International Journal of ISSN: 2381-1803IJCAM

Complementary & Alternative Medicine
Volume 5 Issue 4 - 2017
Panchakarma Treatment
Manuel Domínguez Vilches*
International School of Ayurvedic Culture, Spain
Received: December 06, 2016 | Published: February 08, 2017
*Corresponding author: Manuel Domínguez Vilches, Pasaje Pérez de Ayala, 4, 29014 Málaga, Spain, Tel: +34 687765467; Email:
Citation: Vilches MD (2017) Panchakarma Treatment. Int J Complement Alt Med 5(4): 00156. DOI: 10.15406/ijcam.2016.05.00156


Ayurveda underlines preventive therapies through various methods of purification and rejuvenation. Ayurveda is more than just a means of healing; is a science and an art of good living, which helps to maintain well-being over time. It can help the individual to make the appropriate choices in everything related to diet, lifestyle and physical exercise necessary to maintain mental, physical and consciousness balance, preventing illness and keeping the body in a healthy state.

According to Ayurveda each individual is a unique phenomenon of cosmic wisdom, manifesting through the five base elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. Vata-a combination of ether and air-, pitta- combination of water and fire-and Kapha-combination of earth and water-make up the doshas. They are the three humors, or the three types of organization base for the constitution of the body that at the same time are derived from the wisdom of the being. Each individual constitution or psychosomatic temperament is determined by the proportion in which each of these three humors intervenes at the moment of conception. Therefore, it is the moment of the formation of the embryo when the individual constitution is defined. According to Ayurveda, there are seven basic constitutions, defined by the predominance of one or more doshas. These are: Vata, pitta, Kapha, Vata-pitta, pitta-Kapha, Kapha-Vata, Vata-pitta-Kapha (rarer). Each individual constitution has a Vata, pitta, Kapha equilibrium according to its own nature. When this balance is altered by different interferences, changes occur. Balance, order and health are replaced by alteration, disorder and disease. Within the organism there is a constant interaction between order and disorder, and it is necessary to know the nature and structure of the disorder in order to find a way to restore order. According to Ayurveda, order is lodged inside the disorder.

The balance coincides with the state of health. Such a state subsists when the digestive fire (agni) is in equilibrium condition, when the three bodily humors (Vata, pitta and Kapha) are balanced, the three waste products (sweat, urine and feces) are produced and eliminated regular, the seven bodily tissues (rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja and shukra) fulfill their functions in a normal way, and mind, the senses and consciousness work together in a harmonious way. When the internal balance of these systems is altered, the disease process (disorder) ensues.

The internal environment of the body is governed by the joint action of Vata, pitta and Kapha, which constantly react to stimuli coming from the outside. An incorrect diet, bad habits and incompatible food combinations (yogurt and meat, milk and fish, cooked honey), seasonal change, repressed emotion and stress can act individually or together and alter the balance of Vata, pitta and Kapha. Depending on the nature of the cause acting from the outside, the dosha may undergo an alteration or mutation affecting Agni (digestive fire) that is a determining factor in the formation of toxins (ama). It loves to penetrate the bloodstream and extends throughout the body by occluding the body channels. The retention of these toxins in the blood causes intoxication. This accumulated toxicity once established, slowly melting Prana (vital energy), Tejas (cellular metabolic energy) and Ojas (immune strength), determining the onset of the disease. Ama is the internal cause in which most of the diseases originate, and is due to the alteration of doshas. This is the key to preventing disease: helping the body to eliminate toxins. In order to retain the production of ama, Ayurveda advises to follow a proper diet, a just regime of life, physical exercise and purification through practices such as the Panchakarma, constituted by a series of techniques that are generically called Shodana, distinguished from Other softer treatments called Shamana.

Purvakarma (prepurificated measures)

Before starting the purification process itself, it is necessary to prepare the body so that the cleaning of the toxins is truly effective. Snehana and Swedana are practiced for this purpose. The first consists of massage with oil that is applied over the whole body according to a particular technique that stimulates the movement of toxins and corrupted doshas towards the digestive tract. The massage with oil causes the body tissues to become soft and elastic, allowing reducing tension and invigorating the nervous system. Swedana is a technique that promotes perspiration, and should be practiced after snehana. It favors the movement of toxins to the gastrointestinal tract and its subsequent elimination. At this stage of the process the doshas are "mature” and it is necessary to begin the practice of Panchakarma, whose modality varies according to the individual constitution (Prakruti) or the state of unbalance (vikruti).

The five Shodana or purification methods

The five methods of purification practiced during the Panchakarma are: Vamana (therapeutic emesis or vomiting), Virechana (purge), basti (enemas), Nasya (nasal elimination of toxins) and Raktamoksha (blood purification).

Vamana (emesis or therapeutic vomiting): When lung congestion occurs, with repeated attacks of bronchitis, colds, cough or asthma, the appropriate treatment is therapeutic vomiting, which allows the elimination of Kapha responsible for excess mucus. This practice also triggers the release of repressed emotions that remain retained in the lungs and stomach along with excess dosha. When the mucus is removed, the subject experiences an immediate sense of relief. Congestion, asthma, the feeling of suffocation are likely to disappear, and the area is freed from occlusions. Therapeutic vomiting is also indicated in cases of chronic asthma, diabetes, chronic colds, allergies, lymphatic congestion, chronic indigestion and edemas.

