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The Three Stages of Panchakarma
Panchakarma therapy is performed in three stages:
- Poorvakarma – Preparatory procedures that tune the body accumulate toxins present in full complement of its organs to the alimentary canal and the nearest site of excretion/elimination.
- Pradhanakarma – The main treatment and therapies when the toxins are eliminated from the body.
- Paschatkarma – Post treatment care including diet regimen, focused on bringing the patient back into normal diet and lifestyle.
The therapy aims at correcting the imbalance of the doshas – Vata, Pitta, Kapha -and restoring their inherent equilibrium, through five cleansing procedures.
VAMANA (Therapeutic Emesis)- This procedure is mainly used in the elimination of Kapha disorders, inducing vomiting for illnesses like asthma, coughs, chronic colds, psoriasis, acne, arthritis, diabetes and other kapha disorders. This is a painless, drug-induced emetic process. In the purvakarma stage, patient goes through oil therapy for 3-7 days. The patient also goes through the medicated sweating process. By the end of this the toxins are all moved into the stomach. During the pradhanakarma stage, the patient is given an emetic which induces vomiting. All the toxins from the stomach are removed this way.
VIRECHANA (Purgation Therapy) – During the pradhanakarma stage the patient is given drugs that stimulate bowel movements & the toxins are removed via the rectum. The patient is made to drink hot water to aid in the process. The purgation is induced specially for elimination of Pita related toxins from the body. Here, drugs that stimulate bowel movements are induced for the expulsion of excess Pita. Mainly used in the elimination of pitta related toxins.
NASYA (Errhine Therapy) – This procedure (inducing nasal discharge) is mainly used during the Pradhanakarma phase in the elimination of Vata & Kapha related toxins. The nostrils are considered the Doorway to the Brain. Our senses face frontal attack by particles and toxins on a daily basis. Despite the filtration systems our bodies possess, we still suffer from congestion leading to ailments of the sinus and headaches.
Nasya is a traditional treatment for relieving the discomfort associated with head and sinus problems, and nasal application of oils is helpful in conditions like allergic sinusitis, migraines and epilepsy. In Nasya, warm oil is dripped into the patient’s nostrils to eliminate Kapha related toxins from the paranasal sinuses and nourish the region. The treatment provides relief to the head and gives clarity to the sense organs with unobstructed breathing, a condition tailored for sound sleep. Nasya is used in treatment of sinusitis, headaches, migraine, throat diseases, cervical spondylitis, epilepsy, chronic cold, voice constraints and chest congestion.
VASTI (Therapeutic Enema) – Medicated enema is particularly good for alleviating excess Vata. Vasti’s effects are directly felt in the colon, the prime abode of the Vata. In the pradhanakarma stage, lujkewarm, freshly prepared vasti liquid is injected into the colon via the rectum. This is later discharged from the body along with the toxins.With the application of purifying and nourishing Vastis, the doshas and other toxins trapped for long in the tissues are eliminated.
Vasti is good for spleen disorders, colic, calculus, kidney stones and many other diseases due to a Vata disorder. It helps in chronic constipation, low back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, obesity, sciatica, various neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, dystrophy and atrophy of nerves and muscles.
RAKTHAMOKSHANA (Blood Letting)-This process is used where the illness is caused due to the poisoning of blood. The poisonous blood is let out from the body by using special surgical instruments or with the controlled use of leeches to suck out the impure blood.
Selected Treatment Methods:
Medicated ghee is consumed with increasing dosage with restricted diet.
1. Uzhichil – Therapeutic oil application
2. Dadhupushtiuzhichil – Therapeutic massage with medicated oil
3. Chavituuzhichil – Deep tissue oil massage using their feet
4. Pizhichil – Oil pouring treatment
1. Sirodhara – Medicated oil is dripped / funneled over the head.
2. Sirovasthi – Medicated oils in containers are kept on the head over a prescribed time.
3. Siropichu- Head is wrapped in medicated oil soaked in a cotton cloth.
1. Parishekam – Pizhichil, Dhanyamla Dhaara (pouring of special fermented medicated water), Kashaya Dhaara – Pouring of decoction on the body.
2. Avagaham– Treatment seated in a tub of hot medicated water.
1. Pinda Swedam -.Podikizhi – Massaging with warm pouches containing herbal powders. Elakizhi – Massaging with warm pouches containing different herbs and medicinal leaves. Narangakizhi – Massaging with warm pouches containing lemon, leaves and herbs. Dhanyamla kizhi – Massaging using herbal pouches dipped in special herbal decoction called Dhanymla Njavarkizhi – Therapeutic massaging using pouches containing medicinal rice, milk and decoction.
2. KumbhiSwedam-. Steam bath
Shodanam (using one or a combination of processes below):
1. Virechana – Removing through Purgation
2. Nasyam – Cleansing through Nasals
3. Vamana – Therapy induced Vomiting
4. Kashayavasthi – Enema through herbal medication
5. Snehavasthi – Enema through oil.
Samana (using one or more of the treatments mentioned below):
1. Sirodhara – Pouring medicated oil on the forehead
2. Nasyam – Nasal medication for nourishment
3. Thalam – Herbal relaxant-decoction applied to the crown of the head which helps in relaxing the mind
4. Kashaya Dhara – Rhythmic pouring of herbal decoction/ medicated milk over the body.
5. Njavarakizhi – Application of medicinal rice gruel through pouches over the body.
6. Njavaratheppu – Deep rubbing of medicinal rice paste on the body.
7. Thalapothichal – Application of medicated paste on the head.
8. Thakradhara – Medicated buttermilk poured over the forehead.
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