An ancient Ayurvedic treatment: panchakarma

An ancient Ayurvedic treatment: panchakarma

Whether it’s a trend, fashion or healthy habit, more and more often we hear about detox diets: detoxifying the body from food, especially at the change of season, to help it function better is an excellent practice, of which ancient roots can be found in the Indian medicine. Let’s find out what it is!

Panchakarma, ayurveda tradition

According to Indian Ayurvedic medicine , the state of health of an individual is determined by the balance between all parts. According to the constitution, the doshas , ​​the elements of which we are composed, each one has different physical, physiological and mental characteristics, and according to the habits of life, the environment that surrounds us, the relationships and external influences, harmony basic can fail.


Ayurveda can intervene both as a curative medicine and, and perhaps above all, as a preventive therapy and provides useful tools so that anyone can improve their ability to respond to stresses that come from external factors, without incurring states of imbalance or disease.


When it is necessary to detox 

Although the body is able to autonomously process and remove waste materials, there are repeated or pathological conditions for which the agents that contribute to the homeostasis of the organism are no longer able to perform their function and an accumulation of toxins, which in Ayurveda is called ” ama “, undigested. 


To restore the spontaneous healing capacity of the entire system , these impurities must be eliminated.

Ama can be created both on a physical level , for example, when you eat too much, eat too heavy foods, at the wrong times or eat in a hurry and with enthusiasm, and on a mental level , when you feed on wrong thoughts or negative emotions, such as anger , selfishness, attachment, envy, greed.


  1. In the first case , the excess of Ama can cause stomach heaviness, laziness, fatigue, constipation, intestinal gas, excessive production of mucus and sleepiness;
  2. in the second it produces apathy, rancor, emotional addictions, obsessive thoughts, a feeling of unresolved.


If the digestive fire, agni , is too weak, it will be difficult to metabolize what nourishes the body physically, but also to transform what influences the mind: to rekindle the spark it can be useful to intervene to purify the organism.


Panchakarma, what it is and how to do it

Panchakarma , from Sanskrit “ pancha ”, five, and “ karma ”, actions, is an Ayurvedic therapy that consists of five practices, aimed precisely at the purification and rebalancing of the doshas ( vata , pitta and kapha ).


The whole treatment involves 3 phases :

  1. Purva karma , a preparatory phase, useful for channeling toxins in the digestive tract;
  2. pradhan karma , the five actual medical acts;
  3. paschat karma , a subsequent phase of rehabilitation, to assess the overall state of health and gradually bring it back to normal activities.


The overall duration of the course may vary , but generally it ranges from a minimum of two weeks up to a period of 45 days , in which patients in residential care are monitored and assisted by duly trained Ayurvedic operators.


The treatment can be very invasive and is not suitable for everyone: a careful medical evaluation is required to understand which activities to propose and with what intensity.


Within the pradhan karma are therefore contained the 5 medical procedures , which must be carried out in a precise sequence:

  1. Vamana : therapeutic vomiting. Emesis is induced to eliminate orally the toxins accumulated in the stomach. It is particularly suitable for ailments related to the kapha dosha.
  2. Virechana : purge. Toxins are eliminated from the small intestine and liver through the use of laxatives and purgatives. Above all linked to the imbalances linked to the pitta dosha.
  3. Suffice or Vasti : enema. We proceed to the elimination of waste blocked in the colon through enemas based on medicated oils or herbal decoctions. Useful for rebalancing the vata dosha.
  4. Nasya : cleaning of the nasal cavities. Medicated oils or ghee are used, or plant or herb extracts to be inhaled through the nostrils and expelled through the mouth.
  5. Rakta mohsana : bloodletting. Ama is removed through blood sampling, in two ways: shastra vishravana is the sampling through mechanical instruments, such as incisions or venous punctures, while anu shastra vishravana is bloodletting without mechanical instruments, which includes, among others, the use of leeches.


Benefits of Panchakarma

Surely, if done correctly and according to the instructions of an experienced Ayurvedic doctor, panchakarma is a treatment that helps to deeply cleanse the body of toxins and waste products . The benefits are immediate:

  • At a macroscopic level , through the purification of the various organs and systems of the body, they are guaranteed better functionality;
  • at the cellular level , thanks to the cleaning of the membranes, exchanges and subtle internal processes are accelerated.


This implies a strengthening of both the physiological functions , because the organism enjoys a renewed vitality and energy, and of mental activity, with a state of greater clarity and serenity of thought.

In the long run, the effects of a deep cleansing of the body are to slow down the aging of cells , to strengthen the functioning of the body’s systems and eventually to improve the body’s responses to drugs and therapies .


As already pointed out, panchakarma is an invasive and delicate medical treatment , for which it is advisable to contact well-equipped facilities and competent personnel. But to deepen the subject and understand more deeply the teachings of Ayurveda, the text by Joshi V. Sunil entitled “ Ayurveda and Panchakarma ” (Edizioni Il Punto d’Incontro) deserves a reading.


A practical manual in which the self-healing techniques and the basics of Ayurvedic treatment are collected in preparation for the panchakarma path, as well as many other secrets of this ancient Indian medicine.

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