Understanding Panchakarma Treatment for Beginners

Beginners guide to panchakarma – Dr. Namitha Suseel B.A.M.S

Complete detoxification and regeneration for body and mind

Panchakarma the ultimate detox

Panchakarma is the purification therapy through which body gets cleansed to the deepest tissue level by eliminating the vitiated dosas.

The word ‘PANCHA’ means five and ‘KARMA’ means action. Panchakarma consists of five specialized therapies. Acharya Charaka and Vagbhata considers VAMANA, VIRECHANA, NASYA, NIRUHA, and ANUVASANA VASTI as panchakarma . while there is a slight difference in opinion by Acharya Sushruta who is considered as the father of surgery in Ayurveda. Since he deals with surgery, he has given equal importance to blood along with the 3 dosas so he has included a procedure to eliminate the vitiated blood as one among the Panchakarma. It is called RAKTHAMOKSHA.

According to Acharya Sushruta VAMANA, VIRECHANA, NASYA, VASTI, and RAKTHAMOKSHA are known as panchakarma.

Panchakarma Proceeds Through 3 Steps

PURVAKARMA

It is the preparatory stage in which the person is made ready for panchakarma therapy. It includes

SNEHAPANA – Oleation Therapy

Intake of medicated oil/ghee according to the disease condition. It alleviates aggravated Vata, softens the body and disintegrates the adhered morbid material in the channels of circulation.

For the one who is to be subjected to snehapana the next day, who is on snehapana and who just completed snehapana , the food shall be predominantly in liquid form, warm, non – secretary , not too unctuous, not mixed with many varieties of substances and shall be in the appropriate quantity. He should use hot water for all his needs and should maintain celibacy. He should sleep well at night and should not suppress the natural urges of the body.

He should avoid exercises, anger, grief, snow, sun, and strong wind. Traveling either in vehicles or by walking long distances, being talkative, sitting continuously at the same place, use of pillows either too thick or too thin, day sleep, smoke, and dust – all these are to be avoided during the days and that much days after snehapana.

Period of Snehapana
Done for 3 days in persons with soft bowel[mrdu kostha], for 7 days in persons with hard bowel[krura koshta] or till symptomology of perfect unction [samyak snigdha lakshana] are seen, beyond which sneha becomes acclimatized to the system, and hence does not produce the requisite effect.

Samyak snigdha lakshana

  • Vata anulomana – flow of vata in proper direction.
  • Digestive fire gets ignited.
  • Smooth and soft bowels
  • Aversion towards fat
  • Exhaustion.

Sadya Snehapana
In children or in aged who cannot tolerate the strict regimen of snehapana, the following recipes can be employed which are harmless and produce immediate unctuousness[ sadya snehas].

  • Soups rich in meat.
  • Gruel boiled with ghee.
  • Powdered sesame seeds mixed with fat and molasses.
  • Mixture of rice and sesame seeds mixed with fat and molasses.
  • Milk gruel topped with ample ghee.
  • Cream of curd with jaggery.
  • Fats with salt.

SWEDANA – Fomentation Therapy

The process of making the person sweat. In a person who has undergone oleation therapy, fomentation liquefies the adhered morbid materials even in the fine channels of his body.
In the case of vamana,  swedana is done for one day after snehapana, and on the next day, kaphotklesha[ kapha is made secretary ] is done by giving food items having such property. On the third day, Vamana is done.

In case of virechana , swedana is done for 3 days and on the fourth-day virechana is done.

PRADHANAKARMA

It is the main treatment therapy. It includes any one of the above-mentioned panchakarma therapy. The selection is done in accordance with the disease, vitiated dosa and the site of dosa vitiation.

  • VAMANA
    Emetic therapy through which the dosas vitiated especially kapha dosha in the upper G.I is eliminated.
  • VIRECHANA
    Purgatory therapy through which vitiated pitta is eliminated out of the body .
  • NASYA
    Process of installation of medicine through nostrils which helps in the elimination of kapha dosha vitiated in head and neck region
  • NIRUHA / decoction enema
    Also called kashaya vasti. It is a type of enema in which medicated liquid / decoction is introduced to the intestine through anal opening.The decoction helps to flush out the toxins from the intestine.Also the active principles in the decoction gets absorbed through the microvillus present in intestine. The vitiated vata dosha gets paccified through vasti.
  • ANUVASANA /oil enema
    Also called sneha vasti. In this type of enema ,medicated oil is introduced into the intestine. The oil gets absorbed through the microvilli of intestine and thus helps in pacifying the vitiated vata dosha and the specific disease for which the enema is done.

 

PASCHAT KARMA

It is the aftercare stage.

  • Vamana – after the person has attained proper vamana , wipe his face, hands, and legs with warm water and make him rest for some time. He is then made to inhale herbal smoke. Then either in the same evening or next morning, after being hungry and taking bath in warm water, he should adhere to the Peyadi krama ,[post operative dietary regimen]. He should follow the regimen prescribed in Snehapana.
  • Virechana – the aftercare procedures are the same as that in Vamana except the inhalation of herbal smoke is to be avoided.

PEYADIKARMA

 It depends according to the strength of purification therapy.

  • Maximum purification – when 8 bouts of vomiting in Vamana and 30 purgations in virechana occurs, it is considered as maximum purification.

    DAY

    1st MEAL

  2nd MEAL

1

Peya

Peya

2

Peya

Vilepi

3

Vilepi

Vilepi

4

Akrta yusha

Akrta yusha

5

Akrta yusha

Krta yusha

6

Krta yusha

Krta yusha

7

Rasa

Rasa

8

Rasa

Prakrti bhojanam

 

  1. Peya – thin gruel
  2. Vilepi – thick gruel
  3. Akrta yusha – rice along with the unseasoned vegetable soup.
  4. Krta yusha – rice with seasoned vegetable soup.
  5. Rasanna – rice along with meat soup
  6. Prakriti bhojanam – normal food.
  • Medium purification –  in vamana 6 bouts of vomiting  and 20 purgation in virechana.

DAY

1st MEAL

2nd MEAL

1

Peya

Peya

2

Vilepi

Vilepi

3

Akrta yusha

Akrta yusha

4

Krta yusha

Krta yusha

5

Rasa

Rasa

6

Normal diet

Normal diet

 

  • Minimum  purification – 4 bouts of vomiting in vamana and 10 purgation in virechana.

DAY

1st MEAL

2nd MEAL

1

Peya

Vilepi

2

Akrta yusha

Krta yusha

3

Rasa

Normal diet.

 

By observing the peyadikrama after purification therapies, the digestive power which has been lowered by the therapies will gradually enhance, becomes steady and capable of digesting everything.

Panchakarma not only brings about total purification but also makes the body receptive to the next phase called rejuvenation.

Even nectar will be useful only if it is given in a clean vessel. If the vessel is not clean, it contaminates anything, and everything poured into it. So the rejuvenation therapy can be started only after completing panchakarma.

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