Q.My friends often talk about ‘doing PK’ (pancha karma), and when I ask more about it and where to find it, they just say they are doing a cleanse of some kind. It was my understanding that panchakarma is a serious procedure that should only be administered under very strict circumstances and proper conditions. When I see panchakarma offered, I cannot tell anymore if it is what I should be looking for. Would you please elaborate?
A. Panchakarma is a comprehensive detoxifying, cleansing and rejuvenating procedure described in Ayurveda. It cleanses whole body, removes toxins from all tissues, opens up energy channels within the body (there are 72,000 of them), improves digestion, strengthens immune system and calms your mind. It also helps to balance your circadian rhythm i.e. functioning of various organs. Panchakarma has a profound effect on our health.
These days the term Panchakarma – PK is used very loosely. It should not be. Panchakarma is a very important Ayurvedic procedure done for two purposes – as an annual health maintenance program and as a serious treatment for various chronic diseases and other health conditions.
Panchakarma means five(Pancha) procedures(Karma. Classic Panchakarma is done at least for a week (longer if necessary) to achieve true benefits, not for a day or three days.
During the first 6 days, various Oleation procedures (called Snehana) are done to loosen up the toxins lodged in the seven layers of tissues. Oleation procedures include Abhyanga – full body, herbalized oil massage done by two well trained massage therapists simultaneously, and Shirodhara – a herbalized oil drip over your forehead (to calm down your nervous system). Oleation is followed by steam therapies (Swedana) which further loosen up the toxins. Nasya (Herbal oil nasal drops preceded by and followed with a facial massage – an important step in removing toxins from the tissues above the neck) and Basti (Nourishing oil and cleansing herbal tea enemas – used alternately, and merit for about 50-80% of the benefits of Panchakarma therapy) are also done every day. On last day (7th day) all dislodged toxins are removed from the body by Virechana or purgation.
If you want to have Panchakarma done, do it with an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner who will design a custom-tailored protocol ideal for your body constitution. You will surely benefit from it and experience a profound difference.