This is a five fold procedure for eliminating accumulated impurities from the mind body physiology. Pancha, in Sanskrit means "five" and karma means "action". Panchakarma therefore refers to the five actions that are considered the most powerful, purifying, and rejuvenating procedures in Ayurveda. This unique treatment aims at correcting the imbalance of the biological energies – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in order to maintain their inherent equilibrium. During each season of the year, one or more of the doshas accumulate, which results an imbalance and makes the body prone to illness. Changes occurs in both the mind and body of the individual. This entire process is designed to facilitate the deep–rooted release of stress, and to encourage the individuals to surrender to the healing process. The five fold treatment during Panchakarma is not only intended for elimination of disease causing toxins but also to replenish the tissues with nourishment.

There are three integrated components of the panchakarma process: the preparation phase [in Sanskrit known as Poorvakarma], the principal procedures [Pradhanakarma], and the post treatment care which includes diet regimen and other dos and don'ts [Paschatkarma].
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Poorvakarma which is designed to prepare the body for the elimination of imbalances, has three aspects
  • Deepana-Pachana: Administration of digestives and carminatives to increase the digestive fire of the body, stimulate metabolism, activate digestive enzymes, increase the peristalsis and improve circulation.
  • Snehana: This includes both internal and external oiling of the system. It is employed in order to liquefy the vitiated doshas, mobilize and collect these in the main body channels like the digestive tract. Edible oils and ghrita (clarified butter) processed/cooked with various herbs are used in oleation. According to Ayurveda herbalized oils and ghee are able to permeate the cells and tissues, encouraging the release of stored toxicity. Oleation is also provided externally through massage. An experienced Physician can decide which mode of oleation is effective for each individual.
  • Swedana: Fomentation therapy is given only after employing proper oleation using hot water/decoction of medicinal herbs to soften and melt the body toxins so as to efficiently expel these with the assistance of the main purification procedures.


Once the preparatory therapies have loosened and mobilised the toxins, the principal procedures are begun in order to eliminate impurities from the body. They are 5 in number:
  • Vamana: This is a method of induced emesis using herbal tonic under the observation of an Ayurveda doctor. This balances the kapha toxin.
  • Virechana : This is a procedure that involves the purging of pitta toxins, downwards, through the natural alimentary passage and out through the anal orifice by administering herbal tonic.
  • Vasthi: Vasthi introduces herbalised enemas through the ano-rectal cavity, to help expel all three vitiated doshas, namely, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vasthi activates the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, and thereby restores the physiological equilibrium of the body. There are two types of vasthi treatments
  • Asthapanavasthi/niruhavasthi/kashayavasthi : In this procedure, herbal decoctions combined with herbal pastes, herbal oils, milk and honey is used to induce excretion. By purging the digestive system, this can eliminate impurities, accelerate digestion, and correct peristaltic movements. It is one of the most important procedures in panchakarma.
  • Anuvasanavasthi : In this procedure, medicated lubricants like oil, ghee is administered through the ano-rectal cavity. The lubricant helps to counter any effects of toxic expulsion on the rectal opening.
  • Nasyam : Ancient civilisations often considered the nose to be the source of life. The nasyam technique focuses on this vital sensory organ, and involves administering a combination of herbal powders, juice of fresh leaves, oil or ghee through the nostrils. Nasyam helps clean the nasal tract and also enhances functioning of the olfactory senses. Nasyam can be a preventive, curative or rejuvenative therapy that stimulates the nervous system, prevents early ageing.
  • Raktha mokshanam : Rakta mokshana literally means 'bloodletting', and is an ancient therapeutic method to cleanse and detoxify the arteries and veins. The most commonly practiced method of bloodletting involves placing leeches on various parts of the body - not for the faint-hearted. There are other methods of blood-letting as well, and the procedure is selected based on an individual's constitution, age, body strength and degree of toxicity in the blood, as also the weather at the time.


Paschatkarma is the final, post-procedural stage of the Panchakarma treatment. Paschatkarma helps to reinforce the benefits accrued after the Panchakarma treatment and with regular meditation, oil massages, pranayama and yoga, can open and rejuvenate the channels of the body and mind.
  • Paschatkarma for vamana and virechana : Samsarjana karma: Since Vamana and Virechana tend to leave an impact on the internal lining of some parts of the digestive tract; a special dietary regimen is advised for three days to seven days after completion of the main procedures by the ayurveda doctor. This specific diet is known as Samsarjana karma. It involves a diet regime of light, easily digestible, wholesome food with little or no spice, to rekindle the digestive fire and prevent accumulation of impurities.
  • Paschatkarma for vasthi : Immediately after taking niruhavasti, the person is advised to take a warm bath and rest. A light diet of boiled lentils and grams should be consumed and a routine for a specific period, known as Parihara Kaala should be followed. During this period it is advisable to avoid all physical as well as emotional tensions. Sunbathing should be strictly avoided. All spicy, pungent and deep-fried, oily, stale foods and excessive eating should consciously be avoided after anuvasanavasthi.
  • Paschatkarma for nasyam : After completion of nasyam, a special procedure called dhumapana (inhaling medicated herbal smoke) and gargling is recommended.
  • Paschatkarma for rakthamokshanam : If the method selected is leech application, the site of application should be cleaned with normal saline and bandaging should be done after sprinkling turmeric powder on the site.