After having practiced the vamana it is good to rest, to stay in fasting, to try not to repress natural stimuli (urination, defecation, elimination of gas, cough and sneezing). If the technique has been conducted properly, the person should experience a feeling of relaxation at the level of the lungs, breathe freely, feel lightness in the chest, clarity of thinking, a good appetite, while the symptoms of congestion will have disappeared.

Virechana (purgative practice): The case of excess bile, pitta, and secretion will accumulate at the gallbladder, liver and small intestine, causing skin irritation and inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of fever, biliary vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Under these conditions, Ayurveda recommends a laxative for therapeutic purposes. Purge helps to eliminate excess pitta which is responsible for the production of biliary secretions. After this treatment the person must abstain from eating food susceptible to alter the dominant dosha or break the balance of the tridosha.

Basti (enemas): Vata predominates at the level of the colon. The ayurvedic practice of basti consists of the introduction into the rectal canal of a decoction of herbs with sesame oil, conveyed with a liquid (water). Basti is the most effective remedy to balance vata: releases the bowel of constipation and abdominal swelling, it is effective in cases of fever, colds, sexual dysfunctions, kidney stones, heart problems, back pain, sciatica and other joint problems. Many other Vata alterations such as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, cramps and migraines can be treated with Basti. Vata is the main factor in the manifestation of pathogenesis. If we succeed in controlling it through the basti resource, we will be directing.

To the root of most of the causes of illness. Vata deals with the processes of elimination and retention of feces, urine, bile and other secretions. It predominates in the large intestine, but also in the bone tissue (asthi dhatu), reason why Basti will also have effects on this tissue. The mucous membrane of the colon is in connection with the periosteum or outer bony lining, which ensures nutrition. Therefore, any substance administered through Basti penetrates deeply into the tissues, including the bone tissue, correcting the disorders caused by Vata.

Nasya (elimination of doshas nasally): The nose is the door of the brain and knowledge. The supply of medicines through the nasal route is called Nasya. An excess of bodily humors accumulated at the level of the sinuses, throat or head should be removed through the nearest canal: the nose. Prana, the vital energy, enters the body in the form of nervous energy through the breath, and therefore through the nose. Prana resides in the cerebellum and maintains active motor and sensory functions, governs mental activity, memory, concentration and intellectual vivacity. An alteration of Prana causes a malfunction of all this activity, and is the cause of migraine, seizures, loss of memory and reduced sensory perception. The nasal administration, nasya, is indicated in the case of alterations of Prana, congestion of the sinuses, migraines, convulsions and, in some cases, also for visual or auditory disorders.

Also, breathing can be improved by massaging the nasal cavity with the little finger after administering the ghee. The inner walls of the nose should be massaged slowly, pressing and as deep as possible, so it is advisable to have the nails well cut to avoid damaging the nasal mucosa. The massage should follow one movement clockwise, and then counterclockwise. This practice is also useful for unlocking emotional processes, and improving visual perception.

Raktamoksha (purification of blood): The toxins present in the digestive tract become absorbed by the blood and, through the circulatory system, expand throughout the body. This condition is called intoxication, and is a leading cause of recurrent infections, hypertension, some circulatory problems, and repeated causes of skin disorders such as hives, rashes, herpes, eczema, acne, scabies, leukoderma, Pruritus, pricking. In such conditions a purification of the blood is necessary to eliminate toxins. Raktamoksha is also indicated in the case of enlargement of the liver (hepatomegaly), spleen (splenomegaly), or gout.

When an excess of pitta caused by the disintegration of red blood cells in the liver (pitta and the blood are in a direct relationship) occurs, that excess can move into the blood causing intoxication and many other disorders. Removal of a small amount of venous blood relieves the pitta tension in the blood. Bleeding also stimulates the spleen and the production of antitoxin substances, which act by stimulating the immune system and neutralizing toxins.
Some substances such as salt, sugar, alcohol, acid and fermented food, act as toxic to the blood, so in case of blood disorders, should be avoided.

Lifestyle and diet: the keys to well-being: During each phase of the Panchakarma, Ayurveda recommends following an appropriate life regime and some directives in the dietary field. During treatment, it is advisable to rest frequently and avoid intense physical activity, to abstain from sexual practice, to lie down soon, to avoid listening to music at high volume or watching television, avoiding any experience that stimulates the senses. It is advised to remain dressed as a way to maintain body heat, and to keep protected from drafts, also to focus on one's own thoughts, one's own sensations during the course of various purification practices.

It is advised on a diet based on kitchari (rice and lentil mixture) and ghee, as well as minimizing cold foods and beverages, cheese, caffeine, sugar, avoiding the use of drugs, tobacco and alcohol. All these substances should be avoided even in the days after the end of Panchakarma. The reason for these restrictions is that during purifications, the digestive fire should not be stimulated. On the other hand, at the time the doshas accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract, there is a weakening of these digestive enzymes. The kitchari provides adequate nutrition, is easily digested, supports all tissues of the body, is excellent for cells and helps in the process of detoxification and purification. Basmati rice and lentils (dal) are sweet and refreshing and have the effect of balancing the tridosha.

The Panchakarma is a practice that produces extraordinary results, but requires the guidance of a specialist well prepared in the field of Ayurveda. The practice of Panchakarma must be regulated according to the unique physical and mental constitution of each person, so the therapist must proceed in a preventive way to a close observation of the subject.

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