By Julia Landau
THE SIVANNA integrated health centre in Newlands offers a variety of approaches to wellbeing. Dr Jaimini Raniga, who runs Sivanna with Girish Raniga, first trained as a medical doctor before looking at other holistic options.
“After studying medicine, I learned abut homeopathy, the Bowen technique, allergy and nutrition and environmental medicine, Ayurveda and Unani Tibb. I wanted to look at how I could really help someone. This journey led me from the complex modern conventional medical system to a search for simple solutions,” explains Raniga.
Ayurveda and Unani Tibb are complementary ancient techniques. Ayurveda was established more than 5000 years ago in India, and Unani Tibb, which was born in Africa, was embraced by Greece and refined by Arab physicians.
“Integrated health is about combining Easter traditional practices of health along with more modern western conventional methods. Much of the ancient wisdom in health today has been eliminated, so I turned to Unani Tibb and Ayurveda. Both of these consider how to prevent illness and restore and maintain health.”
Raniga explains that human beings are intrinsically a part of nature. The rhythms that exist in the environment also dwell in us so we have to respect the cycles that occur within each day, season and within life as a whole. Both Ayurveda and Unani Tibb believe that health is a natural state of being.
“In Ayurveda, you are born with a particular constitution. You are either vata, (air) pitta, (fire) or kapha, (earth). These terms define physical, mental and emotional characteristics. In Unani Tibb, we have four different constitutions: sanguineous, bilious, melancholic and phlegmatic. This came about from considering the five elements in nature, namely earth, water, fire, air and ether. We have all of them, but one can see a dominance of characteristics in the individual and that is how one can decide to which constitution one belongs. Once you understand your blueprint you can find a lifestyle that suits you.”
At Sivanna, a three-step plan to restore health is implemented. The wisdom of the ancient systems of medicine is married with the principles of modern medicine. The first step is nutrition, the second is physical therapy and the third is an appropriate lifestyle.
“Firstly I devise a nutritional plan using ancient and modern systems of nutrition. If one has a good digestive system, it is the barrier between the internal and external environment.
“Both Ayurveda and Unani Tibb rely on nutrition. Both incorporate regular massage. Physical therapies are rejuvenating and restore your natural balance.
“Seventy percent of your body mass is muscle, thus stress, injury and bad posture will adversely effect muscle tension. Expanding muscle through massage facilitates the process of restoring balance,” she says.
Raniga also uses the modern Bowen technique from Australia. “This is a softer procedure which allows pauses between specific movements to allow the body to assimilate the work. In Bowen, we are stimulating the nervous centres and very specific anatomical sites.
“There is a sequence of moves for particular ailments, and this restores the body’s natural balance and allows the body’s own healing processes to be awakened and for the natural physiology to be restored.
“The third tier is determining the correct lifestyle. Some people prefer warmer weather while others like it when it is cooler. If someone is very active in respect of their constitution and more aggressive and competitive in attitude, then they require the opposite to bring harmony.
“So a lifestyle which draws on yoga would be very beneficial. Breathing and meditation bring about relaxation. Regular elimination of waste is necessary. Ayurveda and Unani Tibb use natural, organic herbs and medicines without chemical ingredients.”
Western medicine has its place. “It treats the symptoms and not the cause,” Raniga explains. “Ayurveda and Unani Tibb treat the person in a holistic fashion. They are concerned with preventive care.”
She feels that the high costs of modern medicine can be avoided by using the traditional dynamics such as pulse, tongue and eye diagnosis.
“Often it is too late by the time the illness has gone into the tissue and we see abnormal pathology tests. Traditional medicine can pick up imbalances more quickly. Sometimes people come here with chronic illnesses. they are on multiple drugs and suffer from multiple system failure. You have to use modern medicine initially to help them.
“But by having all these different alternatives at our fingertips, we can strengthen their endocrine, immune and their nervous systems so that the effects of these toxic drugs can be lessened and sometimes stopped altogether.”