When so many detox programs are available today, how do you decide which one is the best fit for you? My sister takes an annual “Panchakarma” retreat at the Art of Living Panchakarma Center. Having been in continual awe of how physically and emotionally fit she is, I decided to meet up with Dr. Suhas G. Kshirsagar BAMS, MD; one of the most academically accomplished Ayurvedic Physicians in the US, to understand what Panchakarma therapy is and how it differs from the many other detox treatments out there.
Q. For a new person, what is Panchakarma?
Dr. Suhas G. Kshirsagar: Panchakarma is a whole body purification treatment. It’s not just one Ayurvedic treatment but it is a series of treatments. Knowingly and unknowingly we collect impurities in our system – sometimes we don’t digest food completely; sometimes we are consuming impurities embedded in the air, water, foods, cosmetics, etc. and they get into our system and get lodged into our cells and tissues and we call it “amma”. The body is very intelligent it can do everything when it is a biological impurity but when the impurities are synthetic and non-biological it confuses our cells and the impurities get stuck in our system. We want to loosen them and purge them out.
Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic way of preparing to loosen and purge those impurities. It is actually divided into three stages:
- Purvakarma: Preparation for therapy, depending on the imbalance you have you undergo dietary and lifestyle changes so that the body is slowly releasing these impurities. It is like these impurities are lodged into the carpet of the body called “Shakhas” and they are released into the hollow channels of the body called “Koshtahs”.
- Panchakarma: Once the movement of impurities is happening you are ready to receive the Panchakarma treatments. These treatments are ideally done by two therapists, and include massages, steam, anemas, bhasti’s, and a variety of different treatments. During these treatments all the loosened impurities, which are swirling in the body, are purged out from every possible exit. Treatment duration varies from seven days to a few weeks depending on the individual’s need.
- Rasayana: Once the Panchakarma is complete, specific rejuvenating supplements are administered as per your individual body constitution to complete the treatment.
Panchakarma is not only a full-fledged physiological detox but also an emotional and psychological purification. There are so many impurities that get stuck into our system some thoughts, some notions, some anger, some grudges, some resentments that result in biochemical molecules that are collected in our body over time, we call it as the “Mental amma” I sometimes jokingly call it “issues in your tissues.” Panchakarma releases and purges the mental and physical impurities.
Panchakarma is a very well thought-out program. I am personally fascinated by the modality. For a long time, we never spoke of detoxification from a modern medical point of view, but we are now finding out in a painful way that many chronic diseases are due to the impurities/toxins that are getting stuck in the cells and tissues and affecting the innate mechanism and intelligence of the body. When the cells start looking and functioning abnormally, they create conditions conducive to a cancer or a chronic disease.
Panchakarma is a holistic treatment that cleanses and purifies the mind and body.