Ayurveda emphasizes preventative and healing therapies along with various methods of purification and rejuvenation. Ayurveda is more than a mere healing system; it is a science and art of appropriate living which helps to achieve longevity. It can also guide every individual in the prevention of disease and long term maintenance of health. To achieve this balanced state of body mind and consciousness, Ayurveda prescribes Panchakarma therapy for the cleansing of body toxins. In Sanskrit ‘Pancha’ means five and ‘Karma’ means the therapeutic measures. Therefore Panchakarma stands for the five types of therapeutic measures. The logic being that as a cloth needs to be purified or cleaned of impurities and dust before it can be permeated with new colours; similarly the body needs to be purified before it can be permeated with new colours of youthfulness, health, vigour etc. In fact, most of the time, Panchakarma is an end in itself rather than a prelude to other therapeutic measures.
Pachakarma, the holistic treatment approach in Ayurveda, is a process of bio-cleansing or purifying the body through the possible nearest routes; there by achieving the homeostasis of the Tridoshas and normal well being of the body. Panchakarma include the basic fivefold treatments viz. Vamana (emesis), Virechana (purgation), Vasthi (medicated enema), Nasya (nasaltherapy) and Rakthamokshana (blood letting therapy). It is highly individualised based on one’s body constitution (prakrithi), doshic imbalance, age, digestive strength, immune status and many other functions. The basic advantages of Panchakarma therapy include detoxification, immune modulation, functional optimisation of enzymatic complex, rejuvenation. Apart from as a treatment modality for specific disease, Ayurveda recommends Panchakarma as a seasonal treatment for maintaining mental and physical health.
General massage is the primary massage which is done prior to all Pachakarmas. As per the requirement this can be a full body massage or massage over a single part. The oils used in this massage differ from person to person depending upon various factors such as climate,constitution,type of disease etc.
Special massage is the massage done as treatment itself. This is used in various diseases like paralysis, spondylosis, slip-disc, cramps, sciatica, parkinson’s disease, asthma, mental stress, chronic rheumatism, degenerative disorders, muscle wasting etc.
Agnikarma or therapeutic cauterization is a Para surgical procedure, where heat is applied over the diseased area that gives immediate result. It is highly effective in conditions like calcaneal spur, all soft tissue inflammations, chronic low back ache, carpal tunnel syndrome, Golfers elbow, chronic osteoarthritis, warts, sciatica etc.
Avagaha means to dip or immerse. It is a type of swedana therapy, in which the patient is made to sit or lie in a tub containing warm medicated decoction to produce perspiration .The herbal ingredients used to make the decoction get absorbed through the skin and provides therapeutic effect .The benefits includes it relieves pain due to LBA, sciatica, stiffness, heaviness and also pain due to piles, anal fissure, fistula in ano.
It is a special type of treatment using Dhanyamlam or veppukadi. It is very effective in compacting obesity, reducing inflammation, muscular pain and activates nerves. It is a remedy for hemiplegia, paralysis, rheumatic complaints especially rheumatoid arthritis.
Greeva vasthi is the most specialised treatment for neck pain and diseases related to cervical and neck region. The procedure involves retention of warm medicated oil over the neck region for a fixed period of time. The treatment gives better relief from pain and stiffness associated with the neck pain or cervical spondylosis.
Among all the remedies available for acute or chronic knee pain janu vasthi is the most popular Ayurvedic treatment. It is performed by applying heat to the knee joint by retaining warm medicated oils with in a specific formed frame on knee joint for a prescribed period of time. It is highly beneficial in knee pain caused by degenerative joint diseases, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other painful conditions of knee, chronic ligament injuries and post fracture complications.
Kati vasti is a procedure where specified medicated oil is retained for a stipulated period in the Kati region(low back or waist).This procedure is unique, which comprises both snehana (oleation) and swedana (sudation).
The treatment is beneficial in conditions of sciatica, chronic back pain, lumbar spondylosis, lumbar spondylitis, slip disc, disc prolapse, inter-vertebral disc protrusion, muscle sprain around back bone, degenerative illness of the vertebras or back bone, preventive treatment to avoid back problems and to keep spine healthy.
