Archive for What is panchakarma?
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Pancha Karma is the primary cleansing therapy in Ayurvedic Medicine. It has been practiced for over five thousand years, and has variances across India in relationship to some of its defining features. It is one of the most complex, and specific forms of detoxification practices in natural medicine.
The name Pancha Karma comes from two Sanskrit words: panch, meaning “five,” and karma meaning “action.” The five primary procedures, called Pradhana Karma, remove excess doshas from the body, and eliminate ama (toxins). It does this by drawing the excess dosha to it’s main home in the body, where it can be eliminated by its correspondent eliminative procedure.
The Pradhana Karmas in Pancha Karma include:
Vamana (Emesis) Relieves excess from the stomach with therapeutic vomiting. Mostly for Kapha imbalances such as excess mucus conditions, obesity, cholesterol, swelling, water retention, depression, lethargy, bronchitis, eczema, etc. Vamana can also relieve excess Pitta from the stomach.
Virechana (Purgation) for elimination of excess from small intestine through purgative laxatives. Mostly for pitta imbalances such as hormonal dysfunction, fast digestion, acne, heat eruptions on the skin, anger, stagnate liver, etc.
Basti (Medicated Enemas) removes excess from colon with medicated enemas. Mostly for vata conditions such as arthritis, emaciation, anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia, brittle bones, constipation, nervous system disorders, etc. Basti is regarded as making up 50% of the potency of panchakarma.
Rakta Moksha (Blood Letting) removes excess from the blood. Typically for pitta disorders. There are differences in opinion and practice regarding this therapy. It is not used in many parts of India, where practitioners employ a second kind type of Basti instead.
Nasya (Nasal intake of medication) removes excesses from the sinuses. Alleviates sinus conditions and improves brain and sensory function, can be shamana (restorative, used over time) or shodhana (detoxifying). Some nasya mediums include: medicated oils, ghee, smoke, and powdered herbs.
Before administering any of the five main procedures, the body and mind are prepared through several therapies called ‘Purva Karma.’ Purva karma makes the ama(toxins) soft through snehana (oil application and ingestion) and mobile for elimination through swedana (sweating). Purva karmas bring the toxins to the kostha (digestion) where they can be eliminated by the pradhana karmas.
Some of these preparatory treatments used in Purva karma include:
Pachana: Stimulating digestive agni to burn ama by injesting spices, herbs, and diet restriction.
Bhaya Snehana: The external application of herbal infused medicinal oils. The oils work to pacify excesses and cleanse the channels. It is an important part of panchakarma, but can be performed alone. There are over a dozen methods of bhaya snehana including abhyanga massage, shirodhara, netra tarpana, and many more. There are also dry methods for kapha imbalances such as udvartana.
Abyantar Snehana: Injesting medicinal oils or ghee for a specific number of days to loosen toxins.
Swedana: To cause the body to sweat after the application of medicinal oil, to open the dhatus (tissues) and srotas (channels), and eliminate ama (toxins).