Panchakarma (meaning "five actions")
is a process used to clean the body of toxic materials left by disease and poor nutrition, there are regional variations in therapeutic procedure as well as in the equipment used. According to Charaka
, the five actions are Nasya
(nasal therapy), Vamana
(emesis or vomiting), Virechana
(purging) and two kinds of Vasti (therapeutic enema), Nirooha Vasti
and Sneha Vasti
. Herbal decoctions are used for Nirooha Vasti and herbal oils for Sneha Vasti. This five major procedures in Panchakarma, is meant to purify the whole body by eliminating the accumulated toxins from it.
Another school, that of the surgeon Sushruta
, regards Rakta
(blood) also as a dosha (humour), the vitiation of which can cause diseases, and advocates Raktamokshana
(bloodletting) as the fifth in the Panchakarma therapies. In this school the five therapies are Nasya, Vamana, Virechana, Vasti and Raktamokshana
. Bloodletting also includes Leeching practise.
This fivefold therapy is aimed at Shodhana
, the eradication of the basic cause of disease. Shodhana or eradication
, along with Shamana
, the mitigation of the disease and its symptoms, are the two concepts of disease management in Ayurveda
. Panchakarma is also believed by practitioners to have a rejuvenating
effect when it is subject to a healthy person
is always performed in three
stages; Purva Karma (pre-treatment)
, Pradhana Karma (primary treatment)
and Paschat Karma (post-treatment)
. The patient who opts for any one of the five therapies must invariably undergo all three stages.
Purva Karma (pre-treatment)
Pre-treatment consists of oil therapy, massage and fomentation therapy.
Snehana (oleation or oil therapy) and Swedana (sudation) two Purva Karma procedures are the most important preparatory measures to have Panchakarma.
Oil massage (Sanskrit: abhyanga)
is an important treatment in Ayurveda. It involves a therapeutic massage, which is believed by followers to treat disease. The massages are done with two therapists working on either side of the patient who lies on a wooden bed called a droni in Sanskrit.
is a fomentation therapy given to the whole or part of the body depending on the disease. Steam of medicated herbs is given, using the fire-saagni sweda. Without using the fire fomentation, anagni sweda is done by sitting under the sun, being in thirst, hunger, covering the body with thick bed sheets, or being in a closed dark room.
Pradhana Karma (primary treatment)
The ama that reaches the Koshta is believed to be eliminated during the Pradhana Karma (primary treatment). This is the panchakarma itself: Nasya (nasal therapy), Vamana (emesis or vomiting), Virechana (purging) and two kinds of Vasti (therapeutic enema), Nirooha Vasti and Sneha Vasti.
Paschat Karma (post-treatment)
Dietary regimens, restricted bodily exertion and the intake of herbs believed to promote health come under the Paschat Karma (post-treatment)
. Paschatkarma is administering required food for the body after the purification of the body, to intensify the agni
(digestion power) which will subside after Panchakarma. During the treatments, food is given according to the degree of purification intended for the body.
The nose is the gateway to the brain and to consciousness. So this is one of the best ways of treatment. 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, and bronchitis.
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. (Other substances used include salt, and cardamom) Vomiting is induced by rubbing on the tongue. After vomiting the patient will feel very comfortable; most of the congestion, wheezing and breathlessness will disappear along with the clearing of the sinus.
Virechana acts to remove residual toxins in the small intestine. In this gentle purgation therapy various cleansing herbs and oils are ingested over a series of days. Virechana acts to reduce conditions of high Pitta dosha where there are impurities in the blood, congested liver and gall bladder, low grade fever, and headaches. It is recommended as a healthful cleanse for individuals with high Pitta dosha and during seasonal changes.
An enema (plural enemata or enemas) is the procedure of introducing liquids into the rectum and colon via the anus. The increasing volume of the liquid causes rapid expansion of the lower intestinal tract, often resulting in very uncomfortable bloating, cramping, powerful peristalsis, a feeling of extreme urgency and complete evacuation of the lower intestinal tract
Literally meaning Blood Letting, Raktamoksha is performed to eliminate the toxins from the bloodstream through the gastrointestinal tract. It is a safe, painless and highly effective form of Panchakarma. Raktamoksha entails the refinement of blood, hence administered to treat disorders pertaining to skin, such as urticaria, rash, eczema, acne, scabies, leucoderma, chronic itching and hives.
In this treatment lukewarm medicated herbal oils are applied all over the body by two trained masseurs in a special rhythmic pattern continuously for about 60 to 90 minutes per day. This treatment is very useful for Rheumatic diseases like Arthritis, Paralysis, Hemiplegia, Quadriplegia, Paralysis agitans, sexual weakness, nervous weakness and nervous disorders etc.
Herbal leaves and herbs or herbal powders are applied to the whole body in a bowl with hot medicated oils. This treatment is for Osteoarthritis, Arthritis with swelling, Spondilosis, sports-injuries etc.
In this process, some herbal oils, medicated milk etc are poured on the forehead in a continous folw. This treatment is mainly for insomnia, vatta dominated diseases, mental tension and certain skin diseases.
This treatment is for the eyes. It has the best results for the eyesight.
Benefits: Relaxes the eyes, improves the eyesight. Suggested for people who are spending a lot of time in front of a computer
- Steam bath
This is a unique treatment and under this treatment leaves of medicinal plants are boiled and resulting steam is passed to the whole body. This treatment is helpful in to eliminate impurities from the body, reducing fat and also helpful in fighting with some skin diseases.