Panchakarma, comes from the sanskrit “pancha” (five) and “Karma” (action) is a process of purification and réjuvénation in five steps used in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian medicine. According to Ayurveda, it’s the most effective way to prevent disease and slow the aging process means. Among the most prominent specialists in Panchakarma therapies, Dr. Anup Thakar, MD (ayu.), from the Gujarat Ayurvedic University, is recognized as one of the few experts in the clinical application of Panchakarma. Interview and explanations.
1. Doctor, what is a Panchakarma? What is its purpose and benefics?
Panchakarma is the process in which systematic cleaning of the body takes place without damaging the tissues. In other words it can be defined as a Bio-purifiacation or Detox of the body. They are five in numbers, it includes Vamana (Therapeutic Emesis), Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation), Basti (Therapeutic decoction & oil Enema), Nasya (Therapeutic nasal administration), & blood letting (Raktamokshana) and many other allied treatments required as pre-procedures and for post procedures to the Panchkarma treatments.
The purpose of these panchakarma procedures is to remove toxic substances and waste products from the body. Major three purposes:
- Preventive- vamana in spring, virechana in Autman, Basti in rainy season
- Curative- Emesis in skin diseases, Basti in Paralysis, in neurological disoreders, purgation in liver disorders, Pitta disorders.
- Rejuvenation- Rasayana will be more effective after panchakarma
- In healthy- Before pregnancy for healthy progeny
It radically removes the morbific factors of disease from body including the gross channels (GIT, Respiratory tract etc) up to the subtlest level (like cells, tissues, cell membranes etc.). Such purification permits the biological system to return to normalcy and to rejuvenate spontaneously and also facilitates the desired therapeutic effects to treatment administrated thereafter. Thus it eliminates toxins and metabolites from the body, cleans the macro and micro channels and maximise the absorption of nutrients and drugs. Thus this therapy is utilized for preservation, maintenance and conservation of health and promotion of longevity.
2. How the patient prepares himself to receive a Panchakarma?
Before panchakarma restricted diet to moderate quantity/light diet or shifting to green gram soup is advised to remove aam from body and to ignite agni (digestive power). drinking of hot water is advised usually for this purpose. Food which is heavy to digest, not cooked freshly, cold, which causes constipation is prohibited. More over overeating, sex, late nights, excess physical or mental work, strong exposure to Sun, wind, cold weather is also not advisable during Panchakarma.
3. Who practice the Panchakarma (specific doctors)? Where (in the hospital, at home)? Can the patient keep doing on his dailyroutine, work? is it painful or tiring?
There are many Panchakarma practitioners all over the world. However Panchakarma Physician who is preferably having post gradute in Panchakarma is advisable. Ayurveda Practitioner having proper exposure and training of doing panchakarma therapy with sufficient experience also pratices Panchakarma. Authenticity of procedures depends on the Physician.
Ideally Panchakarma should be done in hospital under proper supervision only, but some of the karma also can be performed at OPD level.
Weather patient can keep doing daily routine is decided by the physician who plan specific Panchakarma. There are some Karmas, where hospital stay is must like emesis or purgation. Whereas some procedures are there which can be done on OPD base i.e. without disturbing patients routine as Shirodhara, Pichu, Matrabasti, lepam.
As it is the procedures for cleaning so a kind of tiredness patient may feel, but moreover patients enjoys it. Sometimes patients may have aversion to some procedures eg. for some patients to drink 200 ml of medicated bitter ghee at a time is difficut. sometimes mild headeche or tiredness may be there during interal oleation in high doses, otherwise in genaral panchakarma procedures are painless.
4. Could the patient expect any side effects? After how long can we feel the beneficts of the Panchakarma ?
For scientific and authentic procedures there are no side effects, unless the procedure becomes successful, its success is depend on physician as well as patients. There is a list of do’s and dont’s in panchakarama which has to be followed stricly. If patient do not follow instructions than he or she may face problems. If procedure goes smoothly then patients don’t have to suffer.
Benefits of Panchakarma are long lasting with some do’s and don’t s which patients have to follow. Minimum 1-2 years effect with one time Panchakarma will get. It may last for more than 2 years also, if patient follows the Pathya-pathaya (Do’s and Dont’s).
5. How often should it be done ?
It depends . In Genaral healthy person should undergo panchakarma atlest once in year. For diseased person- according to condition, it may vary- twice in a year for skin disease or may be more than that depending on the severity. Continue for at least 3 months for paralysis and other renowned neurological conditions.
Regularly can be done for obesity.
6. Is it advisable as part of any disease or imbalance? And how?
Panchakarma is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat almost all diseases, particularly those that are:
- Non-infectious or
- Stress-related in origin.
Panchakarma has been used to treat:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome,
- High cholesterol,
- Digestive disorders,
- Heart disease,
- Immune problems,
- Chronic inflammation,
- Nervous disorders,
- Skin problems,
- Chronic ulcers etc.
Panchakarma may be used alongside intensive conventional treatments including chemotherapy and surgery, to support healing and recovery. It is also recommended for sportsmen in the preparation period, as well as for rehabilitation in the cases of psycho-emotional traumas. It is safe and non-toxic, and can be used as prevention and to increase general well-being. Panchakarma is limited in treating traumatic injuries, infections and conditions requiring immediate surgery or invasive procedures.
In order to achieve better results without any complications these treatments should be carried out under the strict supervision of institutionally qualified Panchakarma Physician.
7. Should the Panchakarme be done at any age? What about children?
As such there are no age restrictions for acute conditions, Cerebral palsy patients Basti, massage,nasya, shiropichu can be done since 6 months or 1 year of age.
In General – 18- 60 yr is the age criteria for Panchakarma. Virechana or vamana are not practiced after 60 Yrs usually, but Basti can be done after 80 yrs also. Many of the panchakram like Shirodhara, Pichu, Matra basti etc. can be perfomed to persons of any age.
In healthy baby also daily massage should be done with Balalakshadi taila, Bala ashwagandhadi taila,dhanwantharam taila etc.
There are varieties of procedures to do in babies.
- Nasya to enhance IQ
- Shiropichu to reduce ADHD
- Oil massage to increase weight
- Dry powder massage to reduce weight
Some procedures are very helpful for autism, asthma, recurrent Respiratory infections, neuro-muscular diseases and psychological disorders of children.
8. What Panchakarma means in the Indian culture?
Panchakarma has very deep routed culture in India,it is explained in Bhagvatgita and rugvda also.
There are some traditions of Panchakarma; it is followed by families since long ago.
Traditionally Panchakarma is followed by people in India, like they daily do massage, head massage before bath, use peya (rice with water) in their diet and undergo purgation on holidays is some of common practie in many part of India.
9. Is Panchakarma corresponds to an equivalent method in other types of medicines?
No, In my knowledge there no therapy in any other type of medicine similiar to panchakarma is exisisting. It is Unique and very much scientific and natural way of biopurification or detox of the body.
- Stomach wash is different effect than vamana
- Diarrhoea is not so far similar to virechana
- Enema is different concept than basti
- Nasal drops are not as effective as nasya
It has different concept, medicines, pharmacodynamic, kinetic and effects also.
10. What is the point of view of the conventional medicine on Panchakarma?
Recently follower or practitioners of conventional medicine has started to accept Panchakarma after so long researches and clinical evidances on Panchakarma or they are experiencing striking results of Panchakarma. Many specialists are referring the patients for Panchakarma.
11. According to you, what could be the equivalent in conventional medicine to achieve the same results?
No parallel road for Panchakarma. Any method doesn’t exist in conventional medicine which can provide same results as panchakarma.
Interview realised by Armanda Dos Santos