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Panchakarma: The Science of Ayurvedic Healing and Restoration


Panchakarma is an ancient practice of healing and rejuvenation, which takes an individual through the journey of discovery, cleansing and awakening of one’s healing energies and senses. The methods of Panchakarmatreatment have been recorded in the thousands of years old Vedic texts along with other ancient medical teachings practised traditionally in India.

Based on the principles of maintaining harmony and balance within the mind, body and spirit through the right habits, food, herbs and breathing techniques, these Ayurvedic practices still find relevance in the modern world.

What is Panchakarma Treatment?

Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatment is an Ayurvedic way to achieve a balanced mind, body and spirit. Panchakarma meaning is derived from two Sanskrit words – Pancha, which means five, and Karma, which means actions. Thus, Panchakarma procedure is a five-step process that detoxifies the human body and draws out the toxins accumulated over time due to poor habits, food choices, illness and environmental pollution. The methods employed in Panchakarma restore an individual’s natural healing capacity and improve the quality of life. When these healing procedures are practised in conjunction with meditation and yoga, one can heal the body and soul from within and achieve complete good health.

Although the quest for living a healthy and better quality of life is always on our mind, most of us still tend to neglect things that are necessary to achieve that. Besides, with all the pharmaceutical and synthetic cures, we have around us, that’s where we usually look to whenever we are ill. Even preventative care is derived from chemical concoctions. In addition, there is the deleterious level of stress that the average individual carries trying to keep up with the family and work responsibilities. All these take a huge toll on our bodies.

On the other hand, panchakarma treatment procedure works on the principle that the body is inherently capable of healing itself and removing the toxins from the system on its own. However, this ability wears out due to several factors, like poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption and spending long hours at work. Some diseases and genetic pre-conditions may also lead to the body’s inability to maintain the right bodily functions.

How Panchkarma Can Help You?

Ayurveda is a science and art of appropriate living that helps to achieve longevity of life. Like other medications and treatment procedures, Ayurveda emphasizes on the preventative and healing therapies, but apart from healing the body, it uses various methods of purification and rejuvenation of the body which ensures that the body will not only heal but also will be off to a healthy start.

Panchakarma is more than a mere healing system. Before the actual operation of purification through Panchakarma steps begins, there is a need to prepare the body with prescribed methods to encourage it to let go of the toxins. Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatment involves elaborated methods of purification to release stress. Releasing stress from the muscles prepares the body tissues to accept the maximum benefits of food, nutrition and exercise. Panchakarma treatment is a three-stage process -

  • Purva (pre-operative)
  • Pradhana (operative) and
  • Paschat (post-operative) measures.

Any kind of illness is said to occur due to imbalances of the mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda advises practising Purvakarma to cure these deep-rooted imbalances in the body. It helps to flush out the toxins (ama) from the body. Accumulation of ama is the primary reason for almost all diseases.

It is important to prepare the body for the rigorous process of Panchakarmam, the purification therapy. It encourages the body to let go of the toxins. Treatments like Abhyangam, Shirodhara and Elakizhi are included in the Panchakarma steps to soften the tissues where the oil is applied to the entire body with a particular type of massage. All the toxins are massaged and moved towards the gastro-intestinal tract. Therapies like Vamana, Virechana, Basti, Nasya and Raktamokshan are further used as per the body constitution (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) to complete the detoxifying process.

Therefore, taking Panchakarma treatment becomes essential as it sets down the first step of your journey towards better health and a cleansed body that is free of toxins and imbalances. In the Ayurvedic method of rebuilding and rejuvenating the body, Panchakarma has a major role to play, and it does that through five essential steps.

Looking for advice? Our team of Ayurvedic experts can help.

Healing and Disease Prevention with Panchakarma

With Ayurveda and Panchakarma practices, most of the diseases can be prevented before they find a way into the body. When the detoxification and cleansing practices of Panchakarma are carried out at regular periods, accumulation of toxins at serious levels can be prevented. Ayurveda identifies any imbalances in the body and alleviates them through the procedures and therapies.

