Massage Therapy: Specialised Forms of Ayurveda Therapy

The renowned Ayurvedic scholars of Kerala have developed specialised forms of therapies, which have excellent clinical effects. Some of these therapies are known as Sekam (pizhichil), Kizhi, Dhara, Sirovasthi, Sirolepam, Pitchu, Thalam, etc. A whole lot of new forms have also made their appearance in the recent years, some of them invented by the new generation of practitioners and entrepreneurs. Some traditional names have also undergone a change to suit the current population and have been designed to appeal to the foreign tourists.

Here are some of the forms of therapy popular with the practitioners and the public.


This is a luxurious treatment in which two therapists pour warm herbal oils over the body, while performing a gently soothing massage. Pieces of linen dipped in warm medicated oil are squeezed on to the person’s body, while massaging the body with the hand all the time. The massage is very slow and light without exerting much pressure. Apart from being a lavish treatment, it also protects from illnesses by building immunity for a healthy life. And that’s not all; Pizhichil is also a panacea for rheumatic diseases, blood pressure, pain in the joints and diabetes.

This is a rejuvenation therapy that is known to prevent ageing, scales, wrinkles and is widely used to cure arthritis and many spastic muscular disorders.

This treatment is profoundly relaxing and deeply purifying. It can be done once a year as rejuvenation therapy for improving health and general well-being especially during old age and in nervous diseases like arthritis, paralysis hemiplegia, paralysis-agitanus, nervous weaknesses and nervous disorders.


This is a type of massage with different kinds of herbal oils, practised specially in Kerala.


There are two types of Kizhi: Elakizhi and Choornakizhi


In this treatment the body is massaged with cloth bags filled with fried medicinal leaves. It is a herbal treatment for stiffness, body pain, etc., especially in the Arthritis and paralysis. Herbal poultices (bundles) are prepared with various herbs and medicated powder. These poultices are warmed in medicated oils and the whole body is massaged with the same on the neck, shoulders, hands and back, while shifting the person from side to side.

This massage can promote better circulation within the affected area, thereby promoting the increased perspiration, which helps the skin to excrete wastes. It also helps to improve the skin tone and can be superbly relaxing.


In this procedure, the whole body is made to sweat by a massage with herbal powders, which are tied into boluses with a cloth. This treatment is indicated for neurological disorders, rheumatism, arthritis, etc.


This is one of the most popular therapy in Kerala Massage. It includes Thailadhara, Thakradhara and Ksheeradhara. After a liberal application of the medicated oil on the head and body, the patient is made to lie supine on wooden bed with the neck placed in a comfortable position. A nonstop, continuous stream of the medicine (medicated oil, herbal decoction, milk or other materials) is made to drop gently on the forehead from a particular height through a specially made apparatus. After the treatment, the head is fully dried with a towel and again oil is applied to the head. This treatment is also done for the whole body and for a particular part of the body depending upon the ailment. It promotes the rejuvenation and revitalisation of the human mind & body, which act as anti-ageing factors. This is a special massage therapy for stress and strain.


A mixture of cooling and balancing herbal oils and medicated ghee is trickled over the forehead in a continuous warm stream in a quiet, soothing atmosphere. This is profoundly relaxing as it works to calm and pacify the central nervous system, stilling the mind and senses. The process allows enhanced natural healing. Duration of the treatment is about 20 minutes, and it can bring clarity of mind and comprehension. This is a special Ayurvedic treatment that gives total relaxation to mind and body, and is the best way to pamper yourself after a hard and stressful day.

For therapeutic purposes, ksheeradhara treatment is used to heal chronic neuro-muscular disorders and problems like hypertension, insomnia, depression, anxiety, headaches, and restlessness, among others. This treatment has a powerful effect on the mental and emotional well being of the individual.

It is also good for preventing and curing diseases like paralysis, senile dementia and other neurological ailments. Further, with appropriate medicines, this procedure can also be employed in psychiatric and psychosomatic diseases, insomnia and even in general debility.


It is a calming therapy done by pouring medicated buttermilk on the forehead. The therapy is an effective cure for insomnia, depression, burning sensation in the head and psoriasis etc.


It is a sedation therapy performed by pouring warm, fermented grains cooked in water over the body with a nozzled pitcher. The treatment is effective in all types of rheumatic complaints, especially in Rheumatoid arthritis.

Abhyanga Massage

Along with other massage techniques, Abhyanga massage is given to help the body expel toxins from the body as quickly as possible. This is a full body massage with medicated oils to balance specific conditions. The oils used contain herbs and ingredients that pacify the unbalanced Vata, Pitta, and Kapha energies.

The person undergoing a massage is made to sit on the Thoni (a wooden plank specially made for the massage). Two masseurs stand on either side of the person, and apply herbal oil on the head and massage gently. Massage is also performed on the neck, ears, shoulders, chest and back.

After this, the person is made to lie on the back and the massage is continued from shoulder to toe, shifting the person on his right side and left side, on his stomach and again made to lie down on his back, finally in the sitting position.

