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 :
- Paachan (Digestion)
- Snehan (Internal and external oleation)
- Swedan (Fomentation)
- Vaman (Induced vomiting)
- Virechan (Induced purgation)
- Basti (Medicated enema)
- Nasya (Nasal medicine)
- Rakta Mokshan (Artificial bloodletting)
Sansarjan Krama (Specific dietetics), DhumaPana (smoking of medicinal cigars) and some rules to follow specific activities.
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". A particular panchakarma method is then given according to the individual's constitution and disorder, prakruti and vikruti, respectively.