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 Pancha karma. 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.
Pancha karma is a very special Ayurveda treatment requiring proper guidance from a highly trained and skilful 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.
Which Are Panch Karmas
- Vamana ( Vomiting )
- Virechana (Purgation)
- Basti ( Medicated Herbal Enema )
- Nasya ( Nasal drops )
- Rakta mokshana( Blood Letting )
As the name suggests, Pancha in Sanskrit stands for Five and Karma are the therapeutic measures, therefore Pancha karma 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 vigour etc. In fact, most of the time, Pancha karma is an end in itself rather than a prelude to other therapeutic measures. These practices are extremely helpful in relieving deep seated diseases as well as being beneficial for maintaining and improving physical and mental health.
Other Sub Therapies
- 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.
Purva karma (First Part)
Purification Measures Before Pancha Karma
Before the actual operation of purification begins, there is a need to prepare the body in prescribed methods to encourage the release of toxins. The two procedures are Snehana and Swedana.
Full Body Massage with medicated oil
This is the oil massage. Oil is applied to the entire body with a particular type of massage. Oil massage also makes the superficial and deep tissues soft and supple, thus helping to remove stress and to nourish the nervous system. Snehana is given daily for three to seven days, as require for patient .This is external snehan. The internal Snehan is to swallow medicated ghee in increasing quantity which is decided as per patient. Both types of snehan help the toxins to move towards the gastrointestinal tract.
This is sweating and is given every day immediately following the Snehana. An herbal concoction may be added to the steam to further loosen the toxins from the individual. Swedana liquefies the toxins and increases the movement of toxins into the gastrointestinal tract.
Pradhana Karma (Second Part)
Main Purification measures of Pancha karma
Vamana : Vomiting Therapy
When there is congestion in the lungs causing repeated attacks of bronchitis, colds, cough or asthma, the Ayurvedic treatment is therapeutic vomiting – Vamana, to eliminate the Kapha which is causing the excess mucus.
Virechana : Purgation Therapy
When excess bile, Pitta, is secreted and accumulated in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine, it tends to result in rashes, skin inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of fever, vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Ayurvedic literature suggests in these conditions the administration of therapeutic purgation or a therapeutic laxative.
Basti : Medicated Enema
Vata’s predominant site is the colon. Ayurvedic Basti involves the introduction into the rectum of herbal concoctions of sesame oil, and certain herbal preparations in a liquid medium. Basti, is the most effective treatment of Vata disorders, although many enemas over a prescribed period of time are usually required. It relieves constipation, distention, chronic fever, cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, backache, sciatica and other pains in the joints. Many other Vata disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscle spasms and headaches may also be treated with Basti. Basti therapy is divided in two main types – Anuvasana Basti – medicated oil enemas and Niruha Basti – medicated enema of decoctions and medicated oils.
Nasya : Nasal Therapy
The nose is the doorway to the brain and it is also the doorway to consciousness. The nasal administration of medication is called Nasya. An excess of bodily humors accumulated in the sinus, throat, nose or head areas is eliminated by means of the nearest possible opening, the nose.
Rakta mokshan : Blood Letting
This is the removal of impure blood from body either directly through vein or with the help of leech. This is mainly useful in skin diseases.
FAQs - Pancha Karma
Can Pancha karma be done in any season?
No. Pancha karma treatment includes five types of detoxification methods. Each has separate purpose, recommended seasons & stage of patient. So those who do the whole Pancha karma in a week are just money makers & not following Ayurvedic concepts.
Does Pancha karma has any restrictions about age & sex?
Yes. Ayurveda has told some restrictions about Pancha karma procedures. Pregnant women, weak persons, children, etc. are not recommended for Pancha karma.
Do every persons need all five Pancha karma?
No. It is as per disease & season.
Can a normal person do Pancha karma?
Yes. As it is a detoxification treatment anyone can do all or selected Pancha karma according to their body constitution. This must be decided by a good doctor