Panchakarma: The Detoxification Therapy in Ayurveda

Panchakarma: The Detoxification Therapy in Ayurveda
Panchakarma: The Detoxification Therapy in Ayurveda

‘Panch’ means five and ‘Karma’ means therapy or action. Panchakarma refers to an intensive detoxification program using five actions or procedures to remove toxins from the body and mind.

These five actions are:

  1. Vamana – emesis / induced therapeutic vomiting
  2. Virechana – purgation
  3. Asthsapana Vasti – Herbal Decoction or oil  Enema
  4. Anuvasana Vasti – Oily Enema Therapy
  5. Nasya – nasal administration

Panchakarma is a very ideal and a perfect solution and is a totally holistic detoxification. This is because it not only works on the physical system but it works on the mental and the subtle energies as well.

Preparation for Panchakarma

Before starting Panchakarma therapy you will need to understand your birth constitution (Prakriti) and current state (Vikriti) and know what kind of life-style and diet is compatible for you. You will have had time and support to make necessary adjustments and it is likely you will have undergone standard treatment to help remove excess Doshas and stabilise your system. Such standard treatment may include herbal formulas (taken orally), Ayurvedic Abhyanga massage therapy, Yoga for Doshas therapy, and other treatment as required. This preparation process may take one to several months, the longer the better really, as you will develop discipline and prepare the system, the body and mind, for the more intensive process of Panchakarma.

What happens during Panchakarma Treatment?

The duration of Panchakarma treatment may vary but a seven-day period of intensive therapy is usually recommended by us. Before starting you will prepare for a few days ensuring that you eat more fruits and vegetables etc. to get better bowel movements and make sure you are not constipated. The combination and type of actions performed during the Panchakarma will be suited to your individual needs. Some or all of the actions may be required. Only one of Vamana, Virechana, or Vasti, will be performed on any one day with Nasya typically performed every day. All herbal decoctions given are based on the patient’s strength, capacity and Doshas and we prepare such decoctions to have the desired effect in relation to the number of bowel movements or vomiting etc. In addition to this, full body Ayurvedic Abhyanga body massage is carried out daily along with full body steam and application of herbal wash. You will adhere to a very simple and strictly controlled diet and sip hot water continuously. You will take complete rest at all times and will continue on a light program and simple diet for several days after the Panchakarma is completed. Special yoga poses are also recommended for this period to assist in the movement of toxins through the digestive system for elimination. Daily detailed reports are kept and given to the physician. These will document exactly what you are experiencing and observing physically and psychologically.


How does Panchakarma remove excess Doshas and toxins?

Panchakarma is an intense detoxification program, breaking toxins and forcing them out as rigorously as possible without creating too much of discomfort. However, there is some discomfort nonetheless and this will vary according to the individual. The first 2-3 days there will be some disturbances because there is a kind of a shock to the system and some of the symptoms of detoxification such as bloating, headaches, skin eruptions, nausea, tiredness etc. may be experienced. Perseverance is very important. The physician is there to motivate and to continuously support and to make sure you are not frightened.

The herbs administered (whether orally or via enema or through the skin during massage) are rapidly absorbed and digested. They search out and find the toxins that are deposited throughout the body and bring them back to be expelled from the body through the various excretory systems or through induced vomiting. The process works quickly and after any initial discomfort you will feel renewed energy, awareness, and an increase in vitality.

Panchakarma: The Detoxification Therapy in Ayurveda
Panchakarma: The Detoxification Therapy in Ayurveda

Panchakarma: The five actions

The three Doshas are found everywhere but they are predominant in certain areas. An excess or aggravated Dosha tends to accumulate more toxins in the areas where that Dosha predominates.

  1. Vamana – induced therapeutic vomiting (for Kapha)
  2. Virechana – purgation (for Pitta)
  3. Asthsapana Vasti – Herbal Decoction Enema&Anuvasana Vasti – Oily Enema Therapy (for Vata)
  4. Nasya – nasal administration (for Kapha)
  5. Why undergo Panchakarma?

The process of Panchakarma is mainly to remove toxins that have remained in the system for long periods of time. These toxins are like grease, the longer it remains in a place, the harder it becomes. Panchakarma works on the system to remove these excess Doshas and toxins and may be effective in eliminating many chronic and degenerative conditions. Often times less intensive forms of treatment may be effective in managing our Doshas but may not be enough to break out these deep rooted and stubborn toxins. Therefore Panchakarma becomes a very important and vital tool. Most importantly it is a very controlled process where the physician and therapist are in full control and nothing is left to chance, and where every aspect of your well-being is considered and taken care of. You will also understand what is happening and why, and be ready, with a fully prepared and correct attitude. All these factors support and contribute to the profound benefits of this therapy.


This same process of Panchakarma from a detoxification program can become a rejuvenation program but at a later stage. The herbs are changed, the concept changes, the attitude also changes, and then the results are also different. It is very useful to undergo such therapy at least once a year for the promotion of health and longevity.

What happens after Panchakarma treatment?

For some days following the Panchakarma you may continue to experience the effects of detoxification and it may take some time for your system to settle down again. Let things take their course and take plenty of rest. There will be constant and regular support provided so you can discuss any concerns or fears throughout the entire process


By engaging in regular programs of purification and rejuvenation, you will allow yourself to eliminate any stored toxicity and strengthen and revitalize your mind-body. In this process, you will connect to your wholeness and allow your true and beautiful nature to emerge.