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  • Panchakarma from the Patient’s Perspective

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    You’ve reached a point of complete exhaustion, pain, and discomfort and are ready to do something serious about your health. You’ve heard about Ayurveda, maybe you’ve even done some reading about the ancient system of health or visited a practitioner yourself. You continue your research and learn about the Panchakarma detoxification program, which at a glance may seem entirely foreign and intense.

    We would like to address your questions and concerns regarding Panchakarma, coming from a patient’s perspective without the confusing vocabulary and concepts. Let’s examine your health from a mind, body, and spirit perspective and dive into what to expect as you embark on your Panchakarma journey.


    Your first consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner will include a discussion about your medical history, current complaints, family history, weight, blood pressure, exercise and eating habits and more. The appointment will go farther into depth, examining your lifestyle and daily habits. The Ayurvedic practitioner will ask you questions concerning your job, family life, and ability to handle stress. Then they look at your tongue. That’s right, your tongue - which depicts the amount of “ama” or toxin buildup in your body as well as associated organs under stress. As if that wasn’t fascinating enough, they will read your pulse and diagnose you with a certain “Prakruti” (constitution) and “Vikruti” (state of imbalance).

    Your “Prakruti” describes your constitution in Ayurvedic terms by determining which doshas are most heightened in your body. Based on your constitution and current imbalances, the practitioner will suggest foods to eat for your body type and those to omit. Recommended Ayurvedic herbs will be prescribed and a daily routine will be suggested. The routine will likely involve body brushing, daily oil massage, tongue cleaning, and oil pulling to name a few. A simple diet of mung bean soup and kitchari may be recommended to help clear your body of excess “ama”.

    If Panchakarma treatments are recommended by the practitioner, a pre-consultation appointment will be scheduled. During this appointment you will speak further about the treatments, their duration, costs and what to expect. You will then agree on a date to start Panchakarma.

    Two weeks prior to starting Panchakarma you will be eating a simple diet recommended by the practitioner. By following the recommended clean “sattvic” eating, you will be surprised at how satiated you feel throughout the day, the cravings slightly subside, and your anticipation for Panchakarma grows. The more you follow the practitioner’s guidelines prior to Panchakarma, the more effective the treatments will be at removing the deep-seated toxins from your body!

    Some advice for you – Tell your family and friends about your enthusiasm to start Panchakarma. Inform them that you need this time to nurture yourself. The fewer distractions during Panchakarma the better.

    Panchakarma Treatments

    Snehapana – Ghee Intake

    Alas! The long-awaited anticipation of your Panchakarma is finally coming to an end. Your first day. You arrive at the clinic smiling and enthusiastic, perhaps a bit apprehensive about what emotions may surface during your treatments. Observe your emotions. Wrap them in love, imagine a light permeating through the emotion and let it go. If you need to cry, go ahead and cry.
    But then sit down and observe the emotion and where it is coming from. Smile and understand it is all part of the healing process.

    The first part of Panchakarma treatments, called Snehapana, will involve the drinking of medicated ghee. The thought of drinking ghee may seem absurd coming from our western conditioning of “ingesting fat = bad”. However, the ghee works as an internal oiliation to help clear the channels of your body, aiding the detox process. The first day is a small dose, usually around 50 milliliters. The next few hours will consist of “ghee burps”, potential headaches, exhaustion, heaviness, or maybe even giddiness. Later in the day you will have digested the ghee and start to feel proper hunger, thirst, and a lightness in the body – and no more “ghee burps”. The practitioner will advise you on what is appropriate to eat the rest of the day. Day 1 done, not bad!

    The second day will include a bigger dosage of medicated ghee. By the way, keep your eyes closed as you drink the ghee - it goes down easier and quicker! Today is harder than the first. The digestion symptoms get a bit more intense and you may want to sleep….BUT DON’T SLEEP! If you need a distraction go for a light stroll, sit in the garden, read your favourite book, etc. Just don’t sleep, you’ll feel worse. Finally, the ghee will digest, and you will start to feel better. You may even start to notice your eyes are shinier, brighter, and your skin may be clearing up.

    3rd day: On your way to the clinic you may feel sick at the idea of drinking ghee again. But this is a good sign! Say your prayers and close your eyes as you drink the ghee down for the last time.
    Keep in mind, you get to start Abhyanga and Shirodhara treatments tomorrow!

