You will find lot of information on Ayurvedic detox on the net. Hence I will not focus on all the details but will give a overview and certain subtle observations.
We need detox because we are continuously being bombarded with toxins. Even otherwise sometimes our own bodies produce toxins. Certain emotions trigger chemicals which are toxic to our system. They are only called as toxic emotions as they are capable of making our body toxic. This is the reason we sometime need a detox.
In the system of Ayurveda, toxins are present all over the body and they are in circulation. These are called different types of Ama. This Ama has to be brought out from all the tissues of the body into the gut and then eliminated. This is called Panchakarma or Ayurvedic detox system. This has number of similarities to Shat karma, six cleansing techniques of Yoga.
It has 3 main steps :
The entire process is generally 21 days. I subjected myself to this 21 day treatment twice. Once in 2012 and now in August. I had no specific problems or ailments but wanted to go through it to experience the nuances of detox. The reason being -
1) out of curiosity and desire to explore.
2) wanted to compare it with yoga.
3) As a yoga teacher, as a philosophy and meditation teacher, I like to personally experience it before telling anyone.
4) I observed that many Ayurvedic doctors are teaching and treating patients but never underwent Pancha Karma.
The 3 steps are :
1. Preparation also called as Poorva Karma
2. Actual Pancha Karma called Pradhaana Karma, 5 cleansing techniques.
3. Getting back called as Uttara karma or Paschaat karma
Poorva karma : Once a person gets admitted in an ayurvedic centre the process of detox begins. Food becomes simple. Very easy to digest. They do not mix different foods (for example banana and milk). They have a list of incompatible foods. Also ayurveda believes in only cooked food (not over cooked) And a big no to raw food.
There are a number of preparatory treatments. Some of them are :
1. Snehana or Abhyanga : Ayurvedic oil massage.
2. Udhvartanam or dry powder message.
3. Kashaya dhara / Ksheera dhara / Takra dhara : Pouring of herbal decoctions/ milk / butter milk with herbs over the body
4. Snehapaanam or Drinking of medicated ghee.
5. Kizhi / Navara Kizhi : Pounding treatments
6. Shirodhara / Shirovasti : Treatements on the head with medicated oils
7. Swedana : Sweating treatments like steam bath ( also some of the above treatments come under the category of Swedana)
All these preparatory treatments will bring out the toxins from the tissues into the gut.
Pancha Karma (Also called as Pradhaana Karma or Main treatments)
1. Vamana : Vomiting
2. Virechana : Purgation by bowel movement
3. Vasti : Enema
4. Nasya : Nasal treatments
5. Rakta Moksha : Blood letting by Leech treatment
Treatments are given according to constitution, ailment and requirements. Depending on the need, the ayurvedic physician will administer the treatment. Essentially herbal prepartions / oral medicines are given to induce these treatments under strict observation.
Paschaat Karma : After the main treatments are completed, the individual will be very weak and vulnerable. Hence needs to exercise lot of caution. Simple but powerful nourishing and rejuvenating treatments are provided here. One needs to exercise utmost caution for at least one month after this in terms of food and life style.
A few personal observations :
1. The entire process is intense. Intense in a good way.
2. Ayurvedic treatment is good but it heavily depends on the knowledge and intuitive ability of the ayurvedic doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Also very expensive.
3. It does not make us independent or self-sufficient
4. Personally I give more importance to Yoga because, once we learn yoga we can practice on our own and naturally yoga improves health and well-being.
5. Ayurvedic hospitals address us as patients, which is not nice.
6. Ayurveda is good as a preventive system than a curative system.
7. We can learn the fundamentals and principles of ayurveda and follow them as a prevention rather than go to an ayurvedic set up for treatment.
8. Personally I love to help people become independent and empowered. But what I found was that, Ayurvedic set ups make us or (at least seems to make us) dependent.
9. We should eat food that is easily digestible and also easily assimilated. Exceptionally or once in a way we should eat things which we may like but not good for us...A big dilemma of "I like what is not good for me" and "I do not like what is good for me" ...Once in a way only..... LOL 😂🤣