Imagine what would happen if someone always washed the outside of the car - but never cleaned the engine or put oil in it! The car might look shiny and new from the outside, but it may have dirt inside and will definitely break down one day. Generally this is what we do with our bodies. Our body is just like a car. Except the engine of our body is running non-stop, without any cleaning and lubrication. Thousands of years ago Ayurveda devised a very systematic way of cleaning various toxins from the body and called them Panchakarma therapies.
Before the Panchakarma therapies, preparatory treatments are undertaken. These are called the Purva Karma and include:
Snehan - oil therapy.
Internal Snehan is the use of medicated oils and
(clarified butter) internally. The oils (Sneha)
are so subtle that they enter into the minutest pores of the
cell membranes to mobilize impurities and make their elimination
Svedana - heat therapy
In Svedana, different types of heat therapies like steam baths and poultices are used on specific parts of the body. Varieties of warm medicated oils, water, milk and herbal decoctions are also used. These types of fomentation treatments are very beneficial in diseases like pain in the joints and neck, lumbago, urinary disorders, renal diseases, muscular dystrophy, common cold, asthma and loss of muscle function.
Svedana disperses the accumulated doshas, and opens blocked channels and pores. This makes the elimination of wastes easier when Panchakarma is performed.
Balancing Therapy – Shamana
The literal meaning of Shamana is to suppress or balance. Shaman therapies are effective when the dosha are not deep rooted and the disease is not chronic. These therapies are also advised to people with chronic ailments but who do not have access to Shirodhara or elimination therapies. Time is another important factor in this modern age and the elimination therapies do require the patient to live in a specific healing center under the guidance of an expert. Therefore it is good to follow the Shamana therapies under such circumstances.
Shamana therapies suppress or balance the aggravated dosha. A special diet and regimen, contradictory to the qualities of the increased dosha is prescribed to the patient e.g., a cooling diet to decrease the Pitta dosha. The herbs and medicines used for suppressing the increased dosha are carefully chosen according to the constitution of the patient. Different types of herbal powders, tablets, decoctions, jams, medicated oil or ghee are used in this type of treatment.
It is not always necessary to use special Ayurvedic medicines in Shamana therapy. Sometimes a very simple diet, or an activity can help to alleviate the aggravated dosha. Fasting, exercise, sweating, exposure to sun or air can also be used as treatments in this type of therapy. Shamana also eliminates the disease permanently, although it may take some time to completely eliminate chronic diseases.
Elimination Therapy – Shodhana.
In chronic cases of disease, the dosha are situated at much deeper levels within the body. Balancing these dosha with treatments like fasting and internal medicines, may take a very long time. The internal medicines are administered through different channels, and hence the results may not be apparent immediately. That is why it is said that Ayurvedic medicines work slowly. In order to get immediate results and provide relief to the patient, Ayurveda advises the use of elimination therapies or Shodhana.
Shodhana therapies expel the aggravated doshas from the body by the use of different types of elimination therapies called the Panchakarma. It involves the use of the following five types of cleansing techniques:
As the dosha are located in remote areas of the body, generally there is no direct outlet for their elimination. Therefore, some preparatory treatments are first induced in order to soften the dosha and move it to either the stomach or the intestine from where the dosha is eliminated using the above-mentioned techniques. It is also used as a preventive treatment to gain positive health and to maintain the balance or equilibrium of the three dosha. Shodhana is a specialized type of therapy and should be performed under the supervision of an expert Ayurvedic doctor. As this therapy also involves a specific diet and life style, it is necessary that the patient reside in a Ayurvedic hospital/Pancha Karma center, for the duration of the treatment. If a person does not have access to such a facility, the Shamana therapy can be induced to provide temporary relief.
Is it possible to maintain perfect health without spending a single cent? Yes! just check your constitution and follow the basic diet, sleep pattern and exercises and stay healthy all year round.
Know your constitution
To stay healthy, one must live in harmony with nature - with a natural balance. To practice this art of living with a natural balance, it is important to know one's own unique constitution and follow a suitable lifestyle.
It is so simple and anyone can do it! It makes life so much more enjoyable. To prevent disease and maintain optimum health, check your constitution.
In addition to determining the constitution, there are a number of important factors for maintaining good health, related to the diet. This includes foods eaten, time difference between two meals, combination and quantity of foods, cleanliness and proper eating.
Food should be fresh, hot, tasty and easy to digest.
There should be at least a four hour difference between any two meals.
Restrict the number of items in one meal. The items taken in one meal should not contradict each other. For example, (milk and orange juice).
Proper, regulated sleep is very important to maintain the balance of functions in the body. "Early to bed and early to rise" is the key to good health. For an average person, six hours sleep is sufficient. Excessive sleeping contributes to disease. Adequate exercise
Regular exercise according to your constitution is extremely beneficial for good health. Yoga is advised as the best type of exercise as it takes care of physical, mental and spiritual health. Yoga and Ayurveda go hand in hand, as the aim of both these sciences is to give perfect health and attain liberation through God consciousness.
Even after strictly following the above mentioned procedures, some toxins still accumulate in the body as a result of various metabolic activities. It is necessary to eliminate these toxins from the body, as they foster many diseases specially when their quantity increases beyond a certain limit. To maintain efficient physical functioning and to stay healthy, regular elimination of these toxins is required. Ayurveda recommends fasting for one day, and the Panchakarma elimination therapies.
Rejuvenation therapies are prescribed to maintain optimum health and an active lifestyle even in old age. There are many Ayurvedic rejuvenation preparations available, which can be taken according to season and personal constitution.
In daily life, many activities act as rejuvenating tonics in themselves. Good social conduct, morality, good manners and good character are some important factors.
Overall, these guidelines offer an easy way to stay healthy. What's more is that following these guides does not cost anything and helps you lead a more productive life.
Panchakarma therapy, ("Five Cleansing Actions"), is the traditional Ayurvedic Method for bodily detoxification and rejuvenation.
Traditionally, three of the five actions are designed for the three different body types. For Vata, generally the smaller-framed person, the cleansing method suggested is the medicated enema (Basti). For Pitta, generally the medium-framed person, purgation with special herbs is suggested (Virechana). For Kapha, generally the larger-framed person, emesis (Vamana) is recommended. The remaining two traditional cleansing methods are therapeutic release of toxic blood, and medicated nasal therapy (Nasya).
A milder approach is to begin with an appropriated fruit and fasting diet for each of the three body types of constitutions, which will cleanse the digestive system. This is followed by an herbal oil massage (Abhyanga) to help surface toxins deeply embedded inside the body. This is followed by steam therapy which open the pores, allowing the toxins to be released.
Another helpful treatment is the Shirodhara, where a continuous stream of warm herbal oil is dripped onto the forehead to purify the mind and body, and relax the nervous system. It is most effective when applied during meditation.
The main benefits derived from Panchakarma therapy are:
Increased digestion, improved
absorption and assimilation of all nutrients at the physical, mental
and spiritual levels.