By Vishakha Moghe
The internet is currently full of articles that talk about Ayurveda as the “Detox Science”. It’s quite disappointing to come across nutrition experts and other Non-Ayurveda people taking this ancient Indian science into their hands and modifying the knowledge to their convenience. Ayurveda, on the other hand, is a very well-researched science with strong roots. The effort of every “authentic Ayurveda practitioner therefore, is to preserve this ancient wealth by not compromising on the basic principles while still carrying on with the research and changing medicines according to the changing times.
“Pancha” means five and “Karma” means treatment or procedures. Panchakarma is not just a “detox science”. It is a whole branch of Ayurveda that precisely explains acute and chronic medical conditions and the procedures that can cure it. These five procedures eliminate accumulated wastes and vitiated doshas out of the body.
According to Ayurveda, the human body is a network of channels (srotas), both microscopic and macroscopic. The various systems of the body and their functions are aided by these channels. Diseases occur when “Aam” (undigested food matter) gets accumulated and clogs these channels in the body. Chronic diseases are difficult to treat because the toxins are lodged deeply inside these channels and mere medicine consumption is not enough to get rid of them.
Panchakarma therapy can be administered to both healthy and unhealthy people. Panchakarma therapy is also used as a purification therapy to cleanse the body before starting an internal treatment. A diseased body can be compared to a soiled cloth. A soiled cloth cannot pick up color unless it is washed or cleaned. Thus, the body too needs cleansing before a treatment can be started. The cleared channels help medicines to penetrate deeper.
The five karma are as follows:
- Vamana- Emesis (Vomiting)
- Virechana- Purgation (Evacuation of bowels through laxatives)
- Niruha Basti- Enema with herbal concoctions
- Anuvasana Basti- Enema with medicated oils
- Nasya (Nasal drops administration)
Vamana– Expelling the doshas through the oral route is called Vamana. Before the actual procedure, the vitiated doshas are brought to the stomach by the preparatory methods like regular whole body oil massage followed by a steam bath. This liquefies the doshas and brings them to the stomach which can later be expelled by administering concoctions for vomiting.
Vamana chikitsa is suggested in diseases which mainly involve kapha dosha. Some of the best examples are cough, asthma, skin diseases, sinusitis, and digestion problems.
Virechana– Expelling the doshas through purgation is called Virechana. Virechana is an easier procedure as compared to Vamana. It helps in eliminating toxins from blood, liver and intestines. Virechan chikitsa is suggested in diseases which mainly involve pitta dosha. Some of the examples are fistula, headache, acidity, anemia, jaundice and ascites.
Basti– Basti karma is expelling body toxins and vitiated doshas by introducing medicated liquids or oils through anus, urethra or vaginal canal. Basti karma is suggested in diseases due to vata dosha. Some of the examples are neuro muscular conditions, joint pain, paralysis, obesity, low back pain, spondylosis and menstrual problems in women. Basti is of two types:
- In Anuvasana basti medicated oil is introduced through anus, immediately after the consumption of food. There will be no harm even if medicated oil remains inside colon for a long time. This type of basti nourishes and strengthens the body.
- In Niruha basti an enema of herbal decoction is administered on an empty stomach. The decoction should ideally come out within 45 minutes. This expelled decoction usually pulls out the toxins and vitiated doshas from the body and cleanses the body.
Nasya– The administration of herbal liquids or medicated oils through the nasal route is called nasya. Through this method, the vitiated doshas which are accumulated in the area above the neck are expelled out through the nose and mouth via nasal and oral secretions. There are various ways of administering nasya chikitsa; nasya with medicated oils, squeezed juice of herbs, fine powders of herbs and fumes of medicinal herbs.
The indications for nasya chikitsa are headache, vision problems, migraine, stiff neck, sinusitis, hoarseness of voice, hairfall, graying of hair and nervous system disorders.
Ayurveda has explained how according to changing seasons, the dosha domination in our body changes leading to an array of diseases in that season. Each karma is thus focused on treating a specific disorder related to that specific dosha during that specific season. The sound knowledge of all these aspects of this science gives a practitioner the confidence of curing a lot of diseases which have otherwise been declared “incurable” by other sciences.
What can you expect after these procedures?
The panchakarma procedures affect the person as a whole. You can notice changes on physical, mental and emotional levels. There will be better perception by the senses and you may also experience a healing crisis. All this is indicative of only one thing; the careful study of every disease condition by the ancient sages and a parallel treatment procedure for the same.
Note: All these procedures need to be conducted under the strict supervision of an Ayurvedic practitioner.
About The Author
Vishakha is an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga counselor and a passionate traveler. She lays emphasis on living a healthy life by nourishing the body and mind with wholesome and natural food, meditation and yogic techniques. An Indian at heart, she aims at propagating the goodness of the Indian culture across the seven seas and stimulating thoughts by creating a hunger for knowledge.