Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means
"five actions" or "five treatments." This is a process used to clean
the body of toxic materials left by disease and poor nutrition. Ayurveda says that
imbalanced doshas create waste matter. This waste matter is called Ama in Ayurveda. Ama is a foul-smelling,
sticky, noxious substance that needs to be evacuated from the body as thoroughly as
Panchakarma will stick out the excess
doshas (or imbalances in the dosha) along with the sticky Ama out of your system by means
of the body waste evacuation channels such as sweat glands, urinary tract, intestines,
etc. Panchakarma is, thus, a balancing operation. It involves daily massages and oil
baths and is extremely pleasant experience. Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma as a seasonal
treatment for toning your mind body system. (This is like a tune up for the car.)
Panchakarma is a five-fold therapy; it is
highly personalized based on the needs of the individual depending on the body type, dosha
imbalances etc. Usually, only parts of the five therapies are needed.
Prior to starting Panchakarma, oiling and
heating of the patient is done to bring the excess doshas from the limbs to their proper
reservoirs in the digestive tract, from which they can be expelled. The doshas are then
excited by a procedure called utkleshana, a therapy that makes the excess dosha anxious to
leave the body. One to three nights prior to the start of Vamana, the patient is asked to
drink one cup of oil two to three times a day until the stool becomes oily, or he feels
nauseated (This treatment is called oleation or sneehana). Kapagenic diet is given to
aggravate Kapha. On the morning of the Panchakarma, kapha aggravating foods such as
basmati rice and yogurt with salt is given to further aggravate the kapha. Oil massage and
fomentation are administered on the night before the day of Vamana. The application of the
heat to the chest and back will liquefy kapha.
This treatment is used when there is congestion in the
lungs causing repeated attacks of bronchitis, cough, cold or asthma. The objective of the
therapy is to induce vomiting to get rid of the mucus causing excess kapha. A drink
consisting of licorice and honey, or calamus root tea is given to the patient.
substances used include salt, and cardamom) Vomiting is induced by rubbing on the tongue.
4-8 vomiting is the target. After vomiting the patient will feel very comfortable; most of
the congestion, wheezing and breathlessness will disappear along with the clearing of the
Therapeutic vomiting is used for cough, cold, symptoms of
asthma, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, anemia, poisoning, skin diseases, diabetes,
lymphatic obstruction, chronic indigestion, edema (swelling), epilepsy (between attacks),
chronic sinus problems, and for repeated attacks of tonsillitis.
Therapy (Vireka, Virechan, herbal laxative therapy)
Virechan is the cleansing of the pitta and the purification
of the blood toxins. Generally, it is administered three days after the Vamana treatment.
If Vamana therapy is not needed, Virechan can be administered directly. Virechan cleanses
the sweat glands, small intestine, colon, kidneys, stomach, liver, and spleen. A number of
fine herbs are used as a laxative. These include senna, prune, bran, flaxseed husk,
dandelion root, psyllium seed, cow's milk, salt, castor oil, raisins and mango juice. When
taking these laxatives, it is important to adhere to restricted diet. Vireka is used for
treatment of skin diseases, chronic fever, piles, abdominal tumors, worms, gout, jaundice,
gastrointestinal problems, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.
Medicated enemas are used for various specific reasons. In
general, this treatment is used to flush the loosened doshas out through the intestinal
tract. There are over 100 specific enemas listed in Ayurveda.
Basti involves introducing medicinal substances such as
sesame oil, calamus oil, or other herbal decoctions in a liquid medium into the rectum.
Basti is especially good for vata disorders. It alleviates constipation, distention,
chronic fever, the common cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, vomiting,
backache, neck pain and hyper acidity. Such vata disorders as sciatica, arthritis,
rheumatism, and gout can also be treated by Basti. There are about 80 vata related
disorders in Ayurveda. About 80 percent of them can be treated with medicated enemas.
Since vata is mainly located in the colon and bones, the
medication is administered rectally.
Type of Enemas:
Oil Enema or Nirhua Basti - 1/2 to 1 cup of warm sesame oil
(for chronic constipation)
Decoction enema or Anuvasana Basti (Herbal enema) - 1/2 cup
of gotu kola or comfrey decoction with 1/2 cup of warm sesame oil
Nutrition Enema - 1 cup of warm milk, 1 cup of meat broth or
1 cup of bone marrow soup
The enema should not be given to persons suffering from
chronic indigestion, bleeding from rectum, cough, breathlessness, diarrhea, diabetes,
severe anemia, to aged or to children under 7. Don't give decoction enemas to people
suffering from acute fever, diarrhea, cold, paralysis, heart pain, or severe pain in the
Administration Nasya (herbal inhalation therapy)
This treatment involves inhaling vapor from medicinal herbs
that have been infused in boiling water. It is used mostly to eliminate kapha-oriented
problems, of ear, eyes, nose, and throat disorders such as migraine, sinusitis, catarrh,
The nose is the gateway to the brain and to consciousness.
Prana, or life energy, enters the body through breath taken in through the nose. Nasal
administration of medication helps to correct the disorders of prana affecting the higher
cerebral, sensory and motor functions. Nasya is indicated for dryness of the nose, sinus
congestion, hoarseness, migraine headache, convulsions and certain eye and ear problems.
Types of Nasya
- Virechan (cleansing with use of powders or herbs)
- Nutritional Nasya (for vata)
- Sedative Nasya
- Nasya decoctions
- Ghee or oil Nasya
- Nasal massage
Substances such as calamus powder, gotu kola, onion,
garlic, black pepper, cayenne, ginger, ghee oil decoctions are used in Nasya. Nasal
medication should not be administered after a bath, food, sex, drinking alcohol, during
pregnancy, or menstruation.
Letting (Rakta Moksha)
Blood letting is used to eliminate toxins that are absorbed
into the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract. This process purifies the blood.
It is used for disorders such as repeated attacks of skin disorders such as
rash, eczema, acne, scabies, leucoderma, chronic itching, and hives. It was also found
effective for enlarged liver and spleen, and for gout.
Blood letting, which should only be administered by a
qualified physician, is useful to relieve several pitta disorders such as acne and rash.
If administered properly, it stimulates the antitoxic substances in the blood stream, thus
developing the immune mechanism in the blood system.
Do not administer blood letting in cases of anemia, edema,
weakness or to very old and very young persons.
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