Detoxification and Rejuvenation.
Ayurveda, the science of life, is an Indian traditional medicine. It follows the core principle natural medicine: “when balance is restored, health and wellbeing is inherent.” For this, Ayurveda offers vast spectrum of dietary, lifestyle, herbal and body therapies. Among these, Panchakarma is the foremost detoxification protocol offered by Ayurvedic Medicine.
As we, in the Western hemisphere, become more and more entranced by the fad of “detox”: Panchakarma has become popularized as the ultimate detoxification program. I do not disagree with this notion. Panchakarma is powerful and it can be a very effective detox program. But, I disagree with generic, non-specific application of Panchakarma with little regard to individualization. In this article, I would like to focus on the general principles and demonstrate how Panchakarma can be specified by need of the individual.
Panchakarma: 5 actions…
Our body has 5 main organs of elimination. These are bowels, urinary tract, skin, lungs, and mind. These main organs of elimination are supported by internal processes in doing their jobs. Panchakarma is not just about activating these organs of elimination through the 5 actions. It goes deeper.
Purvakarma: The preparation…
Before performing Panchakarma, we begin with Purvakarma. This is the process activating cellular and tissue-level elimination of toxins. This cellular elimination process helps to bring toxins to elimination channels… This journey is from deep tissues like marrow, bones, muscles, joints, fatty tissue, etc. outward. From here, toxins are moved into intermediate organs blood, liver, kidney, skin, lungs… In blood, liver, etc. toxins are conjugated and prepared for elimination. This happens with the aid of herbal remedies, diet and daily routines.
In mental/emotional disorders, which may be stand-alone issues or they may be associated with chronic disease purvakarma also includes aspects of counseling to help individuals unearth emotional and subconscious distresses. These issues are also brought to the surface of consciousness and prepared for elimination. In this way, Purvakarma prepares the body and mind for the process of elimination, that is Panchakarma. This process is usually 7-21 days before beginning the main protocol.
Panchakarma: Therapies and protocol
Ayurveda offers a wide range of therapies that can be specified and designed to address the individual’s needs. For example, we offer 25 main therapies – each of these can be customized by the choice of herbs, oils, mode of application, etc. into scores of variations based on the individual’s needs. First part of choosing therapies is to understand the individual person: their needs, state of health, as well as stage of disease.
The protocol is customized for the major actions of elimination that are needed to get the most profound effect. Therapies are chosen and designed to activate with specific organs of elimination that will most effectively remove the toxins. Organs of elimination are the locations where toxins are collected during the purvakarma process.
Panchakarma lasts 5 or 7 days. Each day, the person is given 2-4 therapies to promote the elimination process. Each day includes specific combination of therapies that progressively guides the body and the individual through a process of physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual cleanse. The Ayurvedic therapists and attending physician closely monitor and support the client. Protocol is often modified and adapted based on the body’s response to the therapies.
Post-panchakarma: as I have learned from my mother and observed in many clients, this is the most important aspect of going through the Panchakarma. At this point, we have gone through to loosen and release the toxicants from the diseased tissues through purvakarma. In the Panchakarma, we stimulated and treated the body to help eliminate these toxins from the relevant pathways of elimination. Now, the body is empty and clear like a blank canvas.
Paschyatkarma is the phase of rejuvenation and regeneration for the body, mind and spirit of the individual. This process of rejuvenation is guided by using rasayana herbs (rejuvenative herbs) as well as herbs specific to the person’s ongoing care. The restoration of the body is done through specific nutrition that is individually prescribed for the person. Taking in the rejuvenating diet, supported by herbs and mindful approach to life and daily routines allows the body, mind, and spirit to regenerate in ways that reverses disease and restores the health of the individual.
In all, Panchakarma done well, is the best and most complete clinical process of detoxification. It can be used to by individuals with chronic disease, as well as person’s looking to prevent long term and complex disease. It is also a great way to do an annual health reset to maintain good health and cultivate longevity.
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