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I lost 7lbs on a panchakarma detox retreat - and found my sanity

The upset and stress of her father's Alzheimer's was taking its toll on writer Beatrice Aidin. Could an Ayurvedic detox help her regain her emotional strength? Oil enemas, herbal eye washes and saltwater up the nose, here's how she fared

Saltwater up my nostrils, hair lacquered in oil, I am about to rinse my eyes with herbal water before administering a self-induced enema. It’s not yet 7am and I am at Atmantan Wellness Centre near Pune towards the northwest of India, enveloped in a seven-day Ayurveda Panchakarma medical course. For the uninitiated, Ayurvedic medicine - the word comes from the Sanskrit, Ayur meaning life and Veda, science or knowledge - is a way of life for body and mind with balance at its heart, not to mention with a 3000-year-old tradition. While there are other programs such as Holistic Health, Journey Through Yoga and Master Cleanse, with the Indian government investing heavily in Ayurvedic healthcare, I am intrigued.

After a nine-hour flight, Atmantan - which comes from the Sanskrit words for mind, body and soul - is four hours by car from Mumbai. I arrive puffy, pale and down-in-the-mouth, literally and metaphorically. These last 18 months have been very hard. My father is my biggest champion but now he is in a care home with Alzheimer’s.