What is Panchakarma (Detox): Panchakarma is the purification therapy used in Ayurvedic medicine. The word panchakarma means five actions and refers to five procedures intended to intensively cleanse and restore balance to the body, mind, and emotions. Panchakarma is used by Ayurvedic physicians as a treatment in a wide variety of health conditions and as a preventative measure.
Ayurvedic doctors believe that disease generally starts in the digestive system. Due to poor diets, bad health habits, and other causes, digestion can be impaired. Toxic substances, called “ama” accumulate in the body. Ama interferes with normal functioning and the flow of energy, creating imbalances and disease. One goal of panchakarma is to cleanse the body of excess ama, and to restore the body’s digestive power (Agni).
In panchakarma, there are two main types of therapy. Shamana is the supportive therapies that include pre-preparation therapy and post-therapy measures.
Pre-preparation therapy includes: Series of herbal oil massage and herbal steam bath.
Post-Panchkarma therapy: mainly focus on diet regime after panchkarma treatment.
The main treatment is called “shodhana” and refers to pancakarma’s five main cleansing and elimination procedures. In preparation for panchakarma treatment, oil therapy (termed snehana in Ayurveda) is the first treatment. Patients are given oil massages—abhyanga is full body massage and shirodhaya is forehead massage. A patient is fed dietary oils to lubricate the digestive tract, and if required administered oil enemas as well. For stress-related and mental health issues, a special oil massage is given during which oil is steadily poured onto the patient’s forehead. Oil therapy may be used for up to a week before the main treatment. Sweating therapy (swedana) is another preparation that uses saunas, steam rooms, heated clothing, herbal poultices, and exercise.
The five main methods of panchakarma according to Ancient Indian Physician “Susrutha” are:
1.Vaman (Therapeutic vomiting or emesis)
3. Basti (Enema using medicine)
4. Nasya (Application of medicine in Nose)
5. Rakta moksha (Bloodletting or detoxification of the blood)
The five main methods of panchakarma according to Ancient India Physician Charaka are:
1.Vaman (Therapeutic vomiting or emesis)
3. Nasya (Application of medicine in Nose)
4. Matra basthi (Enema Using tail / Gritam)
5. Kashaya basthi (Enema using Kashaya / decotion)
Pancha Karma in details: Ayurveda advises to undergo panchakarma at the onset of seasonal changes to keep both strong metabolism and remove toxins from accumulating in the body. The process finds the root cause of the problem and restore the essential balance in mind and body.
Going through the Panchkarma treatment is considered extremely effective prior to any rejuvenation treatment (rasayana/herbal medicines), for it cleanses the body, improves the digestion, the metabolic processes of the body and calms mind and emotions as well.
Basically, panchakarma is meant to make an individual most receptive to the curative process of ayurveda by removing accumulated waste in body and mind.
Depending on the health problem, one or more of these methods are employed to cleanse the body and promote healing. Other Ayurvedic therapies may be used in conjunction as well.
It is a process of therapeutic vomiting (induced), which helps eliminate the toxic or waste matters from the stomach and thoracic cavity. Kapha dominant diseases like severe skin diseases (psoriasis, urticaria); bronchial asthma, mental disorders etc. are selected for this treatment procedure. This process is not suggested for expecting mothers. Normally eight bouts of emesis are followed. The vomiting is stopped when yellow coloration is seen. Then, dhoomapana—inhalation of medicated fumes—is done through a special process. Finally, certain rules have to be followed called paschatkarma that basically implies strict diet regimen.
These days, Vamana (Emesis) is not that much common and is replaced by more gentle approach of detox therapy.
This eliminates the toxic or waste matters from the intestine. It also cures pitta or pitta-dominated diseases. A mild form of virechana without the poorvakarma, is an integral part of ayurvedic therapy. It is also used for prevention of diseases.
Basti (Enema using Herbs)
The process of vasti or therapeutic enema is resorted to eliminate toxins from colon, and strengthens the tissues. Two kinds of bastis are followed in ayurveda. Snehan basti is the basti where medicated oils are used. This is not advised in patients suffering from diabetes, anemia, diarrhea, and obesity. Poorvakarma is required before basti. For kashaya basti, honey, rock salt, sneham (oils), paste of medicines are required and mixed one by one in the above order. This concoction is taken in an empty stomach. After the process the patient is allowed to take bath.
Diseases due to vata are treated by this process.
Basti treatment can be replaced by other gentle detox therapy.
Nasya (Nasal Application of Herbs)
Nasya is instillation of medicine
through nose. It is an important procedure in ayurveda for the treatment of
sirorogas or diseases affecting head area. Nasya helps cleanse the head and
sinuses. The process is contraindicated in various psychological diseases, asthma
Here, the patient is to inhale lightly warmed oil. Warmed oil is massaged in the patient’s neck, shoulder, palm, face and sole before and after the process of nasya. Different timings are indicated for different dosha types. Morning time is prescribed for kapha diseases, noon in pitta diseases and evening in vata diseases.
Susruta give stress to Raktamoksha (blood-letting) procedure. The process of letting out the vitiated blood is termed raktamoksha. In this procedure localized impurity or poison from the blood is removed through various methods. In olden times, often leech was used to suck out the impure blood from the affected area. Blood-letting is also done to eliminate toxins from the blood stream causing various chronic skin disorders like urticaria, eczema, scabies and leukoderma etc.
Benefits of Panchkarma:
Eliminate toxins and toxic conditions from the body and mind.
Strengthen immune system and become more resistant to illness.
Reverse the negative effects of stress on the body and mind there by slowing the aging process.
Enhance self-reliance, strength, energy, vitality and mental clarity.
Improve the metabolism and assist in reducing weight
Strength of digestive fire and opens up the blocked channels
Rejuvenates the tissues and boosts Immunity