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Home / Banyan Insight / The Truth About Panchakarma

The Truth About Panchakarma


Allison Bransfield Morse October 09, 2015

     

RECOMMENDED

Feeling sluggish, depressed, unmotivated? Having


difficulty with emotional issues, digestion or
concentration? You may benefit dramatically from
panchakarma : detoxifying through Ayurveda.
Panchakarma (translated as five cleansing actions in
Sanskrit) is a gentle, yet profound purification
Fall Guide
therapy, designed to reduce the body of toxins (and
balance doshic function), which cause disease and
discomfort. Feeling good already? Panchakarma is supreme for disease prevention
and life extension and is the heart of healing with Ayurvedic medicine.

When the energetic forces known as vata, pitta, and kapha get out of balance, it
lowers our
★ WHY digestive fire (agni) , and toxins (ama) are created. The ama enters into
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the blood stream,


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(metabolic energy), and ojas (immunity).

When using Ayurveda to heal, we can choose palliative care—which includes diet,
meditation, yoga, pranayama, herbs, etc.—and/or take a deeper path and commit to a
thorough cleanse/detox. Cleansing enables us to get to the root of imbalances—rather
than reducing symptoms—and has the ability to heal chronic conditions.

For thousands of years, Ayurveda has emphasized that the stress created by our
minds directly affects the gastrointestinal tract, causing inflammation and slow
digestion, ultimately creating ama. The ama causes us to hold on to emotionally-driven
habits that ultimately lead to disease and imbalance. Detoxing with panchakarma
allows us to unravel these patterns, increase our energy and mental clarity, and move
forward with our dharma and our dreams. Panchakarma resets digestion and allows
the body to do what it’s supposed to—detox naturally.

We lose the ability to self-detoxify when


we eat hard-to-digest foods, are
overworked, and stressed out.

What to Expect
When going to a panchakarma clinic in the United States, you can expect to prepare
for at least one week before treatment begins, spend at least one week in a clinic, and
take a minimum of a week to slowly wean off the process. We like to think of it as a
three-week commitment, before beginning a rejuvenation process that can take
months. Your preparation week will require you to eliminate any vices, including
caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and processed foods. You will follow a simple mono-diet of
kitchari, a traditional Ayurvedic dish of mung beans (dhal), basmati rice, vegetables,
ghee, and classic Indian spices—which is the heartbeat of this ritual. Top it off with
some cilantro, coconut and lime, and you have a delicious, easy-to-digest meal. You
may be encouraged to ingest ghee orally to loosen up the sticky ama and “ripen”
bodily tissues and to take light cleansing herbs to begin the ama scraping process.
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The magic really begins when you enter a supportive and slow environment. A
residential stay of at least 5-7 days is ideal, which will include a kitchari diet that is
prepared daily for you. Each day will begin with a gentle yoga, pranayama, and
meditation class. Treatments vary depending on the focus of your cleanse, but may
include abhyanga, which is an ancient Ayurvedic massage performed by a
synchronized team of two therapists. Warm, herb-infused oils are prepared specifically
for you, penetrating the tissues, loosening the ama from cell and tissue structures and
preparing the excess doshas to head back to their homes—the GI tract. Abhyanga
draws out impurities and improves immunity by increasing lymphatic circulation. Next
you may receive swedana, which is an herbal steam treatment given in a specialized
heat chamber. Moist heat and essential oils encourage the mobilization of toxins
throughout the body for elimination through the sweat glands. You will come out
feeling light and clean. To put the finishing touch on your daily treatments, you may
receive shirodhara, a profoundly meditative treatment of warm herbal oil poured
slowly in a continuous stream to the third eye. Shirodhara promotes a sense of deep
relaxation, calms the central nervous system, and synchronizes thought waves. Each
day will end with a consultation to monitor your progress and guide you through a
safe and supportive retreat. Activity will be limited to gentle yoga, mindful nature
walks, journaling, and spiritual reading.

The slower you move, the deeper you go.

The above treatment protocol is designed to loosen the ama that adheres to the
channels of our bodies, wreaking havoc. Once the ama is loose, it returns back into
the blood stream and flows to the GI tract for removal. Towards the end of your
program, when your body is ripe and ready to divulge, your practitioner may
recommend one or more of the five karmas or cleansing actions, which may include:

Basti—enema therapy, to eliminate excess vata.

Virechana—purgation, to eliminate excess pitta.

Nasya—elimination of toxins through the nose, to eliminate excess kapha.


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Vamana—therapeutic vomiting, to eliminate excess kapha.

Rakta Moksha—detoxification of the blood, to eliminate excess pitta.

Healing Benefits
Most often basti, gentle herbal tea enemas, are given in a series, or virechana, herbs
taken orally for purgation, are “prescribed” to release the impurities and excess
doshas that are now loose. Ahhhh, the difference you will feel is amazing. As your
body gets rid of the excess, you will feel inspired, your senses will become enlivened,
your body will become more youthful and flexible, and your mind will begin to
perceive reality more precisely, which ultimately leads to healing.

Ayurveda recommends cleansing at the junction of the seasons. Fall is a perfect time
to experience panchakarma.

As we prepare ourselves for the winter


months and the busy holiday season,
when most of us tend to overdo it, a
conscious effort to slow down, purify, and
rejuvenate is the ideal platform for a more
balanced year ahead.
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Having witnessed thousands of clients


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when repeated yearly. There is an unbelievable evolution of healing that takes place
allowing emotional blocks and longstanding issues to unravel, creating a path to focus
on spiritual awakening.

The panchakarma process is not to be taken lightly and stems from a deep tradition
that should be honored in a safe and authentic way. This program is not for everyone,
and requires recommendation and supervision by a well-trained Ayurvedic
practitioner.

Manifesting our own internal purification creates a vibration of healing that ripples out
to our families, communities, and beyond, ultimately benefiting the entire universe.

     

About the author


Allison Bransfield Morse

Allison Bransfield Morse is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, specializing in Panchakarma


therapy. With 15 years of clinical experience, she is also certified in massage and yoga
therapy. After 5 years with The Ayurvedic Institute under the direct guidance of Dr.
Vasant Lad, that included a 4 year clinical apprenticeship, as well as study in Pune and
Kerala, India, Allison founded The Ayurvedic Center of Vermont, a residential
Panchakarma clinic. She is a Banyan Botanicals Ambassador, has had the privilege of
guiding thousands of clients from around the world in Ayurvedic care, is NAMA
certified, and currently serves on a committee for NAMA that is defining Ayurvedic
treatments in the United States. Allison is the director of Satya Ayurveda, an
organization from India, which provides education, resources and standards of
practice for Ayurvedic clinics internationally. Visit Allison’s website at
AyurvedaVermont.com.

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