Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means "five actions" or "five treatments." This is a process used to clean the body of toxic materials left by disease and poor nutrition. Ayurveda says that imbalanced doshas create waste matter. This waste matter is called Ama in Ayurveda. Ama is a foul-smelling, sticky, noxious substance that needs to be evacuated from the body as thoroughly as possible.

Panchakarma will stick out the excess doshas (or imbalances in the dosha) along with the sticky Ama out of your system by means of the body waste evacuation channels such as sweat glands, urinary tract, intestines, etc. Panchakarma is, thus, a balancing operation. It involves daily massages and oil baths and is extremely pleasant experience. Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma as a seasonal treatment for toning your mind body system  (This is like a tune up for the car).

Steps in Panchakarma:

Panchakarma is a five-fold therapy; it is highly personalized based on the needs of the individual depending on the body type, dosha imbalances etc. Usually, only parts of the following therapies are needed.

 1. Pretreatment
 2. Therapeutic vomiting (Vamana)
 3. Purgation Therapy (Vireka, Virechan, herbal laxative therapy)
 4. Enema (Basti)
 5. Nasal Administration - Nasya (herbal inhalation therapy)
 6. Blood Letting (Rakta Moksha)


Prior to starting Panchakarma, oiling and heating of the patient is done to bring the excess doshas from the limbs to their proper reservoirs in the digestive tract, from which they can be expelled. The doshas are then excited by a procedure called utkleshana, a therapy that makes the excess dosha anxious to leave the body.

One to three nights prior to the start of Vamana, the patient is asked to drink one cup of oil two to three times a day until the stool becomes oily, or he feels nauseated (This treatment is called oleation or sneehana). Kapagenic diet is given to aggravate Kapha. On the morning of the Panchakarma, kapha aggravating foods such as basmati rice and yogurt with salt is given to further aggravate the kapha.

Oil massage and fomentation are administered on the night before the day of Vamana. The application of the heat to the chest and back will liquefy kapha.

Vamana (Therapeutic vomiting)

This treatment is used when there is congestion in the lungs causing repeated attacks of bronchitis, cough, cold or asthma. The objective of the therapy is to induce vomiting to get rid of the mucus causing excess kapha. A drink consisting of licorice and honey, or calamus root tea is given to the patient (Other substances used include salt, and cardamom). Vomiting is induced by rubbing on the tongue. 4-8 vomiting is the target. After vomiting the patient will feel very comfortable; most of the congestion, wheezing and breathlessness will disappear along with the clearing of the sinus.

Therapeutic vomiting is used for cough, cold, symptoms of asthma, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, anemia, poisoning, skin diseases, diabetes, lymphatic obstruction, chronic indigestion, edema (swelling), epilepsy (between attacks), chronic sinus problems, and for repeated attacks of tonsillitis.