PanchaKarma is the Ayurvedic cleansing process used to clear the body of toxic materials caused by poor nutrition or by disease. It is the ultimate healing experience for both body and mind, for strengthening the immune system, detoxifying the body, and restoring well-being or balance. Panchakarma is the most effective healing system because it promotes rejuvenation and detoxification. It is recommended when a person is experiencing illness, just feeling out of balance, or on a seasonal basis. PanchaKarma is a very enjoyable experience; it purifies the tissues at a deep level, and involves daily oil baths, massages, nasal administrations and herbal enemas.
Meaning ‘five treatments’ or ‘five actions’, PanchaKarma is a Sanskrit word. Our body will usually efficiently process and remove waste materials, including the vitiated Doshas, however because of our poor exercise, dietary habits, lifestyle or genetic predisposition, the metabolic co-factors, digestive enzymes, hormones and Agnis which control and regulate the body’s internal homeostasis become upset. This leads to disease, because of the accumulation and spread of toxins throughout the body. In Ayurveda these waste materials are called Ama; Ama is an unpleasant sticky, bad-smelling and harmful substance which should be completely eradicated from the body.
PanchaKarma is used as a seasonal treatment in the maintenance of physical and mental hygiene, and balance. It corrects imbalances and removes excess Doshas, in addition to eliminating harmful Ama from your system by means of the body’s own organs and elimination methods, such as sweat glands, colon, bladder, lungs, stomach, urinary tract, intestines, etc.
PanchaKarma: A Personalised Therapy
PanchaKarma is a very individualized, five-fold therapy, based specifically on the individual’s needs. The Ayurvedic physician’s prescribed treatment plan depends on the person’s Ayurvedic constitutional type, age, immune status, Doshic imbalances, digestive strength, and many other factors. It may be that only parts of the five treatments are required, as it is totally dependent on the individual. The procedures will be administered by a trained therapist in a definite sequence for a specific period of time.
PanchaKarma: Initial Consultation
As with any other medical procedure, your therapy will begin with an initial consultation by an experienced Ayurvedic Physician, who will be able to determine your constitutional type (Prakriti), the specific health problems (if there are any), and the correct intensity for the prescribed therapies.
These treatments have proven to stabilise metabolic activity and to create measurable brain wave coherence. The mind and body relax into a wonderful sense of peacefulness, and while in this state it is possible to release emotional tensions and to cleanse toxins from body tissues.
Description of Therapies
The following is a description of the different therapies that may be carried out during a PanchaKarma program, representing actual treatments carried out in this ancient method of extending life. During the course of a day’s treatments, sometimes up to four therapies are linked together.
- Abhyanga is an herbal-oil massage prepared specifically for the individual; it is designed to be absorbed through the layers of the skin deeply, break up impurities, relax the mind and body, and stimulate both lymphatic and arterial circulation. It encourages the elimination of stagnant waste and allows nutrients to reach starved cells. The result is an increased state of awareness, directing the body’s internal healing system.
- Shirodharais administered by systematically and gently pouring warm herbal oil over the forehead; coordinating and calming the mind, body and spirit, and synchronizing brain waves.
- Swedana is an herbalised steam bath, individually prepared, in which the heart and head are maintained at a cool temperature while the rest of the body is heated. This allows for the removal of emotional, mental and physical toxins which are deeply lodged within the tissues. The cool heart and head provide an open and calm sensation, while the therapeutic treatment over the body penetrates and deeply cleanses without the body being stressed and overheated.
- Basti The herbal enema designed to draw toxins out from the colon is Basti. Basti is the last stage of each daily Panchakarma therapy treatment. From the effects of Basti, the newly released impurities from the day’s treatment are then flushed from the body. In addition, Basti transports Ayurvedic medicines into the tissues and blood to transform the memory of toxic and damaged cells. It is probably one of the most powerful and most important aspects of PanchaKarma treatment.
- Nasya is a prescription of oil and herbs which is inhaled through the nose, resulting in a clearing of the excessive mucus in the sinuses. It is a very important treatment when medicating the central nervous system because it prevents the severe dryness which is the cause of a lot of allergic and respiratory ailments.