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Ayurvedic treatments using Panchakarma । What Is Panchakarma

Panchkarma Treatments

Panchkarma is a Sanskrit word that means "five actions" or "five treatments". 

It is a process or a method of treatment that helps to cleanse the body of any accumulated toxins that are left behind in the body due to illness, stress, poor nutrition or decreased metabolism. 

In a healthy state, a body has an inborn ability to efficiently process and remove these toxins. 

However, our poor lifestyle, lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits, sleep deprivation, undue stress, imbalanced hormones, or genetic predisposition prevents the body to carry out its natural cleaning processes, leading to accumulation of Ama (toxins) in the body. 

Ama is described in Ayurveda as a foul-smelling, sticky, toxic substance that needs to be completely removed from the body. 

In the process of Panchkarma, the imbalanced doshas can be corrected and the excess Ama is thrown out of the body in the form of sweat, urine and stools. 

Panchkarma involves the cleaning and purification of the tissues and includes daily massages, steaming, oil baths, enemas and/ or nasal administrations. 

In fact, Ayurveda states that Panchkarma should be regularly practised to maintain mental and physical hygiene and balance. 

Panchkarma is a highly individualized form of therapy and is based on the needs of the individual depending on his/ her prakruti, dosha imbalance, age, digestive strength, immune system, and other factors. 

The first step of Panchkarma treatment involves Purvakarma which is the pre-purification step for Panchkarma. 


In this healing process, the body is prepared for purification using methods to encourage the release of toxins like:
  • Abhyanga or snehana- It is a herbal oil massage designed to deeply penetrate the skin, relax the mind-body, remove toxins, and stimulate both arterial and lymphatic circulation. The massage makes the superficial and deep tissues soft and supple while removing stress and nourishing the nervous system. Snehana is given for 3-7 days, as required.
  • Swedana is an herbalized steam bath, which is given to an individual after the snehana. With swedana, the deeply lodged toxins in the tissues are liquefied, which facilitates their movement to the gastro-intestinal tract.
The next step in Panchkarma involves Pradhanakarma, which is the main purification therapy of Panchkarma. It includes different Panchakarma treatment types like: 

1. Vamana

Vamana is a medicated emesis therapy. It removes the accumulated congestions in the gastrointestinal or respiratory tract which occur due to asthma, colds, bronchitis or coughs. 

Vamana is generally beneficial for people with Kapha imbalance. According to Ayurveda, suppressing your emotions can also induce the Kapha dosha

In this therapy, the patient is asked to eat Kapha-inducing foods at night. The next morning the Kapha is liquified by applying heat to the chest or back of the patient. 

Then, he is asked to drink a specific emesis-inducing ayurvedic drink, which helps in eliminating the toxins. 

Vamana process benefits those people who suffer from bronchial asthma, chronic allergies, hay fever, hyperacidity, vitiligo, psoriasis, obesity, oedema, skin disorders, chronic indigestion, nasal congestion, psychological disorders, etc. 

2. Virechana (Purgation)

Virechana is the medicated purgation therapy which removes excess Pitta toxins from the body, which get accumulated in the liver and gallbladder. 

This therapy is used in people who have an excess of the bile acids. It completely cleanses the gastro-intestinal tract and has no side effects. 

In this form of treatment, the patient is orally-administered Ayurvedic and herbal medicines, based on his digestive strength. This is followed by the fomentation and emesis stages. 

Virechana benefits people who suffer from chronic fever, diabetes, asthma, skin disorders like herpes, paraplegia, hemiplegia joint disorders, digestive disorders, constipation, hyperacidity, vitiligo, psoriasis, headaches, filariasis and gynaecological disorders. 

3. Nasya (Nose Cleaning)

The nose is said to be the doorway to the brain and consciousness. 

Nasya involves administration of medicated oil through the nose to cleanse the accumulated Kapha toxins from the sinus, nose, throat and head, via the nose. 

Herbal steam is inhaled to clear excess mucus, stimulate the brain, bring clarity and balance to the mind and senses and treat all disorders above the clavicle. 

This treatment is usually advised for those with recurring headaches. Based on the medical condition of a person, it can be given up to 30 days. 

