Panchakarma treatments are the purificatory procedures explained in the ayurvedic classics. Ayurvedic treatments are aimed to eliminate the disease from its root and prevent the reoccurrence of the disease. The treatments and medications are classified into two types viz.

  1. Pacificatory (Shamana)
  2. Purificatory (Shodana).

Purificatory procedures are the methods of cleansing the body to eliminate the aggravated and vitiated doshas (humor) from the body. pacificatory is to mitigate the aggravated doshas within the body itself by not eliminating them so purificatory procedures are most important in treating diseases. The purificatory or Shodana procedures are also known as Panchakarma treatments.

Pacificatory is to mitigate the aggravated doshas within the body itself by not eliminating them. so purificatory procedures are most important in treating diseases. The purificatory or Shodana procedures are also known as Panchakarma treatments.

What is Panchakarma?

Panchakarma Treatment Ayurvedic Detoxification

Panchakarma consists of two words, ‘pancha ‘means five and ‘ karma‘ means procedure, ie the five therapeutic procedures. These five unique therapies help to eliminate the aggravated doshas accumulated in all tissues, and channels of the body.

When the doshas get aggravated it passes through various stages to produce the disease. Aggravation of doshas is a natural process. Even those who follow balanced and nutritious food habits are affected by the aggravation of doshas over a period of time. When the doshas accumulate in the body and reach the maximum level various channels in the body get blocked. The channels are the ways that carry nutrients to various tissues in the body. When these channels get blocked, there it will lead to an outburst of diseases.

Ayurveda suggests expelling the impurities collected in the body through shodana (Cleansing procedure) at a suitable time. People who are not undergoing panchakarma treatment at the right time will suffer from various diseases due to the aggravation of doshas. Every healthy individual must undergo panchakarma treatment to be healthy.

The healthy individual should eliminate excess Kapha in Vasantha rutu(spring season), Pitta in Sharad rutu(winter season), and Vata in Varsha rutu(monsoon season).

Panchakarma procedures can be divided into three following groups according to nature, they are as follows

Poorva karmas (Pre-procedure)

  1. Pachana and Deepana
  2. Snehana
  3. Swedana

Pradhana karmas (Main procedure)

  1. Vamana
  2. Virechana
  3. Basti or Vasti
  4. Nasya
  5. Raktamokshana

Paschat karma (Post procedures)

  1. Samsarjana Karma

Poorva karmas (Pre procedures):

Pachana and Deepana :

 Proper Pachana (The drug which digests the Ama) and Deepana (The drugs which enhance AGNI is known as Deepana) should be done before starting panchakarma treatment. This will help in removing the amavastha and makes the person fit to undergo the panchakarma procedures. Pachana and Deepana procedures help in enhancing the digestive fire(Agni), clear the channels(Srotas), and increase the absorptive capacity of the body. It also helps in minimizing the chances of complications during the panchakarma treatments.

Effect of Snehana and Swedana:

The pre-procedures like Snehana (Oleation) and Swedana(Sweating) will help to lubricate, liquefy and dissolve the impurities and toxins, accumulated in the cells and channels and brings them to Kosta (gastroenteric channels) for expulsion.

The doshas(impurities) that have entered Kosta or dhatus or that are latent in the srothas(body channels) are moistened and loosened bit snehapana and by swedana, they are liquefied and brought to Kosta(gastrointestinal tract).

Read more about Snehana

Pradhana Karma (Main procedures):

From the gastrointestinal tract by pradhana karmas(Panchakarma treatment) like Vamana, virechana, vasti, etc… the doshas are expelled.

  1. Vamana (Emesis): Expulsion of aggravated doshas from the body through the upper route ie mouth. Vamana is intended for the removal of Kapha dosha. It is also done when kapha dosha is associated with another dosha like pitta and vata.
  2. Virechana (Purgation): The elimination of aggravated doshas through a downward route by the administration of medicines orally. Virechana is mainly indicated to eliminate aggravated Pitta dosha alone or along with Kapha dosha.
  3. Vasti or Basti (Medicated Enema): In Vasti the medicines are introduced through the anus, urethra, or vagina with the vasti instrument. It is considered the most superior treatment in Ayurveda. Though it is mainly indicated for Vata dosha it can be used when other doshas are also involved.
  4. Nasya (Nasal medication): Medication administration through the nose is called nasya. Nasya treatments are indicated for diseases of the head and neck.
  5. Raktamokshana (Bloodletting): Raktamokshana or bloodletting is considered one of the panchakarma treatments. It is mainly indicated in the vitiation of blood. It is also done in pittaja diseases. It is said that if the disease is not cured by panchakarma treatment or pacificatory therapy then raktamokshana has to be done.

Paschat karma (Post procedures)  :

Post procedures will help the person to restore his digestive power (Agni) to normalcy by proper diet. These are the regulated way of administration of food after Vamana and Virechana. The special food preparation from very light to get digested till normal food routine is administered to protect and increase the digestive fire(Agni).

Few important factors to be considered when administering Panchakarma :

  1. All the patients are not suitable to undergo panchakarma treatments.
  2. The strength of the patient is considered before advising panchakarma treatment.
  3. All the panchakarma treatments are not necessary for treating the disease.
  4. Panchakarma treatments are not advised in amavastha.
  5. When there is an association of many doshas and when doshas are in excited state panchakarma treatments are advised.
  6. The selection of panchakarma treatment depends on the nature of the disease.
  7. All the panchakarma procedures have pre-procedures to undergo.
  8. There are certain sets of rules one should follow while undergoing Panchakarma procedures.
  9. Anyone who is healthy can also undergo panchakarma treatment to keep himself healthy.
  10. All the Rasayana(rejuvenation) treatments are administered after panchakarma treatments to get the maximum benefits.