What exactly is PK ?


What exactly is Panchakarma ?


Panchakarma is Ayurveda’s traditional cleansing program. There are two different approaches to healing in Ayurveda. The first is called shamana. This is palliative treatment, which includes taking herbs, fasting, and having proper diet and lifestyle. The second is called shodhana. This approach is the purification of the bodily tissues and organs. Panchakarma is shodhana-type therapy. This is the stronger and more effective approach for healing and warding off disease.

Ayurveda states that the first stage of the disease process is the accumulation of toxins. These toxins are created by improper eating habits and lifestyle, environmental pollution etc. First they accumulate in their natural place of origin. For Vata they accumulate in the colon. Pitta accumulates in the small intestine and Kapha accumulates in the stomach. These toxins or ama, slowly build up in their respective homes over time. Once the reach maximum capacity, they overflow, enter the bloodstream and lodge themselves in various places of weakness in the body. This is the stage that the manifestation of disease begins. The goal of Panchakarma is to dislodge the ama from the tissues and coax them back to their natural places of origin so they can be properly eliminated.

Before the Panchakarma cleanse can be performed, the body needs to be properly prepared. Two weeks prior to Panchakarma one must clean up their diet. All intoxicants, red meat, caffeine, refined sugars and hydrogenated oils must be eliminated. A cleansing herbal formula is suggested to prepare the body for the elimination of toxins.

The next step is internal and external oleation as well as sudation (sweating) therapy. This step is key to have a successful result. Internal oleation is done first thing in the morning at least 3 days prior to the official Panchakarma cleanse. It includes drinking an increasing amount of herbal ghee until the inside of the body is properly lubricated. Then, external oleation in the form of Abhyanga oil massage is performed. The medicinal property of the oil, combined with the massage technique used, dislodges toxins from the tissues and dumps them back into the bloodstream. Next the herbal steam therapy liquefies the toxins, dilates the blood vessels and quickly delivers them back to the digestive tract.

Once the Vata, Pitta and Kapha type toxins have returned back to the colon, small intestine and stomach respectively, they are ready to be expelled from the body. The word pancha means five in Sanskrit and the word karma means action. So Panchakarma literally means “five actions”. These five cleansing actions are as follows:

  1. Vamana: therapeutic vomiting (cleanses kapha type toxins)
  2. Virechana: purging the small intestine (cleanses excess Pitta and bile)
  3. Anuvasana Basti: oil based enema (cleanses Vata from the colon)
  4. Niruha Basti: Decoction based enema (cleanses Vata from the colon)
  5. Nasya: eliminates excess doshas from the upper regions of the body through the nasal passageway.

Once the doshas have been properly eliminated from the body, you have an opportunity for a fresh start. You are now ready for rasayana, or rejuvenation. This is an important part of the cleanse. that if overlooked, could have serious health consequences such as digestive problems, developing food allergies and reversing the benefits of the cleanse. During the rasayana period, a rejuvenating herbal formula is recommended, spiritual practice is encouraged as well as proper rest and easily digestible, nourishing rejuvenative foods are introduced back in the diet. This period of rejuvenation is the perfect time to put your health goals into action, improve your diet and lifestyle choices and let go of old, unhealthy patterns.

Panchakarma is indicated once or twice a year, in the fall and spring season. This is a cleanse that deserves your full attention, which includes taking off work and general responsibilities for the length of the treatments. This usually lasts about 7-10 days, not including preparatory measures and rejuvenation. It is a commitment, but the results are well worth the effort. The benefits of Panchakarma include increased longevity and digestive power, increased virility, all the bodily channels, organs, tissues and cells are cleansed and revitalized, and the disease-causing toxic accumulations are removed.  Even the prognosis of hard to cure diseases significantly improves. The benefits of Panchakarma are substantial and long lasting. Panchakarma is a special, powerful procedure that should be done under the care of a properly trained therapist. It is performed individually for each person, with his or her specific constitution and medical condition in mind. Panchakarma is not appropriate for everyone. Please consult a properly trained Ayurvedic Panchakarma practitioner to find out if you are eligible for Panchakarma.


© 2012 Ameya Duprey