According to ayurvedic texts our body is crisscrossed by srotas or channels or tube like structures. This net work contains both microscopic and macroscopic channels. ( Digestive system, nervous system , circulatory system etc are few examples of these channels). Innumerable physiological process like breathing, blood circulation, fsecretions of enzymes, hormones etc , flow of signals, supply of nutrients, filtration of toxins , excretion of waste etc are aided by these tubular structures.
Diseases occur when toxins get accumulated in body and clog these channels. Unhealthy diet, lifestyle, stress, changes in environment etc lead to accumulation of toxins in body. These accumulated toxins have to be expelled out in order to keep our body healthy. Through panchakarma therapy these toxic clogs are removed to normalize the physiological process. Hence panchakarma therapy is called as detoxification therapy. Panchakarma therapy can be administered to a normal person to prevent diseases and keep his body healthy. The ideal season to expel toxins through this therapy, is rainy season.
Panchakarma therapy is also used as a purifactory therapy to cleanse the body before starting a treatment. A diseased body can be compared to a soiled cloth which can not be colored as we desire. Hence to attain the maximum benefits , the body has to be purified or cleaned before starting the treatment. The cleared channels help medicines to penetrate the deeper tissues.
The detoxification process contains three steps
1. Purvakarma – Preparations which have to be done before the detoxification
2. Pradhanakarma – The main detoxifying process
3. Pashchat karma – Rehabilitating the diet and lifestyle after the detoxification process.
Purvakarma : These steps are adopted to soften the channels and toxins, so that the toxins can get detached and eliminated easily during main detoxifying process. The hard toxic clogs are made to get loosened by increasing body fire or agni. Medicines are administered internally for this purpose. This process is called as “deepana and pachana” in ayurveda. ( the duration of this process is 3-5 days depending on the conditions and diseases)
Later whole body is oleated internally and externally with medicated oil or ghee. This process is called as “Snehana” .
Internal oleation is done by administering small quantities of medicated oil or ghee internally. The duration of internal oleation , quantity and type of medicated oil or ghee is determined by the physician after analyzing the body constitution of the patient. The patient has to eat liquid food or light food on the day prior to internal oleation. After consuming the medicated oil or ghee the patient is encouraged to sip warm water frequently. When medicated oil or ghee is completely digested, the patient is advised to consume light food.
External oleation is done after the completion of internal oleation.. The whole body or body part is massaged with medicated oil. Few types of external oleation are used as treatment methods. They are
1. Abhyanga ; Massaging whole body
2. Lepa – Smearing medicated oil and herbs
3. Mardana – Kneading the body parts with fingers and fists.
4. Padaghata – Tampling the body with foot.
5. Gandusha – The mouth is filled with oil and is retained for a longer period of time.Also known as oil pulling.
6. Parisheka (Pizhichil ) – The warm medicated oil is poured continuously over the entire body for an extended period of time.
Soon after oil massage the body or body part is exposed to heat through steam bath or other heating methods according to the physician’s choice. This process of exposing body to heat is called as swedana or sweating. Both snehana and swedana help to soften the channels and toxin clogs. Elimination of toxins becomes easy when channels are soft and toxins are loose.
Pradhana Karma : This is the main detoxifying process. The softened and loosened toxins are expelled from body by five methods. Considering these five major detoxifying methods the whole process is named as “Panchakarma” (Pancha = 5, Karma = process ) .
1. Vamana (through Emesis),
2. Virechana (Purgation),
3. Niruha basthi Basthi (enema with herbal concoctions ),
4. Anuvasana basthi (enema with medicated oil)
5. Nasya (nasal drops) and Raktamokshana (Blood letting).
(These processes will be explained in detail in next issue ). Physician can chose any of these detoxifying methods according to disease and prevalence of doshas.
Paschat Karma: A strict diet and lifestyle procedure has to be followed through out Panchakarma treatment. The rehabilitative procedures to bring back the diet and lifestyle to normal are considered as “paschat Karma”. In this stage the digestion power is brought back to normalcy. Medicines are administered to rejuvenate the body or to treat the disease.
During panchakarma treatment the following rules have to be strictly followed.
1. One has to use only warm water to drink, bathe and for other activities.
2. Person who is undergoing panchakarma therapy can not indulge in sex.
3. Sleeping in daytime is contraindicated.
4. Natural urges should not be controlled.
5. Exposures to extreme temperatures or weather conditions have to be avoided.
6. Keeping awake at night is not advisable
7. Foods which cause indigestion can not be consumed.
8. Exercise and mental stress have to be avoided.
The Panchakarma therapy is not advisable for persons in whom the following conditions exist.
• Cancer of the Lungs or Testicles
• HIV or AIDS
• Extreme Obesity
• Hypertension or high blood pressure
• Congestive Heart Failure
• Any Active Infectious Disease
• Angina Pectoris
The benefits of Panchakarma are as follows
• Toxins are eliminated from body .
• Doshas get Balanced.
• Stress is reduced and body gets relaxed.
• Slows ageing process and increases the lifespan.
• Increases glow and luster of skin.
• Boosts body immunity and body energy level.
• Enhances strength, energy, vitality and mental clarity
• Reduces dependence on alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
• Help to implement healthy diet and lifestyle.