What is Panchakarma?
Ayurveda emphasizes preventative and healing therapies along with various methods of purification and rejuvenation. Ayurveda is more than a mere healing system, it is a science and art of appropriate living which helps to achieve longevity. It can also guide every individual in the prevention of disease and long term maintenance of health. To achieve this balanced state of body, mind and consciousness, Ayurveda prescribes Panchakarma Therapy for the cleansing of body toxins.
As the name suggests, Pancha in Sanskrit stands for Five and Karma are the therapeutic measures, therefore Panchakarma means five types of therapeutic measures. These are undertaken for the purification of the body and Ayurveda considers it necessary before the start of any other therapy. The logic being that as a cloth needs to be purified or cleaned of impurities and dust before it can be permeated with a new color, similarly the body needs to be purified before it can be permeated with new colors of youthfulness, health and vigor etc. In fact, most of the time, Panchakarma is an end in itself rather than a prelude to other therapeutic measures.
The Panchakarma therapy of Ayurveda is comprised of five basic types of advanced treatment for the evacuation of vitiated Dosha (toxic materials) from the body. One can consider this as a body de-tox program. There are so many subtypes of this therapy and different types of herbal massages, fomentation’s such as steam, external oil treatments, Basti (medicated enemas), Virechana (purgation through herbs), Vamana (emesis through herbs), Nasya (nasal administration of oils) etc. are also incorporated. These practices are extremely helpful in relieving deep seated diseases as well as being beneficial for maintaining and improving physical and mental health.
Other specific therapies of Panchakarma:
- Shirodhara: It is recommended in anxiety, depression, hypertension, insomnia etc.
- Kati Basti: Useful in different backaches.
- Janu Basti: Useful in arthritis of the knee joint.
- Nadi Sweda: Useful in pain disorders of different sites.
- Pinda Sweda: Useful in neurological ailments and in the management of different pains.
- Shashti-Shali Pindasweda: Useful in neurological ailments.
- Tarpanam: Useful in the ailments of the eyes.
- Shirobasti: Useful in hair loss and the falling hair and other diseases of skull.
- Uttara Basti: Useful in genitourinary diseases and infertility of female.
- Udvartana: It is a medicated Ubtan to be applied over the skin for fair and glowing skin.
According to Ayurveda, every human being is a unique phenomenon of cosmic consciousness. The three Dosha (humors) determine every individual’s psychosomatic temperament or constitution. Vata (ether plus air), Pitta (fire plus water) and Kapha (water plus earth) are called the Tridosha, meaning the three Dosha. The internal environment is governed by Vata -Pitta -Kapha (V-P-K), which is constantly reacting to the external environment. The wrong diet, habits, lifestyle, incompatible food combinations (e.g. milk and fish, melons and grain, yogurt and meat or cooked honey etc.), seasonal changes, repressed emotions and stress factors can all act either together or separately to change the balance of V-P-K. According to the nature of the cause, Vata, Pitta or Kapha undergo aggravation or derangement that produce Ama (toxins). To stop the further production of Ama, Ayurvedic literature suggests placing the patient on a proper diet together with an appropriate lifestyle, habits and exercise, and administering a proper cleansing program such as Panchakarma.
Word of caution
Panchakarma is a very special Ayurveda treatment requiring proper guidance from a highly trained and skillful Ayurveda practitioner. One should consult with an Ayurveda physician, not just someone with a modest amount of training prior to deciding on these cleansing procedures. Panchakarma is given individually to each person according to their specific constitution and specific disorder or needs; the treatment requires close observation and supervision.
Why I shall opt for Panchakarma?
It is recommended for healthy persons and also as a preventive treatment to keep physically and mentally fit and energetic. It is also given, although not always, at the junction period between two seasons, thus helping a person to prepare their internal environment for the oncoming season.