In cases, where individuals are already suffering from a serious physical disorder or disease, Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatment can help them cope with it. Some of the medical issues for which Panchakarma has proven to be beneficial are:

  • Respiratory problems - cold, cough, allergies, asthma
  • Cardiac problems - hypertension and irregular blood circulation
  • Joint diseases - gout, spondylitis, and arthritis
  • Psychological disorders: addiction, depression, insomnia, anxiety
  • Dermatological diseases - Psoriasis, eczema, hair loss, skin pustules
  • Fertility problems - PCOS, infertility, irregular period, cysts and fibroma, sterility
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Slipped Discs
  • Insomnia
  • Movement Disorders - Paralysis or consequences from brain apoplexy

By eliminating the toxins from the body, Ayurveda and Panchakarma therapies cleanse the body and restore the natural healing system of the body while boosting the immunity as well. It may take some time to overcome the illness, but going through the natural process of allowing the body to heal itself will lead to better health with time.

What are the Different Types of Panchakarma?

In Ayurvedic Panchakarma, there are different forms and types of treatment that are targeted on different sections of the body. Mainly, the treatments are aimed at removing toxins from the head and gastrointestinal tracts. The elements that the Panchakarma detoxification treatment comprises are as follows.

1. Purva Karma (Digestion Therapy):

Purva Karma is a preliminary procedure that prepares the body for the cleansing and detoxifying Panchakarma treatment. It takes around three to seven days. At this stage, the body is prepared for treatment by loosening toxins and excess doshas. Purvakarma aims at softening the tissues so that the toxins deep-rooted in the tissues can be liquefied to be eliminated through the digestive system. The Purva Karma treatment comprises of the following:

- Pachan Karma:
Here, the individual fasts followed by intaking herbs to facilitate the digestion of liquefied butter or ghee and to dissolve the fat-soluble toxins.

- Snehan Karma (Oleation Therapy):
Snehan (oleation) is a stage where medicated oils, either internally or externally, are administered to the individual to liquefy the toxins present in the tissues. Snehan Karma comprises the administration of medicated fats and the massage of oil over the skin for a specific period. The use of oleation results in unctuousness and softness of morbid doshas, which become easily extractable.

Snehan is performed using substances of vegetable origin such as Til, Erand, Mahua, Sarson, Neem, Karanj, Shaijan, Priyal and Bahera, as well as substances of animal origin such as milk, curd, Ghee, meat, fat and bone tissue. The use of a specific snehan substance also depends upon the season of treatment. Therefore, while the use of Ghee is recommended during summer, oil is preferred during winters and the use of fat and bone marrow is recommended during the spring season.

- Swedana Karma (Sudation Therapy):
Swedana, or Sudation Therapy involves deep Ayurvedic massage and steam bathing to open up the bodily channels and stimulate the movement of the digestive tract. Inducing sweat in the patient, channels ama (the pent-up toxins) inside the body, to the digestive tract, from where the amas can be easily ejected by the system during Pradhanakarma. It is usually conducted as the last stage of Purvakarma after Pachana Karma and Snehana (Oleation Therapy) Karma.

Swedana Karma is a body cleansing and a stress-relieving therapy which is recommended for patients suffering from ailments such as asthma, weight and digestion issues, and body inflammation.

2. Pradhan Karma

This is the main five-step therapy of Panchakarma treatment. The therapy can be customized after evaluating the curative needs, age, digestive health, immunity and other health factors of the individual. Ayurvedic cleanses or Panchakarma types involve -

  • Vamana (Emesis Therapy): Vamana Panchakarma is induced emesis to eliminate excessive mucus in the stomach (Kapha dosha) through the oral route. This clears up the respiratory and the gastrointestinal tract until the stomach. This therapeutic vomiting is also indicated in chronic asthma, diabetes, chronic cold, lymphatic congestion, chronic indigestion and oedema.
  • Virechanam (Purgation Therapy): It involves the elimination of vitiated doshas from the lower gastric tract by the method of purgation. Virechanam is extremely beneficial for the treatment of pitta dominant disorders. When excess bile (pitta) is secreted and accumulated in the gallbladder, liver and small intestine, it tends to result in rashes, skin inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of fever, biliary vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Virechanam is the use of therapeutic purgation or a therapeutic laxative to relieve the excess pitta causing the bile disturbance in the body.
  • Basti or Anuvasana (Enema Therapy): Here, medicated herbal oils are administered through the anorectal route to clear the rectal area of lipid waste.
  • Nasya (Nasal Administration): Medicated oils, ghrits and herbal churnas are administered through the nasal route to cleanse the paranasal sinuses and respiratory tract.
  • Rakta Moksha: This involves letting out of impure blood. In Raktamokshana therapy, IV or leeches may be used to achieve this procedure.
3. Paschat Karma

This stage comprises some of the cleansing karmas from the Pradhan Karma, like Basti Karma (medicated enema) which is advocated in various regimens such as Niruha Basti or Anuvasan Basti or both the types depending upon the duration, and severity of the ailment. After going through the above-mentioned procedures in Purva Karma and Pradhan Karma, the individual is put on a post-therapy diet to restore the functioning of the digestive tract, which may include the following.

