Panchkarma: The Amazing 5 Healing Therapies in Ayurveda

Panchakarma stands for five therapeutic procedures used in the treatment of the diseases. Panchkarma is in great demand in the treatment of chronic and autoimmune diseases.  In terms of definition, Panchkarma may be defined as purification procedures targeted at detoxification of the human body. If fundamental aspects of Ayurvedic treatment are studied, it can be observed, two types of therapies exists.

  • Palliation therapy
  • Purification therapy

The palliation therapy is targeted at to have stimulation action on the digestive fire (Agni) in order to burn the toxins, so called ama of Ayurveda. The main function of purification therapy, known as Shodhana in Ayurveda, is eliminating vitiated humours.

Parts of Panchkarma

Entire Panchkarma process is divided into two parts

  1. Purva karma (Preliminary practices)
  2. Paschat karma (After practices)

Preliminary practices

Preliminary practices are called as Purva Karma in Ayurveda. Preliminary practices are aimed at preliminary-detoxification, resulting in neutralisation of toxins. Purva Karma is carried out before the principal procedure of Panchakarma. Snehana and Svedana are integral part of the preliminary practices.

Snehana is known as oleation therapy. Several methods of oleation have been described in Ayurvedic texts. The main aim of the oleation therapy is to lubricate the human body so as to make procedure of Panchakarma easy. It may involve use of vegetable ghee or medicated oils. Kativasti, Griavasti and Januvasti have been invented for external means of oletation in lumbar, cervical and knee regions respectively. Speciality procedures (Shirodhara and Pizzichal) also aimed at oleation.

Svedana is known as Fomentation therapy. It can be dry or moist, depending upon the condition. Several methods of fomentation have been described in Ayurvedic texts.

Panchakarma

The procedure of Panchakarma is divided in to five steps

  1. Vamana (emesis)
  2. Virechana (laxation or purgation)
  3. Vasti (enema)
  4. Nasya (administration of drugs through the nose)
  5. Rakta mokshana (bloodletting)

Vamana

Vamana is known as therapeutic emesis. It should be differentiated from vomiting. Vamana is best for option for pacifying the aggravated Kapha. The use of therapeutic emesis is not confined to Kapha but it can be used where Kapha is in conjunction with Pitta and Vata. Madanphala is used in the process of therapeutic emesis.

Vamana is indicated in following diseases:

  • Acute bronchitis
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Asthmatic bronchitis
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • COPD
  • Dyspnoea
  • Epilepsy
  • Expectoration
  • Goitre
  • Hypersomnia
  • Indigestion
  • Obesity
  • Salivation
  • Sweet taste in mouth

Virechana

Virechana is known as therapeutic purgation. It is employed for diseases caused by vitiation of The therapeutic efficacy of therapeutic purgation is dependent on digestion pattern. Trivrit is the drug of choice for therapeutic purgation.

Virechana is indicated in following diseases:

  • Acid dyspepsia
  • Acne
  • Acute gastritis
  • Anaemia
  • Anal fissure
  • Arthritis
  • Atonic dyspepsia
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • bleeding-diathesis
  • burning in the eyes
  • Burning sensation over body
  • Burning sensation
  • Chlorosis
  • Chronic gastritis
  • Chronic Idiopathic Urticaria
  • Constipation
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Dysphagia
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Excess of perspiration
  • Fistula in ano
  • Furunculosis
  • Gastric ulcer
  • Haemorrhage
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Hematemesis
  • Hepatomegaly
  • Hyperaccifity
  • Hyperhidrosis
  • Intestinal disorders
  • Jaundice
  • Leucoderma
  • Lichen planus
  • Nummular eczema
  • Pemphigus
  • Polydipsia
  • Polyphagia
  • Prurigo nodularis
  • Prurigo vulgaris
  • Psoriasis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Rectal prolapsed
  • Scleroderma
  • Seminal-diseases
  • Skin-diseases
  • Worm infestation.

Vasti

Vasti is known as medicated enema. It is best for option for pacifying the aggravated vata. In this process, anus, urinary-tract and are used as medium for injecting the medicine. Injecting oil-based medicines is called Aasthpana Vasti. Herbal decoctions may be employed and it is known as Niruh vasti. Vasti is administered in

  • Abdominal distension
  • Anal prolapse
  • Anuria
  • Aphasia
  • Arm pain
  • Arthritis
  • Ataxia
  • Atrophy of the arm
  • Blurred vision
  • Calf spasms
  • Cervical-spondylosis
  • Constipation
  • Contraction of the chest Contraction of the eyebrow
  • Convulsion
  • Cracking of the lips
  • Debility
  • Depression
  • Desire for warmth
  • Diaphragm spasm
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dislocation of the knee
  • Disorientation
  • Distension of the bladder
  • Dizziness
  • Dwarfism
  • Ear pain
  • Emaciation
  • Emaciation
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Eye pain
  • Facial paralysis
  • Facial paralysis
  • Flatulence
  • Gout
  • Headache
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hemiplagia
  • Hemiplegia
  • Lockjaw
  • Lumbago
  • Lumbar-spondylosis
  • Mental confusion
  • Neurasthenia
  • Numbness of the feet
  • Ologiuria
  • Pain in the sole
  • Pain in the thigh
  • Pain of the chest Pain of the forehead
  • Sciatica
  • Spasm
  • Swelling of the hip
  • Swelling of the knee
  • Temporal pain
  • Tetanus
  • Tinnitus
  • Torticollis
  • Tympanites
  • Upward contraction of the testicle
  • Urinary retention

Nasya

Nasya is known as nasal administration of the drug. It is used for diseases confined above the neck region, described as Urdhvajatrugat roga. Nasya is very effective in the treatment of upper respiratory catarrh, allergic-rhinitis, atopic rhinitis, Dipta roga, vasomotor rhinorrhoea, migraine, frontal-sinusitis, epilepsy and viral catarrh. Anu Taila and Shada bindu Taila are formulations mentioned in Ayurvedic texts for nasya therapy.

Rakta mokshana

Rakta mokshana is known as Therapeutic bloodletting. It is utilised in curing diseases caused by vitiation of blood. Blood is significant connective tissue of the human body. In Unani system of medicine, it is considered to be fourth humour. Rakta mokshana, although less practised but is highly efficacious procedure. Medicinal leeches are best employed for this procedure.

Clinical Research

Depression: A comparative clinical trial reported the efficacy of Panchakarma therapy and Unmada Gajankusha Rasa in the treatment of major depressive diseases.

Sciatica: As per report of Central Council of Research in Ayurveda Sciences, clinical research involving The Panchakarma (Oleation, fomentation and medicated enema) and concomitant use of formulations the effect of the procedure was encouraging. 75-100% patients studied in different studies, showed significant improvement in confirmed cases of sciatica.

Conclusion

The clinical use of Panchakarma is confined to the treatment of chronic and autoimmune diseases. Sometimes, it is found to be effective in acute diseases. It is always suggested to undergo Panchakarma under the supervision of Ayurvedic expert.  During the post-independence time, negligible efforts have been made to regulate the ancient procedure.

References

Charaka, Charaka samhita of Charaka, Siddhisthana, chapter 3, verse no.31-33, 2nd edn, New Delhi, Rashtriya Sanskrit Sansthanam; 2002; p.695.

Patil Vasant. Principles and Practice of Panchakarma, 3rd edition, Ilkal: Atreya Ayurveda Publications; 2012; p.637.

Additional Reading:

Panchakarma – An Overview

Busting Popular Myths About Ayurveda Panchakarma Therapy

All Natural Time Tested Health Products

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