Panchakarma is an ancient form of purification developed thousands of years ago in India. It is considered to be the ultimate mind-body detoxifying experience.
It involves several levels of purification practices.
Pancha means 'five'. Karma means 'cleansing action'. However, the practice of Panchkarma has evolved to include more than five cleansing actions.
Traditional Panchakarma Treatments
1. Nasya, Nasal Administration of Medication
Similar to Neti, one of Yoga Shatkarmas.
2. Basti, Herbal Enemas
3. Virechan, Internally-Taken Purgatives/Laxatives
4. Vaman, Therapeutic Vomiting
You feel incredible afterwards (my personal experience).
5. Rakta Moksha, Blood-Letting
Usually, Rakta Moksha and Vaman are excluded. As you might imagine, few people in the West would be OK with blood-letting and intentional vomiting.
So instead, a few other detoxifying treatments such as massage and hot steam and oil therapies are added.
1. Oleation: special massages using herbal oils or by taking certain oils internally.
Examples: Abhyanga (a cleansing oil massage), and Marma Point Massage (facial point massage).
2. Swedana: heating the body using specific steam and warm oil therapies. Using therapeutic heat allows the loosened toxins to flow more easily from the tissues to the GI tract.
Examples: Shirodara (heating oil treatment), Yoga (practicing detoxifying yoga poses and breathing techniques), and Ayurvedic Diet (very light, bland, simple diet).
3. Basti and Nasya: used to eliminate the toxins that have accumulated in the GI tract and the nasal passages.
Other Details and Links
The Panchakarma treatments should be administered over a period of several consecutive days (up to 14 days).
It is recommended to do Panchkarma on a seasonal basis and when an individual feels out of balance, or is experiencing a particular illness.