Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word which means “five actions” or “five treatments”. This is a process used to clean the body from toxic materials, left as a result of disease and poor nutrition. Normally the body has an inborn ability to efficiently process and remove these waste materials, including the degrading doshas. However, due to one's repeated dietary indiscretions, poor exercise patterns, lifestyle and genetic predisposition, the digestive enzymes, metabolic co-factors and hormones, which regulate the body's internal homeostasis, become disorganized. Panchakarma is a five-fold therapy, it is highly individualized, based on the needs of the individual depending on the Ayurvedic constitutional type, doshic imbalances, age, digestive strength, immune status, and many other factors.
The descriptions that cover the variety of therapies that may be performed during a Panchakarma series include the following:
• Abhyanga is an individually prepared herbal-oil massage designed to deeply penetrate the skin, relax mind-body, break up impurities, and stimulate both arterial and lymphatic circulation.
• Shirodhara is administered by gently and methodically pouring warm herbal oil over the forehead, synchronizing brain waves and coordinating and calming the mind, body, and spirit.
• Garshana treatments consist of a dry lymphatic skin brushing with either wool or a silk glove. This enhances circulation and cleans the skin so that appropriate oil and herbal treatments can route deeply into freshly cleansed pores of the skin.
• Swedana is an individually herbal steam bath, during which the head and the heart are kept cool while the body is heated to remove mental, emotional and physical toxins lodged deeply within the tissues.
• Pizichili is a continuous stream of warm herbal oil soothingly poured over the body by two Ayurvedic therapists as they massage the body in perfect coordination.
• Udvartana is a deeply penetrating herbal paste lymphatic massage