According to Ayurveda, the human body in its natural state is healthy, happy and well. One is said to be healthy when the body is free of toxins, the mind is at peace, the emotional state is balanced, waste is eliminated efficiently and organs function normally. Due to our busy and stressful life, however, the physical and mental system of our body accumulates toxins, which deteriorates the efficiency of bodily functions.
Panchakarma is Ayurveda’s primary purification and detoxification treatment. The name Panchakarma means ‘five treatments’—vamana (drug-induced vomiting), virechana (therapeutic purgation), vasti (medicinal enemas), nasya (medicine administered through the nose) and raktamokhsana (bloodletting). Collectively, they assist in removal of deep-rooted stress and illness-causing toxins from the body while balancing the doshas (energies that govern all biological functions).
The effectiveness of Panchakarma is increased if a special detoxification diet is followed along with the treatment. The detoxification is specific to each individual and can only by suggested by an Ayurveda practitioner.
The Five Therapeutic Treatments
1. Vamana (Drug-Induced Vomiting)
This is a medicated emesis therapy which involves removal of Kapha (governs structure and fluid balance in the body) toxins collected in the body and the respiratory tract. This is given to people with high Kapha imbalance. Daily treatment is targeted toward mobilizing toxins in an effort to finally eliminate them.
Benefits Of Vamana: It is effective in treating bronchial asthma, hay fever, chronic allergies, psoriasis, vitiligo, hyperacidity, chronic indigestion, nasal congestion, edema, obesity, psychological and skin disorders.
2. Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation)
This procedure is a medicated purgation therapy which removes Pitta (governs metabolism and transformation in the body) toxins from the body that are accumulated in the liver and gallbladder. It is a safe procedure that effectively cleanses the gastrointestinal tract.
Benefits Of Virechana: It effectively treats chronic fever, diabetes, skin disorders such as herpes, paraplegia, hemiplegia joint disorders, constipation, digestive disorders, headaches, asthma and gynecological disorders.
3. Vasti (Enema Or Colonic Irrigation)
Vasti is considered the mother of all Panchakarma treatments. It removes all three doshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha—through the colon. It is also beneficial as a rejuvenating treatment. Medicated oil and a herbal decoction is given as enema to cleanse the colon and increase muscle tone.
Benefits of Vasti: It helps treat hemiplegia, paraplegia, colitis, convalescence, digestive disorders, backache and sciatica, cervical spondylosis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly, obesity, piles, sexual debility and infertility.
4. Nasya (Medicine Administered Through The Nose)
Medicated oil is given through the nose to cleanse accumulated Kapha toxins from the head and neck region.
Benefits of Nasya: This treatment is useful in treating memory and eyesight problems, trigeminal neuralgia, Bell’s palsy, insomnia, elimination of excess mucus, hyper pigmentation of the face, premature graying of hair, frozen shoulder, migraine, stiffness of the neck, headaches, hemiplegia, loss of smell and taste, nasal allergies, nasal polyp, neurological dysfunctions, paraplegia and sinusitis.
5. Raktamokshana (Bloodletting)
This procedure detoxifies the blood and involves extracting a small amount of blood from the vein to relieve the tension created by Pitta toxins in the blood. Toxins present in the gastrointestinal tracts are absorbed into the blood and circulated through the body. Raktamokshana should be done under the supervision of a well-experienced Ayurveda practitioner only.
Benefits Of Raktamokshana: Bloodletting stimulates the immune system and is also effective in treating eczema, allergic dermatitis, tonsillitis and sciatica.
There are a number of Ayurveda centers across the country through which you can get the Panchakarma treatment done, including:
1. Carlsbad, California
The Chopra Center for Wellbeing
2. New York City
3. Sedona, Arizona
Authentic Ayurveda Holistic Health Center & Spa
4. Asheville, North Carolina
Blue Lotus Ayurveda: Natural Health & Rejuvenation