Panchakarma – Pancha means “five” and Karma means “ Therapy or procedures”, Panchakarma means fivefold ayurvedic therapeutic procedures for body cleansing. Panchakarma treatment is an effective and miraculous Ayurvedic method of treatment which detoxifies the body. 

The body undergoes metabolism continuously through which waste products (toxins) are formed, these toxins are known as ‘Aam’. This aam is the root cause of various diseases. Panchakarma procedure removes Aam from our body in an efficient way without any adverse effects on the body.  These are all shodhana (cleansing of vitiated doshas and bringing them to normalcy) therapies.

Panchakarma consists of -

  • Vaman
  • Virechan
  • Basti
  • Nasya
  • Raktamokshan

These therapies are known as Pradhan Karma, meaning main procedures. Snehan (oleation/massage) and Swedan (steam) are associated procedures which should be done before pradhan karmas and are so called Purva karma. Purva karma is a preparatory stage for the main procedures, it brings the aggravated doshas in koshtha for their elimination.

Pre-purification Therapies: 

Snehan (Massage /Oleation therapy) and Swedan (Sudation) are the two Purva karmas.

1) Snehan: 

Snehan or Oleation therapy helps in loosening the body toxins which are stuck up into our body systems causing ailments. Oleation is of two types internal and external oleation, where in Internal Oleation Sneha dravya like plain or medicated ghee, oil is taken orally in desirable amount. External Oleation therapy consists of whole or partial body massage with medicated oils. Our skin being semi-permeable absorbs this oil to some extent.

2) Swedan: 

Swedan or Sudation therapy is sweating induced by steam,it liquifies the toxins and increases the flow of toxins to Gastrointestinal tract (Koshtha). There are various ways of applying swedan therapy like Nadi sweda, Pinda sweda, Patra pottali, Valuka sweda, etc the type of sweda to be used is selected according to the patient and the disease he is suffering from. 

Similarly, there are other associated procedures apart from these basic five therapies which will be dealt further but to mention a few they are: Shirodhara, Shirobasti, Katibasti, Janubasti, Netra tarpan, Karnapuran, Pizicchil, Tailadahara, Nabhipuran, Hrid Basti, Manya Basti, etc.        

Pradhan karma (The fivefold Purification measures) :

1. Vaman  (Therapeutic Emesis): 

Therapeutic emesis is administered in patients suffering from deranged Kapha accumulated in Respiratory tract, Sinuses, Bronchial asthma, Psoriasis, Chronic Allergies, Obesity, Chronic Indigestion, Hyperacidity, Nasal Congestion and other skin disorders. The patient is advised to drink a decoction of liquorice, or Acorus calamus root, or sugarcane juice – as per his body constitution and ailment he is suffering from – to the full extent and emesis is induced. Minimum 4-6 bouts of vomit indicate excellent purification.     

2. Virechan (Therapeutic Purgation): 

Virechan is given to patients suffering from Pitta dosha related diseases. It cleanses the gastrointestinal tract thoroughly and voids off the Pitta toxins accumulated in the liver, gallbladder and small intestine. Purgation is given with medicines like Cow’s milk, Black currants, castor oil; etc. It is a safe procedure without side effects. Virechana helps to cure Chronic Fever, Diabetes, Asthma, Skin disorders such as Herpes, Paraplegia, Hemiplegia, Joint disorders, Digestive disorders and Constipation, Hyperacidity, Vitiligo, Psoriasis, Headaches, Elephantiasis and Gynecological disorders.    

3. Basti (Enema): 

Basti is considered to be the most effective treatment in Ayurveda as it not only prime cure for Vata disorders but also cleanses toxins created by pitta and kapha through rectum. Medicated oil, ghee or decoction is introduced through the anus into the colon.     

Basti is an effective therapy in osteoporosis, gas trouble, constipation, backache, hemiplegia, paraplegia, sciatica, cervical spondylosis, chronic fever, arthritis, muscle spasm, acidity, digestive disorders, joint pain, slip disc, sexual disorders etc and other ailments caused due to imbalance of vata dosha. The large intestine and bones are the main seat of vata, so Basti is administered through rectum which removes toxins and also nourishes the membrane of the colon and controls vata diseases efficiently.      

4. Nasya (Nasal drops):

 Medicine instilled into the nose is known as Nasya. It acts on doshas accumulated in head, neck and face region, especially kapha dosha. It drains out sinus, relieves headache, improves eyesight, memory and promotes hair growth. Nasal allergies, polyps, neck stiffness, frozen shoulder, Bell’s palsy can be well treated by Nasya. In cases of Hemiplegia and Paraplegia, it stimulates brain tissues and improves the functioning of the nervous system.    

5. Raktamokshan (Blood-letting): 

Raktamokshan is a unique procedure specially performed in disease due to Pitta and Rakta dushti. Raktamokshan is carried out in various ways but the most common techniques used are the application of Leeches and bloodletting with a syringe. 

Leeches suck impure blood from our body and are usually helpful in localized area. It reduces pain and swelling in joint pain, localized skin diseases, cracked heels, varicose veins, etc. Blood-letting through a syringe is effective in generalized body ailments like Hypertension, Large area of Varicose veins, Vitiligo, severe Headache etc.    

These five-fold therapies work wonders when performed properly under the supervision of well experienced, efficient Ayurvedic consultant and the obedient patient who is willing to follow all the necessary rules Do’s and Don’ts as advised by the Doctor.