Eight Detox Practices of the Ayurvedic Cleanse Called PanchaKarma

Eight Detox Practices of the Ayurvedic Cleanse Called PanchaKarma

      For over 5,000 years, doctors in India have practiced Ayurvedic medicine, a healing science that is based on a comprehensive lifestyle the includes preventative, curative and health maintenance processes and techniques. Ayurveda means “science of life’ in Sanskrit and that is exactly what it is. Its purpose is to create the balanced flow of energy in one’s life to promote and maintain health with practices that support the mind, body and spirit. 

As an herbalist, I’ve used Ayurvedic herbs in many of the products I’ve created including Ashwagandha and Tulsi, the ‘king and queen’ of the tonic herbs known as Rasayanas in Ayurvedic medicine. They are both famed for helping to rejuvenate the body and support longevity. I personally drink both herbs nearly every day. My perspective on Ayurveda was just greatly broadened, however, by a film that I highly recommend. 

I had the honor of being the moderator of a panel that included Dr. Deepak Chopra following the excellent film, The Natural Law, at the Illuminate Film Festival in Santa Barbara. The film tells the story of a young man’s journey from illness, brought on by a stressful entrepreneurial lifestyle, back to health after consulting with Ayurveda doctors and adopting an Ayurvedic lifestyle.

PanchaKarma, the Ayurvedic system of detoxing

The film brought to my awareness the Ayurvedic detox system called PanchaKarma. Pancha means five in Sanskrit and karma refers to action. A PanchaKarma detoxification is based on 5 principles of actions to balance the doshas, the three universal life forces that manifest in a person’s body and need to be kept in balance: Pitta, Vata and Kapha.

I was amazed to learn from the film that scientific studies have shown that doing a PanchaKarma cleanse can remove 45% of toxins like heavy metals and chemicals from the body! I’ve always been a fan of fasting for detoxing, but PanchaKarma achieves its results without such extreme and sometimes uncomfortable techniques.

In fact, many of today’s common practices for a cleanse may have originated in Ayurvedic techniques. However, under the supervision of an Ayurvedic practitioner, an individualized therapy is developed fully so that the cleanse can reach a much deeper level. Initially, Ayurvedic doctors will spend a long time with you asking you many questions about your body. They will conduct a physical exam which includes observing your tongue and eyes, listening to the timbre of your voice, evaluating the texture of your skin, and taking your pulses just like an acupuncturist.

8 detox practices for vitality and rejuvenation 

It is recommended to do a PanchaKarma over 3-5 days in spring or fall when the seasons change, which are the times I’ve always been told are optimal for detoxing. Here are 8 practices in a PanchaKarma program that have echoes in detox programs in the West:

  1. Limiting the diet to simple whole foods like brown rice, steamed vegetables,  lentils(dahl), soups and herbal teas – no caffeine of course!
  2. Steam therapy to promote sweating to eliminate toxins
  3. Deep tissue and lymphatic massage especially with hot oil to break up toxins stored in the organs and cells in order to release them
  4. Stimulating the digestion with pungent herbs to promote gut health
  5. Cleansing the colon using both enemas and high fibers like psyllium seeds for complete elimination
  6. Whole body scrubs to remove layers of dead cells and revitalize the skin
  7. Nasal cleansing using water irrigation of the sinuses
  8. Meditation and sound healing to promote inner peace and release negative emotions

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? 

Although most of us can’t fly off to Kerala, India where the heart of Aurveda still thrives and where there are a number of PanchaKarma clinics, all of these practices can be done on your own at home or enhanced by going to knowledgeable therapists. Additionally, there are some PanchaKarma retreats here in the US and an excellent one is in my home town, Santa Barbara, called the Maharani Academy where you can not only do a PanchaKarma retreat but you can also study Ayurveda to become a practitioner.

Wondering where to start? Get inspired and learn a lot more about Ayurveda by watching the film, The Natural Law. Look for an Ayurvedic practitioner near where you live.  Design a cleanse that you can afford both time-wise and budget-wise. Even by taking a few of the steps above, you’ll feel a big difference and your body, mind and spirit will be replenished and revitalized!

Back to blog

Leave a comment