Panchkarma Treatment

Panchkarma- Detoxification therapy
All disease processes point to a crisis of “Ama” toxicity in the body. Panchkarma constitutes the foremost Shodhan Chikitsa, or purification therapy, because it reverses the disease mechanisms which carry toxic waste products from the digestive tract into the tissues of the body.
Panchkarma inverts the movement of “Ama”, which takes place in the third and fourth stages of the disease process. During prasara, the third stage of the disease manifestation, ama overruns the site of its initial accumulation in gastrointestinal tract and flows into other areas of the body. During sthan sanshraya, the fourth stage, the spreading ama enters and lodges in weak or defective dhatus (tissue element), where its disruptive influence will eventually produce the final stage of the disease process. Panchkarma is designed to draw ama out of the dhatus, return it to the digestive tract and expel it from the body.

The uniqueness of panchkarma
Panchkarma puts the attention on the patients, whereas all other therapies focus on the pathology and its symptoms. Panchkarma recognizes and uses the specific qualities of the patient’s physiological make-up to heal. It does not just treat diseased organs and tissues; it treats and manages doshas, the biological forces which carry “Ama” back and forth between the digestive tract and deeper body tissues.

Ayurvedic Panchkarma is an ancient medical process to detoxify the body. There are five main ancient procedures for body cleaning. These are Vaman (medically induced vomiting), Virechan (medically induced purgation), Nasya (medicated oil or ghee administration through nasal route), Vasti (medicated herbal enemas are of two types--one is oil and the other is decoction enema).

Panchkarma therapy, however, is more than just these five purifying and rejuvenating procedures which are used for the cleaning as well as the treatment of the various chronic ailments and these all come under the Ayurveda Panchkarma.         

Steps of Panchkarma-
There are three stages in which the five core treatments serve as the focal point.

First step-
Called Purvakarma comprises essential preliminary procedures which prepare the body to unload stored toxins.

Second step-
Called Pradhan Karma comprises all main therapeutic panchkarma procedures to finally unload toxins through different openings of the body, e.g., mouth, rectal, urinary, vaginal, nasal, eyes, ears and skin. During this cleaning process all the physical and mental doshas (physical doshas are Vata-air, Pitta-fire and Kapha-water; mental doshas are Rajas and Tamas) begin to come into a balance. This process takes time.

Third step-
Called Pashchat karma: it follows the main purification process, and employs  procedures to restore a strong digestive agni (fire) and thorough rejuvenation of the dhatus (tissue elements).     

The set of procedures which Ayurveda prescribes to facilitate the removal of ama and toxins from the tissue is collectively called Purvakarma. Purva means “before” and karma means “actions.” Theses treatments help to loosen ama and move it out of the deep structures into the gastro-intestinal tract, where Panchkarma’s main therapies can then eliminate it.

The two most important processes used to prepare the system for cleaning are Snehan and Swedan are essential to the success of Panchkarma”s deep cleansing. In addition to these, Purvakarma utilized several other dosha-specific, adjunct therapies. Proper administration of the preparatory procedures of snehan and swedan is essential to the success of Panchkarma therapy.

Snehan: (Oleation)
Snehan, is the first step of Purvakarma, saturates the body with herbal and medicated Oils or Ghee. The saturation takes two forms Bahya snehan (External oleation), where medicated oils are vigorously massaged into the body; and Abhyantar snehan (Internal olietion), where medicated oil or ghee are ingested.

Pradhan Karma:
According to ayurveda, the body normally uses three routes to eliminate waste products and toxins: the mouth, anus and pores of the skin. The three doshas act as the vehicle which carries ama either upward, downward, or out through the periphery. The dosha moves these impurities from the deep structures to the gastro-intestinal tract and from the gastro-intestinal tract to the body’s three main outlets.

Direction of elimination of Toxins

(1) Vaman Karma 
(Therapeutic emesis)

Kapha zone

Upward movement

Therapeutic vomiting is used for cough, cold, symptoms of asthma, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, anemia, poisoning, skin diseases, diabetes, lymphatic obstruction, chronic indigestion, edema (swelling), epilepsy (between attacks), chronic sinus problems, and for repeated attacks of tonsillitis.

(2) Nasya karma
(Therapeutic purging of the head region)

Kapha zone

Upward movement

Nasal administration of medication helps to correct the disorders of prana affecting the higher cerebral, sensory and motor functions. Nasya is indicated for dryness of the nose, sinus congestion, hoarseness, migraine headache, convulsions and certain eye and ear problems.

(3) Virechan Karma
(Therapeutic purging)

Pitta zone

Downward movement

Therapeutic purging is used for treatment of skin diseases, chronic fever, piles, abdominal tumors, worms, gout, jaundice, Liver disorder, constipation, rheumatoid arthritis and obesity, etc.

(4)Basti Karma
(Therapeutic enemas)

Vata zone

Downward movement

Basti is especially good for vata disorders. It alleviates constipation, distention, chronic fever, the common cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, vomiting, backache, neck pain and hyper acidity. Such vata disorders as sciatica, arthritis, rheumatism, and gout can also be treated by Basti.

(5) Raktmokshan karm
(Therapeutic blood letting)


Pripheral movement

It is used for disorders such as repeated attacks of skin disorders such as urticaria, rash, eczema, acne, scabies, leucoderma, chronic itching, and hives. It was also found effective for enlarged liver and spleen, and for gout.


Pashchat Karma: (Post treatment procedures)
The set of procedures that follow the main eliminative treatments of Panchkarma and assist this rebuilding process are called, collectively, Pashchatkarma (Post panchkarma/treatment procedure). They assure the re-establishment of healthy metabolic function and immunity. If these post-procedures are neglected, digestion does not normalize. Weak digestion generates new Ama and the tissues continue to receive toxic material instead of nutritive, strengthening substances. The body then finds it difficult to re-establish its natural immune function and is more likely to fall ill again.
It is therefore crucial for the success of Panchkarma that the patient follow a regulated diet and lifestyle immediately after treatment. Two aspects of the post –procedures—Samsarjan krama and Dincharya –raised the system to a much higher efficiency level then it had before.
Samsarjan Krama constititutes the primary post–treatment procedure for digestion, this term literally means “a graded administration of diet.” It consists of a specially prepared diet designed to re-establish full digestive capacity and prevent the formation of new Ama.   

Ayurveda strongly suggests that patients plan some down time after the main procedures are complete to insure that their progression into activity is not too fast. If the contrast between the deep rest of Panchkarmam and the dynamic activity of working life is too sudden, the system may experience a shock. Its like coming out of deep sleep or meditation too quickly: we feel headache, disoriented and perhaps a bit irritable.
 It will take some time to completely assimilate the benefits of panchkarma therapy, so until the patient’s energy level is normal and stable for a while, thay are advised to avoid undue mental and physical stress, including travel, strenuous exercise and sexual activities. Immediately following panchkarma, it is also important to avoid excessive exposure to the elements; i.e., unusually hot, windy, cold or rainy weather conditions. Sun bathing and swimming in cold water are particularly not advised for at least a week following panchkarma.

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