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Traditional medicine being exploited

BBC News | 2002-03-19

Unqualified doctors are exploiting the boom in traditional Indian massage treatments, say experts.

Ayurvedic medicine has been practised in India for thousands of years.

But interest in the technique has been growing in other parts of the world with the general trend towards holistic medicines.

It has become a big tourist attraction in the south Indian state of Kerala.

But some doctors say the ayurveda offered to tourists is often not genuine - and as well as damaging ayurveda's reputation, could even harm the patients themselves.

The devotees don't say all commercialism is bad - but they do want ayurveda practised seriously, not turned into a side show for tourists.

Boards advertising ayurvedic centres are dotted between the tourist cafes and souvenir shops on the beautiful beach at Kovallam.

Most seem geared towards one hour massages, using oils, and most of the tourists here seem to see it as a chance to relax rather than a real medical treatment.

One tourist told me: "It feels more like a good massage than medicinal, just nice to have your body toned up a bit, that's as I'd see it, rather than medical."

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