Panchakarma is the Sanskrit word for “five actions” of detoxification and is a unique part of Ayurveda. Research shows that Panchakarma first appeared in ancient Vedic texts, believed to have been conveyed to humans by the Hindu God Brahma, dating back as far as 1700–1100 BC. In the 6th Century BC to 7th Century AD Ayurvedic knowledge rapidly spread and developed, and steadily continued into the 20th century. During the British colonial reign of India it had to survive severe suppression, but it is fortunately now flourishing again along with renewed demand for natural, holistic therapy, and modern research improving ayurvedic techniques and results.
Due to this tailored, holistic approach and its difference from conventional medicine, it is returning to popularity today. Panchakarma, amongst the other aspects of Ayurveda, restores balance to the body and mind, cleanses the body and strengthens the immune system. Despite being the most intense and at times difficult stage, it is now the most popular Ayurvedic therapy available in all of our traditional Ayurveda retreats. It is recommended to people that suffer from overall physical and mental imbalance, including burn-out, depression, hypertension, digestive problems and obesity.
According to the teachings of Ayurveda, health and well-being largely depend on the ability to eliminate toxins, tensions and residues which accumulate in the body (a.k.a. ama). Ama is not just caused by an imbalanced diet, but also comes from repressed negative emotions and experiences. Anxiety, feelings of guilt, hidden anger or resentment can result in serious imbalance. Ultimately, accumulated ama results in various negative effects such as psychosomatic diseases or disruption of the metabolic syndrome.
The aim of Panchakarma is to get rid of toxins and any other ama that suppresses your body’s natural self-healing abilities. The opposite of ama is ojas – the essence of positive energy in the form of mental and physical strength: a clear mind, lightness of the body, immunity to diseases and inner peace. Panchakarma allows ama to be replaced with ojas: the negative and destructive energy gets replaced by the positive, healing essence and balance is restored.
The Stages of Panchakarma Ayurveda
A complete Ayurveda treatment with Panchakarma treatment consists of four stages:
Diagnosis - Pulse diagnosis, Dosha inbalance determination and overall diagnosis of the underlying causes of health problems.
Purvakarma - Deepseated toxins are dislodged (through massage, ayurvedic diet and yoga) and the body and mind are prepared for the cleanse.
Panchakarma - Literally "five actions": Traditionally this was induced vomiting, bowel evacuation, nose cleansing & inhalations, bloodletting and colonic irrigations but is nowadays refined to be less severe and more effective. The process also helps vicious cycles of habit such as over eating or insomnia to be broken – these habits, called Samskaras, are evacuated along with other toxins.
Rasayana - Post-treatment including establishment of a healthy, tailored diet and herbal/vitamin supplements.
Many guests of Panchakarma report feeling worse at the beginning. Indeed, the first stages can be exhausting as the body releases toxins en masse. This is both physical and mental – the fast-like state that the body enters allows the mind’s activity to drop and enter a more peaceful state. But this stage cleanses and forces the body into a radical process of self-healing, and after the initial phases are complete you will feel refreshed, renewed and rejuvenated.
In order to make your Panchakarma treatment as effective as possible, the Ayurvedic specialists advise to avoid the following:
Use of mobile devices and the internet
Listening to loud music
Intensive physical activity
Staying up late at night
Eating foods not included in the Ayurvedic diet set by the Ayurvedic specialist
Intensive sightseeing and excursions
Bathing straight after oil treatments
Exposure to stress
Duration of Panchakarma
Most Panchakarma packages are available to book just from 7 nights, however an authentic Panchakarma cure should last a minimum of 2-3 weeks in order to bring the best effects.
Panchakarma in Europe
Panchakarma treatment is also available in Europe. Ayurvedic specialists from India and Sri Lanka offer their services at our hotels available in sunny Spain and Portugal as well as in Germany, Poland or Austria for those unable or unwilling to travel to Asia.
The main aim of Panchakarma is detoxification followed by self-healing – don’t expect a quick fix, short-term weight loss diet. Slimming will occur if you are overweight, but this is because the Ayurveda diet is so healthy. Weight loss through Ayurveda (or gain, if you are underweight) is one of the many benefits to a holistic approach to fitness and well-being.
Alternatives to Panchakarma
The Panchakarma offered at our Ayurveda hotels is an intense detox and cleansing programme and is not for the faint-hearted. This means it is sadly not suitable for families with children, pregnant women or people who suffer from extremely severe diseases and require hospitalisation or intensive care.
Although Panchakarma is an extremely effective detox, if you're worried you might be biting off more than you can chew, you might prefer to try some of the other Ayurveda wellness treatments at resorts where “lighter” programs are offered, before committing to the intense Panchakarma journey.
Another method for restoring internal harmony is fasting. SpaDreams offers an extensive range of fasting holidays and our resorts in Europe are the most popular.
Spa Dreams specialises in Ayurvedic holidays, as well as in other detox and fasting related holidays. We take pride in our expertise and it contributes to the improvement of health and well-being in our customers.