What is Panchakarma
Nasya Therapy

There are 5 main types of Nasya, as listed below. 
  • Pradhamana (virechan) form uses dry powders that are blown into the nose with a tube. It is mainly used for diseases of the Kapha dosha like headaches, colds, nasal congestion, sticky eyes, hoarseness of voice, sinusitis, cervical lymphadenitis, tumours, worms, skin diseases, epilepsy, drowsiness, Parkinson's, inflammation of the nasal mucosa, attachment, greed and lust. Traditionally, powders of herbs like Brahmi and calamus are used. 
  • Bruhana Nasya (nutrition nasya) uses ghee, oils, salt, Shatavari ghee, ashwagandha ghee and medicated milk. It is used for treating conditions due to Vata imbalances like headaches, migraines, dryness of voice, dry nose, nervousness, anxiety, fear, dizziness, emptiness, negativity, the heaviness of eyelids, bursitis, stiffness in the neck, dry sinuses and loss of sense of smell. 
  • Shaman Nasya (sedative nasya) is used according to which dosha is aggravated but mainly for Pitta-type disorders such as thinning of hair, conjunctivitis and ringing in the ears. Generally, certain herbal decoctions, teas and medicated oils are used. 
  • Navana Nasya (decoction nasya) is used in Vata-Pitta or Kapha-Pitta disorders and is made from decoctions and oils together. 
  • Marshya Nasya (ghee or oil nasya): Ghee is inserted in the nose using the little finger and massaged along the internal nasal canal. It opens the tissues and relieves stress. 
Nasya treatment benefits people who suffer from Trigeminal neuralgia, bel's palsy, improves memory and eyesight, insomnia, elimination of excess mucus, hyperpigmentation in the face, premature greying of hair, clarity of voice, headaches of various origins, hemiplegia, loss of smell and taste, frozen shoulder, migraine, stiffness of the neck, nasal allergies, nasal polyp, neurological dysfunctions, paraplegia and sinusitis. 

4. Basti (Enema or Colonic Irrigation)

It is considered as the mother of all Panchkarma treatments and cures the Vata imbalance. 

Vata is predominantly accumulated in the colon. Basti involves the introduction of herbal concoctions of sesame oil, and liquid, herbal preparations into the rectum. Basti is a highly beneficial rejuvenating treatment. 

Medicated oil or ghee and a herbal decoction are given as enema to clean the colon and increase the muscle tone. 

This treatment is provided for several days, based on the medical condition of a person. Basti is the most important aspect of Panchkarma that cures almost 50% of illnesses. 

According to traditional texts, there are 5 main types of Basti as follows: 
  • Anuvasana (oil enema) is used in pure Vata disorders and when a person is having excess hunger or dryness related to Vata imbalances.
  • Niruha-Asthapana (decoction enema) is used for balancing Vata, nervous diseases, gastro-intestinal Vata conditions, gout, certain fever conditions, unconsciousness, certain urinary conditions, appetite, pain, hyperacidity and heart diseases. 
  • Uttara Basti (through the urethra in men or vagina in women) is used for selected semen and ovulation disorders and for some painful urination or bladder infections. This is not to be used for someone with diabetes. 
  • Matra Basti (daily oil enema) is used in patients who carry out heavy exercises, heavy lifting, walk long distances, show a high sexual activity or have a chronic Vata disorder. It gives strength, promotes weight and helps elimination of waste products. 
  • Bruhana Basti (nutritional enema) is used for providing deep nutrition in select conditions with the help of nutritive substances such as warm milk, meat broth, bone marrow soup and herbs like Shatavari or ashwagandha
Basti benefits people who suffer from hemiplegia, paraplegia, colitis, convalescence, cervical spondylosis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, digestive disorders, backache and sciatica, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly, obesity, piles, sexual debility and infertility.

It relieves constipation, distention, chronic fever, cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, backache, sciatica and other pains in the joints. 

Many vata disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscle spasms and headaches may also be treated with basti. 

5. Raktamokshana (Blood Letting)

This is a procedure to cleanse the blood and is advised only in extremely rare conditions. It is NOT advised during general Panchkarma. 

Toxins present in the gastrointestinal tract are absorbed into the blood and get circulated throughout the body. This condition is known as toxaemia and is the root cause of infections, hypertension and a few circulatory conditions, like frequent skin disorders such as herpes, urticaria, rashes, eczema, acne, leukoderma or chronic itching. 

These conditions can be treated by medicines, elimination of the toxins and blood purification. 

An accumulation of pitta in the blood can lead to toxicity. Leeches have been used since ancient times for extracting a small quantity of the blood and decreasing the toxin-related pressure. 

After bloodletting, the spleen is stimulated to produce anti-toxic compounds, which cures these disorders. Instead of bloodletting, some herbal medicines can be used for purifying the blood. 

Leech Therapy

Benefits of Panchkarma

1. Cleans and detoxifies our body 

2. Relaxes the muscles and relieves tension 

3. Improves digestion 

4. Tones up nerves 

5. Energizes the body 

6. Improves sleep 

7. Vitalizes the sexual functions 

8. Rejuvenates body systems 

9. Relaxes the mind 

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