What is Panchakarma?
Panchakarma consists of basically five types of detox procedures. They are called Vaman, Virechan, Vasti or Bast, Nasya and Raktamokshna. The first process cleanses the chest level by eliminating the dried up Kapha (phlegm) accumulated in the lungs. The second process will cleanse the stomach thereby improving digestion and related metabolic functions. Third procedure called Vasti or Basti is considered to be very important as it involves the detoxification of the small intestine and the colon. The next step of detoxification called Nasya or Nasyam is to cleanse up the organs above the neck level.
The process of Panchakarma begins with Snehapana, a procedure of consuming prescribed dose of particular medicated ghee for couple of days, as recommended by the consulting physician, for disintegrating the dried up toxins in the body. This will be followed by whole body massage with medicated oil and thereafter providing steam bath. This is called Abhyanga or Abhyangam (whole body massage with medicated oil) and Sweden or Swedena. These are warm up treatments and result in better blood circulation in the body, nervous stimulation, muscle tone up and elimination of stiffness and overall relaxation. This will be followed for at least 7 days.
The next step is the process of administering Vaman or emissions which is a method of artificial vomiting out of toxins from the chest level. A specially prepared herbal drink will be administered to the patient and once it is taken the patient will feel nausea and thereafter vomiting process will star. This procedure may last for one or two hours as the case may be.
After Vaman the next procedure is Virechan or Vaidyaratnam. In this case also, Snehapana or Snehapanam is a prerequisite. This is a simple process of stomach cleaning.
The next procedure is Vasti or Basti. There are different types of Vasti. Vasti is a kind of medicated Enema. In this case, Matra Vasti with medicated oil is administered first for lubrication of the intestine. This is followed by Anuvasa Vasti. Here medicated herbal decoction is used for the enema and it will result in flushing out the colon. Vasti treatments are done for a week or more as the doctor considers appropriate.
Nasyam is performed usually after com the Vasti treatments. This involves massaging head, face, shoulder and surrounding areas, putting drops of certain medicated oil in both nostrils followed by administering steam. This procedure will eliminate the toxins accumulated in the nasal cavities and on the face. This treatment is highly beneficial for the treatment of sinusitis, Headaches, migraine, problems of eyes, ears etc.
The fifth procedure is Raktamokshna or blood purification.
Panchakarma is the fundamental procedure in Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda principle, disease or illness in the body is the result of accumulation of toxins. It may be due to wrong diet or lifestyle or metabolic disorders. If toxins are allowed to remain in the body it will lead to more problems and difficult situations. As the old saying, "a stich in time saves nine ", timely removal or elimination of the toxins from the body will be a great relief to a suffering person, as it will help to restore and regain health. For people who are not diseased or believes to be in good condition, time to time elimination of toxins from the body will result in rejuvenation and can enjoy a prolonged vibrant life. Thus the process of body detoxification in Ayurveda is known as Panchakarma. It can be easily understood by comparing the body to a vehicle or equipment. As it is required timely maintenance service to equipments or vehicles for smooth functioning, the human body also needs maintenance by way of detoxification and that is what is possible by doing Panchakarma treatments in Ayurveda. Hence, Panchakarma is the cardinal principle in Ayurvedic health care.