The three stages of Panchakarma

The three stages of Panchakarma

Ayurveda prescribes Panchakarma therapy for cleansing of body toxins.

Ayurveda prescribes Panchakarma therapy for cleansing of body toxins.

There are three phases of Panchakarma: The preliminary therapies are called Purvakarma; the five main therapies of Panchakarma (Vamana, nasya, virechan, raktamokshana and vasti); and post-treatment procedures called Paschatkarma. Both pre and post Panchakarma therapies are essential to the success and long-lasting effects of  Panchakarma programme.

Purvakarma therapies serve to prepare the body get rid of stored ama (toxins); Snehana (oleation) is the first step of Purvakarma. It consists of saturating the body with herbal or medicated oil. Abyantar Snehana, or internal oleation with ghee or medicated oil, helps loosen ama (toxins) and move it from deeper tissues into the gastro-intestinal tract where Panchakarma’s main therapies can eliminate it. External oil application is called Abyanga (or bahya snehana). It consists of vigorous massage over the whole body with medicated oils. The choice of oils depends on the particular needs and doshic imbalance of the individual.

The basic idea behind the function of Purvakarma therapies can be understood with the following analogy. Suppose you oil a bowl thoroughly then pour honey into it. The honey cannot stick to the bowl because the slippery quality of oil does not allow it to. Ama (toxins) has the same sticky quality as honey and moves easily after the body has been thoroughly oiled and relaxed with Purvakarma therapies.

After Purvakarma therapies have been performed, Ama (toxins) is back in the gastro-intestinal tract and can be removed from it with the main Panchakarma therapies: Vamana, nasya, virechan, raktamokshana and vasti. Each of these therapies promotes the removal of Ama (toxins) through normal channels of elimination, either moving it upward, downward or through the periphery (skin). The ayurvedic clinician will assess the imbalances and decide which therapies should be emphasized, depending on which doshas, tissue and organs are involved and where ama (toxins) has lodged in the body.

After detoxification program, doctor may prescribe herbal remedies to correct imbalance in the doshas which are part of Paschatkarma. These have necessary medicinal qualities to stimulate Agni and restore balances in the doshas. They are not prescribed to eradicate disease because disease is just a symptom of dosha imbalance. Once the doshas are balanced, you are cured of ailments.

Now it is quite clear that the benefits of these therapies are going to be visible once you are into Paschatkarma. By the time therapies are completed, your body is detoxified. Revitalization and balancing of doshas are all happening through the Paschatkarma stage. Every passing day of Paschatkarma is going to bring you benefits.


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