Panchakarma means ‘5 actions’. Pancha means 5. Karma means action or procedure.
Panchakarma is the penultimate cleanse for the elimination of toxins (ama) and the replenishment of tissues. Panchakarma comes from the ancient, holistic, healing system of Ayurveda which has its roots in India.
For five thousand years the people of India and China have been using plants to treat every disease known to mankind. Why? Because it works. 10 years ago a group of traditional scientists asked US Congress to fund research into Ayurveda. What started as a $10m project grew into $100m. Ayurveda was approved as an addition to the 27th arm of NCCAM – the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a result.
This study was heavily related to the Human Genome Project which was formed to study how genes function individually and collectively.
How do genes relate to Ayurveda and Panchakarma?
Genes are switched on and off as we age. When genes are on they make protein and perform a function. And vice versa. As we grow older some genes are switched on, others off.
Herbal therapy (ayurveda) works by utilising the protection system of a plant. Plants produce toxins to protect themselves from insects. These toxins have a unique ability to bind to our genes. They provide the switch that the body hasn’t been capable of actioning.
There are 3 stages of PK therapy:
1. Purva Karma – pre-treatment
2. Pradhana Karma – primary treatment
3. Paschat Karma – post treatment
The 5 actions referred to consist of the following and appear at various times during the 3 stages of PK.
1. Vamana – purging
2. Virechana – liver flush
3. Vasti – enema
4. Nasya – nasal treatment
5. Rakthamokshana – bloodletting
I’m Day 5 of a 21 day PK. Day 1 I felt completely overwhelmed. This might have had something to do with moving out of my villa and packing all of my worldly possessions (again) into bags…knowing that as of the 21st June I’m not sure where my path is going to take me..and said bags (again). It’s not so much stress as its the emotion that comes with goodbyes, closing one door to open another that seems to put me into a temporary tailspin. But that lasted one day and I woke up on Day 2 feeling completely settled in.
So what happens when Panchakarmering?
Each day begins with medicated ghee (Snehapana). Ghee is derived from clarified butter – the protein is removed. The purpose of the ghee is to bind to the toxins (ama) in the body. The body is literally saturated with ghee. Tomorrow I have my last serving of 10 tablespoons with some nasty looking herbs swimming in the bottom. Taking it is not so bad, and my body was craving the fat the first few days…now..not so much.
7am is yoga time for an hour.
Then Kitcheree is served for breakfast and lunch. I really love kitcheree. Its such a great comfort food. Rice, mung dhal, veges and spices are combined into a soupy mix that my body craves..it craves it because I’ve literally felt like I’ve been starving!..which is unusual. Because when I fast I rarely feel like I’m starving…ironically…
In the afternoon, EVERY day I have 2 hours of treatments including Abhyanga (medicated oil massage), Shirodhara (medicated oil dripped onto the forehead), Nasya (oil decoction into nostrils), Pasta (paste of onion, garlic, ginger, pepper applied to the body) and Bashpasweda (steam treatment).
3 times a week a 45 minute meditation is offered which I generally decline preferring the mozzie-less, air conditioned comfort of my awesome room and a guided meditation of my choosing.
Purva karma finishes for me shortly and I move into the primary treatment next week.
Why are you doing another detox?
My latest bloods show Candida, low white blood cell count (low immune system) and low thyroid. Hormone, electrolyte panels and a few other bits haven’t come back yet. But my system is so ready for a reset. I tend to do monthly liver flushes but the last structured fast was back in December. None of the above are surprising after having parasites. Panchakarma is literally a program of rejuvenation so it makes sense.
Alternative medicine takes more time and a more effort than traditional medicine to get results, but I’m willing to do this rather than to fall prey to a Western medical system, that frankly I feel doesn’t serve me or anyone. I just can’t support the miseducation given to thousands that are simply listening to an authority figure for want of better information and choices.
I have a strong belief in mind medicine. Its really crazy how stress, anxiety and depression can f#@k up your body. I love the philosophy of Ayurveda because of this. As well as having amusing names for conditions like Cantankerous bowel syndrome to keep me entertained, Ayurveda encompasses not only science but religion and philosophy.
In Ayurveda the whole of life’s journey is considered to be sacred. Truth is Being, Pure existence, the source of all life. Ayurveda is a science of Truth as it is expressed in life.
Isn’t that beautiful?