The name Panchakarma means 5 actions and these five actions are
1. Vamana(Emesis): Induced vomiting to release the body toxins
2. Virechana(Purgation): Induced purgation through sweating, heated oil Ayurvedic massages
3. Nasyam (Nasal medication): Medication administered through the nostrils
4. Vasthy (Medicated enema): Medicated enema injected through the anal, urinary, vaginal channels
5. Raktha moksham (Bloodletting): Blood purification process with the help of leeches.
Panchakarma treatment may not always have the above mentioned 5 procedures. The doctors will suggest the right procedures based on the body type and condition of the person. Ideal duration of a complete Panchakarma treatment in Ayurveda is 21 days and includes 3 phases.
Kerala Ayurveda tradition puts great importance on the 3 phases of Panchakarma which are
1. Poorva Karma is the first phase where the actual preparation for toxin release happens in the body. The treatments during this phase are primarily oleation (application of oil both externally and internally) and sudation (induced sweating). These treatment procedures help the toxins melt.
2. Pradhana Karma which is the main part of the treatment where the accumulated toxins are flushed out of the body system. Treatment procedures generally include Sneha Vasthy (Oil enema), Kashaya Vasthy (Decoction enema), Virechana (Purgation), Nasya (Purification through nose) and Vamana (emesis or induced vomiting).
3. Finally, the Praschath Karma where the objective is to bring the body back to the normal condition. This helps in restoring the body immunity and improve digestion. This will help reset the metabolism and energy levels.
The treatment program would include both internal medications like herbal decoctions, powders and also external therapies. Some of the most common external therapies are
· Abhyanga (oil massage)
· Podikkizhi (powder massage)
· Elakizhi (leaf massage)
· Njavara( rice massage)
· Pizhichil (oil bath)
· Thailadhara (pouring of medicated oil continuously over the forehead) and
· Thakradhara (pouring of medicated butter milk over the forehead)
All the authentic Ayurvedic treatment centers in Kerala still follow the treatment methods as prescribed in the ancient texts. Unfortunately, there are lot of so called Ayurveda wellness centers or resorts where treatment methods are diluted. While resorts offer all modern amenities and ambience, treatment often takes a back seat in some of these centers. You should be very careful in selecting the right Ayurveda center for your treatment.