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Panchakarma Treatments

19 Oct 2021 HYN Himalayan Yoga Academy

Panchakarma Treatments

Panchakarma is the amazing Ayurvedic five-step treatment that balances the doshas, detoxifies the entire being, and rejuvenates the body, both internally and externally. Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that narrates ‘Panch-Five’ and ‘Karma-Treatment’. The therapy removes the ama accumulation in the body, cleanses it deeply, and reduces stress.

Panchakarma is an essential part of Ayurveda that helps us achieve a balanced state of the body, mind, and consciousness. The method involves body massages, oil baths, steam baths, and nasal administrations to treat the illnesses.

With a proper consultation from a certified Ayurvedic doctor or Panchakarma expert, the treatment is recommended.

Therapeutic Vomiting ( Vamana)

Therapeutic vomiting should be approached with care. If we strain ourselves to vomit, we can damage our nerve reflexes; therefore, this procedure is usually contraindicated for Vata constitution. However, with a little patience and practice it is possible to learn to do therapeutic vomiting ourselves. It can be done on a regular basis to cleanse the stomach and can be used as part of palliation therapy.

Strong teas of licorice, calamus, camomile or lobelia are used, generally about one ounce of the herb per pint of water, or simply a large amount of salt water can be used  instead. A mild carminative tea like mint or fennel should be taken first in amounts of one pint. One should then apply a fingere down the throat. Once the vomiting reflex arises one should follow it out all the way. It  is easier  to empty the stomach through a series of weak ones. It is also less likely to produce side effects. It is important to empty the stomach thoroughly.

Vomiting is contraindicated for the weak, emaciated anorexic, young, old, convalescent, for those suffering from dry cough. It is mainly for those with congestion of  phlegm in the lungs and stomach, usually Kapha constitutions. The best season is spring, particularly late spring when the weather has warmed up. It should not be done during stormy or rainy weather. It gives better results if done around the time of the full moon. Best time is morning after sunshine. ‘Much of the effect of short-term emetic therapy can be gained through the long-term use of expectorant herbs like ginger, elecampane,and calamus, and by formulas such as trikatu and through following a strict anti- Kapha diet.


Purgation Virechana is the simplest pancha karma method and its effect is easy to observe . A strong purgative is given like rhubarb root, senna, aloe, or castor oil. The following formula is excellent. Mix 4 parts rhubarb root with 1 part each of fennel, ginger, and licorice. Take 2-5 grams of the powder before sleep with honey or warm water. Or two teaspoons of castor oil can be taken in warm milk with ginger.Triphala, a mild Ayurvedic purgative, is only enough if taken in large does of 10-30 grams.

Purgative herbs are usually given in the  evening, so that five to eight bowel movements accur the next day, flushing out the intestines. Late spring and summer are the best seasons.

Purgation is used to eliminate excess Pitta from its site in the small intestine. Note that purgation is not so much for treating the large intestine. This is because purgatives start their main action in the small intestine. This cleansing of the small intestine can weaken the digestive fire and so it is not always advisable for Vata types.

Purgation therapy can be used whenever we need to cleanse the intestines. It can treat constipation, old fevers, acute diarrhea, dysentery,food poisoning,or any of the diseases of excess bile and toxic blood.

Contraindications for purgation therapy are for the very young,the very old, the weak, debilitated, emaciated, pregnant,or those suffering from chronic diarrhea.

Cleansing Enemas

Enemas( basti) are a mild therapy and can be used for many conditions. There are many different kinds of enemas, some of  which are useful for tonifications, others for reduction. Cleansing enemas( Niruha Basti) are used in Pancha karma to dispel excess Vata from its site in te large intestine. They are made with decoctions of anti-Vata herbs, strictly  speaking , tonifying or building enemas are not part of Panchakarma but they are often given after the cleansing enemas as part of follow up practices and rejuvenation.

A typical cleansing enema can be made with 5 grams each of calamus, fennel, and ginger along 1-2 teaspoons of rock salt and ½ cup of sesame oil per quart of water. Without the addition of  the oil or demulcent herbs like licorice, cleansing enemas are dryng and depleting. The patient takes this mixture in the early morning or whenever the signs exist that Vata is ready for elimination. Cleansing enemas may be followed up with building enemas consisting mainly of sesame oil and warm water in equal proportions.

Nasal Applications of Herbs/Nasya

Ayurveda has a whole variety of herbal preparations, including decoctions, oils, and ghee, and the smoking of herbs for direct action on the nasal passage. This is called Nasya, literally , `what relates to the nose,` in Sanskrit. For the purifications action of Pancha  Karma, cleansing herbs through the nose, either as snuffs, decorations or oils. Good herbs inclue calamus,bayberry,sage, basil, and gotu kola.

Calamus, bayberry, sage or ginger powder can be snuffed to clear the sinuses. Calamus or gotu kola prepared in sesame oil or ghee can be applied in drops to cleanse the sinuses and nourish the brain. Cloves, calamus, and bayberry can be smoked to cleanse the nasal passage. Different Ayurvedic doctors and companies hae their special Nyasa oils for the different doshas or for acute or chronic conditions.

Nasya is useful for many Vata and Kapha  disorders. It allows for direct action on prana and the brain. It has strong decongestion actions and allows the more specific application of expectorant herbs. It is useful in some Pitta disorders , as well as any diseases of the head and nasal passage.

Oil massage for head and face along with inhalation of steam, helps  dislodge toxins and makes the nasal treatment more effective. This is the more local form of oil and stem therapy, which is the preliminary treatment for Nasya. Such Nasya therapy can be done independently of Pancha karma and as part of health maintenance.

Therapeutic release of Toxic Blood

In the  proper application of blood –releasing therapy, toxic  blood is taken out of various sites in the body, usually along the back. The blood should be dark in color. Once it becomes bright red,the treatment should stop.The amount taken out is generally from two to eight ounces.

Some people recommend the donating of blood instead. While this does aid in new blood formation, it may not always be the toxic blood that is eliminated. This therapeutic bleeding therapy is not used as much in Panchakarma as it once was, but it is still common in all systems of oriental medicines. The use of alternative and blood –cleansing herbs has a similar affect over a long period of  time, particularly spring cleaners like dandelion, sarsaparilla, sassafras, and comfrey leaf. Also good are blood cleansing spices like turmeric and saffron.

Follow up practices (Uttara Karma)

Panchakarma treatment has several follow up practices . It is not an isolated therapy that can be  done once and forgetten, but must be integrated into one`s entire life regimen. First, it may be necessary to repeat the whole process of Panchakarma. More than one session may be needed to cleanse seep-seated toxins, particularly if shortened(week long session or less) versions of Panchakarma may be erepeated after one to three months. It is good to do at least once a year for health maintenance purposes.

Second, after Pancha karma , we should return to a diet and life-style in harmony with our constitution, or establish one if we have not done so already. Pancha karma allows us to more effectively implement our life regiments, not to substitute for them. If we follow Pancha  karma with a return to bad habits, we may make our condition worse by suppressing the healing energy of our body that we have just developed.

Most important, if the treatment has been successful, we should be ready for a higher form of tonification therapy. Having eliminated the diseases-causes doshas, we can now rebuild our damaged tissues on a new level of purity and strength.

During your yoga teacher training in Nepal, you will be also learning about the Science of Ayurveda which will help you enhance your health skills and also learn the health benefits of different plants. About the Ayurveda, we have been teaching to many yoga students all around the world. The methods of Ayurveda and also the skills to do different therapies in Nepal. We provide the various ayurveda courses and retreats to provide relaxations and trainings to different students all around the world.

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