Coimbatore in the south of India is a unique place renowned for its authentic traditional ayurvedic medicine.

The Arya Vaidya Hospital is particularly famous for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and chronic back problems with sciatica.

The World Health Organisation project with Coimbatore has led to the adoption of these effective treatments in Germany, the UK and the USA. Qualified ayurvedic doctors and conventional doctors work together to monitor the progress of the patient. The 50-bed hospital is set in a tranquil area surrounded by trees and herbal gardens, providing a healthy green environment for healing and to make you feel in tune with nature.

The temple at the entrance reminds the patient of the power of the spiritual dimension in healing. The emphasis here is on the total rest of the body and mind and the revival of the spirit. The doctors offer a compassionate service without any rush. The intensive treatment, which lasts for 35 days, begins with a full consultation with the ayurvedic doctor, who makes a proper diagnosis of the illness and an assessment of the body constitution.

Diet is prescribed according to the constitution and the illness to help remove toxins and restore normal metabolism. Freshly prepared herbal decoctions are given to the patient, which are formulated to revive and heal the tissue and help eliminate toxins from the body, restoring immunity.

Most of the herbs are organically grown in the hospital farm, or wild crafted. A unique oil application and massage therapy is given daily by expert therapists. Lots of oil is applied to the whole body in a smooth and continuous flow of movement by the therapist's hands for one hour. It is absorbed through the skin and tissues making the muscles, ligaments and joints supple and strong. Often four therapists are employed to give a simultaneous and synchronised massage called pizzichilli.

The patients I spoke to included a professor from the USA with chronic back and knee arthritis, a business executive with a slipped disc and sciatica and four patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. All these patients said they had derived great improvement in their symptoms of pain, stiffness and lack of mobility. They also felt much better in themselves. The relief seems to last much longer then that offered by conventional medicine, without the side effects.