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  • Panchakarma Treatment

    An introduction to Panchakarma

    Additional Information & Guides

    By Karin Gunthor BSc (Hons) Ayurveda Lakshmi Ayurveda in Perth, Australia

    Download our Full Colour Leaflet: Introduction to Panchkarma as a pdf

    Disease free condition is the best source of virtue, wealth, gratification and emancipation while diseases are the destroyers of this (source of) welfare and life itself. This reference comes from one of the classical texts of Ayurveda, the Charaka Samhita.
    CS.SU 1:15-17

    Ayurveda is the science of life. It’s the healing system that gives us the knowledge how to live our life - guiding us through diet, lifestyle and exercise habits to restore balance to the body, mind, and our consciousness.

    The signature aim of Ayurveda is to emphasize prevention of disease over the curing of disease.

    Prevention and treatment of disease can be done through the incredible source of Ayurvedic knowledge by learning how to live in harmony. This harmony can be achieved by adhering to a combination of the following:

    • Dinacharya/ Daily Routine
    • Rtucharya/ Seasonal Routine
    • Ratri charya/ Nightly Routine
    • Shamana/ pacifying treatment
    • Body Purification procedures (Shodhanan/Panchakarma treatment)
    • Rasayana/ Rejuveantion treatment
    • Yoga

    I>mproper diet, habits, lifestyle, incompatible food combinations, season changes, trauma, grief, repressed emotions, and stress factors can change the equilibrium of the Doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) and affect our Agni (gastric fire) and produce Ama (toxins).

    This Ama/ toxins can enter the blood stream and circulate throughout our system, clogging channels. This will affect our Prana (Vital life energy), Ojas (Immunity) and Tejas (cellular metabolic energy) resulting in disease.

    Introduction to Panchakarma

    Panchakarma is truly the Soul of Ayurveda and a Panchakarma programme will help to get in touch with your soul. Panchakarma is a Sanskrit term that translates as the five (pancha) actions (karma) necessary to cleanse the body of accumulated waste material.

    Benefits of Panchakarma

    Cleansing of the digestive tract, increases energy and vitality, increased happiness, improved digestion and assimilation, improved fertility, strengthened the endocrine system, assists in balancing the mind, strengthens the immune system, reduces stress and anxiety, promotes a healthy sleep, detoxifies the liver and blood, healthy weight loss, improved complexion and skin tone.

    Steps to Panchakarma


    First with Deepana/ Pachana herbs and diet to digest the ama and make the agni function well.

    The herbs and diet advise will be given to you in your Pre-panchakarma consultation at the clinic. Herbs such as Ginger, Black Pepper, Long pepper are used.

    This process is usually 3-7 days.


    Snehana/ Oleation of the body (internal/abhyantar through the intake of medicated ghee and external/bahya through the full body oil Abhyanga massage) is completed.

    Snehanam sneha vishyanda mardav kledakarkam Ch. Su.22.

    The Sneha/ oil acts as liquefaction, softening, moistening of the toxins.


    Swedana , the sudation therapy, is used after Snehanan to open the dhatus and srotas and it will liquefy the toxins and increases the movement of the toxins into the gastrointestinal tract.


    Vamana is a process which eliminates doshas (malas) through induced vomiting. When there is congestion in the lungs causing repeated flare up of bronchitis, colds, cough, Asthma.

    Therapeutic vomiting is also indicated in chronic Asthma, diabetes. Chronic cold, lymphatic congestion, chronic indigestion, certain skin disease, and oedema as well as other Kaphaja vyadhi/ Kapha ailments.


    When excess Pitta is accumulated in the gall bladder, liver, and small intestine it tends to result in rashes, skin inflammation, acne, increased body heat…

    A herbal laxative is administered in the early morning to expel the Malas/ toxins through the downward tracts. After administration of the virechana herb a series of loose bowel movements follow.

    After a successful virechana the digestion improves, appetite increases, abdominal bloating and heaviness disappear and the mind feels calm and clear. It deeply cleanses the blood, liver and bile.

    Basti / Enema therapy

    There are 2 types of basti, one is Niruha basti (eliminating basti) and one is called Anuvasana basti (oil based enema). The 2 bastis are done in alteration to reach deeper, affecting all of the body tissues (dhatus).

    It is best if the Basti can be practiced over 8 days, this is called Yoga basti.

    Many Vata disease such as arthritis, rheumatism, muscle spasm, sciatica, backache, joint pains, headaches, constipation, gynaecological disorders, infertility  are treated with this treatment.

    Just as a tree irrigated with water at the root produces blue leaves, become beautiful with tender leaves, and during the course of time grows to produce flowers and fruits, similarly a person becomes young and beautiful by the administration of Anuvasana.
    Charaka Si 1:29

    Enema though situated in the large intestine draws out impurity from head to the feet by its power just as the sun takes away sap of the earth even staying in the sky.
    Sushruta Chi 35:27


    Nasya has a therapeutic effect on all dosha and subdoshas as it pacifies Prana Vayu immediately. Nasya is also called Shirovirechana – shiro (head) + Virechana (purgation).

    This is the procedure by which Medicines are introduced via the nasal passages. The medicines used for this treatment include oil (most common), powders, paste, swarasa, decoctions and smoke.

    Prana, life force energy enters the body through the breath taken in through the nose. Prana is in the brain and maintains sensory and motor functions. Prana also governs mental activities, memory, concentration and intellectual activities.

    Benefits include disease prevention of the ear, nose, throat and head. Treatment for hair loss, premature greying and skin conditions. Strengthening the sense organs. Gynaecological disorders, the common cold, migraines, headaches, facial paralysis, and allergies.

    3 types of Nasya

    • Virechana (purgative): drains out the doshas in the nasal passage and the throat and relieves the head of its heaviness. Ideal for headaches related to Kapha dosha, dullness, sinus congestion and nasal polyps.
    • Brimhana (nourishing): effective in Vata and Pitta conditions.
      Migraines, dryness of the mouth and nose, speech impediments, eye disease, tinnitus, insomnia, cervical spondylitis, paralysis, dementia, macular degeneration, trigeminal neuralgia, tension headaches.
    • Shamana (palliative): useful in premature greying of the hair, chronic eye disease, skin patches, hyper pigmentation, alopecia and hair loss.

    Duration of the treatment: 7-14 days

    After the completion of the treatment it is advised to gargle and follow with the inhalation of medicinal smoke (Dhumapana).


    This is a therapy for managing disease caused by rakta and pitta.

    Raktamokshana is the fifth panchakarma therapy in which impure blood is taken out by various methods.

    Raktamokshana can be done with or without surgical instruments. Without instruments it is done by:

    • Jalauka/ leech therapy
    • Shringa vacharana (cows horn)
    • Ghatiyantra/ pot
    • Alabu (pumpkin)

    Indications are skin disease, Acne, boils, mouth ulcers, and skin itchiness.

    Tips for your Panchkarma Treatment

    During your panchakarma you should avoid long distance travelling, computers, too much talking, loud music/ noises and a mono diet of Kitchadi should be followed.

    Cold drinks, deep fried, sugary, salty and hot and spicy food should be avoided.


    Provide the answer to the question here.

    Download our Full Colour Leaflet: Panchakarma from the Patient’s Perspective as a pdf

    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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