Panchakarma eliminates accumulated impurities from the mind-body physiology; it is essentially a detoxification program. Pancha in Sanskrit means “five,” and karma means “action” and refers to five different purifying and rejuvenating procedures in Ayurveda. When it was initially designed thousands of years ago, there weren’t as many causes for unhealthy accumulations in the body, but it was still necessary to create this sophisticated panchakarma detox program. Today, as improper diet, stress, and environmental hazards abound, panchakarma can be of great help.
A panchakarma program takes place over the course of several days, allowing plenty of time and space to rest and process the experience. Each step in the program is purposeful and is meant to ultimately restore your body’s innate healing ability.

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Your body knows how to cleanse itself quite efficiently and is well-equipped to remove waste through various channels such as:

Sweat glands | Blood vessels | Urinary tract | Intestines

Since your body has its own detoxification system, what’s the purpose of panchakarma? Think of a car that is well-maintained and how long it can be kept running. Give it good oil and the attention it needs, and it will reward you with many good years. Ignore your car and its parts start to wear out and overall functioning is less than optimal. While you are more complex than a car, the same concept applies.

Sometimes your body and mind need a little help. You need all your parts to be running smoothly to feel healthy and energized. In order to do so, a little conscious effort is needed. Panchakarma helps to gently clear the channels of removal in the body so that everything runs smoothly and efficiently, like a well-oiled machine. In the process, your mental and emotional bodies go through their own cleansing process as well. The mind and body are intricately connected according to Ayurveda. What you do to one affects the other. For example, when you feel stress you will always feel it somewhere in your body. Or, when you have a good workout, your mind feels light and clear.


As with anything that has been around for a very long time, panchakarma has evolved throughout the years and the modes of practice have differed throughout India. For a little history, here are the five classical elements that make up panchakarma therapy as they were originally written:

Basti: Herbalized oil enemas

Nasya: Nasal irrigation

Vamana: Therapeutic vomiting

Virechana: Purgation

Raktamokshana: Bloodletting

Some of these treatments have been modified for obvious reasons. A panchakarma program today will usually include the following:

Herbal oil massages

Steam baths

Cleansing enemas

Nasal administration

Gentle laxatives (senna)

Specialized diet 

These therapeutic processes are still based on the five actions and the effects are powerful and long-lasting. Using your body’s channels of detoxification the entire program is designed to not only heal your body but facilitate a deep-rooted release of stress that has sometimes been stored for years. For many, panchakarma ends up being an unexpected and powerful journey into the healing process. It’s important to understand a few fundamental concepts of Ayurveda to help fully appreciate what makes panchakarma effective even at the most subtle levels.


The signs of ama accumulation can be obvious. If you notice you have any of the following symptoms, you might benefit from a panchakarma program:

Thick layer of coating on the tongue

Tired throughout the day, especially after meals

Body aches and pains

Uncontrollable cravings

Foggy mind

Bad smelling breath, odor, and flatulence

Constipation or diarrhea

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