Understanding Panchakarma!

Pancha Karma is the cornerstone of Ayurvedic management of disease. Pancha Karma is the technique employed to get to the root cause of the problem and restore the essential balance of 'Tridosha' in body. Ayurveda advises undergoing Pancha Karma in conjunction with changes of seasons to clean the body, and to improve the metabolic processes. Pancha Karma is not only good for curing or alleviating disease but is also a useful tool in the ongoing maintenance of excellent health.

Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means "five actions" or "five treatments".

This age-old science of purifying the body is an ancient branch of Ayurveda, The Treatment in Ayurveda consists of two main types.

One is Shamana Chikitsa, used to subdue/palliate the vitiated Doshas, due to which any ailments may be produced. It is administered by using classical Ayurveda medicines. However, if the Doshas are vitiated beyond a particular level, they give rise to various endotoxins, which have a tendency to accumulate in the minute channels. These are beyond the level of pacification and hence need to be eliminated or removed from the body. In such cases, the second type of treatment, or Shodhana Chikitsa or main cleansing therapy, is indicated. Since it consists of the five types of main therapies, this specific group of 5 cleansing therapies is known as the Panchakarma Chikitsa.

Panchakarma has been given a special place in all the ancient Ayurvedic texts. Aacharya Charaka, the author of the most important ancient text on Ayurveda internal medicine, has described a wide use of Panchakarma therapy for almost all the major diseases. Two separate sections, KalpaSthanam, and Siddhi Sthanam in CharakSamhita describe the details of special decoctions and other preparations used for Panchakarma therapy.

Panchakarma includes three parts namely:

1.Poorva Karma (Preparatory Methods)which includes : • Paachan (Digestion) • Snehan (Internal and external oleation) • Swedan (Fomentation) 2.Pradhana Karma (Main methods)which includes : • Vamana (Induced vomiting) • Virechana (Induced purgation) • Basti (Medicated enema) • Nasya (Nasal medicine) • Rakta Mokshana (Induced Bloodletting) 3. Pashchath Karma (Post-Therapeutic Measures)which includes : . This includes Sansarjankrama (Specific dietetics), DhumaPana (inhalation of medicated fumes) and personalised rules to follow specific activities.