Dr. Sunita Chaudhari (BAMS, M.Phil) is a renowned Ayurveda practitioner from Pune, India. She is also a qualified Yoga Instructor from the renowned Kaivalyadham University in India and has been teaching Ayurveda and yoga for more than 20 years. She specializes in women and infant health, skin care and natural beauty treatments.
Not only is Dr. Chaudhari an expert in traditional Ayurvedic health care practices, especially Panchakarma (Ayurvedic detoxification) and Garbhasanskara (Ante-Natal Care and Post Natal Care though Ayurveda), but she is also an accomplished teacher for advanced courses in Ayurveda and the resource person for various training programs conducted in traditional Ayurvedic therapies and medicine. Dr. Sunia Chaudhari is currently the Chief consultant and MD at AyurMantra in Pune, India.
Q: Dr. Sunita, can you throw some light on the Panchkarma treatment and its relevance in Ayurveda?
Ayurveda means science of life. This 4000 year old Indian traditional medical system emphasizes to consider the patient as a whole: that is body, mind and soul and not just the affected part. According to Ayurveda- Dosha, Dhatu, Mala, Mind & Soul, constitute a person. Their balanced state produces health and imbalance produces diseases. Ayurveda has given equal importance to prevention and treatment of the disease. To obtain this goal, Ayurveda has described medicines for diseases and seasonal/daily regimen to prevent the diseases. But they have observed that if the root cause of the disease, i.e. toxic buildup, is eliminated through the body then many systematic diseases get cured. Ayurvedic sages have designed a unique concept to eliminate the toxin from the body: Panchakarma/Detox Treatment
- Vaman (Therapeutic Emesis)
- Virechan (Therapeutic Purgation)
- Basti (Therapeutic Enema)
- Nasya (Therapeutic Nasal Drops)
- Raktamokshana (Leech Therapy/Blood Letting/Cupping)
Panchakarma is totally a holistic detoxification solution as it not only works on the physical system but it works on the mental and the subtle energies as well.
Panchakarma refers to an intensive detoxification program using five actions or procedures to remove toxins from the body and mind. This is a process used to cleanse the body of toxic materials left by disease and poor nutrition, pollution etc. external toxic factors. Hence, Panchakarma is an important component in Ayurvedic treatment.
Q: Is Panchkarma recommended as a curative or preventive form of treatment?
Really a very good question. Panchakarma serves both the purposes: Curative and Preventive.
To prevent the disease formation due to life-style oriented factors, Ayurveda recommends a seasonal cleansing, purification, and renewal process in which we eliminate whatever physical and emotional toxicities we have accumulated, allowing our mind-body to return to a natural state of balance and health.
This same concept could be applied to the curative process. Elimination of the toxic build-up from the body through the Panchakarma helps to cure the systematic diseases i.e. Asthma, Cholesterol, Psoriasis etc.
Q: Which types of ailments can be cured through Panchkarma?
- Heaviness & lethargy.
- Lack of mental clarity & energy.
- Feel weary & unenthusiastic.
- Tongue coating.
- Joint related Aches & pains.
- Gastrointestinal complaints of bloating, gas, constipation, Hyperacidity, etc.
- Skin diseases.
- Allergies, Asthma, Sinusitis
- Hair loss
- Metabolic diseases like diabetes, obesity, etc.
- Women problems like PCOD, PCOS, PMS, Infertility, Menopausal problems etc.
“The fact that we are not at ease is the best sign to let us know that it is time for a detox.”
Q: As a preventive treatment, at what frequency should one repeat this treatment?
As a seasonal regimen:
- Spring season: Vaman
- Rainy Season: Basti
- Autumn Season: Virechan and Raktamokshan
- All seasons: Nasya
That means, for the prevention purpose it could be repeated yearly.
For the curative purpose it is decided as per the disease and the intensity of the symptoms and the disease and the strength of the patient to sustain.
Q: Are there any restrictions on age or any specific ailments that can prevent a person from undergoing Panchkarma?
Panchakarma is restricted in acute condition of the disease like Heart Attack, high grade fever, acute viral and febrile conditions. Actually in Ayurvedic texts, indications and contra-indications are given in detail for each therapy of the Panchakarma.
In the case of children (babies), pregnant ladies, lactating mothers, and in old people above 80 years, Panchkarma should be given strictly under the observation of Ayurvedic Expert Physician.
Q: Are there any preparatory and post procedures in Panchkarma?
Yes. There are preparatory and post procedures in Panchakarma.
While giving the Panchakarma the following factors are considered to decide which Panchakarma Treatment is appropriate:
Digestion, severity of the disease, age, body strength, tolerance capacity, season, level of Dosha involvement in disease etc.
Preparation phase /PURVAKARMA:
In Preparation phase, herbs are used for the digestion of Ama/Agni balancing. The goal of Purvakarma is to prepare the body tissues for the cleansing and release of toxins. One the toxins are released from their vitiated places then it becomes easy to get them eliminated through the body. Hence, this phase is very important. Special diet and regimen is advised in this phase i.e. Full Body Abhyangam( massage) and full body herbal steam.
Post therapeutic Phase/Paschatkarma:
This includes Sansarjan Karma (Specific diet), Dhumapana (inhaling of medicinal herbal sticks) & few rules to be followed. During the post therapeutic phase, a person returns to the simple diet, easy to digest and light food items to boost the Agni or digestive fire gradually. It is important to slowly move from a liquid to solid diet. This helps to rejuvenate the body tissues after the Panchakarma.
Puffed rice and Khichadi is recommended diet during this period.
Q: Does Panchkarma require hospitalization and what is the duration of treatment?
It is recommended to hospitalize for the actual Panchakarma treatment so that the diet and symptoms of the patient/ person who is undergoing the treatment can be effectively monitored. These symptoms could help the Vaidya/doctor to administer the actual Panchakarma treatment.
If it is not possible to take leave for the entire Panchakarma treatment then the patient can complete the Purvakarma and Paschatkarma at home and do the actual Panchakarma at the Hospital under the Vidya/doctor’s observation.
Duration of the treatment: Varies as per the Panchakarma:
- Vaman: Total duration (Purvakarma to Paschatkarma): 12-15 days
- Virechan: 12-15 days
- Basti: Course of the Basti depends on the type of the Basti:
Karma Basti: 30 days, each day 1 ½ hour
Kala Basti: 15 days, each day 1 ½ hour
Yog Basti: 8 days, each day 1 ½ hour
- Nasya: 45 minutes per session
- Raktamokshan: Duration varies as per the type: Local and General (whole body detox).
Ayurveda has a customized treatment approach as every person is unique personality. According to individual Prakruti (constitution) , combination of Dosha in the disease formation. It is always advised to take these Panchakarma treatments under the expert Panchakarma Vaidya/ Doctor. If you are doing your Panchakarma as per this protocol then you are entitled to get the said benefits and enjoy a healthy life because good health will bring happiness and “Happiness is the ultimate goal”.