As the name suggests, ‘Pancha’ in Sanskrit stands for Five and ‘Karma’ are the therapeutic measures, therefore Panchakarma means five types of therapeutic measures. These are undertaken for the purification of the body and Ayurveda considers it necessary before the start of any other therapy.
The logic being that as a cloth needs to be purified or cleaned of impurities and dust before it can be permeated with a new color, similarly the body needs to be purified before it can be permeated with new colors of youthfulness, health and vigor etc. In fact, most of the time, Panchakarma is an end in itself rather than a prelude to other therapeutic measures.
The Panchakarma therapy of Ayurveda is comprised of five basic types of advanced treatment for the evacuation of vitiated Dosha (toxic materials) from the body. One can consider this as a body de-tox program. There are so many subtypes of this therapy and different types of herbal massages, fomentation’s such as steam, external oil treatments, Basti (medicated enemas), Virechana (purgation through herbs), Vamana (emesis through herbs), Nasya (nasal administration of oils) etc. are also incorporated. These practices are extremely helpful in relieving deep seated diseases as well as being beneficial for maintaining and improving physical and mental health.
According to Ayurveda, every human being is a unique phenomenon of cosmic consciousness. The three Dosha (humors) determine every individual’s psychosomatic temperament or constitution. Vata (ether plus air), Pitta (fire plus water) and Kapha (water plus earth) are called the Tridosha, meaning the three Dosha. The internal environment is governed by Vata -Pitta -Kapha (V-P-K), which is constantly reacting to the external environment. The wrong diet, habits, lifestyle, incompatible food combinations (e.g., milk and fish, melons and grain, yogurt and meat or cooked honey etc.), seasonal changes, repressed emotions and stress factors can all act either together or separately to change the balance of V-P-K. According to the nature of the cause, Vata, Pitta or Kapha undergo aggravation or derangement that produce Ama (toxins). To stop the further production of Ama, Ayurvedic literature suggests placing the patient on a proper diet together with an appropriate lifestyle, habits and exercise, and administering a proper cleansing program such as Panchakarma.
Treatment and Rejuvenation
Pre- purification Measures for Panchakarma
A. Purva karma:
panchakarma Before the actual panchakarma, there is a purvakarma, which literally means ‘the preceding karma’. In this stage the physician gives the directions to prepare the body for the panchakarma chikitsa (treatment). Snehan and Swedan are the main two procedures. It takes up to seven days of snehan and swedan to prepare tridoshas receptive to the treatment. Only after the purvakarma, the pachakarma starts. The panchakarma method is chosen according to the physical constitution (prakriti) and the disorder (vikriti) on the body.
Snehana(Abhyangam) is the oil massage. Oil is applied to the body with a particular type of massage which helps the toxins to move towards the gastro-intestinal tract. Oil mssage also makes the superficial and deep tissues soft and suple, thus helping to remove stress and to nourish the nervous system. Snehana is given daily for three to seven days, as indicated.
Swedne is sudation or sweating and is given every day immediately following the Snehana. An herbal concoction may be added to the steam to further loosen the toxins from the individual. Swedne liquefies the toxins and increases the movement of toxins into the gastro-intestinal tract.
B. Pradhana karma:
Main purification Measures for Panchakarma
Vamana is a medicated emisis therapy which removes Kapha toxins collected in the body and the respiratory tract. This is given to people with high Kapha imbalance. Daily treatment involves loosening and mobilizing the toxins in an effort to finally eliminate them.
Benefits of Vamana: Bronchial Asthma, Chronic Allergies, Hay Fever, Vitiligo, Psoriasis, Hyperacidity, Chronic Indigestion Nasal Congestion, Edema, Obesity, Psychological disorders, Skin Disorder.
Virechana is medicated purgation therapy which removes Pitta toxins from the body that are accumulated in the liver and gallbladder, it completely cleanses the gastro-intestinal tract. It is a safe procedure without side effects.
Benefits of Virechana: help root out Chronic Fever, Diabetes, Asthama, Skin Disorder such as Herpes, Parplegia, Hemiplegia Joint disorders, Digestive disorders, Constipation, Hyperacidity, Vitiligo, Psoriasis, Headaches, Elephantiasis and Gynecological disorders.
Basti (Enema) is considered as the mother of all Panchkarma treatments since it cleanses the accumulated toxins from all the 3 doshas, Vata, Pitta, Kapha, through the colon. Basti is also highly beneficial as a rejuvenating treatment Sneh Basti – a) Medicated oil or ghee and Niruha – b) herbal decoction is given as enema to clean the colon and increase the muscle tone. This procedure is usually applied for 8 to 30 days, based on the medical condition of a person.
Benefits of Basti: Hemiplegia, Paraplegia, Colitis, Convalescence, Cervical Spondylosis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome Constipation, Digestive disorders, Backache & Sciatica, Hepatomegaly & Splenomegaly, Obesity, Piles, Sexual Debility & Infertility.
Nasya involves administration of medicated oil through the nose to cleanse accumulated Kapha Toxins from the head and neck region. Based on the medical condition of a person, it can be given up to 30 days.
Benefits of Nasya: Include Trigeminal Neuralgia, Bels Palsy, Improves memory & eye sight Insomnia, Elimination of excess Mucus Hyper Pigmentation in the face, pre-mature praying of hair, clarity to voice, Headaches of various orogin Hemiplegia, loss of smell and taste, Frozen shoulder, Migraine, Stiffness of the neck, Nasal Allergies Nasal Polyp, Neurological dyscfunctions, Paraplegiar, Sinusitis.
Raktamokshana is procedure to cleanse the blood and is advised only in very rare conditions. It is not advisable during general Panchakarma Most Ayurveda Centers including ours do not offer Raktamokshana due to high risk of infection involved in blood cleansing.
Paschat karma and Rasayana:
Paschatkarma and Rasayana:After all the five or selected therapies of panchakarma, there is Paschatkarma. Paschatkarma or helps body re-establish its normal metabolism and immunity. Post treatment processes are essential to normalize digestion. It is only over many days that the persons can return to his normal diet through different steps of introduction of vegetables and other food items. Rasayana chikitsa or rejuvenation therapies which include administering of specific rasayana preparations that help bring back