Panchakarma is not only for detoxifying the body, but also for rejuvenation — strengthening the immune system, and restoring balance and well-being. It is one of the most effective healing modalities in Ayurvedic Medicine. It is recommended on a seasonal basis, as well as when an individual feels out of balance or is experiencing illness.
Panchakarma – Rejuvenating Detox
Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means “five actions” or “five treatments”. This is a process used to clean the body of toxic materials left by disease, poor nutrition and environmental toxins. Normally the body has the innate ability to efficiently process and remove these waste materials, including the vitiated doshas. However, due to one’s repeated dietary indiscretions, poor exercise patterns, lifestyle, and genetic predisposition, the digestive enzymes, metabolic co-factors, hormones, and agnis which regulate the body’s internal homeostasis become disorganized. This can lead to the accumulation and spread of toxins throughout the physiology resulting in disease. This waste matter is called ama in Ayurveda. Ama is a foul-smelling, sticky, harmful substance that needs to be completely evacuated from the body.
Panchakarma will remove the excess doshas and correct imbalances in them as well as eliminate the harmful ama out of your system through the body’s own organs and channels of elimination (colon, sweat glands, lungs, bladder, urinary tract, stomach, intestines, etc). Panchakarma purifies the tissues at a very deep level.
It is a very pleasurable experience that is tailored to individual needs and may involve:
- Daily warm oil massage (abhyanga)
- Herbal steam therapy (swedana)
- Lymphatic massage
- Herbal enemas (basti)
- Nasal administrations (nasya)
- Other special treatments (see treatments below)
Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma as a seasonal treatment for maintaining mental and physical hygiene and balance.
Panchakarma is a five-fold therapy; it is highly individualized based on the needs of the individual depending on the Ayurvedic constitutional type, doshic imbalances, age, digestive strength, immune status, and many other factors. Depending on each individual’s needs, all or only parts of the five therapies are utilized. Specially trained therapists must administer these procedures in an exact sequence for a specified period of time. In addition, although Panchakarma is for the most part a delightful and comfortable therapy, there can be periods of discomfort associated with the profound release of toxins, which does occur. It is therefore essential that a knowledgeable expert who can recognize the signs of properly and improperly administered Panchakarma supervise the therapy. Fortunately these signs were meticulously recorded by the ancient vaidyas.
Like all medical procedures, Panchakarma Therapy always must begin with an initial consultation by a qualified Ayurvedic Therapist who can determine the individual’s prakriti (constitutional type), the nature of the health problem (if any), and the appropriate degree of intensity of the prescribed therapies. See Ayurvedic Consultation to book a session.
Panchakarma treatments have been shown to create measurable brain wave coherence and to lower metabolic activity. They allow the body and mind to drop into a profound level of peacefulness. In this state of relaxation, it is possible to cleanse toxins from tissues as well as to release deeply held emotional tensions.
Panchakarma Detoxifies the Body and Mind
If we want to experience optimal health, it is crucial to maintain a strong digestive fire and eliminate toxins from the body. Panchakarma is a time-proven natural therapy that detoxifies and restores the body’s inner balance and vitality.
According to ayurveda, good health depends upon our capability to fully metabolize all aspects of life, assimilating that which nourishes and eliminating the rest. When we can’t completely digest our food, experiences, and emotions, toxins accumulate in our bodily tissues, creating imbalance and – ultimately – disease. Panchakarma is an elegant cleansing process that releases stored toxins and restores the body’s innate healing ability.
When our digestive energies, known as Agni (fire), are robust, we create healthy tissues, eliminate waste products efficiently, and produce a subtle essence called Ojas. Ojas, which may be envisioned as the innermost sap of our psychophysiology, is the basis for clarity of perception, physical strength, and immunity. On the other hand, if our Agni is weakened, digestion is incomplete and creates toxins that get stored in the body. This toxic residue is known as Ama.
The Foundation for Health and Well-being
When ama accumulates in the body, it blocks the flow of energy, information, and nourishment throughout the system. Ayurveda considers this build-up of toxins the underlying cause of all disease. A common example of this is the accumulation of saturated fat and cholesterol that is beyond the body’s capacity to metabolize. Over time, this leads to the blockage of the blood vessels and arteries and, ultimately, to heart attacks.
While it’s easy to understand agni and ama in terms of food, it’s important to remember that your mind and heart are continually digesting energy and information as well. Right now your mental digestive powers are working right now to break down these ideas into components that your intellect can assimilate. Similarly, your emotional agni is responsible for processing your experiences and feelings, including the smile of a loved one, unexpected criticism at work, or the excitement of a new relationship.
Restoring the Body’s Natural Balance
If your emotional agni is strong, you are able to extract whatever is nourishing and eliminate the rest. The inability to metabolize emotions, however, produces just as much toxic residue as undigested food. In fact, pent-up anger, long-held sadness, and lingering guilt are more debilitating for most people than problems with physical digestion.
The descriptions that follow cover the variety of therapies that may be performed during a Panchakarma series and represent the actual treatments used in this ancient art of life extension. Two Ayurvedic therapists working in synchronicity perform many of them. Two, three, and sometimes four of these therapies are linked together during the course of one day’s treatments.
