The practice of Ayurveda has given the world immeasurable benefits. It is a 5000-year-old eternal science and it is the most widely practiced alternative medicine. Ayurveda in its true sense works to awaken your body’s true potential and helps you achieve a state of optimal emotional and physical balance.
Ayurvedic teachings focus on restoring a state of harmony in your body in order for us to achieve good health. One is encouraged to do this by developing a sense of compassion, not only to their own body but also to their surroundings.
One of the initial learnings of Ayurveda is the cleaning and renewal process that effectively cleans our body from inside known as panchakarma or panchakarma treatment. It is a well-known detoxification procedure and also found in the oldest medical teachings associated with Ayurveda.
The main idea behind panchakarma treatment is to use therapeutic oils to rejuvenate our mind, body, and senses and restore our inherent youth. According to the ‘Charak Samhita,’ the special therapy of using medicated oils and herbal treatments are mentioned in our Vedic writings and hare being practiced in Southern India for centuries, Panchakarma and Shirodhara being the most prevalent ones.
The original Panchkarma is a blend of five therapies - Basti (Herbal oil-based enemas), Nasya (nasal irrigation), Vamana (Therapeutic puking), Virechana (Purgation), Raktamokshana (Bloodletting).
These therapies are specifically designed to remove the body’s deep-seated imbalances and flush out all kinds of harmful toxins that prevent us from having a healthy and stress-free body.
Modern-day panchakarma treatment is a little different. It more focused on cleansing your body to return to its optimal balance and encourages sustainable improvements through lifestyle changes.
Some of the treatments used now are - massages with herbal oils, steam baths, cleansing through enemas, nasal irrigation, and customized diets.
These treatment options are still heavily focused on the original five methods and are proven to bring about long-lasting results.
The main aim of administering panchakarma is to not only cure bodily disorders but also release the stress that gets collected in our bodies over the years. Once the stress is removed, our body can make way for complete detoxification.
Panchakarma treatment, when performed on a regular basis, can prevent the accumulation of toxins at high levels and detect and correct imbalances early on.
Process of Panchakarma
The panchakarma treatment includes 3 steps -
- The phase of preparation (Poorva Karma)
- Primary procedures (Pradhana Karma)
- Post therapy activities (Paschat Karma)
The first step is crucial to get your body for complete detoxification and eradicate the imbalances lingering in your system. It includes activities that trigger the release of harmful substances in your body to promote ayurvedic healing.
The preparation phase starts with a therapy called Snehana or oleation. Oleation is the application of herbal oils or oily solutions to your body. There are a variety of oils prescribed in Ayurveda for panchakarma treatment and can be sourced locally. Oil and ghee is also to be ingested orally to lubricate the body internally.
Another aspect of Panchakarma treatment is fomentation. After oiling and massages, our tissues become tender and fomentation makes them more supple. The combination of both these therapies helps wash out toxins from the body easily.
During the primary procedures, the activities performed are a part of the original therapies listed on Vedic writings like -
Basti - Basti is Ayurveda’s resolve to combat medical conditions by enema. Solutions made with handpicked natural ingredients, ghee, herbal oils, milk, etc are inserted into the rectum, producing a variety of benefits. Basti is an effective solution for constipation, piles, and arthritis.
Nasya - This treatment works wonders for cleansing and detoxifying the forehead and temples. It includes nasal instillation of herbal drops and deep relaxation of the cerebral area.
Virechan - This therapy target removal of toxins from the body through our bowels. The patient is guided through ayurvedic remedies that include natural laxatives that purge out toxins from the bowels.
Vaman - Vaman is an oleation technique in which that includes therapies and medicines that clean the body internally through vomiting, allowing toxic substances to be removed from the body.
- Raktamoshan - Raktamoshan is done to carry out the purification of blood. A major cause of most health problems is toxic blood. When carefully administered by a professional, raktamoshan helps treat problems like psoriasis, pigmentation, dermatitis, etc.
Post Therapy Activities
After all the therapies are performed, we set foot into what is known as the renewal phase. It is time to put all the tools and learnings gained from the therapy and work towards maintaining one’s good health. The concept of rekindling one’s Agni is important in Ayurveda and maintenance activities like yoga, mediation, eating according to your dosha, and pranayam should be practice on a daily basis.
Benefits of Panchakarma treatment
Ayurveda states that the more we are able to assimilate the various aspects of life under a state of balance, the more would be our chances to be happy and disease-free. One simple rule that needs to be followed to implement this to adapt to what brings us good health and discard the rest and that is the main idea behind panchakarma therapy.
Here are some benefits of the treatment that assist in rekindling our bodies natural healing capabilities -
Our digestive force is known as Agni. When our Agni functions in a robust manner, our tissues work better and we eliminate toxins from our body efficiently. When excess toxins get accumulated in the body, it hinders the absorption of energy and leads to a lack of nourishment. Panchakarma is a corrective measure to restore our physical and emotional Agni and reinstates our body’s inner balance to keep it disease-free and youthful.
Panchakarma treatment not only works on our digestive Agni but also on our emotional well-being. When we are in a state of emotional harmony, we process emotions with purity and discard whatever feels toxic. To experience good health, it is essential to eliminate both emotional and physical waste.
Having an irregular sleep pattern and insomnia can trigger a great amount of stress that ultimately leads to all kinds of imbalances in the body. Panchakarma therapy targets to correct and restore our body’s natural sleep cycle by a way of massages and mediation-based therapies. The treatment helps in establishing a natural flow to our sleep regimen and also prevents sleeping disorders.
Panchakarma is a holistic tool to remove all kinds of impurities from our bodies and encourages us to adopt a mindset of making healthier choices.
To thrive in our daily lives we need to give utmost importance to our health and well-being and the treatment gives us a chance to take care of ourselves properly and honor our bodies for all the work they do.
In the olden days, panchakarma was practiced whenever there was a change in seasons, and only practicing it with consistency brings about noticeable results.
Authored By : Tanya Thukral
Tanya is an Ayurvedic doctor who has a deep interest in spreading the message of healing and restoration through the age-old systems of Ayurveda and Yoga