    Abyhyanga and Bashpa Sveda

    Oh, Abhyanga. The best massage you can imagine. Calming music, warm oils, perfect massage pressure and stroking movements from the therapist coupled with the slight aroma of incense touching your nostrils will send you into deep relaxation.

    After Abhyanga you will get into the steam bath for a brief period of time depending on your physical condition, usually no more than ten minutes. Fragrant rosewater will be sprayed around your head, continuing the feelings of complete relaxation. As the steam temperature increases you will start to feel the toxins run out of your body through sweat.


    If you think the Abhyanga and Bashpa Sveda treatments were relaxing, you’re in for a real treat with Shirodhara. Your eyes are covered with small cotton patches sprayed with rosewater, followed by an eye pillow to induce relaxation.

    Warm oil starts to gently stream onto the middle of your forehead. The stream will start to move from temple to temple in a slowly rhythmic motion. The Tibetan Sound Bowl music combined with the rhythm of the oil stream will send you into deep meditation.

    ry following the movements of the oil across your forehead and let your body and mind relax.

    Virechana – Purgation

    The thought of a purge may seem quite daunting. Rest assured, your Ayurvedic practitioner is very experienced in purgation therapy. You will be given a Virechana paste and informed when to consume the paste. Generally it will be sometime in the morning.

    A pleasant surprise – the paste is quite tasty! Throughout the remainder of the day you will stay close to the toilet. Your eliminations may be bright in color, even orange and yellow. Don’t fret – this is the excess heat, Pitta, being expelled from your body. Eventually your eliminations will show signs of completed purgation through clear and liquid consistency.

    It is of upmost importance that you follow the practitioners guidelines as to what you may eat after the purgation. Your digestive fire is low following the purgation, but will be built up through the slow reintroduction of clean foods. Rice, rice and more rice! Basmati rice to be specific. You’ll follow a strict diet of rice water, rice gruel and potentially some bland oats. Within a few days you will be able to incorporate mild spices.

    Pinda Svede

    Herbal bundles are prepared by your Ayurvedic practitioner depending on your body type and conditions. The bundles are heated and your therapist will soak the bags in warm medicated oils.

    An invigorating massage with the bundles will help alleviate pain, stiffness and swelling in the musculoskeletal system. Your bones, muscles and nerves will feel strengthened, rejuvenated and you will even start to notice more color in your complexion as circulation improves.

    Kati Basti

    Do you have a certain “problem” area? An area where you feel more pain and discomfort? Well, Kati Basti can help alleviate those pains. A circle of dough is formed and pressed into your skin on the target area. ‘Kati’ refers to the lower back in this case but can also be done on the neck and knees.Once the dough is secure on the skin, warm medicated oil will be poured into the ring of dough. Common areas of Kati Basti include the lower back, knees and upper back. Over the next few days, you will notice the muscles start to relax and an increase in blood flow to the area. You may notice yourself feeling more flexible!


    The thought of administering oils and herbs into the bowels may seem frightening and painful, but this is a misunderstood perception of the enema process. Besides slight discomfort, the process is painless and relatively easy.

    Cleansing the colon is a critical step to the Panchakarma process, as it helps rejuvenate the body tissues and improve overall bowel health. For the next 8 days you will have enemas administered by your practitioner. Both herbal and oil enemas will be used. The oil enema helps to nourish the colon while the herbal decoction will more rapidly expel waste. Problems including arthritis, gynecological issues, mental clarity, lower back pain, and constipation will start to improve. You will start to feel lighter, more energized, and regular.

    Post- Panchakarma

    Panchakarma is a key to open avenues of transformation in your life. After your Panchakarma is complete, it is critical that you maintain a balanced and healthy diet according to your constitution.

    Also, continue with your daily routine suggested to you during your pre-Panchakarma consultation. The benefits of your treatments are wide ranging as your ability to handle stress improves. You will notice changes in your old patterns of behavior, overall health and well-being.

    Schedule your follow-up consultation with your Ayurvedic practitioner two weeks after finishing the treatments.

    From the Lakshmi Team, we wish you all the best on your journey of health with Ayurveda.

    We look forward to welcoming you.

    Disclaimer: Before incorporating any of the information offered in this page, we strongly recommend you visit an Ayurvedic Practitioner to properly assess your health history and conditions.
    Please note that our claims about Panchakarma have not been approved by the TGA. The information provided is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat anyone and should not be taken without consultation with an Ayurvedic physician. We do not guarantee and assume no legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, currency or completeness of information contained in these materials.
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