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Description of panchakarma as a cellular cleansing therapy

Ayurveda sees health preservation as its primary goal in contrast to today's medical science. This way, it offers solutions not only for the sick or imbalanced patients, but also for the healthy individuals. In the latter case, it proposes body cleansing and rejuvenating treatments to improve good health and increase lifetime. The purpose of therapies is to restore the balance of doshas, to increase the functioning of digestive and secretory systems and to strengthen immunity. Ayurveda, instead of attenuating symptoms, deals with exploring the real causes.

According to Ayurveda, the process of the disease begins when the natural relationship of the doshas is upset. In this case, the digestion process is also inhibited, and digestive disorder occurs. For the transformation and metabolic processes in the body, digestive fire is responsible (agni), without which there is no life. Its nature is characterized by constant transformation and use. In case of inadequate metabolism, digestive disorders occur, and according to the Ayurveda concept, the diseases are mostly caused by this inadequate function. In this case, not only the transformation and processing of food suffers from deficiency, but also the elimination of harmful metabolites from the body. In the gastrointestinal tract, indigestible food is accumulated in the form of a toxic substance, which is called ama (poison) by Ayurveda. From here, ama moves further to dhātus (body tissues), where it continues to exert its destructive effects, it damages the body tissues and reduces the immune system's ability to resist.

(The dhātus are body tissues, but this term does not fully reflect the meaning of the word. Their more precise definition is the following: components of the body that are able to constantly renew and reproduce. They exist in the physical strength, the body's structural integrity and functioning of the organization.) The essential energy of the immune system is called Ojas by Ayurveda, which is the essence of all vital secretions and reproductive fluids. Its center is in the heart, from where it spreads throughout the body. Its insufficient quantities lead to illnesses in which inappropriate lifestyle plays a significant role.

Panchakarma - internal cleansing

The Panchakarma is the most important ayurvedic cleansing treatment. The essence of the therapy is that after the poisonous excreta is led from the digestive tract to dhātu, the panchakarma extracts ama from the body tissues, then turns it back into the digestive tract and removes it from the body. Each part of the therapy results in the loss of one of the Doshas and the removal of the resulting toxins. Considering the individual physiological characteristics, it deals with the patient and does not only treat the symptoms.

As a first step in internal cleansing, preparatory procedures (Poorva Karma) are performed. Thereafter the panchakarma itself follows, and the therapy ends with post-treatment (Paschaat Karma). These three main sections are also referred to collectively as panchakarma.

Poorva Karma

This preparatory procedure helps the displacement of amas from body tissues. It consists of two main processes: oleation (Snehan) and fomentation (Swedan). The process helps to dislodge the accumulated poisonous substances in the body passing them towards the gastrointestinal tract, thus preparing them for their complete removal during panchakarma therapies.

Oleation can be done externally when rubbed with oils and herbs, massaging the body. But the body may also be oiled internally, in which case Ghi or herbal Ghi is used.

A warm compress or fomentation is the next step in preparation. As a result, the pores of the skin expand, resulting in increased removal of toxins in the body along with oleation treatments. Some of the warming treatments described in the Sushruta-samhita are still used today. These include the followings: linseed compress, steaming, topical treatment with herbal potion steam, bath tub fomentation.

In addition to the two main treatments, other preparatory procedures are used which can be used alone or in combination with other therapies.

See ayurvedic treatments and therapies.

Each of these treatments contributes to cleansing panchakarma procedures.