Health and Ayurveda

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Stress is a state of prolonged imbalancement of human mind caused by any unfavorable situation. Stress and strain are two common words generally used as synonyms. But there is a great difference between them. Stress is always an external factor – may be due to any unfavorable circumstance or others’ manner and dealings provoking threat or anxiety to an individual. On the other hand strain is a subjective phenomena. It is caused due to excessive pressure on mind and muscles of any part of human body. In some cases strain is caused by stress. And it is therefore; psychosomatic disorders are inter-related with both mind and body also.

But on the other hand, it has been observed by the concerned scholars of Medical Science that if an individual realizes the state of strain due to stress as an unbearable force for comparatively longer period, then in the long run, it leads to the manifestation of various psychosomatic disorders one by one. However, Medical Technology seems to be insufficient to manage or control stress disorders. So after a deep study about alternative systems of health care, scholars of Medical Science have widely accepted Yoga as a curative and preventive system of healthy care that can heal pain in mind as well as body. Yoga is one of the systems of Indian Philosophy, the information of which is available in Patanjala Yoga Darshan. A scientific study of this text relating to health care is very helpful to know how Indian Philosophy can help for the management of stress.

So, for understanding the application value of Yoga Philosophy in reducing psychosomatic disorders like Hypertension and others, it is proposed here to throw some light on “Stress Management and Patanjala Yoga Darshan: A Scientific Approach” on the basis of some relevant quotations available in Patanjala Yoga Darshan and other relevant Sanskrit writings.
Khagendra Patra
Rourkela (Orissa)


Indian philosophy occupies a unique position. It has not only permeated the entire cultural life of India, but has even filtered to the lowest strata of its society. Its origin is not in the thinking consideration of things but in the attempt at reaching the summum bonum of life. It is to be admitted that philosophy rationalizes truths gained in the form of experience belonging either to the sense plane or to the higher domain of spiritual vision. The task of philosophy in the widest sense is undoubtedly the rationalization of experience. The Hindu term ‘darshna’ suggests this close connection between philosophy and experience. It indicated as Prof. Radha Kishnan rightly remarks, ‘a thought system is acquired by intuitive experience and sustained by need of the intellect alone, but to serve the more ultimate India, philosophy originates when the need for emancipation is felt, when not merely entire man with all his faculties seeks something other than the objects of ordinary interest for the realization of his true being. Hindu philosophy thus has its origin not merely in the love of wisdom or the desires to know (Jijnasa), but in the desire for emancipation (mumuksa). The highest end of philosophy, in the west, however, is generally to acquire wisdom for its own sake and not for any practical purpose. But in India the theoretical character of philosophy has been entirely subordinated to its practical aspect, and philosophy is of value not merely because it increases knowledge but only because it bestows salvation. The aim of the Nyaya andVaisesika, of he Samkhya and the yoga, of the Vedanta and the Mimamsa, of the Buddist and the Jaina is the same, viz. the attainment of the highest end and complete emancipation from all types of misery.
Dr. Narain Prakash
Hisar (Haryana)
Nitin Korpal
Sagar (M.P.)


