Aggravating the dosha causes the body to go out of balance, supposedly creating toxic by-products. When the body is in balance it promotes happiness, health and longevity. Ayurvedic Therapy is used to maintain or bring back into balance the doshas of the body. This is done by first eliminating the toxic build up that is blocking the body’s balance. Therefore, detoxification or Panchakarma is a major aspect of Ayurvedic Therapy.
A Panchakarma session at an Ayurvedic centre can consist of three steps of warm body massage.
1. This is a vigorous massage that loosens the toxins on the inside of the body.
2. Next is a full body steam where the oils from the massage dilate the pores so that the toxins can more rapidly be shed from the system.
The third part of the therapy is mental rejuvenation when warm oil is poured onto the forehead to pacify anxiety, promote relaxation, and then calm the nervous system.
Ayurveda advises undergoing panchakarma at the seasonal changes to both keep the metabolism strong and keep toxins from accumulating in the body as well as the mind. The process finds the way to the root cause of the problem and corrects the essential balance of mind, body, and emotions. It is considered extremely effective to go through the process of panchakarma prior to any rejuvenation treatment (rasayana/herbal medicines), for it cleanses the body, improves the digestion, the metabolic processes of the body and cleanse the thought process as well.
Basically, panchakarma is meant to make an individual most receptive to the curative process of ayurveda by removing accumulated waste in body and mind.
It is a process of therapeutic vomiting (induced), which helps eliminate the toxic or waste matters from the stomach and thoracic cavity. Kapha dominant diseases like severe skin diseases (psoriasis, urticaria); bronchial asthma, mental disorders etc. are selected for this treatment procedure.
This process is not suggested for expecting mothers. Normally eight bouts of emesis are followed. The vomiting is stopped when yellow coloration is seen. Then, dhoomapana—inhalation of medicated fumes—is done through a special process. Finally, certain rules have to be followed called paschatkarma that basically implies strict diet regimen.
The entire treatment takes 15 days, and requires good attention as well as skilled assistance.
This eliminates the toxic or waste matters from the intestine. It also cures pitta or pitta-dominated diseases. Poorvakarma or initial process of cleansing like vamana is suggested here. About 20 purges may be seen in this process depending on the patient`s health. A mild form of virechana without the poorvakarma, is an integral part of ayurvedic therapy. It is also used for prevention of diseases.
The process of vasti or therapeutic enema is resorted to eliminate toxins from colon, and strengthens the tissues. Two kinds of vastis are followed in ayurveda. Snehavasti is the vasti where medicated oils are used. This is not advised in patients suffering from diabetes, anemia, diarrhea, and obesity. Poorvakarma is required here.
For kashaya vasti, honey, rock salt, sneham (oils), paste of medicines are required and mixed one by one in the above order. This concoction is taken in an empty stomach. After the process the patient is allowed to take a bath.
Diseases like hemiplegia and disease due to vata are treated by this process. Medicines are selected as per disease and stage.
Nasya (Nasal Application of Herbal Medicines)
Nasya is instillation of medicine through nose. It is an important procedure of ayurveda for the treatment of sirorogas or diseases affecting head area. Nasya helps cleanse the head and sinuses. The process is contraindicated in various psychological diseases, asthma and cough. Here, the patient is to inhale lightly warmed oil. Warmed oil is massaged in the patient`s neck, shoulder, palm, face and sole before and after the process of nasya. Different timings are indicated for different dosha types. Morning time is prescribed for kapha diseases, noon in pitta diseases and evening in vata diseases.
Susruta gave stress to Raktamoksha (blood-letting) as one of the panchakarma, taking two of the vastis as a single karma (here, procedure). The process of letting out the vitiated blood is termed raktamoksha. In this procedure localized impurity or poison from the blood is removed through various methods. Often leech is used to suck out the impure blood from the affected area. Blood-letting is also done to eliminate toxins from the blood stream causing various chronic skin disorders like urticaria, eczema, scabies and leucoderma etc. The method was also effectively used to cure enlarged liver and spleen.
There are steps to be followed before doing panchakarma called poorvakarma. One is snehana or oleation where medicated oils are applied internally and externally. Another process called swedana or sudation is actually classified into four types to induce sweating. The purpose of poorvakarma is to liquefy and guide the provoked doshas to the mainstream to facilitate the sodhana or cleansing.
Marma Chikitsa (Vital Points)
Marma Chikitsa is a significant aspect of the ayurvedic treatment. Marma are specific points on the body where the application of pressure or insertion of needles (bhedana) induces the flow of vital energy (prana) along a complex system of subtle channels called (nadis). Basing on the knowledge enumerated in Dhanur Veda (deals in martial art), ayurveda recognizes about 350 therapeutic marma points and over 100 lethal marma points within our body. The injury to some of these lethal marma points can lead to instant death. Massage is widely applied in the treatment of marma.
Oil is an integral ingredient in ayurvedic treatment. Sesame oil and ghee (Butter oil) is commonly used. Oil can be administered internally as nasal-drops (nasya) or can be used for mouth gurgling. The external oiling is in the form of a massage. Specific oils are used for individuals having specific dosha types of vata, pitta and kapha.
Kaya kalpa literally means renewal of the body. This is a unique method of treating both the gross and the subtle body to prolong the youthfulness and vigor in younger people, and revive the vitality in old. The treatment method of kaya kalpa is considered to be the culmination of ayurvedic knowledge as a complete medical science. The two significant branches of ayurveda—kayachikitsa and rasayana deal with this method.
Following a strict ayurvedic diet also forms part of the ayurvedic treatment method. Ayurveda emphasizes that the diet we take has a close influence on our mind and body. According to ayurveda, the mind has three possible states (tri-gunas) that are related to the three states of our physical constitution or the three-dosha types. Sattva, or peaceful equilibrium, rajas, or excessive activity and tamas, or inertia—the three tendencies or gunas of mind influence the imbalances in the three doshas. Specific dietary adjustments serve to maintain the balance of specific doshas and thus entail perfect health. Appropriate diet can be used to remove or neutralize toxins in the body also.
Ayurveda suggests eating food until one`s appetite is satisfied. When ill, one should eat only light food, and then normal food in small quantities, until half the appetite is fulfilled. One important rule in ayurveda is never to combine contradictory foods in terms of their qualities. Some of the commonly followed rules on food habits according to ayurveda are as below:
- • Keeping high-protein or high-fat food items in separate meals from lighter foods such as starches and vegetables.
- • Not mixing milk with yogurt.
- • Not eating cooked foods and raw foods at the same meal since they require different types of digestion.
- • Avoiding drinking milk while eating radishes, tomatoes, meat, fish, eggs, citrus fruits.
- • Eating fresh fruit separately from other meals (except the cooked fruits).
- • Some specific vegetables and grains are forbidden in some specific days of a month.
Diet is to be compatible with changing seasons.