Panchakarma – An Introduction

Panchakarma  is a Sanskrit word that means “five procedures” or“five treatments”. This is a procedure, unique to Ayurveda, that cleans the body of toxic materials. Therefore it is often called as Purification therapy or detoxification therapy. Panchakarma is used according to the requirements of the individual based on the personality type, extent and type of the Doshas imbalance.  Although the human body is considered to be a  natural healing system capable of rectifying itself, the formation of toxins reduces that natural capacity. Then comes the role of Panchakarma. Detoxification methods of Ayurveda like Panchakarma, when taken completely or partially, make the body more responsive to medicines and treatment. It hastens the healing process.

In Ayurveda , from one point of view Panchakarma comprises of

  • Vamana Karma     
Drug induced Vomiting.
  • Virechana Karma   
Drug induced purgation
  • Niruha Basti
Decoction of appropriate drugs are used. (Basti is medicated enema)
  • Anuvasana Basti
Oily substance are used.
  • Nasya karma/ Shirovirechana   
Administration of medicines or medicated oil through nasal passage.

In surgery, Panchakarma is considered to include above mentioned Vamana, Virechana, Basti, Nasya or Shirovirechana andRakta Mokshana (Blood letting). There are certain procedures tocomplement Panchkarma that precede and that follow Panchkarma known as Poorvakarma (Preparatory procedures) andPaschatkarma (Post procedures) respectively.

  • Poorvakarma comprises of two main procedures viz.
    • Snehan Karma      Oleation therapy
    • Swedan Karma     Sweat inducing therapy
  • Paschatkarma comprises of the rehabilitative procedures that are followed after the main procedures i.e. Panchakarma.

It includes: Samsarjana Karma- Scheduled diet regulation. After the completion of the main procedures such as Vamana, Virechana, the digestive power is mitigated. The digestive power is restored by adopting a  scheduled dietary regimen, known asSamsarjana Karma.

Procedures done to deal with the complications that might arise as a result of Panchakarma.


Panchkarma purifies the body and benefits procured thereby are the following way

I. Digestive power is increased and it benefits the following way:

  • Alleviates the disease / symptoms.
  • Induces normal functions of senses, intellect and mind.
  • Enhance body’s complexion.
  • Strengthens the body.
  • Delays ageing process.
  • Longevity increases devoid of diseases.

II.  Panchakarma treats the imbalance or disease completely from its root. Therefore it is known as purification or detoxification therapy (Sanshodhana Karma).

Ayurvedic treatment is not complete without Panchakarma. Besides, being complementary to the Palliative treatment it is a complete treatment in itself.