By Dr. Nibodhi Hass

One of the most important aspects of Ayurveda is the cleansing and rejuvenation program call panchakarma. Panchakarma is the cornerstone of ayuverdic management and disease. Pancha means “five” and karma means “action”. Panchakarma consist of five therapeutic or cleansing treatments. These are specific methods for safely and effectively removing toxins from different areas of the body without damaging or weakening the system. Panchakarma gets to the root cause of the problem and re-establish the essential tridoshic balance of the body.. Panchakarma is not only good for alleviating disease, but also helps to maintain excellent health. Additionally, panchakarma works on the subtle body. It helps to burn up old, outdated emotional and mental patterns. Ayurveda often advise undergoing panchakarma during the seasonal changes.

Many factors play a role in the formation of toxins in the body: poor digestion, improper food combinations and choices, poor drinking water, pollution, pesticides in food, and emotional and mental stress. Toxins accumulate and spread throughout the body. These toxins eventually enter into deeper tissues, organs and channels, thus creating dysfunction, disorder and disease.

The benefits of panchakarma as stated in Charaka Samhita are increasing of appetite, alleviation of disease, restoration and maintenance of health, proper function of all sense organs, proper function of mind and intellect, proper coloration of skin, virility, delayed aging and the enjoyment of a healthful life.

Panchakarma is uniquely tailored to meet each individual’s needs and capacities, according to their constitution and doshic imbalances. The therapies involved in this program effectively loosen toxins from the deep tissues so that it can be removed through the body’s natural channels of elimination. Before one undertakes the process of panchakarma, a skilled ayurvedic practitional must assess one’s weakness and determinate one’s constitution and current state of the doshas. It is important to determinate which tissues, channels and organs are imbalanced and need to be addressed. Only then can the practitioner successfully design a panchakarma program specifically suited to one’s needs.

There are three phases of panchakarma; the preliminary therapies, call purvakarma; the five main therapies ( vamana, nasya, virechan, raktamosksana and basti); and post-treatment procedures call paschatkarma. Both preparatory and follow up panchakarma therapies are essential to the success and long lasting effects of the treatment.