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Son of TM : Ayurveda, an Ancient Natural Health Care System, May Be Next Wave in New Age Medicine

December 29, 1987|BETH ANN KRIER | Times Staff Writer

Despite the stock market crash on Oct. 19, for money manager Monty Gild, there was no Black Monday.

Gild, who says his Malibu investment management firm was only 20% invested in the stock market at the time, credits an ancient Indian system of preventive medicine with helping him nearly "avoid the crash."

He and several of his associates are practitioners of Ayurveda (pronounced eye-your-VAY-dah), a natural health care system currently being revived by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his followers and quietly working its way toward the popularity of transcendental meditation (TM), the maharishi's first major Western success story.

As a result of making dietary, exercise and life-style changes prescribed by an American MD trained in Ayurvedic principles--and then receiving detoxifying treatments such as oil massages periodically over the last four years--Gild claims he has dramatically improved his "stability, clarity and energy."

He was so impressed by the results that his firm now subsidizes Ayurveda treatments (at the Maharishi Ayurveda Medical Center in Pacific Palisades) for employees.

Though diet, exercise and life style adjustments recommended by Ayurveda are inexpensive, costs for outpatient treatment are relatively high. A single, two-hour detoxifying massage runs about $130; a year's worth of the recommended purification treatments and nutritional supplements can easily exceed $5,000. And a stay at the luxurious Ayurveda facility in Lancaster, Mass., the only residential center in the United States, costs anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 a week.

Still, Gild thinks Ayurveda is worth the expense. "If (an employee's) judgment is clear," he said, "it can save a client--in one day--many times the $5,000 spent on Ayurveda in a year. When we perform better for our clients we perform better for our company."

The maharishi, the television guru who introduced TM to the West in the early 1960s, considers Ayurveda so beneficial that it's a major factor in his "Global Campaign to Create a Disease-Free Society in Every Country."

Though Ayurveda has been criticized by Western physicians for having no published scientific studies to back up its claims, it has drawn a stellar following since its launching in the United States about four years ago. Just as TM attracted such star practitioners as the Beatles and the Beach Boys, Ayurveda has its own list.

Actor George Hamilton, Beach Boys singer Mike Love and magician Doug Henning have all been treated by MDs using Ayurvedic medicine, which claims to eventually retard the aging process. Actress Elizabeth Taylor has repeatedly visited the Ayurveda Center in Lancaster (though her publicist says she only goes there for "meditation and the country air.")

Love, who met the maharishi in Paris in 1967, became an Ayurveda enthusiast about two years ago. "I tell people I may be 46 years old but I have the body of an 18-year-old Adonis," he says. "People who know me and know that I've been meditating for 20 years see me and say, 'What have you been doing?' With this Ayurveda, you look younger in your skin and body. What it's done is enhance a feeling of restfulness. It's given a feeling of complete balance and harmony and actual bliss in my physiology."

Actor Marty Kove, who plays detective Victor Isbecki on TV's "Cagney & Lacey," began regular Ayurvedic treatments in April of this year.

Kove used to routinely eat warm foods during warm seasons, which, in Ayurvedic practice, is not recommended for his body type. (The system distinguishes seven basic constitutional types, based on physical examination, medical history and pulse diagnosis. Recommendations are then made on everything from what type of exercise an individual should do to how hot his bath water should be to what specific herbs and spices and foods are to be eaten during each season.)

Kove found by seasonally changing such things as the temperature of his food that "my body and my mind are more balanced."

Kove also visits the Pacific Palisades outpost--one of five such centers in the country--for massage treatments at least once a month.

"I can feel the difference in how I respond to disappointments, relationships, work load and traumatic situations like the cancellation of 'Cagney & Lacey,' " he says. "Now I have more compassion. It levels you out."

But celebrities and high-income professionals aren't the only ones to have sampled Ayurveda.

Roxie Teague, a former elementary schoolteacher who now tutors pupils, visits the Palisades center two to three times a year for outpatient treatments.

Improved Health

"Being a schoolteacher, I had a cold every winter for 20 years," she recalls. "Since I started Ayurveda three years ago I haven't had a cold. I don't get them any more."

Even those with good health say they have noticed improvements. Vegetarian Keith Thompson, a vice president of public broadcast marketing, had blood chemistry tests done before he started treatments four months ago.

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