There are three phases of Panchakarma: The preliminary therapies, called Purvakarma; the five main therapies of Panchakarma (vamana, nasya, virechan, raktamokshana, and vasti); and post-treatment procedures called Paschatkarma. Both pre- and post-panchakarma therapies are essential to the success and long lasting effects of the Panchakarma program.
Purvakarma therapies serve to prepare the body to get rid of stored ama (toxins). Snehana (oleation) is the first step of purvakarma. It consists of saturating the body with herbal or medicated oils. Abyantar snehana, or internal oleation with ghee or medicated oil, helps loosen ama (toxins) and move it from deeper tissues into the gastrointestinal tract where panchakarma's main therapies can eliminate it. External oleation is called Abhyanga (or bahya snehana). It consists of vigorous massage over the whole body with medicated oils. The choice of oils depends on the particular needs and doshic imbalance of the individual.
The basic idea behind the function of purvakarma therapies can be understood with the following analogy. Suppose you oil a bowl thoroughly and then pour honey into it. The honey cannot stick to the bowl because the slippery quality of the oil does not allow it to. Ama (toxins) has the same sticky quality as honey, and moves easily after the body has been thoroughly oiled and relaxed with purvakarma therapies.
After purvakarma therapies have been performed, ama (toxins) is back in the gastrointestinal tract and can be removed from it with the main panchakarma therapies: Vamana, nasya, virechan, raktamokshana, and vasti. Each of these therapies promote the removal of ama through the normal channels of elimination, either moving it upward, downward or through the periphery (skin). The Ayurvedic clinician will assess the imbalances and decide which therapies should be emphasized, depending on which doshas, tissues and organs are involved and where ama has lodged in the body.
The Benefits of Panchakarma
Panchakarma (five actions) is a cleansing and rejuvenating program for the body, mind and soul. It is known for its beneficial effects on overall health, wellness and self-healing. You can benefit in the following ways:
- Eliminate toxins and toxic conditions from your body and mind
- Restore your constitutional balance improving health and wellness
- Strengthen your immune system and become more resistant to illness
- Reverse the negative effects of stress on your body and mind
- Slow the aging process
- Enhance your self-reliance, strength, energy, vitality and mental clarity
- Bring about deep relaxation and a sense of well-being
- Reduce dependence on drugs and medicine
- Implement positive lifestyle changes