How does the Panchkarma treatment work

Duration of a Panchakarma cure

Panchakarma is an individual therapy that should be tailored exactly to the people with their respective constitution, age, state of health and season. However, it is sometimes shrunk to a standardized program in a compressed form. However, this cannot correspond to the Ayurvedic therapeutic model of a Panchakarma treatment.

Panchakarma in a week or even 4 days, which is by no means infrequent, cannot do justice to an authentic Ayurveda therapy. A well-trained and responsible doctor or alternative practitioner recognizes that there is a great need for clarification.

Panchakarma includes the five treatments: Virechena - drainage through the intestine, Vamana - drainage through therapeutic vomiting, Basti - enemas in the intestine or other body cavities, Nasya - treatment through the nasal mucous membranes, Raktamoksha - bloodletting in different variants.

Example history of Panchakarma

The shortest variant of Panchakarma therapy can look like this:

  • Preliminary talk and investigation
  • Preparation of the patient 7-10 days, e.g. elimination of undigested substances in the body (Amapachana), strengthening of Agni (Agnidipana)
  • Purvakarma (pre-treatments) 3-7 days of ghee intake (or similar substances). 1 interim examination 3 days Abhyanga (oil massage), Shirodhara (oil forehead pouring), Sveda (sweating therapy) and other suitable treatments. 1 rest day
  • Pradhanakarma (main treatments) 1 or 2 diversion days (Virechena and / or Vamana) Basti, Nasya and Raktamoksa can follow if indicated.
  • Pashcatkarma (follow-up treatments)
  • Follow-up treatment (e.g. special diet) Final discussion and prescription (Rasayana)

This is a possible course of treatment that is modified depending on the indication and is only intended to provide a rough framework for a general assessment. I do not share the view that Panchakarma generally requires a hospital stay. Outpatient Panchakarma therapies make perfect sense if they take place under certain conditions. Experience shows that patients often underestimate this type of therapy. It is therefore a basic requirement that the patient take vacation. Traditional Panchakarma therapy is actually not possible for less than 21 days.

Panchakarma cannot be carried out in a meaningful way, even alongside a light professional activity. The care of the patient in and outside the practice (e.g. the possibility of the patient to contact the therapist by telephone) is of great importance. The Ayurvedic diet can usually be implemented well through extensive education and suitable recipes. As can be seen from these basic requirements, ambulatory Panchakarma requires the therapist to be present and committed. Therapies of 4 to 6 weeks are not uncommon in my practice.

For many patients, a stay in a clinic cannot be financed, as the costs of outpatient treatment are understandably much lower; on the other hand, a distance to the home and family area is often beneficial or even therapeutically necessary for the patient. So here it is important to weigh up what makes sense in each individual case. Of course, the indication that speaks in favor of one or the other variant is also important.

Of course, it is possible to carry out various Panchakarma treatments on 4 days, but you can also take a 4-day holiday. 4 days of vacation won't do any harm, but how great are the benefits? However, 4 days of Panchakarma can be harmful, because sufficient Purvakarma (pretreatments) cannot be carried out. In today's world of fast, faster, fastest, tomatoes don't have time to ripen and people don't have time to get healthy.

The duration of a Panchakarma cure should not be underestimated, because after all it is about restoring an individual, natural balance. What has gotten out of balance in months and years needs time to restore or improve well-functioning tissues (Dhatus), optimal digestive and metabolic processes (Agni), free flow in the body channels (Srotamsi), etc.

Panchakarma is an intensive form of treatment that must be carefully prepared, performed and completed. Potential patients should inform themselves sufficiently in advance whether an offered Panchakarma treatment meets the above-mentioned requirements. The fact that we naturopaths and doctors can now offer Panchakarma treatments obliges us to educate our patients responsibly, for the benefit of the patient and out of respect for our teachers and Ayurveda.


Issue 28 - Cleansing and Purification

The Ayurveda Journal issue 28 is all about cleansing the body. The preparation and follow-up work and statements on the implementation of therapists and patients.