Pinda sweda is a type of Ayurvedic massage which is done with warm medicated oils and herb bolus. This bolus is prepared by a combination of herbs depending on the person’s body type as well as health condition. Herbs are tied in a linen cloth to make small bolus which are then dipped in warm oil or liquids and placed on the body.
Promotes blood circulation, soothens nerves, relax muscles, improves skin texture, reduce pain, swelling and stiffness, relieves stress, removes metabolic waste, induce good sleep and bring complete relaxation to body as well as mind.
Different forms of pinda sweda practised in Kerala are:
Churna Pinda sweda/Podikizhi
Bolus prepared with herbal powder heated and fried in herbal oils. Various types of churna pinda sweda are following
Avi kizhi: Bolus prepared by medicated powders or herbal leaves are steamed in medicated decoctions or dhanyamla.
Kaati Kizhi: Churna pinda sweda with dhanyamla dipping.
Patra Pinda Sweda
Bolus prepared with medicated leaves and other medicines fried in specified oilsJambeera Pinda Sweda/Naranga Kizhi
Bolus prepared with jambeera /lemon with other medicines.Mamsa Kizhi
Bolus prepared by using mamsa (goat’s meat) along with medicated rice (Njavara) and other herbs.Kukkudanda Pinda Sweda/Mutta Kizhi
Egg yolks along with herbal medicines are used.
Valuka Sweda /Manal kizhi /Ruksha Sweda
Bolus prepared with purified river sand. All the Pinda swedas are recommended for Arthritis, muscle and joint pain, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis , cervical and lumbar spondylosis, sciatica, paralysis, neurological disorders, plantar fasciitis, frozen shoulder, traumatic conditions, marmabhighatha (injury to vital spots), auto immune disorders, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, PCOS, psoriasis, infertility, thyroid dysfunction, stress, depression, allergies, cholesterol etc.
Ksheera dhoomam, as the name indicates is a special treatment procedure where the patient is treated with dhooma (steam) coming from the heated milk with herbal decoction through a tube (nadi swedam). This is a very effective therapy for stress and anxiety, facial paralysis, speech disorders, cervical spondylitis, spastic disorders and numbness.
It is one of the important treatment modality included under para surgical procedure in Ayurveda. It is a technique of chemical cauterization, where kshara (medicated alkali preparation) is applied over the diseased area. It is 100% curative procedure with less chance of recurrence, can be done as an OP procedure. It is effectively practised in conditions like haemorrhoids, fistula- in – ano, Pilonidal sinuses etc.
One among the Para surgical procedures done in Ayurveda which is highly practised in conditions of anal fistula and other ano-rectal diseases. In this, Kshara sutra (medicated thread) is introduced through the fistula tract and tied it and kept for prescribed period of days , which induces healing by the formation of fresh and healthy granulation tissue. Kshara sutra eradicates the fistulae tract completely. The procedure is simple, safe and require OPD management. It is indicated in conditions like fistula-in –ano, Pilonidal sinus, haemorrhoids, chronic discharging sinuses, non healing wounds, genital warts and other growth etc.
Lepam involves the application of herbal paste externally over the affected area .The herbal powder and the medium to make the paste are selected as per the individual’s condition. This is very useful for various kinds of inflammatory conditions, cosmetic purposes, and skin conditions. It proves very effective in psoriasis, pimples, skin marks, pigmentation, arthritis with swelling and pain, injuries and skin infections, gout, eczema.
Apart from as a treatment procedure for specific disease mukhalepam is performed as a beauty and wellness care in Ayurveda. Mukhalepam means topical application of medicinal paste or lepa on the face keeping it undisturbed for specific time. It improves complexion, softens the facial skin, regenerating tissues, toning up muscles, beneficial in treating sunburn related conditions. It is also indicated in conditions like hyper pigmentation on face as well as discolouration, acne and wrinkles on face. The herbal combination is chosen after assessing the skin type of the person and specific requirements.
Nasyam is one among the Panchakarma therapy includes instillation of herbal oil, juices or powders through the nasal route. Nasal passage being the gate way of head. It is especially desirable for diseases of parts above the base of neck. Nasyam cleanses, purifies and strengthens the nasal passage. It is a recommended remedy for nasal congestion, allergies, sinusitis, head ache, migraine, cervical spondylosis, hair fall, premature greying of hair, rhinitis, neurological dysfunctions and other nasal infections.
