It ardently follows the panchabhuta philosophy (the concept of five existents-Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space). It is from this concept that the tri-humoral foundation (the bio energies-tridosha-vata, pitta & kapha) of Ayurveda is established. As per the tridosha theory, all the normal human nervous activity, body functions and structure can be explained in terms of these three bio-energies. So is the state of disease and irregularity. In other words, health is defined as equilibrium of the tridosha and disease, as its imbalance. Hence, the prime objective of treatment is to bring the vitiated doshas back to harmony and equilibrium.
Like in simple physics, Ayurveda uses the two modalities of ‘addition’ and ‘reduction’ to bring about this equilibrium. The former is called brimhana chikitsa and the latter langhana chikitsa. While addition therapies are targeting nourishment and building up of tissues, reduction therapies give emphasis to two modalities- mitigation and cleansing. The mitigation part of langhana chikitsa is beneficial in conditions of mild increase of dosha or when the individual is not strong enough or suitable for cleansing therapies. The majority of medications, dietary and lifestyle advises fall under this category, the shamana chikitsa. The conditions wherein which the doshas are highly vitiated beyond the control of shamana chikitsa and whenever an elaborate detoxification is required, cleansing procedures are advocated. Scientifically called the SHODHANA CHIKITSA, this involves the five purification procedures viz.
Therapeutic Emesis (Vamanam)
Therapeutic Purgation (Virechanam)
Nasal Instillation (Nasyam)
Blood letting (Raktha moksham).
Panchakarma is a sophisticated procedure for the effective application of the cleansing therapies. This Sanskrit word roughly means “Five Procedures”. Apart from the five shodhana applications done as the major procedure (pradhana karma), panchakarma includes a preparatory procedure (purvakarma) and a subsequent procedure (paschatkarma).
Toxins produced as a result of faulty metabolism and also impurities entering our body from external sources may not always be timely expelled. In the due course of time it gets lodged in our tissues. In general, the following is what happens during various stages of panchakarma:
Panchakarma is the most popular cleansing method and is applied in almost all diseases as an ultimate curative solution as per classical Ayurvedic literature. One can even find passages in Rigveda mentioning eradication of diseases through natural orifices, suggesting knowledge of panchakarma in the Vedic period. Panchakarma is designed in such a way that by expelling the wastes from the body, it also allows the longstanding equilibrium of the doshas and thereby facilitates the natural regeneration of vital tissues. So, the preventive aspect of Ayurveda also utilizes this modality in a large scale.
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The enormous success rate of this procedure has made it ever popular internationally. Most other system of medicines fails to identify the deep seated toxins and addresses only the superficial waste expulsion. In making this differentiation, Ayurveda brings clarity into detoxification and helps guard against the side effects of excess or wrongly administered detoxification therapies.