What is Panchkarma?

Shirodhara Herbal Oil Treatment

Shirodhara Herbal Oil Treatment

Panchkarma is Ayurvedic cleansing, detoxification and rejuvenation therapy for healthy and sick persons, according to their doshic imbalance. Panchkarma therapy is divided into three phases:

Poorva Karma

  1. Pachana
  2. Snehana
  3. Swedana

Pradhan Karma

  1. Vamana Karma
  2. Virechana Karma
  3. Basti
  4. Nasya
  5. Raktamokshana

Paschat Karma

  1. Samsarjana Karma
  2. Rasayana Chikitsa
  3. Shamana Chikitsa

Poorva Karma (Pre-operation therapeutics for purifying and strengthening the mind, body and spirit)

  1. Snehna Karma (Oleation Therapy)
  2. Abhayanga (Ancient Ayurvedic Healing Massage): It is a process by which the person’s body is oleated with medicated oils. Abhyanga is performed with specific pressure and movements (gati), taking under consideration the patient’s condition.
  3. Udvartana: It is a dry-body massage in which no medicated oils are used. Dry or misty powders are used instead. It improves the skin complexion and the blood flow.
  4. Unmardana: Massage with certain pressure and strokes for tight muscles.
  5. Lepa: (Ayurvedic Mud Therapy): Application of herbal paste on skin, face or scalp and hair.
  6. Shirodhara: The phenomenon of continuous dripping of medicated warm oil in a steady stream over the forehead for a specific period of time is called Shirodhara. This therapy is helpful in stress care, hair care, mental relaxation and spiritual healing.
  7. Shiro-Abhyanga: Application and massage of medicated or non-medicated oil to the head is called Shiro-Abhyanga.
  8. Shiro-Basti: In this process, a person sits on a chair and he wears a specially designed cap made of leather. This cap is called Shiro Basti. Warm milk, warm oils and liquid Ghee (a form of butter) are poured inside the cap and retained for a certain period of time. Then, the liquid is removed and the person is given a gentle massage of the head, forehead and neck.
  9. Kati-Basti: This process is also known as Kati Tarpana. It is an application of warm medicated oil with the help of a container made of Bengal gram dough (or regular dough). The container should be handmade and should be built around the lumbosacral area to pacify Vata Dosha (pain and stiffness) of the lower back and also to strengthen the muscles and bones of that area.
  10. Greeva Basti or Tarpana: It is a procedure in which warm medicated oil is applied around the cervical area. It strengthens the bones, cartilage and muscles of that area to pacify vata dosha.
  11. Janu Basti or Tarpana: The procedure is similar to Greeva Basti, but the oil is applied to the area around the knee joint to pacify vata dosha.
  12. Swedana Karma: It is a procedure of applying therapeutic heat to any part of the body that is in pain. It is also used for rejuvenating the whole body.
  13. Anagnikrita Swedana: Fomentation without the help of heat, like by exercise, yoga, exposure to sun, wearing or wrapping oneself with warm clothes.
  14. Agnikrita Swedana: It is the fomentation of the body help of heat.
  15. Nadi Swedana: The procedure of applying regular or medicated steam on the whole body or the affected part of the body.
  16. Avagaha Swedana: The Person is made to bath in warm medicated decoction.
  17. Bashpa Swedana (steam bath): The body is made to perspire by the use of medicated steam.
  18. Pinda Swedana: This therapy consists of scrubbing boluses made up of medicinal herbs, hot rice, other grains ground together in milk. These boluses are rubbed over the entire body or specific parts, depending on the condition of the person.
  19. Valooka Swedana: The process of fomentation of the joints with help of hot sand and herbs wrapped within a cloth.

Pradhan Karma:

  1. Vamana: It is the therapeutic vomiting and is advised to eliminate vitiated Kapha and pitta dosha.
  2. Virechana: is advised to eliminate vitiated vatta and pitta dosha through therapeutic purging.
  3. Basti: is advised to eliminate vitiated vatta by therapeutic purification, detoxification and rejuvenation of the colon with Ayurvedic preparations.
  4. Raktamokshana: is advised to subside vitiated dosha by therapeutic withdrawal of blood from a particular diseased site.
  5. Nasya: is advised to correct disorders of head and sinuses by administering Ayurvedic preparations through nostrils.

Paschat Karma:

  1. Samsarjana Karma: They differ according to pradhan karma like patient should take rest; avoid facing direct cold air etc.
  2. Resayan Chikitsa: Patient should be encouraged to have Ayurvedic preparation like chyavanprash, moosli pak for good health and long-life.
  3. Shamana Chikitsa: If after panchkarma (purification and rejuvenation) patient has some specific symptoms, they should be treated accordingly with ayurvedic preparation.