As the name suggests, these are a set of five (pancha) therapies (karmas) designed mainly for the complete detoxification of the body. This cleansing forms an important part of ayurvedic treatments and is considered as a must for various chronic as well as acute ailments. Just like how our automobiles require regular servicing for better productivity, similarly our body also needs this cleansing therapy before replenishing it with good health, youthfulness, vigour and vitality. The process of Panchakarma generally starts with two sets of therapies: Oleation and Fomentation.Oleation
Oleation involves application of oil (medicated or non-medicated) or ghee (clarified butter) on the body. Ayurveda offers a variety of oils and ghees prepared from various herbal and mineral ingredients for external as well as internal use. Such oils and ghee preparations act as an effective medium that manages to reach the deeper tissues and helps in carrying the medicinal ingredients to every cell of the body to loosen up toxins stuck in the cells.Fomentation
The therapies that generate sweat are called fomentation therapies. Oleation therapies are generally followed by fomentation therapies. The tissues made soft by oleation therapies become more flexible by subsequent fomentation. Deep-rooted toxins loosened by oleation, liquefy due to fomentation and can be flushed out of the body through the panchakarma therapies.
The Five Therapies : 'PanchaKarma'Vaman
(medicine induced emesis): In this treatment, the patient is given internal and external oleation and fomentation therapies for few days. Once the toxins get liquefied and gather in upper cavities of body, the patient is given emetic medicine and decoction. This induces vomiting and helps to eliminate toxins from the body tissues. Vaman therapy is especially recommended primarily for kapha-dominated conditions such as obesity, asthma and hyperacidity.Virechan
(medicine induced purgation): In virechan, purgation or elimination of toxins occurs through the evacuation of the bowels. In this treatment as well, the patient is given internal and external oleation and fomentation therapies. After that, the patient is given a herbal laxative to facilitate evacuation of the bowels that helps in cleansing the body of toxins. Virechan therapy is recommended primarily for pitta-dominated conditions such as herpes zoster, jaundice, colitis, celiac disease etc.Basti
(medicated enema): Administering medicated substances through enema is Ayurveda's unique contribution to the medical world. The therapy has enormous benefits, especially in complicated and chronic diseases. As per the nature of disease, herbal decoctions, oils, ghee or milk are administered into the rectum and this has incredible positive effects. This therapy is extremely effective against vata-dominated conditions such as arthritis, piles and constipation.Nasya
(nasal drops): This therapy is effective in clearing and cleansing the head region. At the beginning of the therapy, the head and shoulder regions are given a gentle massage and fomentation. Then, nasal drops are administered in both the nostrils. This brings about the cleaning of the entire head region and relieves various types of headache, migraine, hair problems, sleep disorders, neurological disorders, sinusitis, chronic rhinitis and respiratory diseases.Raktamokshan
(Blood-letting): This therapy is good for cleaning of blood and effective against diseases caused due to impure blood. It can be done in a specific area or for the entire body. This therapy is particularly useful in various skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, and also in local lesions such as abscesses and pigmentation.