panchkarma part 2

Since my last blog I have begun to write on this most effective Ayurvedic treatment called ‘Panchkarma’. I may sound repetitive to my regular readers but I can’t help reiterate the immense benefits this gem of a treatment offers to the human mind & body.

In my last blog I also gave the basic information about what panchkarma is and its Purv Karma-the preparatory treatment prior to beginning any of the five processes.

In a layman’s language ‘snehan’ is massage. Now you would all agree that massage by itself is the most enjoyable experience for everybody. Now imagine when it is done as per the guidelines of Ayurved and using the right oils that suit your individual ‘Prakriti’! The results of such systematically performed snehan by an expert therapist are truly astounding.

Snehan relieves:

  • Stiffness of the body
  • Pain
  • Heaviness
  • Dryness

When you are being given this massage, you would realise that the therapist is giving you the massage in a certain manner…the way the therapist’s hands move has a significance that is relevant to the body’s blood circulation and dosha movements. Different oils, different concoctions of ghee (clarified butter) are used with ‘Individual Prakriti relevant herbs that are infused for the right results.

This is followed by ‘Swedan’. the steam bath treatment. There are various types of steam baths but I won’t go into it to avoid jargon here. Swedan has numerous benefits besides merely opening pores of the skin as is generally misconstrued. Swedan liquefies the Doshas and facilitates channelizing them to Koshtha, from where they can be expelled by subsequent Panchakarma procedures.

Indications for swedan:

  • Neuro muscular disorders – Hemiplegia, Para plegia, sciatica, etc
  • Rheumatological problems – Rheumatoid arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Post fracture stiffness of joints, etc.
  • besides being an excellent rejuvenation therapy

Conclusively, let me line up some precautions or care that you need to take while in treatment to make your treatment effective:

  • Take adequate rest (avoid over working, physically strenuous routine)
  • Avoid day time sleep
  • Avoid heavy, oily and spicy foods
  • Consume warm water in small quantities throughout the day or whenever possible
  • Avoid late nights
  • Avoid sex


Now you would ask me “why” all this…So let me explain.

Snehan & Swedan primarily relaxes the body, opens skin pores and also facilitates movement of the doshas. Therefore in such situation the body is also vulnerable and susceptible to contaminations in the air, and water. Similarly the systems are in a stage where all the extremities of doshas are being thrown out or regulated.

The warm water helps speeding up the internal cleaning process. Rest and absence of physical activities including sex avoids stress to the already vulnerable body &helps the body rejuvenate at its own pace. Same goes for food. If the food is light, digestion and utilization of it becomes easier for the digestive system.

I am sure that just by reading about snehan & swedan you must have started feeling relaxed and then you may also have questions. But remember that merely the massage or the steam bath is not effective to holistically address your medical conditions or ailments.

Dr. Manjiri Joshi, Pune, India