Pancha Karma is the cornerstone to Ayurvedic management of disease. Pancha Karma is the process which gets to the root cause of the problem and corrects the essential balance of 'Tridosha' in body. Pancha Karma is not only good for alleviating disease but is also a useful tool in maintaining excellent health. Ayurveda advises undergoing Pancha Karma at the seasonal changes to clean the body, improve the digestion and to improve the metabolic processes.
Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means "five actions" or "five treatments".
This age-old science of purifying the body is an ancient branch of Ayurveda, The Treatment in Ayurveda consists of two main types.
One is Shaman Chikitsa, used to subdue the vitiated Doshas, due to which any ailments may be produced. It is administered by using various medicinal herbo-mineral preparations.
However, if the Doshas are vitiated beyond a particular level, they give rise to various endotoxins, which have a tendency to be accumulated in the minute channels. These are beyond the level of pacification and hence need to be eliminated or removed from the body. In such cases,
The second type of treatment, which is Shodhan Chikitsa or cleansing therapy, is indicated. Since it consists of the five types of main therapies, it is known as the Panchakarma Chikitsa.
Panchakarma has been given a special place in all the ancient Ayurvedic texts. Aacharya Charak, the author of the most important ancient text on internal medicine, has described a wide use of Panchakarma therapy for almost all the major diseases. Two separate sections, Kalpa Sthanam, and Siddhi Sthanam in Charak Samhita describe the details of special decoctions and other preparations used for Panchakarma therapy.
Panchakarma includes three parts namely:
Poorva Karma (Preparatory Methods)which includes :
Pradhan Karma (Main methods) which includes :
Pashchat Karma (Post-Therapeutic Measures)which includes :
This includes Sansarjan Krama (Specific dietetics), DhumaPana (smoking of medicinal cigars) and some rules to follow specific activities.
Purvakarma: Pre-purification Measures
Before the actual operation of purification begins, there is a need to prepare the body in prescribed methods to encourage the body to let go of the toxins. The two procedures are 'snehan' and 'swedan'. Snehan is the oil massage. Oil is applied to the entire body with a particular type of massage which helps the toxins to move towards the gastro-intestinal tract. Oil massage also makes the superficial and deep tissues soft and supple. Snehan is given daily for three to seven days, as indicated. Swedan is sudation or sweating and is given every day immediately following the snehan. An herbal concoction may be added to the steam to further loosen the toxins from the individual. Swedan liquefies the toxins and increases the movement of toxins into the gastro-intestinal tract. After three to seven days of snehan and swedan, the doshas become well "ripened".
Pradhan Karma (Main methods)
Pradhana karma is the main procedures to be administered for the elimination of ripen doshas by paschat karma. A particular panchakarma method is then given according to the individual's constitution and disorder, prakruti and vikruti, respectively.
Five Basic Shodhans: Cleansing Methods
1) Vaman: therapeutic vomiting or emesis
2) Virechan : purgation
3) Basti: enema
4) Nasya: elimination of toxins through the nose
5) Rakta moksha: detoxification of the blood
Vaman: Emesis Therapy
When there is congestion in the lungs causing repeated attacks of bronchitis, colds, cough or asthma, the Ayurvedic treatment is therapeutic vomiting, vaman, to eliminate the kapha causing the excess mucus. First, after the snehan and swedan, three to four glasses of licorice or salt water is administered, then vomiting is stimulated by rubbing the tongue which triggers the vomiting center through the gag reflex. One may alternatively take two to three glasses of salt water which will also aggravate kapha and then rub the tongue to induce vomiting. Once the mucus is released the patient will feel instantly relieved. It is likely that congestion, wheezing and breathlessness will disappear and that the sinuses will become clear. Therapeutic vomiting is also indicated in chronic asthma, diabetes, chronic cold, lymphatic congestion, chronic indigestion and edema.
Virechan: Purgation Therapy
When excess bile, pitta, is secreted and accumulated in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine, it tends to result in rashes, skin inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of fever, biliary vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Ayurvedic literature suggests in these conditions the administration of therapeutic purgation or a therapeutic laxative. Virechan is facilitated with senna leaves, flax seeds, psyllium husks or triphala in a combination that is appropriate for the individual person.
Basti: Enema Therapy
Vata's predominant site is the colon. Ayurvedic basti involves the introduction into the rectum of herbal concoctions of sesame oil, and certain herbal preparations in a liquid medium. Basti, is the most effective treatment of vata disorders, although many enemas over a prescribed period of time are usually required. It relieves constipation, distention, chronic fever, cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, backache, sciatica and other pains in the joints. Many other vata disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscle spasms and headaches may also be treated with basti.
Vata is a very active principle in pathogenesis. If we can control vata through the use of basti, we have gone a long way in going to the root cause of the vast majority of diseases.
Vata is the main etiological factor in the manifestation of diseases. It is the motive force behind the elimination and retention of feces, urine, bile and other excreta.
Nasya: Nasal Administration
The nose is the doorway to the brain and it is also the doorway to consciousness. The nasal administration of medication is called nasya. An excess of bodily humors accumulated in the sinus, throat, nose or head areas is eliminated by means of the nearest possible opening, the nose.
Prana, life force as nerve energy, enters the body through the breath taken in through the nose. Prana is in the brain and maintains sensory and motor functions. Prana also governs mental activities, memory, concentration and intellectual activities. Deranged prana creates defective functioning of all these activities and produces headaches, convulsions, loss of memory and reduced sensory perception. Thus nasal administration, nasya is indicated for prana disorders, sinus congestion, migraine headaches, convulsions and certain eye and ear problems.
Raktamoksha: Traditional Ayurvedic Method for Purification and Cleansing of the Blood
Toxins present in the gastro-intestinal tract are absorbed into the blood and circulated throughout the body. This condition is called toxemia, which is the basic cause of repeated infections, hypertension and certain other circulatory conditions. This includes repeated attacks of skin disorders such as urticaria, rashes, herpes, eczema, acne, leukoderma, chronic itching or hives. In such conditions, along with internal medication, elimination of the toxins and purification of the blood is necessary. Raktamoksha is also indicated for cases of enlarged liver, spleen and gout.
After any operative procedure of purification, always there is need to prevent the body from dosha re-aggravating causes. So that the best effects can be achieved for longer period.
Paschat karma is further divided into two procedures, namely samsarjan karma and rasayana. Samsarjan Karma: After the pradhan karma treatments are done the patient loses some weight and the digestive power becomes feeble. In such cases he is advised to follow samsarjan karma, which involves embracing a special diet and life style for about two weeks. This therapy brings back the digestive power and strength by starting from a bland diet and gradually moving towards a heavy diet. The patient need not be admitted anywhere to undergo this process. Rasayana: This implies rejuvenating therapy. This process yields excellent results if followed after the five main procedures or pradhan karma. But if rejuvenation therapy or Rasayana is followed in an impure body that has not gone through the five main procedures, the effects are not fully experienced due to the presence of toxins in the body. Pancha karma treatment that includes rasayana is very effective for curing ailments like hemiplegia, rheumatoid arithritis, polio, skin diseases, epilepsy, insomnia, hypertension,cardiac problems, intestinal diseases, peptic and duodenal ulcers, ulcerative colitis and asthma.