Healing touch

Healing touch

From 1947 to the year 2000, there was only one ayurvedic clinic in Singapore - Malayala Ayurveda Vaidya Sala.

However, according to the vice-president of Ayurvedic Practitioners Association of Singapore, Dr V.C. Ajith Kumar, it was not run by a BAMS (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery) qualified physician in those days, and the first clinic with such qualifications came only in the year 2000.

"The Gift of Nature at Newton was the oldest clinic in Singapore, run by a qualified BAMS doctor but, unfortunately, it is now closed," he said.

Although it shut down in 2004, many others have sprung up in recent years in Singapore. Currently there are 12 ayurveda clinics here. "There are 15 qualified BAMS doctors practising ayurveda in Singapore," explained Dr Kumar.

His clinic, Ayush Ayurvedic, is among the 12.

Speaking of his beginnings in the field, he said: "I was 15 when I enrolled in the gurukula system of education in India for 71/2 years of rigorous training. Lessons would start at 5am and last till late at night.

"Staying at the gurukula (living with the teacher at his traditional home and learning) meant I wasn't merely acquiring a degree but learning a way of life, beyond what the current colleges and universities can do.

"After completing this course I trained under Guru Vaidyamathom Valiya Narayana Namboodri for four years. It was a life-changing experience to be practising under India's most respected traditional Ashta Vaidyan (master of the eight branches of medicine)."

Dr Kumar then went on to work with the Indian government for 14 years, then moved to Malaysia and came to Singapore in 2008 to set up his clinic.

Like Dr Kumar, Dr E.J. Joshi and his wife, Dr Bindu Ancy Joshi, also started their own clinic here, called Kerala Ayurveda Centre, in 2010.

The number of ayurveda clinics in Singapore has been steadily rising over the last few years, and the latest to open their doors just this year are Herbzalive and JBS Ayurvedic Healthcare Centre.

Encouraged by the success of Herbzalive in south India, its chief medical director, Dr Vijeyapal J. Jonnagaddla, decided to expand his network starting with Singapore. "We saw the potential for ayurvedic treatments and medicines as well as training. Hence, we planned to start our branch in Singapore. We registered as a private limited company in October 2013 but started practice in June this year," he said.

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