Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Panchakarma Therapy
1. What does Panchakarma mean and what is it?
Just like a cleanup of the face is required for removing oil and dust before applying the foundation and make up, the body needs to be freed from toxins before commencing with therapies. The therapies will always have more effect after cleansing and have a positive effect on vigor& vitality, youthful looks and overall health. As the name suggests, Panchakarma is "Panch" meaning five and "Karma" actions which are done to cleanse the body of toxins. Five different therapies make up the Panchakarma. As per Ayurveda any therapy has to start with purification. It is a process of cleaning the body before other therapies of Ayurveda for rejuvenation are employed. The therapy is based on the Ayurvedic diagnosis of the body types (Doshas) and maintains the equilibrium of the five elements.
2. What are the health issues and diseases that can be treated with Panchakarma?
The first thing to understand is that Panchakarma is not the whole medication. It is preparing the body for further treatment. However this procedure itself is beneficial for management of various diseases. The massage and oleation done in Panchakarma can help in joint related problems like arthritis and bone related ailments like osteoporosis. Disease related to breathing system (Lungs and the esophagus) like cough, sinus and asthma can be effectively treated with Panchakarma. Neurons disorder like partial and full paralysis or migraine, removing addiction, skin related disease like eczema and Psoriasis caused by toxin accumulation in body can be treated by this method.
3. What are processes involved in Panchakarma?
The Panchakarma therapy follows the three step procedure of pre-therapy, main therapy and Post-Therapy. The pre therapy includes various procedures to loosen up the toxins in the body using internal and external administration of fluids. The fluids are chosen as per the body constitution of the person and are Ghrita (Ghee/Clarified Butter), medicated herbal oils or Cow’s milk. This process is called digestion (Pachana) of the toxic elements. The main therapy consists of five methods: (1) Emesis (Vamana Karma) – This includes removing toxins through the mouth by inducing vomiting. (2) Purgation (Virechana Karma) – Removal of toxins via bowels (3) Enema therapy (Basti Karma) – Administering oil and other fluids through enema in the rectum for toxin removal. (4) Nasal drops (Nasyam Karma) – Removing accumulated humour in the body to help in asthma and sinusitis. (5) Bloodletting therapy (Raktamokshan Karma) – Removing impure blood from body to remove toxins. Post therapy includes changing the lifestyle and diet to remain healthy and strong.
4. Are all the five processes to be taken by everyone?
A person who is getting Panchakarma done as a preventive measure against disease should undergo all the five processes. In case of people with disease one or two process may be employed with more intensity. However the Panchakarma involves going through all the five processes.
5. What are the lifestyle changes and diet changes that have to be done during and after Panchakarma?
The role of changing the lifestyle and diet is very important in Ayurvedic system of treatment. A specific diet has to be followed while undergoing the Panchakarma therapy and also after that. Each individual will be prescribed a different dietary regime as Ayurveda treats each body as a unique system and with unique dietary requirements. The diet is as per the body energy combination known as the Tridoshas and the dominant elements (Panch Mahabhutas).
6. How does Panchakarma differ from modern medical therapies?
Modern medical therapies use chemicals to treat body conditions. Each disease is attributed to a pathogen or chemical imbalance of the body. However Ayurveda sees the body as a part of nature and Panchakarma follows the natural cleansing process of removing the toxins. No synthetic chemicals are used in Panchakarma. Only naturally occurring herbs and things are used. This way Panchakarma is completely different from modern therapies.
7. How much time is required for the complete therapy?
Time taken for Panchakarma varies for every person. It can take from 14 days to 60 days depending on the specialized program prescribed by the Ayurvedic physician. Here is a brief account of the various processes and the minimum and maximum time taken. Vamana: Pre-therapy consists of Snehana (2-6 days) and Swedana (2-4 days). The main therapy takes a single day. Post-therapy takes 4 – 8 days. Virechana: Preparatory time is the same as Vamana and the main therapy takes 2-5 days. Basti: Time taken can vary from 8 to 30 days depending on the person’s condition and requirement. Nasyam: This karma can take from 2-6 days to complete. Raktamokshan: Time taken is just few hours.
8. What are the ways in which Panchakarma benefits us?
Panchakarma cleanses the body of almost all toxins and removes the cause of the modern diseases. Modern diseases are generally due to lifestyle problems or accumulation of toxins. Panchakarma (1) Prevents disease by removing the root causes. (2) Promotes good physical and mental health. (3) Improves the quality of life and also treats some chronic diseases which are incurable by Western medicines.
9. Are there any side effects of the Panchakarma therapy?
If taken in the supervision of a certified and experienced therapist Panchakarma is completely free of side effects. Precautionary measures are prescribed in the therapy and should be followed diligently. Eating light food while undergoing the therapy is a must for all the patients undergoing therapy.
10. How often does the cleansing process be done in a year?
It is advised to get Panchakarma done two times in a year. However once in a year will do fine.
11. Can a healthy person undergo the cleansing process of Panchakarma?
Even people not suffering from any disease should go for Panchakarma. Since it cleanses body of toxins, it can prevent the onset of disease in a healthy person. After all "Prevention is better than cure".
12. Which is the ideal season for undergoing Panchakarma?
All the seasons are equally good as Panchakarma is not a standard procedure but is specialized as per the environmental conditions and the body constitution of the person undergoing the therapy.