Most of the health problems stem from some kind of toxin accumulation in our body. Toxins can enter or develop in the body through any number of mediums. It can be some bacterial substance, pollutant, residue of some drug, unhealthy diet, undigested food, or chemicals released in body due to negative psychic condition. It is no wonder we often come to know that our body needs to be detoxified. Due to the poor quality of food, water, and air we consume in our daily life, it is evident that we consume a lot of toxins. In addition to that we have distance ourselves from nature, we had developed faulty dietary habits, and we pollute our minds with artificial sensation of low quality entertainment. All this exacerbates the toxin accumulation in our bodies. We may not actually suffer from a diagnosable disease; the gradual accumulation of toxins affects us in numerous ways and reduces the quality and span of our lives. It can be as subtle as dullness of the mind and as severe as an immune system disorder, allergy, arthritis and other chronic diseases. It can cause several nervous and psychological problems such as insomnia, irritability, depression, and anxiety etcetera.
Ayurveda has a complex and elaborate system of getting rid of these toxins. Apart from medicines and dietary restrictions, a separate science of detoxification called PANCHKARMA has also been developed in Ayurveda. Panchkarma is a set of five cleansing therapies, named Snehan, Svedan, Vaman, Virechan, and Basti.
Snehan is “oleation” that means applying various oils internally and externally of the body to loosen the toxins. Technique and the type of oil are prescribed by experienced Ayurvedic physician according to the constitution and the problem of the person. There are several techniques of Snehan such as Shirodhara, Abhyang, or oral consumption of Ghee.
Snehan is generally followed by Svedan. Svedan is usually rendered as “sudation.” There are several steam therapies to induce Svedan. Apart from using the sweat box, several sweat inducing herbs and medicines are administered on the patient. This further loosens and liquidities the toxin so that these can be easily eliminated from the body. These two techniques prepare the body for the final process of elimination.
Vaman is therapeutically induced vomiting. It is very useful the patients suffering from the diseases caused by aggravated Kapha. It is best done in spring. Vaman therapy should not be administered on the weak, anorexic, emaciated, very old, or very young people. This therapy should be administered very cautiously as forced vomiting can produce such strain that it can damage nerve reflexes.
Virechan or purgation simplest among all Panchkarma techniques. It balances the excessive accumulation of pitta and cures diseases caused by excessive bile and toxic blood. Purgative herbs are given in the evening time so that four to five bowl movements occur next day. This therapy can not be applied on the persons suffering from the chronic diarrhea. Neither should it be administered on the women during or just before the menstruation. Pregnant ladies and people of very weak constitution should not use this therapy.
Basti or enema is safest among Panchkarma. It can be administered on very weak people. Only cleansing enema is used for Panchkarma. It is used to eliminate the excessive accumulation of Vata from large intestine. It is best to do in warm weather. Basti is also useful in the treatment of diseases related to nervous system.
There are two more techniques earlier used along with Panchkarma- Nasya and Rakta Moksha. Nasya is nasal application of herbs. These cleansing medicines are given through nose in the form of medicated oil, mostly based on sesame oil. This therapy is very good for the diseases related to nose, head, and throat, and improvements mental and sensory powers. Rakta Moksha is a process of extricating the impure blood from body. Being a complicated process, it is rarely practiced at present time.
Panchkarma is not an isolated and one time treatment for any disease. It treats the entire system of the body. After taking this therapy, one should not fall back in his/her previous faulty habits and life style; as in this situation, toxins can attack the body more severely. After this therapy for a life long cure, one should try to follow a healthy life style, prescribed in Ayurveda. Whole process of Panchkarma should be repeated after scheduled time as per the requirement and the advice of physician.