  • Sansarjan Karma - post detox food therapy
  • Rasayan Adi Prayogam - natural immunity booster therapy
  • Shaman Chikitsa - herbal therapy including lifestyle changes and management

The Panchakarma treatment at Govardhan Ecovillage can be customized to suit the different requirements of individuals and may be done in as little as seven days or could last for 21 days. Lifestyle changes, healthy diet choices along with the rejuvenating treatments can bring massive changes in the health and life for the better.

If you are looking for more therapies, you can check out the ancient Kerala therapies at Govardhan Ecovillage, which are based on the Ayurvedic solutions established by the legendary Ashta vaidyas thousands of years ago.

Abhyangam Massage: It is a form of Ayurvedic Panchakarma massage which is performed with warm oil infused with a dosha-specific herb. Abhyangam massage is beneficial for skin health, reducing muscle stiffness and promoting lymphatic drainage.

Avagaha Swedam: Avagaha Swedam is an Ayurvedic method of sedation in which the individual is allowed to sit in a large tub filled with medicated oil. This therapy works best for diseases caused due to disturbed Vata dosha and can be beneficial in the treatment of dehydration, burns and insomnia.

Nasyam: As mentioned earlier, Nasyam is one of the five parts of Panchakarma treatment which is used to treat problems pertaining to the head, sinus and release tension from the shoulder and neck area.

Choornapindaswedam Podi Kizhi: It is a specialized therapy which uses boluses of medicated powder or churnas to treat diseases related to the joints, muscles, bones and nerves.

Jambeera Pinda Swedam: In this therapy, the boluses used are made with lemon and other herbs.

The Journey Towards Wellness and Restoring Your Body

Ayurveda massage or Ayurveda treatment at Govardhan Ecovillage is designed to help balance out the imbalances caused due to poor lifestyle and diet. The results are dependent on following the prescribed Panchakarma treatment plan with high adherence, hence residential treatment is highly recommended. This Panchakarma treatment follows a holistic model where the root cause of the illnesses is addressed rather than the symptoms. During this treatment, massages help eliminate the toxins of the body and rejuvenate the body providing healing and strengthening effect.

The oils, fruits, herbs, flowers, and other curative plants used for Kerala Ayurveda are extracted from nature which eliminates any chances of side effects. To help you deal with daily stressors Kerala ayurvedic treatment centre at GEV, have a residential program that will encourage healthy behaviours such as digital detox and healthy diet. A planned and systematic lifestyle helps you combat stress, fatigue, and various illnesses and encourage you to stay on course with your mental and physical health. Ayurveda remedies like Kerala Ayurveda and Panchakarma provides an effective and long-term cure for persistent and chronic illnesses.

Why choose Panchakarma treatment?

The Panchakarma therapy is a holistic treatment approach that has profound impacts on the mind, emotional balance and the body. Right from the sessions, where one is prepared for the Panchakarma treatments, they can discover many distresses within themselves as their self-awareness increases. By the end of the treatment, they can be more in sync with their body and form a strong connection with the mind and spirit.

Some Panchakarma treatments may initially feel slightly uncomfortable, and you may come across hidden resentments or anxieties from the past leading to emotional upheaval. But that is completely normal. It is the body’s response to being purged of all the negativities and bodily toxins that have been accumulated over all the years. It is also recommended to talk about these emotions to your therapists so that they can suggest Ayurvedic methods of relief to help you with the ongoing therapy.

Govardhan Ecovillage is one of the best Ayurveda panchakarma centres, where all the age-old therapies and bespoke treatments are administered by certified Ayurveda and Panchakarma practitioners. The beautiful mountain ranges of Sahyadris will bring you closer to nature that can heighten the healing and rejuvenation process. For the treatment of any health concerns, Govardhan Ecovillage offers a customized treatment plan based on the prakruti analysis of the individual to achieve a state of harmony and balance at all the levels of the mind, body and spirit.

Everything you need to respite from the stress and noise that burdens our daily lives, you can find it here at this beautiful Ayurvedic centre in India. Plan your journey to healing and rejuvenation with us to achieve a mind-body balance that will enable you to live a happy and fulfilling life.