An individually prepared herbal-oil massage designed to deeply penetrate the skin, relax the mind-body, break up impurities, and stimulate both arterial and lymphatic circulation. It enhances the ability of nutrients to reach starved cells and allows for the removal of stagnant waste. The desired result is a heightened state of awareness that will direct the internal healing system of the body.
A warm, gentle and methodic pouring of herbalized oil over the forehead, synchronizing brain waves and profoundly coordinating and calming the mind, body, and spirit.
A dry lymphatic skin brushing with either a wool or silk glove. This enhances circulation and cleanses the skin so that subsequent oil and herbal treatments can penetrate deeply into freshly cleansed pores.
An herbalized steam bath, during which the head and the heart are kept cool (an important difference in Ayurvedic steam treatments) while the body is heated to remove mental, emotional and physical toxins lodged deeply within the tissues. The cool head and heart provide a sense of calm and openness while the therapeutic steam over the entire body can penetrate and cleanse deeply, without overheating and causing stress to the body.
A deeply penetrating herbal paste lymphatic massage. This powerful exfoliating treatment will magically restore your natural radiance. It conditions the skin while releasing stagnant lymphatic toxins from the body.
Five Senses Therapy
This treatment combines the therapeutic effect of all five senses working in harmony. Sound therapies are specific Vedic hymns and mantras recommended for each imbalance. Touch therapy enlivens specific vital points on the body called marmapoints. Taste therapy uses certain herbal medicines. Sight uses Ayurvedic color therapy, and smell is accessed with combinations of rare aromatics. The effect harmonizes all of the senses to bring one’s awareness to the source of thought and feeling within the heart.
An herbal enema specially prepared to pull toxins out of the colon. This is the final stage of each daily Panchakarma treatment. The freshly loosened impurities from each day of treatment are flushed out of the body via the effects of the basti. The basti also transports Ayurvedic medicines into the blood and tissues in order to transform the memory of damaged and toxic cells. It is considered one of the most important and most powerful aspects of the Panchakarma treatment.
Individually prescribed herbs and oil drops, inhaled through the nose, which clear the sinuses of excessive mucus. It is also an important therapy when medicating the central nervous system. This treatment combats the deep dryness that exists at the root of many respiratory and allergic conditions.
A luxurious combination of a deep head/neck/shoulder massage and facial lymphatic massage, followed by deep inhalation of therapeutic aromatic steam, and a nasal and sinus nasya with herbalized nose drops. This popular treatment is an invaluable tool to balancing most head, neck and respiratory disorders.
A deep cleansing treatment using rice cooked in milk and herbs that is massaged into the tissues and joints. The treatment is deeply relaxing and rejuvenating as well as powerfully detoxifying.
Why Should I Undergo Panchakarma Treatment?
Stress, environmental pollutants and poor diet and lifestyle choices create a toxic load on the body that—if left in the tissues and bloodstream—results in poor health.
Panchakarma (PK) reverses this degenerative process quickly and its effects are often profound and long-lasting. PK uses a combination of massage, herbal saunas, special foods and nutritional directives, mild fasting and colon therapies to rid the body of accumulated toxins.
Your personal PK program begins with a thorough exam by an Ayurvedic Physician, which enables the doctor to recommend a program tailored to your individual health. As your PK treatments progresses, you will be given a special diet combined with certain herbs and essential oils to use at home. These will help stimulate your liver and digestive organs, helping them to purge toxins.
What Can I Expect?
The Panchakarma cleansing process affects the whole person. Thus, during the program, you may notice changes on mental, physical and emotional levels. Many of our patients experience a “healing crisis.” This is a normal part of the healing process, and may be seen as a beneficial step toward optimal health.
The Healing Crises
A healing crisis occurs when a large quantity of toxins that have been locked in our tissues for years are released into the system for elimination. As these toxins are expelled, you may experience insomnia, heaviness, aching or general discomfort and flu-like symptoms. You may also develop a feverish feeling, which is simply your body’s way of burning up toxic waste. You may notice some emotional mood swings or experience intense feelings. Do not be alarmed—this is both a natural and necessary part of tissue cleansing. Make time to visit with your Ayurvedic Therapist or facilitator on a daily basis while undergoing PK treatments and they will help to walk you through the process.
What Should I Do At Home?
During the first stage of your Panchakarma therapy, when you are undergoing daily massage and steam baths, there are several things you can do to facilitate your body’s internal cleansing.
- Drink plenty of pure water, soothing herbal teas (be sure they are caffeine-free) and fresh, organic fruit and vegetable juices.
- Eat light foods in moderate amounts, and increase your daily rest.
- Be gentle and nurturing to yourself.
- Completing the PK Cycle
To complete your PK treatment, you will do a mild fast and special liver purge followed by a specialized rejuvenation program. You will be amazed at your increased energy level and renewed vitality. Periodic PK treatments, in addition to your individual dietary and exercise routines, will help to prevent disease and maintain optimal health.
What to Wear To Your PK Appointment?
Wear comfortable, older clothing that you don’t mind getting oily. Your massage and herbal treatment will also leave you in a need of a bath, so plan accordingly. Also try to bring a cap or a bandana to cover your head after the treatment. Do not expect any specific results – Just be on the wave and relax.