Principles of Ayurvedic Treatment

There are two basic pathways for manifestation of diseases and there are two basic solutions to diseases. Treatment methods that enable the body to convert and utilize energy are called as Langhana or depletive therapy and those that enable the body to convert and preserve energy are called as Brimhana or repletive therapy. Langhana therapy is divided into two major categories viz., Sodhana — eliminative and Shamana — corrective. In many anabolic diseases, the body can be brought back to balance only when accumulated matter is removed from the system.

This is achieved through Sodhana. There are mainly five types of eliminative therapies. They are a) Vamana or emesis, b) Virechana or purgation, c) Shirovirechana — cleansing the head by nasal medication, d) Vasti — enemata and e) Raktamoksha — blood letting. Some anabolic diseases can be cured without Sodhana therapy. In such diseases, medicines are given to enable the body to convert and utilize unused matter. There are mainly seven types of Shamana therapy. They are a) Dipana — activating digestion and metabolism, b) Pachana — therapeutic digestion and metabolism, c) Kshut — Fasting with water, d) Trit — Fasting without water, e) Vyayama — Exercise, f) Atapa — Exposure to sun, g) Maruta — Exposure to wind. Catabolic diseases have to be managed by Bramhana or depletive therapy. When emesis, purgation, oil enema, decoction enema and nasal purge are given in sequence, it is known as Panchakarma or five procedures. Specific treatment programs are devised with selected drugs on the basis of the above principles.

Panchakarma Treatments

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 and elimination of body toxins.

As the name suggests, Pancha in Sanskrit stands for five and Karma are the therapeutic measures, therefore Panchakarma means five types of therapeutic measures. These are undertaken for the purification of the mind and body and Ayurveda considers it necessary before the start of any other therapy. The logic being, just as a cloth needs to be purified or cleaned of impurities and dust before it can be permeated with a new color, similarly the body needs to be purified before it can be permeated with new colors of youthfulness, health and vigor etc. In fact, most of the time, Panchakarma is an end in itself rather than a prelude to other therapeutic measures.

The Panchakarma therapy of Ayurveda is comprised of five basic types of advanced treatment for the evacuation of vitiated Dosha (toxic materials) from the body. One can consider this as a body detox program. There are so many subtypes of this therapy and different types of herbal massages, fomentation's such as steam, external oil treatments; Basti (medicated enemas), Virechana (purgation through herbs), Vamana (emesis through herbs), Nasya (nasal administration of oils) etc. are also incorporated. These practices are extremely helpful in relieving deep-seated diseases as well as being beneficial for maintaining and improving physical and mental health.

Purvakarma : Pre-purification Measures for Panchakarma

Before the actual operation of purification begins, there is a need to prepare the body in prescribed methods to encourage the release of toxins. The two procedures are Snehana and Swedana (Abhyangam).

Snehana :

It is the oil massage. Oil is applied to the entire body with a particular type of massage, which helps the toxins to move towards the gastro-intestinal tract. Oil massage also makes the superficial and deep tissues soft and supple, thus helping to remove stress and to nourish the nervous system. Snehana is given daily for three to seven days, as indicated.

Swedana :

It is sudation or sweating and is given every day immediately following the Snehana. An herbal concoction may be added to the steam to further loosen the toxins from the individual. Swedana liquefies the toxins and increases the movement of toxins into the gastro-intestinal tract.

Pradhanakarma : Main Purification measures of Panchakarma

Vamana :Emesis Therapy

When there is congestion in the lungs causing repeated attacks of bronchitis, colds, cough or asthma, the Ayurvedic treatment is therapeutic vomiting - Vamana, to eliminate the Kapha which is causing the excess mucus.

Virechana :Purgation Therapy

When excess bile, Pitta, is secreted and accumulated in the gall bladder, liver and small intestine, it tends to result in rashes, skin inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of fever, vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Ayurvedic literature suggests in these conditions the administration of therapeutic purgation or a therapeutic laxative.

Nasya :Nasal Administration

The nose is the doorway to the brain and it is also the doorway to consciousness. The nasal administration of medication is called Nasya. An excess of bodily humors accumulated in the sinus, throat, nose or head areas is eliminated by means of the nearest possible opening, the nose.

Basti :Enema Therapy

Vata's predominant site is the colon. Ayurvedic Basti involves the introduction into the rectum of herbal concoctions of sesame oil, and certain herbal preparations in a liquid medium. Basti, is the most effective treatment of Vata disorders, although many enemas over a prescribed period of time are usually required. It relieves constipation, distention, chronic fever, cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, backache, sciatica and other pains in the joints. Many other Vata disorders such as arthritis, rheumatism, gout, muscle spasms and headaches may also be treated with Basti. Basti therapy is divided in two main types - Anuvasana Basti - medicated oil enemas and Niruha Basti - medicated enema with decoctions of medicinal herbs and medicated oils.

Other miscellaneous therapies of Panchakarma:

Shirodhara:It is recommended in anxiety, depression, hypertension, insomnia etc.

Kati Basti:Useful in different backaches.

Janu Basti: Useful in arthritis of the knee joint.

Nadi Sweda: Useful in pain disorders of different sites.

Pinda Sweda: Useful in neurological ailments and in the management of different pains.

Shashti-Shali Pindasweda: Useful in neurological ailments.

Tarpanam: Useful in the ailments of the eyes.

Shirobasti: Useful in hair loss and the falling hair and other diseases of skull.

Uttara Basti: Useful in genitourinary diseases and infertility of female.

Udvartana: It is a medicated Ubtan to be applied over the skin for fair and glowing skin.

PIZHICHIL: This is effective in diseases like spondylosis, hemiplegia, arthritis, back pain, muscular dystrophy etc.

Navarakizhi: Navarakkizhi is a special massage, which rejuvenates the body.