Netra seka has been given a fundamental importance in Ayurveda for the treatment of various eye diseses. This is a special cleansing technique of pouring herbal decoctions in a continuous stream over the eyes for 20 minutes. Netra seka beneficial in conditions like conjunctivitis, blepharitis, dry eye syndrome, eye strain, watering, redness and itching of eyes.
This is a soothing, relaxing eye treatment; that removes impurities and provides optimum rejuvenation to the eyes and surrounding tissues. Eyes are bathed in a pure form of medicated ghee for a stipulated period of time. This treatment reduces pain and burning sensation of eyes, dry eye syndrome, strengthens eye muscles, relieves eye strain due to computer usage, driving, late night activities, bright sunlight, welding rays etc. It is a best treatment for eye ailments like retinopathy, fatigue, cataract etc.
This kerala’s special treatment includes snehana, swedana and rejuvenation therapy. It improves the health, vitality and cures the concerned disorders of the body .This treatment is done with bolus of special type of rice (navara), cooked in decoctions with milk.
The procedure is found effective in hemiplegia, low backache, sciatica, rigidity, reduced mobility, painful and degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis and myalgia, various types of neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders, arthritis, and the conditions involving muscle dystrophy and emaciation.
Pizhichil is a type of swedana therapy, extensively practised by Kerala Vaidyas in which the warm medicated oil is poured from a specific height to all over the body in a specific manner and do gentle massage in between. The treatment is also known as Kaya Seka, Taila Seka and Sarvanga Sneha. It promotes vasodilatation and increase peripheral circulation through which metabolic waste or toxins get eliminated. It relieves pain, muscle spasm, soothens and relaxes the body. It is highly effective in rheumatic conditions, neurological diseases like hemiplegia, paraplegia etc.
Rakthamoksha, one among the Panchakarma therapy and coming under para surgical procedures .It cures disease by letting out impure blood from the diseased part .Many chronic illness like varicose ulcers, deep vein thrombosis, sciatica, pimples, psoriasis etc., which require long term treatment can be effectively managed with rakthamosha. Impure blood removal is done by means of a needle or by using medicinal species of Leeches, hence requires only an hour for the treatment after which the patient can leave the hospital without any issues.
Shirodhara is a classic Ayurvedic therapy, which include pouring of warm herbal oil on the fore head in a continuous stream. Shirodhara is one among the bahirparimarjana chikitsa or external treatment taught in Ayurveda. It is very effective in promoting sound sleep and reducing stress. Depending up on the drug component dhara is known by different names viz, takra dhara, ksheera dhara , taila dhara, kwatha dhara, Jaladhara. It is effective in sleep disorders , memory loss, poor concentration, chronic head ache, stress, depression, mental tension ,hypertension, facial paralysis and degenerative condition of the brain. The medicated oil is absorbed through the scalp, stimulate the hair follicles and hence shirodhara is a vital therapy to treat hair problems such as premature greying of hair etc.[…]
Shirovasthi is an effective treatment in Ayurveda for nervous system disorders and also beats depression, stress and anxiety. It is the term applied to the process of allowing warm herbal oils on the head for a specific period of time. The treatment is beneficial for the condition of facial paralysis, severe headache, hemiplegia, memory loss, insomnia, hair loss, eye diseases, psychological problems , dryness of nostrils, mouth and throat.
Internal oleation is called Snehapana in which medicated oil or ghee is given orally for 5 or 7 days, to make the body saturated with them, as a preparation to eliminate the body toxins.
External oleation is mainly performed as Abyanga (oil massage), where medicated warm oil is applied gently all over the body and massaging with a certain amount of pressure in specific directions. It can be performed as a therapeutic procedure or as a rejuvenative therapy. Abhyanga helps in maintaining the bio-equilibrium of body, increases the peripheral circulation there by promotes the proper functioning of body elements, improves physical and mental stability and nourishes the nervous system.
