Pancha karma five purification process.
Ayurveda which originated in ancient India, has gained worldwide recognition as an effective alternative or complementary system of healthcare. The popularity of Ayurveda has brought Pancha karma (five purification procedure) into prominence more than ever before. Tliis unique therapy has a scientific basis and its principles and rationale have been well accepted
Ayurveda is a dynamic medical system. It has a wide axiomatic frame which can accommodate both ancient and modem trends for the development of medical science. One may find roots of Vedic medicine in Ayurveda. But it has undergone a sea change over time and as a result today it has a strong basis of yukthi vyapasraya chikitsa (medical management), daiva wapasraya (spiritual therapy) and satwavajaya(psychiatric measures).
Yukthi vyapasarya chikitsa requires strong scientific basis, demonstrable in accordance with stringent scientific norms and parameters, which have universal acceptance. It does not mean that Ayurveda should always be interpreted in terms of modem basic science. Ayurveda has its own unique fun dam ent al theories and approach-es.
The five Elements in Pancha karma
A quick overview of Ayurvedic basics would be interesting in Pancha karma. The whole universe is constituted of matter. And the term for matter in Ayurveda is Bhuta (element). Bhuta connotes to that evolved through function. Everything in the universe including animates and inanimate are constituted by the five Bhutas, five forms of matter – Ether (akash). Ail’ (vayu), File (agni), water (jalam) and earth (prithvi) – each with specific properties.
‘Ayu’ or life is defined as a dynamic condition-a going on flux. The whole universe is always in a moving state. Everything is changing. Life is possible only when the living thing can be in tune with changing conditions of universe. Man is a microcosm of the macrocosm. Health is that condition when the organism is in harmony with the changes in the nature around and dish ami ony means illness.
Two opposite processes– creative and destructive -happen continuously in a living body i.e, building up and disintegration. In a dynamic state, energy is lost and so disintegration takes place. So to replenish energy we have to supply food. Body can make use of food for replenishing lost tissue and energy, if it is properly digested and assimilated.
If the jadharagni is weak or dliatwagni which promotes the transformation of digestive food to different body tissues is weak, the whole metabolism of the body is obstructed. Then ‘ama’(toxin) is formed. This ama is the cause of all diseases. So in Sanskrit a disease is called ‘aamaya’, that originates from ama.
It is being now reported that most of the grave diseases are ere- ated by the action of free radicals in the molecular level. As per the modem researches, free radicals are radicals set free from oxygenated substances. We want oxygen but substances with excess of oxygen radicals set them free, which in molecular level harm the molecule, and the deranged molecules ere- ate or promote diseases as Cancer, Hyper tension, Diabetes Arthritis, Ageing, Alzheimer’s diseases, Paikinsonism etc. This free radical theory has very much similarity with Ayuivedic concept of ama.
Pancha karma the ama exerts its influence through doshas in the body. The doshas Vata, Pitha and Kapha are functional factors, which show how the body responds to the stimuli from external and internal conditions. The proper balanced state of the doshas shows a healthy state. Increased, decreased or irregularity of the state of the doshas are shown by the symptoms corresponding to each condition.
It is said that Pitha and Kapha are lame and Vata makes them move. Most of the diseases are caused either by blocking or forcefully initiating the vegas (natural urges) and here also it is Vata that is provoked.
So, all pancha karma techniques are directed at creating favorable conditions in the body for the proper Vata functioning. This is accomplished by preparatory steps such as lubricating and heating which stimulate the energies to shake and bring the morbid factors to Kosha (alimentary canal), so that such toxins can easily be purged out. This allows Vata to work properly.
Even though the imbalanced doshas are the immediate cause of the diseases, the root cause is ama. So to cure and to prevent disease ama is to be removed. For eliminating ama and for preventing the accumulations of ama, purificatory methods are to be evolved. There lies the importance of Pancha kama(five purification therapies).
The five therapies included in pancha karma are:
l-Vainanain(Einesis) – Induction of emesis by oral administration of emetics.
2-Virechanam (purgation) – Induction of purgation by oral administration of purgatives.
3-Vasti (Enema) – Administration of medicaments through anal rout.
4-Nasyam (Errhines) – Nasal administration of medicaments.
5-Raktliainoksham (Biood-1etting) – Blood-letting using appropriate devices.
Pancha karma before doing these therapies preparatory procedures are to be done. They are:
- Snehanam(Oleation) – Intake of Ghee, sesame oil etc in a prescribed schedule.
- Swedanam (Fomentation) – With steam or by pouring hot water boiled with herbs continuously all over body.
After completing the main procedures of pancha karma one has to come to the normal diet gradually in a specific schedule.
Apoptosis – programmed cell death – is another interesting phenomenon occurring in a living body. It helps in the maintenance of the body. Planned cellular death is a natural process where the organism itself, persuades the cell that has lost its proper tract or course to commit suicide so as to protect the organism. It confinns the Ayurvedic concept that destruction of noxious elements by elimination is not a passive phenomenon but an active one sustained and promoted by vital energy.
pancha karma Viewed from this angle, sod- hana (purification) therapy is not an arbitrary step imposed by men but a well thought out process intended to enhance and support body’s own effort to purify itself discouraging the undesirable elements. It represents the comprehensive purification treatment methodology which primarily aims at the exhaustive elimination of morbid materials accumulate in human tissues owing to varied causes.
Eradication of toxic debris is done without causing any harm to the healthy structures and functions of the body. This helps to maintain total health, making every particle of the body active to the fullest possible extent. Stated in brief, pancha karma therapy, together with its pre and post operative procedures is an effective tool for prevention of diseases and curing diseases. Detoxification at cellular level is a good remedy for chronic lifestyle related diseases rampant in modem world.