by Dr Nikhil Natayil, Master in Ayurvedic Pharmaceutics and Herbs
Elakkizhi is a popular Ayurvedic treatment, offered at AyurMa, that involves crushing medicinal leaves into a bundle that is heated with oil then used as a poultice pressed rhythmically over the body. The technique has multidimensional therapeutic benefits and can be adapted for the wellbeing of an individual as both a preventive and rejuvenation therapy.
It is highly beneficial in the treatment of common musculoskeletal diseases and inflammatory conditions of the bones and joints, including lumbago, sciatica, frozen shoulder, myalgia, neuralgia, and degenerative bone conditions such as osteoarthritis. It enhances blood circulation and relieves muscle stiffness, promoting the elimination of toxins from the body while toning the skin. It relieves pain, rejuvenates and strengthens the soft tissues and muscles of the body, and can be adapted to treat sports injuries as well.
At AyurMa, the particular oil used for the body and head of each guest is decided according to their body’s Ayurvedic constitution, which is determined during a complimentary Ayurvedic consultation, or by completing the questionnaire provided at the AyurMa reception.
The plants used—including castor leaves, vitex, calotropis, tamarind, noni, and moringa, all used in ancient Ayurveda classical texts—are freshly collected from AyurMa’s Herbal Garden and other parts of the island. They are washed, chopped, and then gently heated along with other healing herbs and spices such as mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, Himalayan salt, grated coconut, and lime. The leaves are formed into their bundles and heated with the appropriate oil for the guest. After a synchronised four-handed, long-stroke massage of the whole body, the hot bundles are then applied to the skin in a comforting flow of alternate pounding and massage techniques.
Benefits of Elakkizhi
The leaves of the plants used in this treatment at AyurMa possess analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties, which help reduce pain, inflammation and stiffness in joints as well as improving their range of motion. The plants’ anti-degenerative and rejuvenating effects also contribute to delaying age-related degenerative conditions of the joints. Elakkizhi also helps in improving sensory and motor functions of the
nervous system and can be effectively used in radiating neuralgic pain caused by disorders of the nervous system. It prevents the progression of sciatica, for example, by inhibiting the degeneration of the disc, and can prevent numbness, tingling, weakness, and aches in the legs and back.
Furthermore, the sweating induced by this treatment assists in eliminating toxins from the body, and brings a sense of lightness to affected parts. Note that Elakkizhi is contra-indicated in people suffering from severe skin allergies. It may lead to some redness and itching in those with highly sensitive skin and the bundle should not be applied to areas suffering from acute inflammation.