(NaturalNews) These days, it's virtually impossible to avoid the toxins, stress, radiation, smoke and synthetic chemicals that damage our bodies and minds and that reduce vitality. We may think that these stressors have recently come into existence, but they have probably been around in one form or another since the very beginning of man-kind. Many methods have been used to neutralize these toxins and purify the body, but perhaps the oldest of these has received very little attention recently.
Ayurveda's "Panchakarma" literally means five therapies. They include Vamana (therapeutic emesis or vomiting), Virechana (therapeutic purgations), Basti (enema), Nasya (nasal drops) and Rakta Mokshana (blood-letting). They are generally followed by a course of Rasayana (rejuvenation) to arrest the ageing process and promote radiant vitality.
Each one of these has very specific indications in both the management and prevention of disease. Depending on the dosha (Vata, Pitta, or Kapha), the condition, and the strength of the patient, any one of them may be used as an emergency line of treatment or as part of long-term management. As a preventive measure, each one is indicated in a certain season to rid the body of toxins which naturally accumulate due to diet and external factors. In either case, an individual course may last 7-14 days or more.
Each treatment is composed of a methodical sequence of internal medicines and external procedures (including massage and steam bath), performed in three distinct stages - a preparatory phase (Purva karma), actual purification (Pradhana karma), and follow-up phase (Paschat karma). Undergoing at least one treatment per year provides significant improvement in overall health
along with a greatly strengthened immune system.
One of the most intriguing steps in the sequence occurs during the preparatory phases of Vamana and Virechana. Over several days, increasing amounts of medicated ghee (clarified butter) are required to be consumed early in the morning on an empty stomach. This fat permeates throughout the body
and helps to safely free toxins which have been stored deep inside the tissues.
Then, a series of oil massages and steam baths are performed to mobilize these toxins towards the gastrointestinal tract in order to be excreted. On the day of the actual therapy, a medicated paste or decoction may be given to induce the expulsion of these toxins
. Afterwards, a very specific meal plan is formulated for 3-7 days to rid the body of any residual toxins and to optimize digestion and metabolism.
Studies are now being done to calculate and quantify the results of these purification methods in conventional terms. In 2002, a pilot study confirmed the effectiveness of one purification method (Virechana) which demonstrated results far beyond scientists' expectations. Lipophilic industrial toxins like DDT and PCBs, which were thought to be impossible to remove from the body, reduced by an astonishing 50% after a single treatment.
Basti, Nasya and Rakta Mokshana, all vary in their implementation and are comparatively easier for the patient since they do not involve oral consumption of fatty media. Classically, when all 5 are performed in sequence and followed by Rasayana (rejuvenation
) in a very restricted setting, it is called "Kaya Kalpa." This is an ancient technique which is just beginning to become popular again in India.
When performed methodically and according to classical guidelines, the benefits of Panchakarma
are profound, multi-systemic and long lasting. The auto-immune system reduces its reaction to allergens, which previously could have caused inflammation, breathing difficulty, indigestion, skin rashes or other problems. Disease-causing toxins are removed from their root. Circulation, digestion and metabolism are optimized; complexion is greatly enhanced; and the mind becomes clear and stable.
Sources for this article include:
- Charaka Samhita, Sutra sthana, Chikitsa sthana & Siddhi sthana, Chowkhamba Publishers (Sanskrit text and translation by Dr. RK Sharma and Dr. Bhagawan Dash)
- Ashtanga Hrdaya, Sutra sthana, Chowkhambha Krishnadas Academy (Sanskrit text and translation by Dr. K.R. Srikantha Murthy)
About the author
Jessica Vellela, BAMS, is a licensed Ayurvedic doctor in India. She was raised in Boston, MA and worked as an IT Consultant for over 10 years before making a life-changing decision to spend 6 years in India to study Ayurveda. She now applies the ancient Purification and Rejuvenation techniques (Pancha Karma and Rasayana) for patients in a classical, methodical and scientific manner to cure disease and greatly improve general health and immunity.
She is available for consultation by phone (617-930-1209), and in Boston, MA for basic treatments and medicines. She offers full Panchakarma at her center in India, AyurVillage Ayurvedic Retreats & Panchakarma Center