The concept of Panchakarma is believed to eliminate toxic elements from the body. Panchakarma therapy is performed in 3 stages:
- Purvakarma - preparatory procedures that help the body discard the toxins present in the stomach and tissues and help facilitate the toxins to move to the alimentary canal.
- Pradhanakarma - main treatment which is designed as per each individual's needs.
- Paschatkarma - Post treatment care includes the diet regimen and the other do's and don't's.
This five-fold purification therapy aims at correcting the imbalance of the doshas - Vata, Pitta, Kapha in order to maintain their inherent equilibrium. During each season of the year, one or more of the doshas accumulate, which causes an imbalance and makes the body prone to illness. It involves five cleansing procedures.
- Vamana: This includes vomiting specially for kapha related illnesses like asthma, coughs, chronic colds, psoriasis, acne, arthritis, diabetes and other kapha disorders. This is a painless, drug induced emetic process.
- Virechana: Inducing purgation specially for elimination of Pitta related toxins from the body. Here drugs that stimulate bowel movements are induced for the expulsion of excess pitta.
- Nasya: Nasal cleansing by the application of medical oils or powders. The nostrils are considered the doorway to the brain and nasal application of oils is helpful in conditions like allergic sinusitis, migraines and epilepsy. If the Nasya therapy has been carried out effectively Kapha related toxins from the paranasal sinuses are eliminated and the region is nourished. Due to this, the patient feels great relief in the head and clarity of the sense organs. Breathing becomes completely unobstructed which gives sound sleep at night. Olfactory improvement is also felt. Nasya is excellent for chronic sinusitis, headaches, throat diseases, chronic colds, chest congestion, epilepsy, catarrh, migraine, voice constraint, eye diseases and cervical spondilitis.
- Vasti: Medicated enema is particularly good for alleviating excess Vata. Vasti's effects are directly felt in the colon, the prime abode of the Vata. With the application of a series of purifying and nourishing Vastis, the morbid doshas and other toxins trapped for a long time in the tissues are eliminated. This restores the equilibrium of the humours. Vasti is good for spleen disorders, colic, calculus, and many other diseases due to 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. Sneha Vasti, enema using medicated oil which remains in the colon and rectum for a short period of time to absorb the toxins and eliminate them out of the body.
- Nirooha Vasti: Enema using a special combination of herbal decoctions, paste, powders and oils. It has an effect on the nervous system to help eliminate the imbalance in vata.
This five-fold treatment during Panchakarma has not only been intended for elimination of disease causing toxins but also to replenish the tissues with nourishment. This is why it is often termed Rejuvenation Therapy. This therapy also combats neurological ailments like paralysis, arthritis, rheumatism, dermatological problems, and mental disorders.