Polarity therapy unblocks and recharges the flow of life energy and realigns unbalanced energy as a means of eliminating disease. Likewise, HIV-positive individuals may find comfort in polarity therapy. Additionally this is an appropriate therapy for relieving general stress, back pain, stomach cramps, and other recurring maladies and conditions. Polarity therapy is a holistic, energy-based system that includes bodywork, diet, exercise and lifestyle counseling for the purpose of restoring and maintaining proper energy flows throughout the body. The underlying concept of polarity therapy is that all energy within the human body is based in electromagnetic force and that disease results from improperly dissipated energy. Austrian-American chiropractor, osteopath and naturopath Randolph Stone (1888-1981) developed polarity therapy as an integration of Eastern and Western principles and techniques of healing. Stone became committed to the principle of Ayurveda medicine, which he interpreted in conjunction with his scientific and medical knowledge to define polarity therapy. Stone established further that the prana, centered in the brain, ultimately controlled the combined forces of the body. Polarity therapy is based in charted energy flows. This technique, which comprises the central regimen or focal point of polarity therapy is very gentle and is unique to polarity therapy. It typically involves subtle rocking movements and cranial holds to stimulate body energy. The precepts of polarity therapy take into consideration specific interactions between different foods and the human energy fields. This preliminary verbal examination often monopolizes the first therapy session. Depending upon circumstances, a therapist might have a need to assess the patient’s physical structural balance through observation and physical examination. A physical examination is the evaluation of a body to determine its state of health. A complete health assessment also includes gathering information about a person’s medical history and lifestyle, conducting laboratory tests, and screening for disease. The term annual physical examination has been replaced in most health care circles by periodic health examination. Comprehensive physical examinations provide opportunities for health care professionals to obtain baseline information about individuals that may be useful in the future. They also health care providers to establish relationships before problems occur. Physical examinations are appropriate times to answer questions and teach good health practices. An average examination takes about 30 minutes. Most health plans cover routine physical examinations, including some tests. Before examiners question the patient, they will observe a person’s overall body temperature and blood pressure are recorded. The external nose is examined, neck, breasts. The breasts are palpated and inspected for masses. The blood vessels in the neck are observed and palpated. The person being examined should lie flat for an examination of the abdomen, reproductive organs. The groin area is palpated for the presence of lymph nodes. The joints and muscles are observed. The individual being examined should be comfortable and treated with respect throughout the examination. Before the physical examination begins, the bladder should be emptied. There are virtually no risks associated with a physical examination. Complications with the process of a physical examination correspond to the healthy appearance and normal functioning of the body. When St. Paul Fire and Marine insurers offered a liability insurance package to therapy providers, the company recognized polarity therapy as an alternative medical treatment along with acupuncture, biofeedback, homeopathy, reflexology and others.
Dr. Maganlal S. Molia
Rajkot (Gujarat)

Monday, April 16, 2007


We are analyzing a unique subject: the synthetics of natural sciences with metaphysics. Our ancient seers and sages long back conceived the principles of physical or natural science. The World, as we see, is a play of energy, force or vibration, and not an illusion, was an important creed of our Sastras. This is in total conformity with modern science.

Discovery of modern physics that matter is only waves of various lengths, without their being any essentially solid, hard stuff is really a re-discovery of what the Trika Shastra conceived centuries ago as the “Spanda”. Through modern physics, we have grown accustomed to thinking of physical reality as waves of energy- as the matter-energy continuum. Tantric Shaivism presents the full matrix of energy pulsation of which physical reality is only a part. From t he relatively superficial unified spectrum of spanda leads inward until the most delicate and powerful tendrils of individuality merge with the infinitely rapid vibration of the ultimate consciousness.

Well, before we analyze further the physical and spiritual science, let us understand in brief the uniqueness of Kashmir Shaivism. This philosophy occupies a distinguished position among the various schools of religious creed and thought. It focuses on relation between God, Nature and Man, which overcomes all the barriers of diverse human-cultures. It leads to the highest level of self-realization, revealing the inner most secrets of the nature of self. All the aspects of life are integrated and taken in totality. Thus, rather than negation and denial, it celebrates life. Kashmir Shaivism is the school of Indian philosophy, which can inspire us for both material and spiritual progress. Rather, the approach is from theory to practice. Indeed, it leads us to the real “Art of Living”.

Kashmir Shaivism is presently evoking deep interest in West, with lot of pioneering research work at leading universities. In our present strife-torn world this philosophy can be a great guide and united factor. A thrill of self confidence, the spirit of bliss, surpassing all barriers of caste, creed and gender, no look back, no regret, the inner journey, see everything as creation of God, etc – how prominently and conceptually these are emphasized in Kashmir Shaivism. In fact, it should be our endeavor to present this ancient philosophy in common man’s language so that resurgence takes place with the goal of upliftment of world as a whole.
Virendra Qazi
New Delhi


For Personality Development
Harmonious growth of the physical, the mental, the intellectual (wisdom) and the spiritual dimension is essential for the all round personality development through value-based education. Struggle for perfection in all these aspects will ultimately lead us to the development of real personality. Once we succeed in doing that there will be a tremendous qualitative change in our lives. A great number of such teachers will certainly form a better educational society; and they will raise this nation once again to its past (but presently lost) glory.

