Panchakarma (Sanskrit: पंचकर्म, literally meaning "five actions") is the word for the five different procedures used in Ayurveda which are believed to purify the body. This is done in two ways: 1)pacifying the aggravated doshas by using appropriate diet, natural herbs and minerals, and 2) eliminating the increased Doshas from the body.
1 Five actions
2 Three stages of treatment
3 Primary treatment
4 After treatment
6 External links
Panchakarma (meaning "five actions") developed in India, though there are regional variations in therapeutic procedure as well as in the equipment used. According to Charaka, the five actions are Nasya (nasal therapy), Vamana (emesis or vomiting), Virechana (purging) and two kinds of Vasti (therapeutic enema), Nirooha Vasti and Sneha Vasti. Herbal decoctions are used for Nirooha Vasti and herbal oils for Sneha Vasti.
Another school, that of the surgeon Sushruta, regards Rakta (blood) also as a dosha (humour), the vitiation of which can cause diseases, and advocates Raktamokshana (bloodletting) as the fifth in the Panchakarma therapies. In this school the five therapies are Nasya, Vamana, Virechana, Vasti and Raktamokshana. As bloodletting involves medical venesection, it is no longer popular. Leeching, however, is still practised.
This five-fold therapy is aimed at Shodhana, the eradication of the basic cause of disease. Shodhana or eradication, along with Shamana, the mitigation of the disease and its symptoms, are the two concepts of disease management in Ayurveda. Panchakarma is also believed by practitioners to have a rejuvenating effect.
Three stages of treatment
Panchakarma is always performed in three stages; Purva Karma (pre-treatment), Pradhana Karma (primary treatment) and Paschat Karma (post-treatment). The patient who opts for any one of the five therapies must invariably undergo all three stages.
Panchkarma is a part of the purification therapies of Ayurveda. ‘Panch’ means five and ‘Karma’ means actions so literally translated, it is a set of five systematic actions used for purification of the body. It is used to bring the aggravated doshas into balance and to flush out the accumulated ‘ama’ toxins from the body using the normal modes of elimination like the intestines, sweat glands and the urinary tract.
Elimination is a natural body instinct but over a period of time, and in cases of dosha imbalance these wastes are not effectively eliminated from the body. These wastes tend to stick into the minute channels of the body known as the ‘srotas’ and start producing disease. Panchkarma is considered to be the most radical way to cleanse the body and thereby eliminate, once and for all the disease causing doshas and the toxins.
Since most of the treatments used in Panchkarma are used to treat deep rooted diseases, a set of preliminary detoxification and ‘ama’(toxin) reducing methods should be followed for a period of a week or more. These are known as the ‘PurvaKarma’.
Panchkarma: The five steps are as follows:
1.Vamana – use of emetics – artificial vomiting is induced using herbs like, strong teas of locorice, salt, calamus. It is usually indicated for people and disorders of ‘Kapha’(phlegm).
2.Virechan – use of laxatives – A strong purgative like senna or rhubarb is given. It is normally used to eliminate high Pitta(fire) from its site in the small intestines.
3.Basti – use of medicated enemas – cleaning enemas are used primarily to dispel high Vata(air) from the colon.
4.Nasya – Nasal administration – medicinal oils or herbal mixtures are inhaled or used as drops(mixed with oils or ghee) to clear the congestion in the sinuses. It is also good for balancing the ‘prana vata’.
5.Rakta Mokshana – blood letting – this is not much in use these a days except in oriental systems of me.
Panchkarma treatment is very effective in diseases like hemiplegia, polio, rheumatoid arthritis, skin diseases, epilepsy, insomnia, hypertension, cardiac problems, intestinal diseases, peptic and duodenal ulcers, ulcerative colitis and asthma. Besides this, it produces immunity and increases youthfulness of the body.