

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A prescription for Chinese health tourism

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From the home of acupuncture and herbal medicine, a specialist UK tour operator is prescribing a dose of medical tourism with health tours to China.

Wendy Wu Tours has partnered with China’s Shaanxi Provincial Tourism Development Commission which is in the northwest of the country, home to the start of the Silk Road and ancient capital Xi’an as well as the location of the famous Terracotta Warriors.

Those suffering with complaints such as insomnia and even hair loss will be able to combine a holiday tour around parts of China with specialist help and traditional cures from experts.

Wendy Wu explained, “We are working with experts in China to offer medical & health products for a range of common illnesses. The Chinese are renowned for effective cures. We want to harness these as part of a holiday itinerary.”

Direct flights between Gatwick and Xi’an with Tianjin Airlines are to be launched.

www.wendywutours.co.uk

A revival of the Ancient Hamman Ritual

Banana-Island-Doha-by-Anantara_Hammam
In times gone by hammams were used by Kings and Queens of the Ottoman Empire who would host their key social engagements within these ornate bathhouses.

Today, hammams are back in fashion with many resorts adding them to their wellness offerings and treatment menus.
Also known as a Turkish bath, a hammam is the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath, or a wet relative of the sauna. Although the first ones originated in Arabia, bath culture was a central part of Roman life, Turkey popularized the tradition by making hammams available to people of all statuses.

The advent of the modern spa and the convenience of baths at home have defeated this old concept. Modern-day hammams often reflect the rich design features of the original bathhouses and continue the tradition of water, air and heat-based body treatments. The treatment benefits include removing dead skin cells, deeply cleansing the skin, ridding it of impurities while stimulating blood circulation and the lymphatic system in remedial heat.

Various resorts and hotels such as The Anantara Spa group offer a number of hammams in various destinations with treatments that follow the traditional ritual procedure.

The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Liwa Desert, houses the Royal Moroccan Hammam and offers the traditional journey in the ritual experiences – first steam which purifies the skin, followed by lying on a heated marble bed for a cleansing and polishing ritual using traditional black olive soap and a kessa mitt. The skin soaks up the natural goodness of a mineral-rich rhassoul mask, followed by a hair treatment and mini facial. After time in the heated jacuzzi and ice room, a back massage completes the ritual.

Other hammams include Banana Island Resort in Doha and the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa close to Abu Dhabi City which offers both Turkish and Moroccan Hammam Experiences.

Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas www.anantara.com.