Ayurveda has its historical roots in India, but has also been internationalised, partly via migration and partly through an increased interest in alternative medicine in the West, where studies point toward increased use. However, there is to date scarce knowledge about the use and experiences of ayurveda in Sweden.
We have conducted a case study of a center for ayurvedic healthcare in Sweden. We have collected information on client background data from the center’s documentation, and compiled data from all clients who visited the centre for ayurvedic consultation during spring 2014. In total, 55 individuals were included in the study, and 18 of them were chosen for individual semi-structured interviews, to gain a deeper understanding of their motives for seeking, and experiences of ayurvedic health care. The material was analysed and compiled through a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods.
Among the 55 clients, 91 % were female the mean age was 47 years, and 64 % gave a specific illness as a reason for seeking ayurveda. The most common illnesses were respiratory, musculoskeletal, circulatory, tumor, and cutaneous illnesses. The qualitative results showed that ayurveda was being used in combination with other methods, including various diets, other alternative medicine methods and conventional medicine. Some participants recounted having sought ayurveda as a complement to conventional medicine, or in cases when conventional medicine had been experienced as insufficient in terms of diagnosis or treatment. However, some participants experienced it as difficult to follow the ayurvedic life-style advice in the midst of their everyday life. Many participants reported positive experiences of pulse diagnostics, which was the main diagnostic method used in ayurvedic consultation. Some reported concrete, physical improvement of their symptoms.
This study points towards important aspects of participant experience of ayurveda, that may be subject to further research. The positive effects experienced by some clients should be studied more systematically in order to discern whether they are specific or non-specific.