Panchakarma is the way to achieve a balanced body, mind and soul. It is more than therapy; it is detoxification and rejuvenation of the system called the human being.
Ayurveda is not merely a medicinal science, but is the art of changing individual lifestyles for achieving health. A healthy body and healthy mind leads to a longer life without health issues. Ayurveda professes preventing the diseases by detoxification and rejuvenation therapies. Most of the modern diseases are caused due to toxins accumulating in our body. Therapies prescribed in Ayurveda work on removing the cause of the health problems. Hence when you are healthy after the treatment, re-occurrence is very rare.
Panchakarma is one of the main therapies in Ayurvedic science. It achieves a balance between mind, body and soul via the two step process of detoxification and rejuvenation.
What exactly is Panchakarma?
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. 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.
Starting the Process of Therapy
The Panchakarma therapy is primarily divided into three distinct steps:
1: – Before therapy procedures – The things done before the actual detoxification starts.
2: - Main Detoxification – The major detoxification process.
3: - After therapy – Adjusting the diet and the lifestyle after the detoxification is completed.
Before the main therapy Procedures (Purvakarma)
Before trying to remove the toxins, the various channels in our body where the toxins get accumulated are softened. This makes the toxins loosely attached to the places which can be pulled out in the detoxification process. This is done by increasing the fire element in the body. Herbal medications are also administered internally for this procedure. This is known as heating (deepana) and digesting (pachana) in Ayurvedic term. The process may take 3 to 5 days depending on the diagnosis. After this process the whole body is oiled externally and internally with medicated Ghrita (Ghee/Clarified Butter) or oil. The process of oleation of the body is known as "Snehana".
The therapy first follows internal oleation. How much to intake and for how long is determined by the Ayurvedic therapist after determining the body type as per Doshas. Generally medicated Ghrita (Ghee/Clarified Butter) is used for internal oleation. The person under the treatment is advised to eat light food a day prior to the first day of internal oleation. After consuming the Ghrita (Ghee/Clarified Butter) warm water intake at regular intervals is recommended. After the Ghrita (Ghee/Clarified Butter) is digested completely, light food intake is advised. The process of external oleation takes 1 or 2 days depending on the body constitution.
External oiling follows internal oleation. The whole body or a apart of the body is massaged. The oil or ghee used is mixed with specific herbal medicines. Many types of external oleation methods are described in Ayurvedic texts. Some of them are:
Smearing (Lepa) – Spreading the medicated oil or Ghrita over the whole body or a part of the body.
Whole body Massage (Abhyanga) – The oil is spread over the whole body. Then proper massage is done until the body absorbs the oil. It lubricates the body parts and brings the Vata Dosha in balance.
Kneading (Mardana) - This is a much intense process of massage when the whole body or a part is kneaded using fists and fingers. This removes all the pain in the body.
Trampling (Padaghata) – The whole is trampled upon by foot after applying a bit of medicated fatty substances. This makes the muscles and joints supple.
Oil Pulling (Gandusha) – The mouth is filled completely with oil, without swallowing and retained for up to 30 minutes.
Oil pouring between the brows (Shirodhara) – In this oil is poured continuously from a pot in between the brows for an hour. The stream of the oil is kept constant. This is especially for head region and people suffering from insomnia.
Oil pouring over the whole body (Pizhichil) – Lukewarm medicated oil is continuously poured all over the body and gentle massage is done at specific points. This relives the muscular pain.
After the external oleation the body is heated with the help of steam bath. This leads to profuse sweating and expelling of toxins through sweat. The procedure is popularly known as Swedana. The oleation and Steam bath helps to soften up the toxin accumulated points and makes it easy to remove them in the main process.
The main detoxification process (Pradhan Karma)
After the toxins are loosened up in the pre-Panchkarma process, the main process of detoxification is started. This includes five major methods in five steps. The methods are:
Emesis (Vamana) – The process involves giving internal and external oleation followed by fomentation therapy (subsequent hot and cold therapy) for a couple of days. This helps the toxins to loosen up and get converted into liquid form. Then medicines are given to remove the toxins which include herbal and natural resins. This natural medication induces vomiting and helps to remove toxins orally. Persons with Kapha dominant body type benefit the most from Vamana therapy. Conditions like asthma, acidity and obesity can be very effectively treated by this method.
Purgation (Virechana) – The elimination of toxins through bowels is known as Purgation. The body is first given oleation internally and externally followed by medicines to remove the toxins. Then an herbal laxative is given to facilitate easy removal of toxins via bowels. This mode of therapy is recommended for body which is dominated by the Pitta Dosha. All the ailments of stomach and intestines like colitis and indigestion along with liver ailments like jaundice can be very effectively treated by Virechana.
Enema treatment (Basti) – Enema treatment was the discovery of Ayurveda and forms a vital part of the Panchkarma therapy. This therapy is extremely beneficial for chronic diseases. In this method various herbal preparations of ghee, oils and milk are passed into the rectum. The choice of liquid is as per the diagnosis. Rectum is the place most of the toxins accumulate and this method is the most effective in removing those toxins. People with Vata dominated body having medical conditions like piles, constipation and joint issue like pain and arthritis get immense relief through this therapy.
Nasal drops (Nasyam) – People with conditions like sinusitis and migraine are given intense therapy of Nasyam. This involves giving herbal drops in the nose after gentle massage of head and shoulder. The whole head region is cleansed of toxins and accumulated humor by this method. Head being the master of the body is the key to health. The therapy eliminates diseases like sleep disorders, respiratory disease, headache, neuron disorders and also helps in hair problems.
Bloodletting (Raktamokshan) – Impure blood can be the cause of most of the problems related to internal organs. The method of letting the blood out from specific parts of the body helps in cases of eczema, psoriasis and also in cases of abscesses.
The lifestyle changes after Panchakarma (Paschat Karma)
A strict dietary regimen is to be followed during Panchakarma therapy. After the main process changes in diet and lifestyle brings back the body in balance. The specific dietary requirements during and for sometime after Panchakarma are:
Using only lukewarm water for all activities which includes drinking and bathing or even washing hands and feet.
Abstaining from sexual activities which include masturbation.
Going to bed and snoozing off in day time is a complete no.
Natural urges like bowel call should not be curbed.
Extreme heat or cold should be completely avoided.
Soft and less spicy foods which are easily digestible should be included in the diet.
Early sleep and waking up at sunrise is recommended.
Exercise and all kinds of mental stress to be completely avoided.
Panchakarma is an extremely beneficial therapy and makes the body free of toxins. This means that the body is freed from the cause of diseases. You can feel the difference from within after undergoing this therapy at an Ayurveda center in India. Haritha Ayurveda center situated in the scenic holy place Rishikesh is one of the best in Northern part of India. We provide personalized care to all our guests.
Note: Panchakarma is intense Ayurvedic therapy and people having fever, injuries or pregnant women should avoid it. People having Cancer of lungs or testicles, HIV or AIDS, Hypertension, heart congestive condition, infectious disease or angina should also avoid this therapy. Special Ayurvedic therapies are made and recommended for these people. Another important thing is to consult a certified and experienced Ayurvedic physician. He/She will design the medication and therapy as per your body type and medical condition.