Hello my readers!
Today I am starting a new series of a subject which is one more gem from the ancient wisdom of
As in everything medical and health related issues, Panchkarma is also caught in the fog of
misconceptions and myths not to mention common fears & apprehensions of people towards the
treatment. When I advice ‘Panchkarma’, many of my non medical acquaintances and my ‘first-timepatients’ always ask me and quite fearfully, if I am going to make them drink huge quantities of Ghee
(clarified butter) or whether I am going to administer medications to make them vomit their guts out
This led me to begin this series. The second reason is like I mentioned earlier, ‘Panchkarma’ is a gem
of the Ayurvedic treatment that is basic to begin treating almost all diseases… Preconception,
diabetes, OA, heart diseases or CVD, skin disorders and hyperacidity and so on.
Ayurvedic treatments are basically divided into two parts namely
1. Samshodhana chikitsa (bio-cleansing therapy) (संशोधन चिकित्सा)
2. Samshamana chikitsa (pacifying therapy) (समशमन चिकित्सा)
Shodhana consists of panchkarma treatments that are mainly recommended to help eliminate the
toxins or ama from the body and thereby enhancing the immunity. Panchkarma also significantly
increases the acceptability of the body to various regimens of treatment & medicines as well as
helps easy absorption of the medicines. That is why it is suggested as a basic treatment.
All panchkarma treatments eliminate the basic cause of the disease that is ‘Hetu’ and thus maintains
the equilibrium of the doshas.
The five procedures of panchakrma include:
4. Nasya &
Let me again go back a little…
Agni is identified as the prime factor for promotion of health and cure of a disease. Most of the
diseases are generally resulted from hypo functioning of Agni. Agni is classified into thirteen
varieties; i.e. Jatharagni, five Bhutagnis, seven Dhatwagnis. The term Jatharagni (Kosthagni)
connotes various kinds of digestive juices which split the different complex organic components of
food substances into their simpler forms, thus rendering them fit for absorption. The terms
Kayagni/Dhatwagni represent the activity of various cellular enzymes, hormones, oxygen etc.
involved in various metabolic reactions. Therefore Ayurvedic therapeutics always focuses on
restoring normal status of Agni. There are numerous Ayurvedic drugs explained to be useful in such
a diseased condition; termed as Deepaniya (Stomachic) and Pachaniya (Digestants).
Prior to these five main procedures (pradhana karmas), preparatory measures(purva karma)are
advised to be done for better results. Deepaniya (Stomachic) and Pachaniya (Digestants) are given to
the patients for two days prior to starting the course of treatment.
Any Panchkarma treatment always begin with two more purva karmas:
After the main treatment, paschat karma (ऩश्िात िमम) or samsarjana karma (a special diet and
lifestyle) is recommended to every patient.
Let me again give you a basic information …
The toxic products of the body metabolism can be broadly divided into water soluble, fat soluble and
volatile substances. The volatile substances like CO2 can be removed easily from the body through
the lungs. While there are numerous mechanisms in the body to get rid of water soluble toxic
materials through kidneys, sweat and other body secretions. Among all the three toxic products, fat
soluble toxic material is the most difficult to remove out of the body and only the liver can play a
role in the entire process. The use of different oils and ghee or any kind of ‘Snehana’ in all
Panchkrama procedures makes it possible to eliminate these toxins out of the body.
This is followed by ‘Swedana’. Swedana is a form of therapy that uses herbal steam to release toxins
from the body through the skin. During this therapy, sweat is released through the pores of the skin
which release ama, or “toxins,” that are rooted deep in the body. This therapy is effective in
relieving muscular tension, restoring flexibility, clearing energy passages, detoxifying the body, and
helping with muscular inflammation, hypertension, blood pressure and circulation.
Before doing the panchkarma procedures, your Ayurvedic physician will decide on the dose of the
medicines, and frequency of treatments after a thorough check up and on a complete
examination of the patient based on patient’s age, strength, seasons, disease stages and severity
of the disease, constitution as well as the medical condition.
Let me conclude this by highlighting that only then will your Ayurvedic physician decide which
treatment/s is to be advised.
Dr. Manjiri Joshi