Panchakarma at AyurVAID

The Three Stages of Panchakarma


Panchakarma therapy is performed in three stages:

  • Poorvakarma – Preparatory procedures that tune the body accumulate toxins present in full complement of its organs to the alimentary canal and the nearest site of excretion/elimination.
  • Pradhanakarma – The main treatment and therapies when the toxins are eliminated from the body.
  • Paschatkarma – Post treatment care including diet regimen, focused on bringing the patient back into normal diet and lifestyle.

The therapy aims at correcting the imbalance of the doshas – Vata, Pitta, Kapha -and restoring their inherent equilibrium, through five cleansing procedures.


The Panchakarma Dextox and Rejuvenation Program begin with a preparatory process called Poorvakarma, preparing the body for removing “toxins”. This is done first through Snehanam, where the body is made unctuous or oily internally and externally through oleation, preparing the doshas and impurities to be removed. The second stage involves Swedanam, therapeutic sweating. Once this stage is completed, Panchakarma cleansing procedures are carried out depending on the Prakruthi, the condition of each individual. The Program ends with Paschatkarma where the patient undergoes corrective measures through medicines, therapeutic treatments, diet and activities for the body and mind.In some cases, Rookshna –meaning “drying” is done to make the body’s channels ready to absorb Sneha – oil, prior to Snehanam.

Internal Oleation – In order to loosen and move the toxins toward the gastrointestinal tract, the body is first made unctuous internally through consumption of medicated ghee over a set period with increasing dosage along with a prescribed restricted diet.

External Oleation – The body is then massaged with medicated oil to make it unctuous or oily externally too, to aid the removal of toxins. The different methods of oil application used are:Uzhichil–By application and rubbing of oil on the body;Dadhupushtiuzhichil –Massage with medicated oil to nourish; andChavituuzhichil – Deep tissue oil massage using feet.


The body is put through therapeutic sweating based on each individual’s Prakruthi (constitution and medical condition). There are different Swedanam therapies, a major category being AGNIKRUTH(therapeutic steam with direct heat).

The processes under AGNIKRUTH include Thapa – Heat application through Hot water bag, fomentation, applying heat through a hot stone/ cloths etc.; Upanaha –Through bandaging with medicines; Drava –Parishekam(a)Pizhichil (Deep setting of lukewarm oil), Dhanyamladhara (pouring of fermented medicated water), (b) Kashaya dhara -Pouring of decoction on the body.Avagaham – Sitting in a tub with hot medicated water. Ushama(1)PindaSwedam – Therapeutic Massages using: (a) Elakizhi – warm pouches of different herbs and medicinal leaves (b) Podikizhi – warm pouches of herbal powders (c) Njarangakizhi – warm pouches containing lemon, leaves and herbs (d) Dhanyamlakizhi – herbal pouches dipped in special herbal decoction called Dhanymla (e) Njavarkizhi – Pouches containing medicinal rice, milk and decoction. (2) Kumbhiswedam- (a) Steam bath (b) Nadiswedam – Local steam application through a hose etc.


This stage of Shodana, the cleansing and elimination procedure holds the key to the long term restoration and strengthening of the immunity systems.and involves many processes. Among these, the processes listed below,are used appropriately in Detoxing &Rejuvenating each individual, as the body conditions vary from person to person.

Vamana- Therapeutic vomiting

Virechana- Therapeutic purging

Vashti (Kashaya/Sneha)- Decoction/Oil enema

Nasya- Therapeutic errhine / nasal cleansing


In this third and final stage of Samana, corrective and rejuvenating treatments are given to ensure lasting beneficial effects of the cleansing procedure for the patient, coupled with the right diet and lifestyle regimen. Reverting to the old ways of life and diet could worsen one’s condition by facilitating faster and easier accumulation of toxins, and hence, following the instructions of the doctor is vital for the healing process. One or more of therapeutic massage treatments mentioned below form part of this segment of treatment, based on condition of each individual: Elakizhi: massage with warm pouches containing different herbs and medicinal leaves to reduce inflammation in the body and to strengthen muscles; Njarangakizhi: with warm pouches containing lemon, leaves and herbs; Dhanyakizhi: with pouches made with grains; Njavarakizhi: Application of medicinal rice gruel contained in a pouch over the body. This is helpful to nourish tissues and reduce stress in the body. Njavaratheppu: Penetrating application of medicinal rice paste; Pizhichil: Pouring of lukewarm oil on the body; Kashaya dhara: Pouring of medicated milk over the body using kindi, the traditional bell metal water pitcher with the raised trunk. This helps to pacify the dosha imbalance; Thalapothichal: Application of medicated paste on the head. This treatment helps to calm the mind and is helpful in getting good sleep. With the right herbs, it is good for the hair also. Thakradhara: Pouring of medicated buttermilk over the forehead. Ksheeradhara: Pouring of medicated milk on the forehead, body.

As a part of the Program, the doctors may suggest many Upakarmas or Supporting Treatments for specific parts of the body say eye, ear, head or neck that need special attention.