PANCHAKARMA-THE FIVE FOLD TREATMENT PROCEDURES OF AYURVEDA
Definition of Ayurveda: The term Ayurveda consists of two words, Ayu and Veda.Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge and the whole term Ayurveda translates into “Knowledge of life”.
The knowledge of what is good, and what is bad for our health is provided by Ayurveda. It gives equal importance to both preventive as well as curative aspects. Thus Ayurveda provides solutions to a person who wishes to maintain his health (Swasthya) as well as another who wishes to rid himself of diseases (Roga). In Ayurveda, Panchakarma is one of the important methods used to bring back health as well as prevent diseases. This article tries to throw some light on these very important procedures used in the treatment in Ayurveda.
First cleansing followed by healing with medicines: Ayurveda has a dual approach towards treatment of all diseases. The first one is Shodhana and the second one is Shamana.
Shodhana is defined as the treatment process by which the aggravated doshas are thrown out or expelled from the body. Shodhana or cleansing of the body is done using the fivefold procedure which is referred to as Panchakarma. Panchakarma is a radical treatment and if done properly leads to complete eradication of the disease causing doshas.
In clinical practice of Ayurveda, Shodhana or Panchakarma is resorted to when the aggravation of doshas is very severe and also when the disease is not responding to routine Shamana treatment. The chances of the disease recurring lessens with the adoption of shodhana procedures. To give an example: In the treatment of Jaundice due to hepatitis, Ayurveda adopts the procedure of Virechana or therapeutic purgation(Inducing loose motions to the patient).This leads to throwing out of the excess bile secretions and reduction in the bile presence in the blood. Later the physician will prescribe medicines which rectify liver malfunction such as patolakturohinyadi or Bhunimbhadi kadha.
Shamana is defined as the treatment process by which the aggravated doshas are brought back to normal, inside the body itself. E.g. - by using decoction of different herbs, selected based on their specific actions.
Shodhana is also referred to as Panchakarma literally meaning the five procedures. Below is the list of Panchakarma procedures and also a brief description of each one of them:
3. Anuvasana Vasthi
4. Nirooha Vasthi
Vamana: It is the process of inducing therapeutic vomiting in the patient by using emetic herbal medicines. It is an elaborate procedure involving preparation, administration and post emesis management. It takes a maximum of thirteen days and a minimum of nine days for the whole Vamana process to be completed, the duration being decided by the condition of the disease and the assessment of the treating doctor. The process of emesis is conducted on a single day but the process is preceded by preparation of the patient using snehapana(Intake of medicated ghee)and followed by 3-4 days of dietary and lifestyle discipline.
Vamana is the main treatment procedure for treating Kapha Dosha related disorders.
• All kapha diseases
• Upper respiratory and lower respiratory tract infections
• Sinusitis, bronchitis
Virechana: It is the process of inducing therapeutic purgation or loose motions in the patient by using purgative herbal or herbomineral medicines. It is also an elaborate procedure, which takes up around 15 days and a minimum of eleven to be completed. The process of purgation is conducted on a single day but the process is preceded by preparation of the patient using snehapana (Intake of medicated ghee) and followed by 3-4 days of dietary and lifestyle discipline.Virechana is the main treatment for Pitha dosha related diseases such as:
• All Pitha related diseases
• Skin diseases with rash, oozing, redness or inflammation
• Phemphigus or Bullous eruptions
• Migraine headache
Anuvasana Vasthi & Nirooha Vasthi: Vasthi, also known as medicated enema is the process of administering medicines through the anal route. The number of vasthis or enemas to be given is determined by the treating Physician based on the disease and its severity. Vasthi is the main treatment procedure for diseases caused by imbalance of Vatha dosha such as:
· Alzheimer’s disease
· Parkinson’s disease
· Lumbar Spondylitis
· Cervical Spondylitis
· Brachial Neuralgia
Anuvasana Basthi is administered using medicated oils such as Dhanvantharam, Ksheerabala etc., Nirooha Basthi is administered using a combination of herbal decoction and medicated oils. Among the Panchakarma procedures of Ayurveda, Vasthi has got a special place since it has the ability to control Vatha doshas, which is considered to be the controller of all the other Doshas, Dhathus and Malas.
Nasya: It is the process of administering medicines through the nasal route and used mainly to treat the head & shoulder related problems such as:
• Chronic headache
• Cervical spondylitis
• Eye and ear diseases
• Facial paralysis
Ideally the relevant panchakarma procedure should precede Shamana treatment and if done accordingly, the chances of recurrence of the disease are minimal unless the patient continues to indulge in the causative factors of the disease.
Panchakarma packs a real punch in the treatment of diseases in Ayurveda. Once punched the disease has to come to its heels. Our ancestors have blessed us with a science which is so beautiful and elaborate that we should be grateful to them forever. Panchakarma forms a major part of Ayurveda treatment and has been practiced by Ayurveda Physicians since centuries giving excellent results and relief to patients suffering from very chronic diseases.
Dr.K.Jayakrishna B.A.M.S,P.G.Dip.in Yoga,
Agasthya Ayurvedic Clinic,
Anandbagh Crossroads,Safilguda, Hyderabad