Panchakarma is one of the most well-known cleansing processes in Ayurveda and is complemented by a proper diet with appropriate lifestyle, habits and exercise tailored to your dosha.
We spoke to the multi-award-winning Somatheeram Ayurveda Village, one of the first Ayurveda hospitals with a resort ambience in the world, to find out more about Panchakarma and how this holistic Ayurvedic detox can benefit us.
The principles of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is one of the worlds oldest healing systems which originated in India more than 5,000 years ago, in Sanskrit, and translates to ‘The Science of Life’. According to Ayurveda, every human being is a unique phenomenon of cosmic consciousness, manifested through the five basic elements - Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. A combination of these elements results in dosha’s known to be: vata - a combination of ether and air; pitta—a combination of fire and water; and kapha—a combination of water and earth.
Ayurveda emphasises preventative and healing therapies along with various methods of purification and rejuvenation. More than a mere healing system; it is a science and an art of appropriate living that helps to achieve longevity. It can guide every individual in the proper choice of diet, living habits and exercise to restore balance in the body, mind and consciousness, which, in turn can prevent and treat illness.
Each person has their own balance of vata, pitta and kapha and when this is balanced, this constitutes order, known to be health, in the body known agni (a digestive fire). When this is imbalanced, this constitutes disorder, known to be disease, in the body. Dosha imbalances can be affected by lifestyle, diet, seasonal changes or stress which, in turn, can produce ama (toxins).
What is Panchakarma
Panchakarma which literally translates as ‘five actions’ is part of a group of therapies to promote detoxification of the body from the negative effects of poor lifestyle, health choices and pollution. By restoring our natural healing capacity, our quality of life and healing abilities improve and out agni rebalances.
Prior to the treatments, a doctor will assess your dosha in order to prescribe the correct treatments. Therefore, each programme is tailored to the person's personal dosha. The body must then be prepared with snehan, an oil massage to help move the ama towards the gastrointestinal tract, followed by svedana, a steam treatment which further helps to release the toxins from the body through the skin.
The five Panchakarma therapies:
Vamana: Therapeutic induced vomiting which eliminates excess kapha by removing toxins mainly from the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract and is especially beneficial to health conditions such as weight gain, asthma and hyperacidity.
Virechan: Purgation therapy which eliminates excess pitta from the gall bladder, liver and small intestine and is especially beneficial to health conditions such as herpes zoster, jaundice, colitis and celiac infection.
Basti: Herbal oil enemas are absorbed through the rectum to clear toxins from the colon, in turn eliminating excess vata and is especially beneficial to health conditions such as arthritis, piles and constipation.
Nasya: Medication is administrated through the nasal to eliminate any excess dosha’s in the body and is especially beneficial to health conditions such as cerebral pain, headache, hair issues, sleep disorder, neurological disorders, sinus congestion, chronic rhinitis and respiratory ailments.
Raktamokshan: Blood cleansing and purification therapy to eliminate any excess pitta; especially beneficial to skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis, acne or hives.
The benefits of Panchakarma
· Purify the body and rejuvenate the mind
· Balance the doshas
· Strengthen the immune system
· Enhance the digestive system
· Promote a sense of health and wellbeing
· Eliminate stress
· Aid weight loss
· Slow down the ageing process
· Restore vitality of the body