As Ayurveda’s most intensive cleanse, panchakarma offers an individualized mind-body healing experience designed to clear toxins at the deepest level.
Pancha, meaning five, and karma, meaning action, is one of the most effective healing modalities in Ayurvedic medicine. It is used for a of variety illnesses, particularly those that are chronic, metabolic or stress-related in origin and recommended once a year for disease prevention, emotional healing and spiritual growth.
It’s also the most involved cleansing process and usually requires the involvement of an experienced practitioner, either at home, in an Ayurvedic or alternative health center or a retreat-type setting.
Panchakarma is a safe, natural, life-enhancing series of treatments designed to cleanse the body’s organs and tissues of toxins, open energy channels, and restore proper digestion, elimination and constitutional balance.
Developed for royalty in India, the detox process is designed to prolong life and health by removing physical impurities and environmental toxins, bringing awareness to destructive thoughts and behaviors, and releasing old patterns and emotions.
The benefits include:
- Remove toxins, toxic conditions and negative energy from body and mind which can lead to lethargy, emotional distress and chronic health problems
- Increase vitality, physical strength and mental clarity
- Strengthen immune system and better fight off or recover from illness
- Reverse the negative effects of stress on body and mind
- Enhance your self-reliance, strength, energy, and slow the aging process
- Bring about deep relaxation, sense of inner peace and feelings of harmony
Like other cleanses, panchakarma aims to loosen and eliminate excess vata, pitta, kapha, and ama from the system. A mono diet of kitchari and gentle, cleansing foods play a crucial role in that process.
Panchakarma treatments allow for detoxifying all seven layers of tissues, or Dhatus, as they are called in Ayurveda. The seven Dhatu layers of the body are plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, marrow and nerves, and reproductive tissue. It takes at least seven days to reach and cleanse the deepest level of tissue.
The five main methods of panchakarma are therapeutic vomiting (vamana), purgation (virechana ), enema therapy (niruha basti for medicated enemas and anuvasana basti for oil enemas), and nasal cleansing (nasya ). Depending on the health problem, one or more of these methods are used to cleanse the body and promote healing.
These treatments intensify the process to cleanse impurities, free negative emotions and energy flow, and reduce cellular inflammation and toxic buildup. Besides panchakarma therapies and massage treatments tailored to your unique mind-body constitution, practitioners often select specific essential oils and natural herbs to purify and nurture you at the deepest cellular level.
Some panchakarma programs involve staying in a residential facility for several days under the guidance of one or more practitioners or out-patient options. Daily Ayurvedic treatments may also consist of: Abhyanga, a two-person synchronized oil massage; Swedana, individual herbalized sweat therapy; Shirodhara, pouring of warm oil to the forehead; and Udhulana, herbalized dusting of the body.
Other options may include mind-body medical consultation, meditation and yoga instruction, and educational sessions on Ayurvedic cooking, guided journaling and sound healing. Participants also learn to tap into the power of silence, breathing and inner reflection.
Rest, proper nutrition, plenty of water, extra sleep and listening to your body are recommended as the body undergoes a very deep internal reset. It’s also inherently seasonal and not recommended in the summer or winter. Rather, it’s best done around the time of the fall or spring equinox. The length of a PK program can vary according to the needs of the individual.
This information is for educational purposes only and not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a physician. Seek medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine.
by Marla R. Miller
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