Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that basically translates to “five treatments." It is a process that cleanses and detoxifies the body on all levels, leading to stronger immunity and overall health. It's considered one of the most famous and effective healing processes in Ayurveda. It's recommended seasonally for some individuals, as well as when someone is experiencing illness.
The ultimate goal of the process of Panchakarma is to remove toxins, ama, from the body left by any sicknesses and poor diet. In a completely natural state, the human body would rid itself of any toxins on its own and balance the Doshas. But over time, after repeated dietary indiscretions, not enough or too much exercise and an unhealthy lifestyle, the hormones and agnis of the body become out of balance. This is what leads to the accumulation and the spread of toxins throughout the body, creating disease on all levels.
But fortunately, the treatments of Panchakarma remove the excess Doshas and balance them, and remove ama from the body at a very deep level through the body's own channels: the colon, sweat glands, lungs, bladder, urinary tract, stomach, intestines, just to name a few.
Panchakarma is highly individualized based on the unique needs of the individual, their age, constitution, current imbalances and digestive strength. Once they are evaluated, an Ayurvedic practitioner will decide whether all or only some of the treatments will be used. It's important that these treatments are done under the supervision and/or guidance of an experienced Ayurvedic professional! All five of the treatments must be administered in a specific sequence for a set amount of time.
For the most part, Panchakarma is a wonderful process of healing and rejuvenation. But there can be periods of discomfort, especially when large amounts of toxins are being released. This is another reason why it's so important a knowledgable expert is involved in the process and can recognize the signs of properly and improperly administered Panchakarma. Fortunately, these signs were recorded in detail by the ancient vaidyas.
Like any medical procedure, Panchakarma starts with an initial consultation where the patient's Prakriti is determined, the nature of any illnesses are described and the appropriate therapies are prescribed. As your Panchakarma treatment progresses, you will be given a special diet combined with certain herbs and essential oils to use at home.
If you complete Panchakarma at an Ayurvedic hospital or center, there will likely be two therapists working at the same time or day to help with the treatments. Two, three or four of these treatments might be done in one day. The following practices are some of the most common and popular healing treatments, but there are many more.
Abhyanga is an herbal-oil massage that is specially designed to penetrate deep into the skin, relax the mind and body and greatly stimulate both arterial and lymphatic circulation. It increases the ability of the body to utilize nutrients and remove toxins. The result of abhyanga is both internal and external healing.
Shirodhara is a slow and methodical pouring of warm herbal oil over the forehead. It synchronizes brain waves and profoundly calms the mind, body and spirit.
Garshana is a dry lymphatic skin brushing with either wool or silk. The brushing enhances circulation and cleanses the skin so that the following oil treatments can penetrate into the cleansed and opened skin pores.
Swedana is an herbal steam bath. The head and heart area are kept cool while the body is heated to remove mental, emotional and physical toxins lodged in the tissues. Keeping the head and heart cool provide a sense of calm and openness while the therapeutic steam over the entire body penetrate and cleanses deeply without the body becoming overheated and stressed.
Pizichili is a continuous stream of warm herbal oil poured over the body by two Ayurvedic therapists as they massage the body in unison. The warmth of the oil and synchrothesnicity of the massage deeply cleanse the tissues and promote a heightened state of awareness.
Udvartana is a lymphatic massage with an herbal paste. This exfoliating treatment conditions the skin while removing stagnant lymphatic toxins from the body.
Basti is an herbal enema that pulls toxins out of the colon. This is the final stage of each daily Panchakarma treatment. The freshly loosened impurities from each day of treatment are flushed out of the body with the use of basti. It is considered one of the most important and powerful aspects of the Panchakarma treatment.
When practicing Nasya, herbal oil drops are inhaled through the nose, which clears the sinuses of excessive mucus. It's calming and healing for the central nervous system. This treatment nourishes the deep dryness that exists at the root of many respiratory and allergic conditions.
This treatment is a head, neck, shoulder and facial lymphatic massage followed by deep inhalation of therapeutic aromatic steam and a nasal and sinus nasya with herbalized nose drops. This popular treatment is an balances and greatly supports the healing of most head, neck and respiratory disorders.
During Pinda Swedana, rice boiled in milk and specific herbs is massaged deeply into the tissues and joints. The treatment is deeply relaxing and rejuvenating as well as powerfully detoxifying.
When ama accumulates in the body it blocks the flow of healing energy and nourishment throughout the system. Ayurveda considers this build-up of toxins, ama, the underlying cause of all disease. A common example of this that can be understood in modern terms is the accumulation of saturated fat and cholesterol that is beyond the body’s capacity to metabolize. Over time, this accumulation leads to the blockage of the blood vessels and arteries and possibly to heart attacks.
While it’s easy to understand agni and ama and how what you eat affects it, it’s also incredibly important to remember that your mind and heart are continually digesting energy and information too. You have mental digestive powers that are working almost constantly as well to break down these ideas into smaller parts that your intellect can digest. Your emotional agni is responsible for processing your experiences and emotions, from the smile of a friend to unexpected criticism at work.
If your emotional agni is strong, you are able to extract from your experience what is positive and nourishing and remove the rest. The inability to "digest" emotions produces just as much toxic residue as undigested food. Pent-up anger, long-held sadness and guilt are incredibly debilitating and greatly impact physical digestion as well.
Panchakarma reverses negative mental, emotional and physical effects, even when they are strong and long-lasting. Panchakarma uses a combination of massage, herbal saunas, special foods and nutritional directives, mild fasting and colon therapies to rid the body of accumulated toxins.
Panchakarma can induce a "healing crisis." This is part of the process and is expected. A healing crisis occurs when a significant quantity of toxins that have been locked in the body are released into the outer levels of the system for elimination. As these toxins are expelled you may experience insomnia, exhaustion, aching or flu-like symptoms. You may also develop a feverish feeling, which is simply your body’s way of burning up toxic waste or mood swings and intense emotions. Visit or speak with your Ayurvedic professional on a daily basis while undergoing Panchakarma treatments so they can support you mentally, emotionally and physically.
During the first stages of your Panchakarma therapy when you are undergoing daily massage and steam baths there are several things you should do to help improve the cleanse.
When you are done with your Panchakarma treatment, you will be amazed at your increased energy and renewed vitality! Periodic Panchakarma treatments, in addition to sustaining a healthy diet and exercise routine, will help you to stay happy, energetic and disease-free!
The purpose of this article is to provide information about Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health problems please consult a trained health professional. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, call (800) 215-9934 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide you with our affiliated practitioners. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.
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