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How Does Panchakarma Work?
Panchakarma is a Sanskrit term that means “the five actions,” (pancha = five, and karma = action), referring to the five different cleansing and rejuvenating procedures described in the classic Ayurvedic textbooks.
As panchakarma has been adapted for use in the West, the therapies have evolved and modernized, the number of procedures included is not always five but varies according to an individual’s mind-body type and health concerns. At the Chopra Center, panchakarma follows these steps:
Panchakarma begins with oleation, a process of applying and ingesting pure essential oils in order to loosen and mobilize accumulated toxins. This step includes supplementation with organic seeds, as well as soothing Ayurvedic massage treatments using herbal oils.
Another vital aspect of this step is swedana, a Sanskrit word meaning “that which produces heat in the system.” Specific steam and warm oil therapies are used to heat the body. This process helps open the body’s circulation channels (srotas) and allows toxins to flow more easily from the tissues to the gastrointestinal tract for elimination. Swedana also relaxes the body, releasing tension and allowing impurities to be eliminated through the sweat glands.
Once the body’s toxins have been mobilized, gentle therapies are used to release them from the body. The treatment includes a sequence of daily bastis – a therapeutic process in which medicated oils and herbal preparations are used to flush toxins from the intestinal tract. Bastis are often referred to as enemas, but actually offer many more healing benefits than a simple colon cleanse. During a basti, the herbal oils enter the deeper tissues and eliminate fat-soluble toxins that can’t be dislodged with standard enemas.
This stage of panchakarma also includes nasya, an Ayurvedic treatment that gently cleanses the upper respiratory tract and sinuses. This soothing process uses pure herbal oils to improve the flow of life energy and help you breathe freely and easily.
When and How Often Should I Do Panchakarma?