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Panchakarma: Basic Principles

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It is the preparation of the body for deep cleansing. The physician on the basis of the patient’s constitution decides it.

First, the Digestion Therapy (Pachana), cleans the digestive system of the patient. The cleansing is achieved by the ingestion of various herbs, which stimulate the metabolism, improve the blood circulation and enhance the mental concentration.

Next, the Oleation Therapy (Snehana), treats the patient’s internal as well as the external organs. Fats and sesame oil, are ingested over a period of 3-7 days. Simultaneously, oil is applied to the skin by a variety of massage techniques. The oleation therapy safeguards the healthy tissues of the body, loosens toxins within the system, and flushes the skin’s pores.

Finally, the Fomentation Therapy (Swedana), applies heat through a variety of methods including the use of hot poultices, vapor and steam baths, hot showers and baths, saunas, as well as the inhalation of smoke produced by burning herbs, animal dung, or wood kindling. Swedana relieves stiffness, heaviness and cold in the body.

After the three steps of Poorvakarma are completed, the Pradhankarma commences. These procedures are very typically performed & always need a trained Ayurvedic Physician who could assess all the things. However, every patient may not need to undergo each of the procedures listed here.

The Herbal Purification (Vamana), is the process of controlled vomiting induced by herbs or drugs. It is the first main purification therapy and is of functional importance to the entire scheme of Panchakarma. The patient is given warm milk, licorice tea, sugar water or buttermilk to drink, after which an emetic is administered to induce vomiting. Vamana purges excess mucus (Kapha dosha) from the body, purifies the body fluids and helps to cure asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, skin diseases, and obesity.

The Drug Induced Purgation (Virechana), is the controlled process of excreting solid wastes from the body. Bowel movements are induced by a herbal or drug laxative. Virechana eradicates disease of the blood, rejuvenates the tissues and organs of the abdomen, improves skin condition and increases immunity.

The Medicated Enema (Basti), is universally regarded as the most important Panchakarma procedure.The liquid used for the Basti is either water-based (Niruha and Asthapan Bastis) or oil-based (Anuvasana and Sneha Bastis). Additional elements include herbs, salts, wines, yogurt, and honey. Enemas are applied to the rectum, vagina, uretha, or to the cavity of a wound. Basti serves to lubricate the system and alleviate dryness caused by an excess of Vata (air).

The Nasal Cleansing (Nasya Karma), involves the cleansing of the nasal passage by the administration of oils, pastes, powders, plant juices, infusions or smoke. In case of liquids, the head is tilted back and the liquid is put into the nostrils. Powders and pastes are applied by hand or with a special apparatus, while smoke is inhaled. Nasya can prevent diseases of the ear, nose, throat, and head, as well as strengthen hair and improve mental functions.

Blood Letting (Rakta Mokshana), must be performed and controlled by a licensed physician. Blood-letting stimulates the production of anti-oxidants and pro-immune substances that deactivate or destroy toxins. Blood-letting can assuage eye diseases, headaches, tumors, depression, tremors, gout, and other ailments.

Pashat Karma or Sansarjan Karma or Post Cleansing Regimen

After the proper cleansing , for emesis, and purgation Since Vaman (emesis) and Virechan (purgation), tend to leave an impact on the internal lining of some parts of the digestive tract, a special dietary regimen is advised for seven days after completion of the main procedures. This specific diet is known as Sansarjan Krama.

In this regimen

• For first three meals, it is advisable to take a liquid diet of bland warm porridge of rice with salt. The quantity of the porridge should be as per one’s appetite.

• For next three meals, a semisolid paste of rice with small amounts of Ghrita, Ghee or oil is usually recommended.

• For seventh, eighth and ninth meal, a Khichari (spiced lentils and rice) is given along with a bland soup of green grams.

• For tenth, eleventh and twelfth meal, bland meat soup cooked by adding little amount of fats and salt is given along with fresh rice.

During these days, warm water should be drunk, along with food. From seventh day onwards, or from the thirteenth meal onwards, patient is gradually allowed to resume his normal diet. However, overeating and consumption of spicy and fried food should be avoided for at least one month after completion of the cleansing therapies.

Post cleansing regimen for nasal therapy and bloodletting

For the remaining two therapies, i.e., Nasya Karma (nasal therapy) and Rakta Mokshan (bloodletting), after properly completion of these two procedures, medicated cigars prepared from medicinal powders, are usually smoked; this procedure is known as Dhuma Pana.

Post cleansing regimen for medicated enema

Basti Karma (medicated enema) is advocated in various regimens such as Niruha Basti or Anuvasan Basti or different permutations and combinations of both the types depending upon the type, duration, and severity of the ailment. Generally Basti Karma is a long-term therapy; therefore, the rules of diet are not as rigidly applied. However, all the spicy, pungent and fried, oily, stale foods, and excessive eating should consciously be avoided during medicated enema therapy. Immediately after taking Niruha Basti, the patient should take a warm bath and rest. A light diet of boiled lentils and grams should be eaten and a routine for a specific period, known as Parihara Kaala should be followed. During this period it is advisable to avoid all physical as well as emotional tensions. Sunbathing should be strictly avoided. Anuvasan Basti is given in order to retain the enema material in the body. Therefore, sleeping for 7-8 hours in lateral position is advised, so as to allow the medicated oil or Ghrita to be absorbed in the body channels. Which is why Anuvasan Basti is generally employed at night, before sleeping.