Ayurveda is one of the ancient “science of life” and health care systems in the world. According to this, if we have to keep our body healthy; we have to maintain harmony of body, mind and soul. If any of this entity is disturbed, it becomes a causative factor for a disease. Diseases are usually caused due to over-accumulation of Mala i.e. waste in the body. Thus, in order to cure a disease, the first requirement is deep cleansing of the body, from cellular level to organ levels.
Panchakarma is a therapy that is adopted to cleanse the body. Panchakarma works on the basic principles of Ayurveda i.e a balance of body and mind system requires:
1.A balanced condition of Agni (digestive fire)
2.The equilibrium condition of three Doshas i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha Dosha.
3.Proper formation and elimination of Mala (waste products)
4.Mind, consciousness and mind functions in harmony.
But a question arises, why is maintaining all the above necessary?
When Doshas get accumulated, they will affect Agni and will produce Ama (toxins). Further, this accumulated Ama spreads throughout the body and gets deposited deep into the tissues or organs leading to malfunctions and diseases. Ama is produced from poor digestion, pollution, intake of pesticides or chemicals via food, emotional or mental stress, etc. Thus, it becomes necessary to avoid production of Ama and if produced, it becomes essential to get rid of it.
When detoxification is taken into context, it refers to elimination of Ama from the body. It is the first step of the healing process in Ayurveda. It brings the body back to balance and results in its proper functioning.
One such detoxification therapy in Ayurveda is Panchakarma, where “Pancha” means “five” and “Karma” means “action”. This means, panchakarma consists of five therapies in order to eliminate Ama from the body without damaging or weakening the system. The goal of panchakarma is not only restricted to elimination of Ama but also restoring the mind-body system to a healthy state, including emotions and mental health.
Panchakarma is a comprehensive process which involves diet, herbal medicines, nutrition, bodywork therapy in order to eliminate toxins from the body. It has three phases in which the person is suggested to stay away from stress, have a lighter diet like porridge, and stay in a pleasant environment which won’t provoke any strong emotions during the healing process.
1.Purvakarma phase (Preliminary therapies):
In this phase the body is prepared to remove Ama from the tissues. Snehana which means oleation is the first preparatory step in which the body is saturated with herbal or medicated oil, or by ingesting ghee to the internal body. External Snehana is through Abhyanga which is a vigorous massage of the entire body. It helps to loosen Ama and allows it to move from deeper
tissues to gastrointestinal tract, from where it can be eliminated.
Swedana is the next step. This therapy dilates the channels such that Ama could be removed easily. Once this is done a Lepa is applied over the body through which toxins are withdrawn from the pores of the skin.
2.Main process of Panchakarma (Elimination of toxins):
After the purvakarma phase, the Ama has been moved into gastrointestinal tract and can be eliminated by main Panchakarma therapies:
A. Vamana (Therapeutic emesis):
In this vomiting is induced which clears the gastrointestinal tract till duodenum and the entire part of the respiratory tract. This treatment is suggested for the people with Kapha Dosha and in conditions such as weight gain, asthma and hyperacidity.
B. Nasya (Nasal administration):
In this, medications are introduced via Nasal route which helps to clear respiratory tract and para – nasal sinuses. This treatment eradicates different types of cerebral pain, headaches, hair issues, sleep disorders, sinusitis, etc.
C. Virechana (Therapeutic purgation):
In this, due to induced purgation, the lower gastrointestinal tract from duodenum to the exit is cleared. This treatment is suggested for the people with Pitta Dosha and conditions like jaundice, colitis, celiac infection, etc.
In this, the blood is cleansed and the imperfections caused due to impure blood are cured. This
treatment is useful in dermatitis, psoriasis, and pigmentation problems.
E. Basti (Therapeutic herbal enema):
In this, the decoction enema completely cleanses the area from transverse colon to the anus. This treatment is suggested for the people with Vata Dosha and conditions like piles and constipation.
3.Paschat Karma (Post – Panchakarma treatment):
This treatment restores the mind and body and establishes a healthy metabolic system and immunity. If this treatment is neglected, it may again lead to formation of Ama. Thus, a slow return to regular routine is recommended.
Benefits of Panchakarma:
3.Speeds up metabolism
4.Relaxes mind and body
6.Opens up blocked channels
Thus, if we overlook the entire process, it involves a complete integrity of the body. The toxins are eliminated from the cellular level. This is indeed a treatment of the disease from the root cause.