Panch Karma – Whole Body Detox and Rejuvenation as per Ayurveda

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December 8, 2016
Panchakarma

Panchakarma are five cleansing & detoxifying procedures described in Ayurveda

Introduction

Key highlights of this blog post

When a season changes, our metabolism changes and our nutritional as well as lifestyle needs change. If we do not adjust our diet and lifestyle to accommodate these changed demands, imbalances and later diseases may result. Ayurveda recommends natural cleansing called Pancha Karma to prevent such seasonal disorders. In the early spring, mild fasts and medicated nasal drops can help. In the summer, medicated purgation is advised and in late fall, medicated enemas are suggested.

While living in toxic and over-polluted environments as well as under stressful conditions is almost inevitable for most people today, nature has equipped us with natural cleansing processes. Impurities in the air we breathe are cleansed by our respiratory system through exhalation. Impurities in the fluids we drink are cleansed by our urinary and cutaneous systems through urine and sweat. Impurities in the solid foods we eat are cleansed by our digestive and excretory systems through bowel movements.

When we are born, our main cleansing organs—lungs, kidneys, bowel, skin and liver—are all clear and fully functional. There is no need for Pancha Karma yet. However, during the early childhood, when a baby is put on a formula, the stool and urine color as well as smell will change, as the baby’s system has to deal with the chemicals in these foods. Cake and candy on the first birthday, soap on the skin, fast food, and later, food at school introduce impurities in the body. The child will be generally healthy with occasional cold. As we grow up, we use more un-natural and chemical products. Deodorants, hair color, cosmetics, alcohol, tobacco, skipped meals, and eating in a hurry in adolescence tax the system more than it can handle. These may cause hangover, constipation, urinary infections, allergies, asthma and acne. As adults, most of us live in stressful, polluted and un-natural environments. We are over-worked and often eat junk food, which may be stale, overcooked or fried. We don’t have time to exercise and at the same time have sedentary jobs sitting for hours under artificial light. We literally live and work in concrete jungles, breathe polluted air and then watch television for hours, taking in chemical and synthetic medicines and living in an atmosphere of noise pollution, electromagnetic fields and harmful radiation. Obviously, the body is not able to get rid of various toxins entering the system. Now, headaches, backaches, premenstrual syndrome, wrinkles, eczema and heartburn begin to occur more frequently. At this point, the body cannot naturally help itself enough and thus cleansing is essential. Pancha Karma (PK) is an excellent choice here as it reverses this degenerative process quickly while its effects are often profound and long lasting.

What is Pancha Karma?

Pancha Karmas (PK) are Pancha (five) Karmas (cleansing procedures) for effectively removing accumulated toxins and other waste materials in the body. Accumulation of toxins in the body and mind can result from various factors. There are factors that are under our control, such as air quality in the home, purity of the liquids and food taken, lifestyle, exercise, pace of life and profession. Those factors out of our control include the daily sun cycle (Kapha in the morning, Pitta in the afternoon, and Vata in the late afternoon), the monthly moon cycle (menses, including Vata-Pitta aggravation prior to and at the beginning of the monthly cycle), the seasonal earth cycle (Vata in the late autumn, Kapha in the early spring and Pitta in the summer) and life cycle (Kapha in childhood, Pitta from puberty to menopause and Vata after menopause). Other factors out of our control are the environment, weather (geographical), emotions of others and socio-political conditions. Toxins arising out of these various factors can be either endo-toxins or exo-toxins. Unhealthy foods eaten and the effects of Pitta in summer are endo-toxins, whereas air pollution and chlorine in a pool are exo-toxins.

What can make us toxic? Do we have any control?

• Factors under our partial control
o Air we breathe
o Liquids we drink
o Food we eat
o Lifestyle (exercise, rest, work, stress etc.)
• Factors out of our control
o Daily sun cycle (morning Kapha, mid-day Pitta, afternoon Vata)
o Monthly moon cycle (menstrual Vata-Pitta aggravation)
o Seasonal earth cycle (late autumn Vata, early spring Kapha, summer Pitta)
o Life cycle (childhood Kapha, adulthood Pitta, old-age Vata)

To cleanse these accumulated toxins you need to begin by becoming aware of your individuality. That means understanding your unique constitution of Vata, Pitta and Kapha and also realizing when one or more of these are out of balance. With such self-awareness, it is important to make healthy choices in terms of diet and lifestyle. Even more important is to follow these healthy habits consistently. Finally, avoiding toxins in all forms is crucial to cleansing.

A healthy lifestyle

This includes daily routine (Dinacharya), monthly routine (11th day of the moon is a fasting day in Ayurveda; during the menses, one should rest more on the first three days), seasonal routine (Basti-enema in late autumn, Vamana-emesis and Nasya-nasal medication in the early spring, Virechana-purgation and Raktamokshana-bloodletting in the late summer; the last and first two weeks of a season are optimal for this) and life-cycle routine (Kutipraveshika for 29 days around menopause, at the age of 55-60).
All but the seasonal and life-cycle detox routines can be done on one’s own, without professional help. Those with pathologies and very unhealthy lifestyles should seek professional help, as they might not be able to wait for optimal seasonal times for detoxification. If a person is in good health, Panchakarma can prevent the accumulation of toxins, enhance the vital energies, and prevent the occurrence of subsequent diseases.

