Ayurveda is geared toward preventing illness, not just erasing its symptoms. And unlike Western medicine, it treats an individual, not a disease. In Kerala, India, Ayurveda has been a way of life for thousands of years, yet only recently has it attracted the attention of the West.
The range of Ayurvedic experiences available to a Kerala visitor includes everything from simple family affairs to world-class luxury hotels and resorts. There are Ayurvedic hospitals for the seriously ill, where you can find relief from chronic ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, for which Western medicine has no cure, and there are coconut-thatched beachfront shacks that offer oil massages to backpackers for less than a dollar.
Opt for a package, which might include a doctor's consultation, oil massages, herbal steam baths, and a relaxation therapy called shirodhara, in which a continuous stream of warm oil is poured onto your forehead. When it's all over, you can hope to return home with a new understanding of yourself and your constitution.