Definition - What does Panchakarma mean?

Panchakarma is a Sanskrit term for the Ayurvedic process of detoxifying and purifying the body. The term is derived from the root words, pancha, meaning "five," and karma, meaning "action," which refers here to the five treatments.

The principles of panchakarma find mention in ancient texts of the Vedic period. This 5,000-year-old practice relieves illness, prevents relapse and promotes health. It identifies the root cause of a problem and balances the three doshas in the body.

Yogapedia explains Panchakarma

The five therapies of panchakarma that detoxify the body are divided into three stages. These are purva karma, pradhana karma and pashchatya karma. Purva karma prepares the body to undergo complete cleansing. The process involves external application as well as ingestion of oils. Pradhana karma involves five purification processes to eliminate toxins from the system and balance the three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Pashchatya karma helps to maintain restored health by including diet and lifestyle changes.

The following sentences describe the process for each of the three stages of panchakarma. Purva karma includes paachana (digestion), snehana (internal and external use of oils) and swedana (steam therapy). Pradhana karma includes vamana (induced vomiting), virechana (induced purgation), nasya (nasal medicine), basti (enema using medicated oil) and rakta moksha (bloodletting to purify the blood). The final stage is pashchatya karma and is comprised of sansarjan karma (post-cleansing).

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