“BE AND MAKE”’ said Swami Vivekananda. We have first to evolve ourselves, we have first to follow the rules of the game ourselves before we can think of the game ourselves before we can think of transferring them on to others.” No one can ever give what one does not have” and that’s what some of us indulge in, which is very inappropriate and unfortunate. Let’s resolve to do just that. Having done that, and having had touched our ‘source’, having been evolved culminating into our’ increased’ awareness or consciousness we cannot but will impart only VALUE BASED EDUCATION which has to have a HOLISTIC APPROACH and this will go a long way for developing (and is naturally conducive to) real personality development.
Mahendra gupta
New Delhi


One of them may be described as seeking the self by the Self by the Self; the other may be described as seeking the Self by the Not-Self; and if you will think of them in that fashion, I think you will find the idea illuminative. Those who seek the Self by the Self, seek him through the faculty of Buddhi; they turn even inwards, and turn through the active working Manas; they are outward-turned, and by study of the Not-Self, they turn to realize the Self. It is along that difficult and strenuous path that the Self must be found by way of the Self. Such a man must utterly disregard the attention, upon the Self. To the man who would find the Self by the Self, every sense is a hindrance and an obstacle, and there is no logic, no reason, in denouncing the subtler senses only, while forgetting the temptations of the physical senses, impediments as much as the other. In the search for the Self by the Self, all that is not Self is an obstacle. Obstacle, then, are all the senses, whether you call them Siddhis or not, in the search for the Self by turning away from the Not-Self. It is necessary for the man who seeks the Self by the Self to have the quality which is called “faith” in the sense in which I defined it before- the profound, intense conviction, that nothing can shake, of the reality of the Self within you. Turn from him to the seeker for the Self through the Not-Self. Just as you cannot study the physical world without the physical senses, so you cannot study the astral world without the astral senses, nor the mental without the mental senses. Along the lines of pure thinking-the metaphysical line-you may reach the Self. Those directions will cease to be self-contradictory, if you will only separate in your thought the two methods. For you must remember that there is Yoga of the left-hand path, as well as Yoga of the right-hand path. Both men may be called moral, if judged by the outer action alone. The scientific man understands that. If you had a perfect sense of hearing. The reason why there should be that classification is that the word pleasure and the word pain express two fundamental states of difference, not in the Self, but in the vehicles in which that Self dwells. Pleasure and pain belong to the Self as a whole, and not to any aspect of the Self separately taken. The answer is: “Pleasure belongs to the Self as a whole. The universe is full of pain”. Do not the Upanishads say: “The Self is bliss”? Pain is an excrescence. The Self, who is bliss, being the all permeating life of the universe, pain has no permanent place in it. Let us pause for a moment to ask: “why should there be pain at all if the Self is bliss?” Just because the nature of the Self is bliss. Pain is necessary that the Self may force his vehicles into making efforts which develop and organize them. Pain purifies. Pain teaches. Pain gives power. Power is pain transmuted. From pleasure comes illumination. Pleasure enables the Self to manifest. When it harmonizes the vehicles of the Self from outside, it enables the Self more readily to manifest himself through the lower selves within us. If pain comes, we take it and utilize.

Dr. Maganlal S. Molia
Rajkot (Gujrat)


Ayurveda is the science of life it deals with the entire creation with special emphasis on the biology of life. The chief objectives laid down before this science are preservation of health and preservation of disease, as is evident from:
Swasthasya swasthya rakshanama
Aturasya vikar prashmanam ch. (Ca.Su. 30/26)

Ayurvedic approach for the treatment of a disease consists of two major procedures viz. Samshodhana Chikitsa and Samshamana Chikitsa. The Samshodhana Chikitsa is the radical treatment of a disease and is supposed to eradicate or eliminate the vitiated doshas, thus completely preventing or curing the disease.

