What is Panchakarma?
Panchakarma a sanskrit word ‘Pancha' means 'five' & 'karma' means 'action’ i.e “five actions” or “five treatments”. Ayurvedic Panchakarma is a process done to rid the body of toxic materials which are left by disease, poor nutrition and toxic environment. It is one of the most famous and also the most effective healing treatments in Ayurvedic Science today.
Ayurveda defines, Order is the state of health which exists when the digestive system is in a balanced condition, the 3 waste products (urine, feces and sweat) are produced and eliminated normally. However, repeated dietary indiscretions, poor exercise patterns, lifestyle and genetic predisposition, causes an imbalance and makes the body prone to illness and the disease (disorder) process begins. This can lead to the accumulation and spread of toxins throughout the physiology resulting in disease. This waste matter is called ama in Ayurveda. In order to stop the further production of ama and reduce existing ama Ayurveda suggests a proper lifestyle with suitable diet with appropriate exercise and administering a proper cleansing program such as panchakarma.
Image source: Kairali
What are the benefits of Panchakarma?
- Cleared toxins from the entire body
- Healed and strengthen digestive system
- Slowed ageing process
- Decreased stress levels
- Improved skin quality and texture
- Improved BMI (body mass index) and reduced weight
- Restored metabolic fire (AGNI)
- Eliminated ama (toxins) strengthened tissue functions
- Balanced all three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha)
- Improved tolerance
- Improves strength, endurance and vitality
What is included in Panchakarma?
The five traditional therapies that are included in Panchakarma are:
1- Vamana: Therapeutic vomiting
Vaman means therapeutic vomiting which is a medicated emesis done for curative & preventive purposes. This treatment is done to eliminate the kapha causing the excess mucus. When kapha dosha increases it causes several kinds of diseases such as congestion in the lungs, colds, cough or asthma etc. Vamana treatment is targeted to remove the accumulated doshas, especially Kapha dosha from the body. During this process, a Panchakarma patient is asked to take kapha aggravating food. The main intent of this process is to eliminate the kapha completely and forcefully from the system.
2- Virechan: Purgation
Virechan means medicated purgation, a cleansing process which is done to remove metabolic toxins (pitta) from the body. When excess pitta is secreted in the liver and intestine it tends to result in acne, rashes, chronic attacks of fever, skin inflammation, biliary vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Virechan treatment is helpful in purifying the blood and promoting metabolism. Purgatives help relieve the pitta from the body and in fact, can completely cure the problem of excess pitta.
3- Basti: Enema
Basti means enema of herbal oil, used to treat vata disorders. Vata is mainly present in the large intestine which is the force behind the elimination and retention of feces, bile, urine, and other excreta. Vata is the main factor in the manifestation of diseases. Early morning is considered as the best time for this panchakarma treatment. Basti treatment is used to cleanse vata during seasonal transitions and to keep vata balanced on a routine basis.
4- Nasya: Elimination of toxins through the nose
Nasya means nasal administration of medication which is done to eliminate toxins through the nose by the route of nasal cavity. The nose is considered as the doorway to the brain and consciousness. During this treatment an excess of bodily humors (vata, pitta and kapha) accumulated in the nose, sinus, throat, or head areas is eliminated by means of the nearest possible opening, the nose. One may use this treatment each morning and evening to improve the breathing pattern. This process is also helpful in improving eyesight.
Image source: Kairali
5- Rakta Moksha: Detoxification of the blood
Rakta Moksha means cleansing of the blood and also known as bloodletting. It is a traditional ayurvedic method for purification and cleansing of the blood. Mainly the toxins present in the gastrointestinal tract are absorbed into the blood and circulated throughout the body. Called as toxemia, which is the basic cause of repeated infections, hypertension and certain other circulatory conditions. Extracting a small amount of blood from a vein relieves pitta-genic toxins in the blood. Leeches are also used as an alternative to bloodletting.
