New Hyde Park’s place for traditional Indian medicine

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Grego Massage, in New Hyde Park, offers an alternative to traditional medicine. (Photo by Elliot Weld)

With the desire of offering a holistic medicine practice to the people of Nassau County, Mammottil Mathew opened Grego Ayur-Massage Therapy in New Hyde Park five years ago with his wife, Shyla Mathew.

Grego utilizes ayurveda, a traditional Indian medical practice that, according to Mammottil Mathew, who said he is now going by Mathew Mathew, dates back thousands of years.  Shyla Mathew holds a bachelor’s degree from Vaidyaratnam Ayurveda College in southwest India, which Mathew said is one of the top institutions for ayurveda.

Mathew said it takes about five years to receive a degree to practice ayurveda. He describes the practice as using different types of herbal products and oils, as well as massage techniques to treat certain ailments.

Among the ailments that he has seen his wife treat was a 12-year-old boy who he said was suffering from intense muscle spasms that were causing pain and discomfort. Mathew said the child’s mother said he had been examined by doctors who could not identify the source of the spasms, and physical therapy yielded few results.

Mathew said when the boy came in to Grego on Hillside Avenue, Shyla Mathew mixed a few types of oils to apply to the child’s body along with a few herbal products. Then the child was given a “steam bath.” Mathew said the spasms ceased and the child continued treatment every few weeks.

Mathew said people frequently come in with psoriasis-type skin problems, which the business has a special oil for. He said doctors of Western medicine typically prescribe steroids to treat psoriasis, which have to be applied continuously to avoid resurgence, causing the need for a stronger and stronger steroid to be prescribed.

Mathew was an engineer in India, but said that when he and his wife arrived in the United States in 2013, he didn’t try to find a job in his field.

“I wanted to spread this here. That is why I took a chance in taking these premises, furnishing it and starting this way of things,” Mathew said.

Mathew points to his business’s Yelp page, which he said one of his customers set up and has exclusively five-star reviews and past patients singing praises for the ayurvedic practice.

He said there are differences between the clientele in America and India. He points to a picture next to his desk with a man laying on a wooden table being massaged by an “herbal bundle.” The wood of the table is specially treated and is the traditional method of treatment in ayurveda, Mathew said. But here, Mathew said he doesn’t use the wooden table because it’s too hard.

He also said Americans sometimes expect the pleasantly scented aromas one might find at a typical massage parlor. He said not to expect that at Grego because the herbal products can have an odor.

Mathew said not much profit is generated by his business; he purely wants to add a service to the community. Insurance does not cover his treatment, and he said he charges around $100 for a session, depending on the treatment.

COVID-19 has had a negative effect on his business, he said, because more people are afraid to come to in-person sessions. He said he is a bit worried about continuing business because of the decreased revenue during the pandemic. He is looking into other methods of generating revenue.

“I don’t want to be defeated easily,” Mathew said.

He said he finds that word-of-mouth advertising is effective for his business, as well as his Yelp page. He has received inquires about home visits, which he said he cannot do because he isn’t equipped for it.

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