How to do Cleansing on your own

• Self -awareness regarding
o Constitution (Prakruti)
o Imbalances (Vikruti)
• Avoidance of unhealthy choices
o Mistakes of intelligence (Prajna Aparadh)
o Misuse of senses (Asatmya Indriya Artha Samyoga)
• Choosing wisely and practicing consistently
o Individualized diet according to one’s constitution
o Daily wellness routines (Dinacharya)
o Monthly and Seasonal routine (Ritucharya)
o Rejuvenation routines and supplements (Rasayana)

A word of caution must be given. Unlike many other health-promoting recommendations of Ayurveda, the following procedures should not be self-administered. A specially trained therapist must administer these procedures in a particular sequence for a specific period of time. In addition, although Panchakarma is a relatively comfortable therapy, there can be periods of discomfort associated with the profound release of aggravated Doshas or toxins. It is therefore essential that the therapy be supervised by a knowledgeable expert, who can recognize signs of correct and incorrect cleansing. If required, the therapist is able to take care of any disturbing symptoms and treat them appropriately. Like all medical procedures, Panchakarma must begin with an initial consultation by a qualified health professional that can determine the individual’s constitution (Prakruti), the nature of the health problem (Vikriti), the type of cleansing to be carried out and its appropriate dosage.

Traditional Pancha Karma

Panchakarma loosens toxins and aggravated doshas, liquefies them and removes them from the body. Traditionally, the procedures are:
• Poorva Karma: Preparation
o Agni Deepana – strengthening digestive fire
o Aam Pachana – burning off endo-toxins
o Snehana – softening of toxins
o Swedana – liquefying toxins
• Pradhana Karma: Main procedures
o Vamana Medicated emesis for aggravated Kapha or toxins in the digestive and lower respiratory systems.
o Virechana Medicated purgation for aggravated Pitta or toxins in the digestive system including liver, gall bladder and pancreas.
o Basti Medicated enema for aggravated Vata or toxins in the digestive system and pelvic area.
o Nasya Nasal medication for aggravated Kapha or toxins in the upper respiratory system and sense organs.
o Rakta Moksha Bloodletting for aggravated Pitta or toxins in the blood, skin and liver.
• Paschat Karma: Follow-up
o Samsarjana karma – step by step diet
o Tarpanadi karma – toning
o Shamanadi kriya – palliative
o Bramhana – strengthening
o Rasayana – rejuvenation supplements and behavior

Nowadays, many Ayurvedic practitioners use a combination of individualized diets, nutritional supplements, mild fasting, customized herbal oil massage, herbal sauna, herbal purgatives, nasal drops and enema therapy to rid the body of accumulated toxins. Your personal PK program begins with a thorough exam by an Ayurvedic Physician, which enables the doctor to recommend a program tailored to your individual health. You begin with a special diet, along with certain herbs and essential oils to use at home. These will help stimulate your digestive and cleansing organs, helping them to purge toxins.

During massage, certain points where energy blockages tend to occur in the body, known as marma points, will be cleared. Each massage is usually followed by an herbal steam bath, to help increase elimination of toxins through perspiration. In some cases, special Ayurvedic poultices and herbal masks may also be used to enhance the cleansing process.

Pancha Karma sessions

These are wonderfully relaxing. Their healing effects can be both subtle and profound. For instance, you may begin to notice your skin and eyes glowing with renewed health and vitality. Many people also experience weight change, according to their needs. You can do Seven Days Pancha Karma upto four to six times a year. As many people like to make a habit of cleansing at the turn of each season we have included information about tailoring this cleanse to the current season. If you typically experience colds, flus or allergies during a particular season, it is good to do this cleanse about one month prior to when you experience symptoms.

Benefits of Cleansing and Burning Fat Cells: Each morning you will drink increasing amounts of melted ghee and eat a simple NONFAT diet to force fat metabolism so you start burning off fat cells. Because fat is a stable, non-emergency fuel, you feel calm when you enter fat metabolism mode. Fat is a detox fuel. According to Ayurveda, fat cells contain molecules of emotion, fat-soluble toxins and chemicals . Some of the toxins stored in our fat cells are preservatives, DDT, dioxin, pollutants, pesticides and other cancer-causing chemicals.
This cleanse will help detox and nourish your lymphatic system. The lymphatic system drains the wastes from your body and controls and regulates your immune system. It is pumped through muscular contractions, so if one is sedentary, the lymphatic system will eventually become sedentary and will create toxicity in lymphatic related tissues such as breasts, skin, joints, and muscles.

Symptoms of Toxicity

When the lymph system become sluggish, you may experience one or more of these symptoms:
 Allergies
 Rashes
 Itching skin
 Swollen hands or feet
 Water retentionl
 PMS
 Breast swelling or tenderness
 Headaches
 Joint pain that moves around the body
 Swelling around the abdomen
 Cellulite
 Breast lumps
 Fibroid tumors
 Ovarian cysts
 Sore feet in the morning
 Sore throats
 Chronic colds
 Weak immunity
 Constipation
 Fatigue and lack of mental clarity
 Cold hands and feet

Molecules of emotion – or mental toxins, according to Ayurveda – such as anger, fear, sadness, jealousy, etc., are lipophilic which means that they take safe haven and store in our fat cells, causing physical and emotional disturbances for years and years. When we burn our fat cells, we release these old patterns of behavior that we find ourselves repeating over and over again. We have many reasons to burn our fat cells other than just for the sake of our vanity!

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