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Ayurvedic Panchakarma Treatment

Aug 28, 2008
The practices of panchakarma are extremely gentle, effective, and nurturing. The process starts with first discovering your constitutional nature, called Prakruti, and the current balance of the doshas, called Vikruti . This is done through a comprehensive exam that is simple and fun.

The next step is implementing a cleansing diet of simple, easily digested foods along with spices that serve to enkindle the digestive fire and increase metabolism.

Then you will ingest an herbalized ghee for a period of days to loosen accumulated ama. Ghee is clarified butter. All of the milk solids, lactose, and most of the saturated fats have been removed, leaving a clean oil that helps to loosen accumulations in the tissues and in the channels of the body (arteries, etc.).

The ghee also serves to pacify vata through its unctuousness (vata is dry), pitta through its cooling action (pitta is hot), and kapha by carrying the properties of the herbs that are decocted into it directly to the cells. Ama is said to be fat soluble rather than water soluble, that's why ghee and oil work to loosen ama in the channels and tissues where water has no effect. The herbs generally used in the herbalized ghee are bitter alternatives (for blood cleansing) and pungent digestive stimulants. A common formula we use includes ginger, licorice, turmeric, cumin, chitrak (increases digestive power), and kutki (bitter tonic).

The ghee is taken in increasing amounts over a period of 3 or 6 days followed by a virechena (purge of the small intestine with herbs or castor oil*). This step is usually done at home before the person comes for the bulk of the treatments, or is done simultaneously with the other treatments.

The main preparatory practices called purva karma are oleation and fomentation. The oleation was started with the ghee, and continues now with daily warm oil massage. The oil is penetrating the tissue layers from the outside whereas the ghee was penetrating from the inside outward. Then the body is heated up to further open the channels and soften the accumulated ama. This is accomplished either through using a steam tent or through the use of a hot towel fomentation daily. The oils help to loosen and liquefy the ama and doshas in the skin, lymph system, and blood. They eventually drain into the gastrointestinal tract, where they are eliminated through the main pancha karma practices; purgation, enemas, nasal cleansing, and if appropriate, emesis.

Other treatments employed during the week are shirodhara, which is a deeply relaxing treatment where warm oil is poured continuously over the forehead for a half an hour or longer. This treatment is specific for deeply relaxing the central nervous system, balancing both hemispheres of the brain, and allowing the release of stored emotions.

Each person has individual needs which are taken into consideration before and during the panchakarma process.

Panchakarma works to detoxify the seven tissue layers in the body (dhatus).

The seven layers are:

*Rasa--plasma and lymph, immune system; joy, faith

*Rakta--blood; passion, invigoration

*Mamsa--skin, muscle; discernment, uprightness

*Medas--fat; ability to love and be loved

*Asthi--bone; confidence, intention

*Majja--nervous system, bone marrow; clarity of mind

*Shukra--reproductive tissues
About the Author
Richard A Masla is the owner of The Ayurveda Health Retreat
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