As I stood outside a random house on a dark Kensington street in silence, envelope full of money in my hand, I wondered what on earth I was doing. The twenty or so other women stood with me looked equally as nervous, confused and hopeful that this wasn’t some kind of big con that looked rather like a drug deal to anyone walking past. Within a few minutes a barefoot man stepped outside to check my name off a list, take my envelope and whisper that the Banana Treatment would begin shortly; I wrapped myself up in my scarf against the cold, scrolled through Twitter and waited to be called into line, secretly giggling to myself that what started as a genuine treatment option had suddenly become all kinds of peculiar. Intrigued? Let’s rewind…
Since coming off the pill at the beginning of the year, my periods have been all kinds of wack. I’ve historically been quite fortunate with them, knowing that every month would bring with it a 28 day cycle and a three day period that was totally manageable and very predictable; but after coming off the mini pill in January (a temporary solution prescribed by my doctor who told me my BMI was too high for the full pill – side note, so would yours love if you were carrying two breasts that weighed the same amount as two extra heads!) my body was thrown into a weird kind of chaos. Although my periods started again within the first month, they reduced to only around half a day in length and my cycle fluctuated from 26-30 days.
I was patient, but I wasn’t really making any progress; my periods didn’t seem to be getting back to normal, even after trying herbal treatments, cutting out soya and undertaking acupuncture. I progressed from half a day of bleeding to only a day or so after nine months, which started to make me really anxious – especially as we want to start a family some time soon. Visiting my doctor for advice wasn’t really an option, mainly because they’re short of time and sympathy for anyone who appears over a size twelve, but after talking to a friend who’d tried and recommended an Ayurvedic fertility, hormonal and wellbeing Banana Treatment I was intrigued enough to try something different.
Hosted by the London Meditation Centre and conducted by the Rajus, an Indian family who fly over once a year, the Banana Treatment is said to “restore the body’s natural inner intelligence and health at the deepest level.” The Rajus are said to be “the only family in the world who are able to pass down this ancient wisdom,” creating a ‘medicine’ personalised for each woman and her health needs. The treatment is said to amplify the purifying action of menstruation, balance hormones and the reproductive system, enhance fertility by clearing blockages between the brain and the uterus, fortify the immune system and rejuvenate the whole physiology of the body. But what exactly is it?
Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems, developed more than 3000 years ago in India; it’s based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body and spirit. The Banana Treatment encapsulates that and provides a three day ritual to help restore balance in those that are struggling with fertility, hormones and general wellbeing. You have to apply for the treatment by providing information on your personal circumstances, everything about your cycle and even when and where you were born – if you’re accepted, you’re given an address to turn up to for three days in a row to receive the ‘medicine’.
Which takes us back to the beginning of my story… The Banana Treatment was hosted at an address in Kensington, where I was told to arrive at 7pm Wednesday to Friday. On the first day you bring an envelope containing £65.00 (to contribute to the Raju’s travel costs) and on the second and third day the envelope must contain an offering of 11p. Once you’re called up in order (not alphabetical, but one can only assume it’s based on some kind of birth chart or energy ranking!) you’re asked to take off your shoes and individually invited to climb the stairs to greet Mrs Raju in silence.
Rather uniquely, not only do you have to fast from food and drink for three hours prior and one hour after, but you’re not permitted to speak for an hour either side of the treatment either – because apparently the vibrations of the voice impact the body’s energy! To receive the Banana Treatment you must face East, take a moment to ‘thank your ancestors’, pick up the banana (served on a little bamboo tray) in your left hand and lift the small piece of banana covered in herbs to your mouth with the thumb and third finger of your right hand. The banana must be swallowed whole, not chewed, you thank Mrs Raju with a prayer motion and you’re sent on your way.
I’m a very open minded person and I believe in the power herbs and alternative medicine (I’ve seen great results from acupuncture, I’m super into crystals and I love the idea that supplements can help boost our bodies without resorting to traditional medicine) so I was absolutely willing to give this a go. Although I didn’t buy into the whole silence thing, facing East or the very specific way to eat a small piece of banana covered in herbs, I do completely understand how these ancient rituals and concoctions can continue to offer benefits within our modern world. Standing in a line with twenty plus women looking for a fresh approach to our issues, it seems that often the ancient rituals hold the answers to modern problems.
They recommend you stick to a diet of milky warm rice for the duration of the treatment, but seeing as I can’t drink milk and I didn’t much fancy living off the most boring food known to man, I just tried to eat cleaner and stay clear of alcohol and too much sugar. Over the course of the three days I did feel utterly exhausted, but it’s hard to know whether this was the result of a busy few weeks or the banana doing its thing; they suggest you avoid any strenuous activity, take the time to rest and generally look after your body and mind during this period – which is just good practice really. But after three nights of hanging around in the cold waiting to eat a bit of fruit, I was glad to be done by the end.
So four weeks later, what difference has it made? Honestly, for the first time this year the period that followed the Banana Treatment was absolutely back to ‘normal’. It returned to its usual duration, usual flow and usual cramping sensations – which although aren’t exactly pleasant, are exactly what I wanted to happen. I’ve made no other changes to my lifestyle, but my periods (from the one I’ve had post treatment!) seem to be back to their usual routine and are as ‘healthy’ as can be anticipated. Which is just astonishing. It may have made me feel like a wally at the time, but I’m so glad I stood in silence on that cold West London street.
I had low expectations (and an open mind) going into this, but I thought I’d give it a go as someone with nothing to lose; it could be a welcome coincidence, but there could also be something in this banana malarkey… Only time will tell.
I organised the treatment myself and attended as a member of the public.
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