Samshamana Chikitsa is the conservative treatment which consist of conservative measures of treatment like, Langhana and Pachana etc. by administration of appropriate drugs, designed for alleviating the vitiated doshas, thus preventing temporarily or subsiding the disease.

The Samshodhana therapy consists of a number of psycho physiological measures advocated in the treatment of diseases, of which panchakarma therapy is an integral part. As a matter of fact, the indispensable place of panchakarma measures in ayurvedic management of patients is the unique and fundamental character of Indian system of medicine.

The therapeutic measures comprehended by panchakarma therapy are the anchor in Ayurvedic approach to the treatment of a disease, which have proved the test of time and are equally applicable, rather more useful in today’s busy world with polluted environment consisting of lipophilic toxins that accumulated in the fatty tissues of body. The chemical abstracts service in Columbus, U.S.A., which consists of world’s largest facility for substance identification, has identified more than 13 million artificial substances, out of which 1 lakhs industrial substances combine into a chemical soup, which are constantly absorbed from food, air, water and even from our skin. These environmental toxins as well as endogenous metabolic toxins are the toxic levels of the body, which must be detoxified or eliminated out of the body for prevention of possible disease and curing of the existing disease. This signifies the role and relevance of panchakarma as detoxification procedure in the body, which also helps in free radical scavenging and enhancing the body immunity.

Emphasizing the importance of panchakarma therapy, the Ayurveda says that sodhana strikes at the root of the disease and thus the disease treated by it do not reoccur again, while treated with other methods might reappear.

Unfortunately such an important component of Ayurvedic therapeutics gradually declines in practices, which need to be popularized and increasingly practiced for the welfare of the mankind.

The panchakarma therapy has been a subject of discussion in almost all the texts of Indian medicine. The scope described for this therapy is very comprehensive like purificatory, preventive, curative, rejuvenative, preparation for surgery, virilising therapy etc. and similarly there are very comprehensive claims about its efficacy.

As the name suggests the panchakarma consists of five fold therapeutic procedures viz. Vamana, Virachana, Niruha Vasti, Anuvasana Vasti, and Sirovirachna. Which are preceded by the two preparatory procedures of Snehana and Swedana. Snehana stands for external and internal oleation therapy, which render the body oleos and thus makes the vitiated doshas/toxins easily eliminated out of body. Induction of sweating prior to main panchakarma procedure is known as Swedana or Fomentation therapy.

Vamana consist of inducing therapeutic vomiting and thereby eliminating the doshas out of the body through oral route it is specific thereby for Kaphaja disorders. Virechana is the process of eliminating the vitiated doshas out of the body through anal route it is specific procedure for Paittika disorders. Vasti is another purificatory measure, which consist of induction of suitable medicaments in the form of enema through rectal, vaginal and urethral routes. The object is to eliminate vitiated doshas with the retuning enema material and to produce the effects of the enematically introduced medicaments, which may be essentially an oleus or non-oleus based upon the type of Vasti viz. Anuvasana and Asthapana respectively. Vasti karma is supposed to be principal and specific therapy for vatic disorders.

Sirovirachana is the procedure by which required medications are introduced through nasal passage either in liquid or powder forms. Besides its role in panchakarma therapy, Sirovirachana has specific role in Shiro rogas i.e. Diseases of Head and Brain.

Sushruta also includes Rakta Mokshana under panchakarma, which indicates the special significance of Rakta Mokshana is surgical practice. Rakta Mokshana i.e. Blood letting or Venesection and is used for disorders such as urticaria, skin rashes, acne, leucoderma, itching and other dermatoses. Proper administration of Rakta Mokshana results in stimulation of antitoxin substance in blood stream, improving the immune mechanism of the body.