General Massage (Abhyanaga) has been found very effective for vigour and vitality, cure of rheumatism, good eyesight, longevity, sound sleep and glowing skin. This massage is also a preventive medicine, and in short it rejuvenates the body and maintains the physique.

The oils are prepared individually with herbs to enhance their therapeutic effects. These oils promote secretions, penetrate to the deepest levels and while doing so will encourage:

• The tissues to loosen accumulated toxins.
• Movement of toxins to the gastrointestinal tract and towards the surface (the skin), so they are eliminated.
• Movement of obstructions in energy channels and tissues.
• Lubrication and protection of tissues during this process.
• Nourishment and relaxation that enhances healing.


This is a massage done with small linen bags filled with navara rice cooked in cow’s milk mixed with certain herbal decoction. The bags are dipped in the same mixture and applied over the whole body of the patient. The bags are neither too hot nor too cold. Medicated oil is applied liberally over the whole body before the massage.

At the end of the massage, body is wiped with a dry towel, and the medicated oil is applied again. The course is for 14 to 21 days.

The procedure offers better physical consistency, strengthens the nerves and improves complexion. This is indicated in neurological disorders, rheumatism, arthritis and emaciation of limbs, sport injuries, and pain in the joins. This treatment is restorative and nourishing. It is also effective therapy for maintaining good health during old age and to prevent premature ageing.


In this therapy, a herbal oil is applied on the head and massaged. Varti is tied around the head and thereafter, the herbal paste is applied with uniform thickness all over. After 45 minutes the paste is removed and the head is wiped clean. This treatment is very good in case of falling hair, dandruff, greying, insomnia, low blood pressure and chronic sinus. Specially prepared Amla paste is used to make the concoction.


This is a method of internal administration of medicated ghee in increasing doses for a particular period.


There are three kinds of Vasthi treatments: Kashayavasthi, Snehavasthi and Mathravasthi. It is the most important treatment in panchakarma, effective in curing arthritis, paralysis, haemiplegia, numbness, gastric complaints and constipation.


In this method, the prescribed oils are kept at a bearable temperature on the head inside a fitted cap. The medicated oil is retained about an hour. The procedure is beneficial in treating facial palsy and diseases of head and neck. This treatment is highly effective in treating skin diseases as well as dryness of nostrils, mouth and throat, severe headache and other rheumatic diseases.


It is a deep, dry massage performed by using herbal powders. This massage reduces obesity, imparts mobility to joints, strengthens muscles and refreshes the body.


This procedure requires massaging of the upper body, from shoulders upward till sweating takes place. The medicine in exact dose is measured and poured into the nostrils. During the process the area around the nose, neck, shoulders, palm & feet are rubbed. This treatment is very effective in ailments like sinusitis, migraine, chronic cold and chest congestion.

Special Treatments Mannupothichil (Mud Scan)

This is an ancient method of diagnosis using a paste of special mud and some herbal extracts. The entire body is covered with this paste. The patient is made to sit in the sunlight for one hour and then a “Mineral bath” is given. After this procedure is performed, certain hidden diseases and fractures that had occurred in the past can be diagnosed by watching the colour changes on the skin.

Manal Nirakkal (Sand Filling)

The patient is made to stand inside a wooden box, which is gradually filled with pure sand. Then water is poured over the sand to make it tight. This improves circulation and breathing capacity and helps to reduce obesity.

Medicated Milk Bath

This is a special treatment in which the patient lies inside a carved Neem tree trunk, which is then fdled with milk and medicinal decoction. This is an excellent therapy for beautifying the skin.

Marma Therapy

This technique uses essential oils and light massage over specific points (marmas) on the body. This promotes balance at more subtle levels of mind and body.

Ayurvedic Head Massage

This is an ancient technique to relax and relieve mental fatigue and confusion. It helps to create more clarity and regenerates the mind and brain activity for better functioning. The oils used for this massage contain herbs that are calming to the mind, and stimulant to the brain, nerves and sensory organs.

Ayurvedic Massage Oil

Herbal Oils are part of the oldest traditions of Ayurvedic remedies, blended according to an ancient time-tested formula to provide unique purity and goodness. These oils are used to balance the three doshas.

Ayurvedic body massage oils are safe and effective formulations that facilitate massage and help soften body tissue to reduce cellulite build up. When used daily they help to improve the circulation and lead the way to a firm and healthy body. Their natural ingredients penetrate the skin to improve sluggish circulation and detoxify, thus bringing a general feeling of well-being.

Ayurvedic Herbal Oils made only from Ayurvedic plant extracts are devoid of artificial colours, preservatives or animal fat.

For centuries the people in the orient have been using the massage oil to keep their body trim and to tone up their muscles.

The major benefits of the Head/Body Massage Oils are that they :

• Improve blood circulation and vital functions of all the organs of the system,
• Revitalise the body’s metabolic process.
• Tone up the muscles, redistribute fat and make the body trim and supple.
• Delay the ageing process.
• Improve sense of perception and mental process.
• Relieve mental stress and induce relaxation.
• Improve general health and promote immunity.
• The herbal oils have powerful curative powers. They are free of toxins and harmful side effects.

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