What a typical day in Panchakarma looks like?
- Wake up with the sunrise 2am and 6am (according to ayurveda it is the best time to cleanse the body and mind)
- Drink a cup of spiced tea with fennel seeds, ginger, cardamom, cumin and herbs (this is used to clear your dosha)
- Morning gentle meditation and yoga (best done in Kapha time)
- Enjoy a light vedic breakfast (vegetarian may vary at the time of Ghee therapy)
- 1st treatment of the day begins (an oil massage, herbal steam bath…)
- Followed by time in the steam room to release toxins
- Detoxifying vegetarian lunch which could be rice and lentils (in the Pitta time 10:00 to 14:00)
- Brisk nature walk or self meditation followed by a nap (this helps the body recharge)
- 2nd treatment of the day begins (such as the herbalized basti)
- Light vegetarian dinner (easy to digest food may vary at the time of Ghee therapy)
- Read or meditate and then head to bed (long sleep is important to recharge your body)
Image source: Oneworld Ayurveda
What is the Panchakarma Diet?
The Panchakarma diet has been designed to aid detoxification and hence its very light and consists of easy to digest food that being said the actual diet would vary with the program, your goal and Doctors consultation. At the time of purgation you are given a fruit based diet the citric acid in fruits help in elimination of pita from your body. The day before the Vamana you will get food that will enhance the Kapha in your body so as to make the Vamana effective. Please note outside food, non vegetarian food, coffee, alcohol and smoking is forbidden in most Ayurvedic Panchakarma Centre.
Image source: Oneworld Ayurveda
What is the cost of Panchakarma?
The cost of Panchakarma depends on the type of ayurveda centre i.e luxury, budget or ayurveda hospital. The exact cost can be estimated after a detailed consultation and physical examination. In India If it is taken in an
Ayurvedic hospital the cost for Panchakarma ranges between 1500 - 5500 INR per day
Budget Ayurveda retreat the average cost for Panchakarma ranges between 5000 - 15,000 INR per day
Luxury Ayurveda Resort the average cost for Panchakarma ranges between 15,000 - 75,000 INR per day
1- Few examples of Luxury ayurveda centres in India
Carnoustie, Kumarakom, Sitaram Beach Retreat, Kairali. To know more read our Blog Top 7 most Luxurious Ayurveda Retreats in Kerala
2- Few examples of luxury ayurveda centres in Indonesia
One World Ayurveda, Escape Haven, Sukhavati To know more read our Blog 7 Luxury Ayurveda Retreats in Bali
3- Few examples of luxury ayurveda centres in Sri Lanka
Santani, Amuna, Shunyata To know more read our Blog Top 7 most Luxurious Ayurveda Retreats in Sri Lanka
Image source: Mangosteen Ayurveda
How long does Panchakarma treatment take?
The duration for each treatment of Panchakarma therapy varies according to your goal, the Ayurvedic Centre and the consultation of the attending physician. However the general duration for panchakarma treatment ranges from a minimum of 7 days up to a maximum of 60 days. Most popular panchakarma packages are for 14 days / 13 nights.
Who can’t undergo Panchakarma?
- People below 16 years of age
- People above 70 years of age or people with very low energy levels
- People with low will power
Image source: Kairali
Can Panchakarma be done during menstruation?
Is it mandatory to go through all the 5 therapies?
No, it is not the number of therapies and the intensity depends on
- The duration of the chosen program
- State of the energy in the body and age of the person
- Climate to which the person has to return to after therapy
Is Panchakarma only about detox?
Panchkarma can be about detox but it is much more beyond that as
- Metabolism Upgraded
- Energy level goes up
- Immune System will improve
- Complete body reset
- Digestion improves
- Sleep improves
- Emotional clarity happen
- Aches and pains in the body can come down
So, it is a complete revamp and overhaul of your whole wellbeing. But detox is a part of panchakarma.