Panchakarma therapies are an ancient Ayurvedic healing method that is becoming increasingly popular in modern times. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about Panchakarma therapy.
Panchakarma is Ayurveda’s therapeutic purification process that removes ama, or metabolic waste that accumulates in the body. Usually, ama is created from poor digestion that is caused by eating foods that are not suitable for your digestive capacity or eating too large of a quantity. Panchakarma is a therapeutic cleansing therapy that aims to remove the ama that has built up and also helps the body restore it’s normal functioning of the dosha.
Panchakarma is derived from two Sanskrit words, "Pancha" meaning five and "Karma" meaning action. Thus, Panchakarma refers to a set of five therapeutic procedures aimed at cleansing and rejuvenating the body. The five procedures include vamana, virechana, basti, nasya, and raktamokshana.
Five Therapies of Panchakarma
Ama or metabolic waste accumulates when the foods we eat are improperly digested. Our digestion becomes weak when we consume foods and drinks improperly, have too little or too much exercise, poor quality sleep, and poorly managed mental stress. Also, as we age digestion naturally becomes weaker and then it becomes even more important to undergo Panchakarma therapy on a yearly basis to help maintain good health and a strong immune system.
Benefits of Panchakarma Therapy
Panchakarma, when performed correctly removes ama or metabolic waste from its location, improves the function of digestion and metabolism, brings clarity to the sense organs, mind, intellect, and restores strength and virility. Panchakarma is recommended before any type of rejuvenation therapy can be successful, this is also known as rasyana therapy.
Three Stages of Panchakarma Therapy
First Stage: Purva Karma
This stage includes four therapies before the actual panchakarma procedures. These therapies start the process of moving the ama from its root location by melting and liquifying it to move toward the gut for expulsion. Theses therapies remove obstructions and pacify vata dosha to move in its normal downward direction.
Second Stage: Pradhan Karma
This stage is the main panchakarma where the five therapies are administered. The five therapies are prescribed based upon the persons symptoms, site of dosha vitiation and the nearest orifice for expulsion. Not everyone who undergoes panchakarma will be given all five therpaies. For managing symptoms usually one or more procedures are performed until the morbid dosha are brought back to their normal state.
Third Stage: Pascat Karma
There is a specific regimen to follow once the main panchakarma procedures are complete, this stage is called samsarjana krama. Digestive strength is weakened due to the expulsion of dosha and to regain the correct digestive strength there are certain guidelines for foods and lifestyle habits that must be followed. In total there are 28 types of gruels that may be recommended to help restore digestive strength. The gruels are made from rice or barley with herbs like amalaki, bilva, and ginger. Dhumapana (medicinal herbal smoke) is also administered to help the dosha return to their normal state.
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