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Heal your body through Ayurveda

Ayurveda believes that the body can heal itself, provided it can rid itself of toxins. Panchkarma are the five techniques of clearing the body of toxins. But panchkarma must be preceded by ‘purva-karma’.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 31, 2010 17:20 IST
Dr Shikha Sharma

Ayurveda has always been popular. But I find most people are not aware of the correct process of ayurvedic treatments.

In ayurveda, ‘Am’ and ‘Mal’ are the terminologies used to describe toxins accumulated in the body. Ayurveda believes that the body can heal itself, provided it can rid itself of toxins. Panchkarma are the five techniques of clearing the body of toxins. But panchkarma can’t be given in isolation. It must be preceded by ‘purva-karma’ and followed by ‘paschat-karma’. Purva-karma is the process by which toxins are moved to the body’s channels for elimination through stool, urine, sweat and breath. There are three steps in purva-karma:

1) Paachan: Encouraging digestion of undigested materials through herbs boiled in water and consumed like decoctions
2) Snehan: Internal and external oil treatment
3) Swedhan: Steam or dry fomentation

AyurvedaInitially, you are given herbal decoctions for a week to 10 days according to your prakriti or body type. You must eat a diet of light vegetables and rice cooked in light oil or ghee, and avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and tobacco. Every night, a gentle laxative is given to clean the bowels. Oiling is important, because oil attracts toxins easily. So, by internal oleation, toxins are drawn towards the digestive tract. During the main process of panchkarma, the level of elimination is high. So in purva-karma, oleation / oiling is necessary.

For internal oleation, medicated ghee or oil is to be consumed daily. External oleation is in the form of a daily medicated oil massage. External and internal oiling are accompanied by medicated steam to allow the flow of toxins to the surface. This includes massages like abhyanga, pizichill, shirodhra, udwartanam, etc. All three processes along with a diet regime are important before the actual process of panchkarma begins.