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Panchakarma

by Ayurveda Therapist on June 28, 2011

Panchakarma is Ayurveda’s primary purification and detoxification system. Panchakarma, meaning “five therapies” is comprised of 5 therapeutic detox processes including: Vamana, Virechana, Nasya, Basti and Raktamoskshana. The series of five therapies help to remove deeply rooted stress and illness from your life and past life. Ama in the cells causes the cell to be unconscious. The cells also carry memories. Panchakarma cleans the impurities allowing for the consciousness of the cells to return. Following Panchakarma, the doshas are balanced as the toxins of the body are removed. Traditional Panchakarma requires at least 45 days for the full treatment and may last up to 3 months.

Seasonal Pancharkarma –
Cleansing procedures based on the season to maintain health and prevent disease.
• Summer/ Fall – Purgation
• Winter / Spring – Vomiting treatment and nasal drops.
• Oil application and enema (Vasti) to remove excess dryness in rainy season.

Importance of Panchakarma:
1) To maintain the health of healthy individuals
2) To prevent diseases
3) To cure diseases
4) It gives quick and spontaneous results in chronic, degenerative diseases.
5) It gives non-specific immunity against any diseases.

3 Steps involved in Panchakarma –

I. Purvakarma – Before Panchakarma

1) Amapancha and Agni Deepana: to digest ama and increase agni.
• Restricted diet before treatment begins
• Recommend herbs specific for prakruti to drink AM/PM on empty stomach starting 3-21 days before Panchakarma.
• Recommend Triphala 3 days before
• At least need 20-30% agni. Without agni, no consciousness in cells, nothing can be absorbed.
• Kashayams are given specific for dosha and current imbalance
2) Snehana(m): Oilation (internal with ghee or external with oil)
• The word sneha means which brings oilyness, smoothness, softness to the channels. It also means love and affection (caring). Serves to soften the impurities in the body.
• During Ghee oilation, breakfast is skipped, lunch is rice soup, and dinner is kitcharee.
3) Swedana: Sweating (Dry and Wet forms)
• Serves to liquefy the impurities – moves form outer track to inner track and then are expelled out of the body

Purvakarma is the backbone of Panchakarma therapy. Proper treatment yields very effective results of Panchakarma. It is not only a preparatory procedure for doing Panchakarma but also done as the main treatment for some diseases.

II. Pradhana Karma – Panchakarma

1) Vamana – This therapy is a medicated emesis process administered orally. It removes Kapha toxins that have collected in the body and the respiratory tract. Vamana is recommended mainly for people with high Kapha imbalance. Daily treatment involves loosening and mobilizing the toxins in an effort to ultimately eliminate the toxins fully.

Benefits of Vamana: bronchial asthma, chronic allergies, hay fever, hyperacidity, chronic indigestion, nasal congestion, edema, obesity, psychological disorders, and skin disorders such as psoriasis and vitiligo.

2) Virechana – 
This therapy is a medicated purgation process, which removes Pitta toxins from the body that have accumulated in the liver and gallbladder. Additionally, this process thoroughly cleanses the gastro-intestinal tract. It is a safe procedure without side effects. Medicine is given orally and after it is digested removes ama due to excess pitta through purgation.

Benefits of Virechana: reducing chronic fever, diabetes, asthma, skin disorders such as herpes psoriasis, and vitiligo, paraplegia, hemiplegia joint disorders, digestive disorders, constipation, hyperacidity, headaches, elephantiasis and certain gynecological disorders. 



3) Basti – This therapy is also known as enema or colonic irrigation. Basti is considered the most highly regarded of all Panchakarma treatments as it cleanses the accumulated toxins from all the 3 doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, through the colon. Basti is also highly beneficial as a rejuvenating treatment. There are a few types of Basti: Niruha Basti is eliminative whereas Asthapana Basti delays aging and Kashay Vasti, which is a decoction. Basti is given through anal route to relieve excess impurity/ama due to vata. Basti can also be given for weight loss with a kapha-reducing kashayam. Medicated oil or ghee and an herbal decoction are 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, cervical spondylosis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, digestive disorders, backache & sciatica, hepatomegaly & splenomegaly, obesity, Hemorrhoids, sexual debility, and infertility.

4) Sneha Vasti or Anuvasana Vasti is nourishing and can be administered for joint pain or for someone requiring more general nourishment for their body, mind, and soul.

5) Nasaya – This therapy cleanses the nose through the administration of medicated oil. Removes impurities due to accumulated Kapha toxins, from neck and head region. 8-12 drops in each nostril. Depending on individual needs, this treatment is given up to 30 days.

Benefits of Nasya: trigeminal neuralgia, Bel’s Palsy, poor memory, poor vision, insomnia, excess mucus, hyperpigmentation of the face, pre-mature greying of the hair, headaches, hemiplegia, loss of smell and/or taste, frozen shoulder, migraine, neck stiffness, allergies, nasal polyp, neurological dysfunctions, paraplegia, and sinusitis.

II. Karma – After Panchakarma
1) Samsarjana Karma (Diet) – 1 part rice to 16 parts water increasing gradually to semi-solid then solid foods over 7 days. Then, resume diet based on prakruti.
2) Rasayana (Rejuvenation)
3) Vajikarana (Aphrodisiac)

Types of Snehana (oilation)
Bahya Sneha – External Oilation
• Abhyanga
• Shirodhara
• Pichu
• Kadi Vasti
• Talam
Abhyantara Sneha – Internal Oilation
• Snehapana(m) – drinking medicated ghee internally

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