It is the process of sudation or induction of sweating for therapeutic purpose generally done after the oil massage. It is performed by exposing the oleated body to the medicated steam coming from warm herbal decoction. Perspiration promotes vasodilatation and peripheral circulation thereby eliminating metabolic waste or toxins from the body.
Sweating may be mild, moderate or strong depending upon the condition of the disease, patient, habitat and season. Swedana makes the body supple, removes stiffness of joints and improves blood circulation, complexion, digestion and increase appetite .It also removes sluggishness and excessive sleep and maintains the metabolism in healthy condition.
It’s a special Ayurvedic treatment in which medicated butter milk poured in continuous stream over the fore head or other body parts in a specified manner. It is indicated in conditions like depression, anxiety neurosis, psychosomatic disorders, tension, head ache, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, de-addiction, eczema , skin , hair care and psoriasis.
Thalam is an Ayurvedic treatment in which medicated paste is applied on the top of the head for specified time. It is Indicated in –insomnia, migraine, burning sensation of the scalp ,weak eye sight ,skin disorders, problems related to eye ,ears ,nose ,throat, facial palsy chronic headaches and other neurological disorders.
Thalapothichil is also called as shirolepa (anointment to head or head pack). It is the traditional Ayurvedic treatment of Kerala which is very effective in various psychosomatic disorders. Basically thalapothichil is a cooling treatment. In thalapothichil the persons scalp is completely covered with medicinal paste and then covering with processed plantain leaf. The healing properties of the herbs also calm down the nervous system and rejuvenate the person. This treatment is highly beneficial in treating problems related to the head and neck regions. Alzheimers disease, migraine, certain psychosomatic diseases, head ache, insomnia, hypertension etc. are some of the most common ailment treated using this method.
Udwarthanam is one of the most sought Ayurvedic treatments for weight loss. It is a special deep tissue massage using herbal powders. It is the external application of medicated choorna or paste on the body with affordable pressure massage generally in upward direction. By generating heat through massage this treatment melts the excess fat accumulated in the body. It improves the blood circulation, rejuvenates the body and improves skin textures.
Upanaham is a localised pain management procedure. It is done by application of warm medicated herbal paste over the affected area, covering the applied paste with medicinal herbal leaves and bandaging over that with cotton cloth. This application is removed after the specified time. Upanaham is well-known for its ability to relieve pain, swelling and to nourish the tissues. It is very effective treatment for disease such as chronic osteoarthritis, chronic lumbar spondylosis and localised pain with swelling.
Vamanam is the first therapy among the Panchakarma. It eliminates the morbid doshas through oral route. It is highly effective in chronic respiratory problems, skin problems and especially in asthma, wheezing, rhinitis, PCOD, excema, psoriasis, dandruff, hypothyroidism and drug addiction.
It is the superior treatment modality among whole Panchakarma treatment. The procedure in which the medicated liquid mixture (usually taila, kashaya and other medicaments) is introduced through the anal route with the use of vasthi yanthra. It is usually prescribed for diseases of vata origin – all the neurological disorders gastro- intestinal disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, sciatica, arthritis, spine related disease, fibroid uterus, infertility, under weight, obesity, kidney stones and osteoarthritis.
Virechanam is one among the panchakarma treatment in which the person takes oral medication that induces purgation. The unwanted doshas are taken out of the body through the anal route. It is the most commonly employed shodhana therapy, which has least complication, easy to perform, maximum efficacy, wide field of utility. Virechanam is highly effective in pitta disorders mainly in jaundice, ulcer, hyper tension, kidney problems, hemiplegia, gastritis, asthma, gout, skin disorders, metabolic disorders, ophthalmic disorders, toxic conditions and other chronic diseases.
Yoni kshalanam or vaginal douche is highly practised Ayurvedic procedure in diseased conditions of female genital area. It is the process of irrigating vagina with herbal decoctions. It is effective in conditions where there is any abnormal vaginal discharge, vaginal itching, cervicitis and cervical erosions etc.
Yoni pichu means insertion of gauze covered cotton ball soaked in medicated luke warm oil into the vaginal canal for a certain period of time. It is indicated in all type of diseases pertaining to female genitalia. It is effectively practised in conditions like pain in vagina, burning sensation, cystocoele, uterine prolapse etc.