Panchakarma and its uses:
Our body has an innate ability to manage the toxins that are formed due to improper lifestyle, indiscrete food pattern and seasonal variations. However as a result of metabolic derangements or genetic predisposition, normal homeostasis is altered which leads to accumulation of toxins in the body. In Ayurveda, these toxins are termed as ‘Aama’ and have to be eliminated, which will otherwise lead to adverse disease conditions. It is under this context that the concepts of ‘Shodhana Karma’ or detoxification procedures are mentioned in the treatises.
‘Pancha karma’ is the most effective ‘Shodhana’ procedure which promises complete detoxification and over all rejuvenation. It is coined from the Sanskrit terms ‘Pancha’ meaning five and ‘Karma’ meaning action and refers to a set of five therapies that can completely heal the body.
Vamana or Induced Emesis:
Vamana is done to eliminate toxins via the oral cavity and to cure diseases caused due to Kapha and Pitta dosha. It is indicated in conditions like Asthma, bronchitis, skin diseases, obesity, PCOD, Diabetes mellitus etc. Healthy individuals can undergo, Vamana to boost the metabolism, reduce sluggishness and to sharpen the mind and the sense organs.
Virechana or Purgation:
Medicines are administered orally to expel out vitiated Pitta along with associated toxins through the anal orifice. It is indicated in serious skin diseases like psoriasis, cellulitis, abscesses etc, and in gynecological disorders, hemorrhoids and other conditions associated with Pitta dosha. The procedure also cleanses the stomach and the intestines and improves enzyme activity during digestion.
Niruha Vasti or Decoction based enema:
Niruha Vasti is one of the most powerful treatments explained in Ayurveda that exhibits multi faceted therapeutic utility. Medicines processed in strong decoctions are directly administered into the rectum which is richly supplied by blood vessels to facilitate its absorption. The synergistic effect portrayed by the ingredients makes it powerful enough to cure grave diseases like stroke, Multiple sclerosis, arthritis etc. People suffering from infertility, anxiety disorders, obesity etc can also undergo Niruha Vasti.
d)Anuvasana Vasti or fat based enema:
Anuvasana vasti is often prescribed after Niruha vasti , to render support to the body that has undergone thorough cleansing.
Both the Vastis are targeted towards pacifying Vata dosha and to impart strength. The enema is prepared in medicated oils or ghee or sometimes both which increases the absorbability of the medicines in the intestines. Moreover the metabolism is also enhanced following a course of vasti.
e)Nasya or Nasal inhalation:
Acharyas have cited that the nose is the pathway to the brain and hence Ayurveda advises the administration of medicines through the nasal orifice to clear the sinuses, expel phlegm and to stimulate brain activity. It is also indicated in emergency conditions like Stroke, poisoning ,snake bites, that require immediate results.
(Acharya Sushrutha has included Anuvasana and Niruha vasti under a single heading and has added Rakta Mokshana or bloodletting as the fifth purification procedure in Pancha karma. However other Acharyas have disagreed to this, as blood is not included under the category of Doshas)
It is a common misconception that a person has to undergo all the five procedures to completely detoxify their body. Depending on the intensity of the disease and the vitiated doshas , the therapy should be decided. Factors like body constituency, age, strength, digestive capacity, immunity, progress of the disease, the organ system affected etc, should also be analyzed thoroughly to prescribe a customized treatment. A healthy person can also undergo Pancha karma therapy to rejuvenate the body, improve vitality and to preserve health and well being.
We have tried to provide the essence of the Vedas and Ayurveda Scriptures by interpreting meaning of the text in English through research & investigation. We have used the modern terminologies & technical words of the latest science to give the readers a better understanding and assimilation. If found any errors, kindly bear with us & help us rectify.Kindly request you not to get into self medication with minimal knowledge, always consult a physician before any medication
Sources and references:
- Charaka Samhita, Sushrutha Samhita, Ashtanga Hridaya
- Ayurveda and Panchakarma: Measuring the Effects of a Holistic Health Intervention by L.A. Conboy , I. Edshteyn , and H. Garivaltis
- Principles and Practice of Vasti By Dr M.R vasudevan Nampoothiri and Dr. L Mahadevan
- Textbook of Ayurveda: General principles of management and treatment by Vasant Lad.