Observations have shown that therapeutic emesis (vaman) is useful in bronchial asthma, sinusitis, and chronic bronchitis while virachana is useful in condition where excess of bile is accumulated in gall bladder, liver and gastro intestinal system producing skin rashes, inflammatory changes, biliary vomiting, nausea, jaundice etc. vasti has been effective in treating variety of neurological and rheumatological conditions.

Scientific studies have demonstrated beyond doubt that Biopurificatory therapy like panchakarma potentially effective and can successfully eliminate environmental toxic materials like polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB’s) and pesticide chemicals from the body with any untoward effect. More than 600 scientific research studies conducted across 200 universities and institutions belonging to 30 different countries validate the potential benefits of panchakarma procedures for promotive preventive and curative health care.

A study conducted at institute of science technology and public policy at Maharishis University of management in Fairfield, U.S.A. has demonstrated that panchakarma procedures can eliminate up to 50% of detectable toxins from blood. Another study conducted at Fairburg University has shown that the level of cholesterol has a whole dropped to the extent of 203.5mg% to 179.5mg% within two weeks course of purificatory therapy. The level of LDL cholesterol dropped by 8.7%, there by reducing the risk of heart attacks by 17.8%. The additional benefits like feeling of well being, reduced aggressiveness and excitability were also observed.

Another study conducted by scientists Dr. Herson and Dr. Fagan, which was published in alternative therapies in health and medicine (sep./oct.2002 issue) has shown that Ayurvedic panchakarma therapy has the potential to eliminate fat –soluble toxins including many carcinogenic chemicals from the body. Thus the scientific studies verify and validate the claims of our Rishis and ancient vaidyas; besides they are the proof of the efficacy of panchakarma procedures beyond the limits of time and space.

Thus, it can be summarized that panchakarma therapy is a unique approach to biopurification and detoxification described in ayurveda, which has got tremendous potential in curing a verity o pathological conditions. There is an urgent need to carry out the biochemical studies on standard scientific parameters to substantiate this fundamental therapeutic approach of ayurveda on scientific footings.


Sleep is considered as a circadian phenomenon, a daily rhythmical change in physiological process. Sleep is one of the daily regimens, which gives energy to the body to precede day-to-day activities. But most of the people do not consider sleep as a daily regimen and do not give the body and mind enough sleep. As a result, in the present world about 50% of the people suffer from one or the other sleeping disorder.

According to an Ayurvedacharya Charaka, “sleep is the state of body and mind wherein the sense organs are discovered of the sense objects from their respective senses”.

Sleep is a state of consciousness that differs from alert, wakefulness by a loss of critical reactivity to events in the environment with a profound alertation in the respiration. When the sense organs get exhausted due to exertion, the person goes to sleep.

When the mind including sensory or motor organs is exhausted and they dissociate themselves from their objects, then the individual sleeps.

More than half of the life I invariably spent in sleep, hence if it is not enjoyed properly may lead to several disturbances and at the same time if it is enjoyed properly it proves the most beneficial to life, keeps the body healthy and mind sharp and sound.

One’s happiness, strength, nourishment, knowledge, life and their opposite qualities are all depending upon his sleep. Any anomaly in the sleep whether it is insufficient, excessive or irregular is likely to lead to disease and death.

Most of the people especially on our country have the habit of sleeping during the day time which is usually not advisable as it makes them fat, causes heaviness of the body and reduces one’s digestive capacity which is considered to the root cause for all the diseases in our body. Ayurvedic science says that day sleep is good for all during summer season as it helps to keep Vata – one of the three humours (basic concept of Ayurveda) in balance that gets aggravated due to sleeplessness, by reducing dryness of the body.

Day sleep is indicated in persons who do not sleep at night due to some unaccustomed conditions. They should compensate by sleeping half time of their night sleep in daytime without taking any food.
Clearly there is relationship between the cycle of the sun and the cycle of the sleep. During the course of any day, half the planet faces interstellar blackness. The gravitational pull on that half exposed to the sun is less than on that on the dark side, for the Sun’s gravitational pull compensates in a very small way for the mass of the Earth when sun is overhead. Similarly when the Sun is on the other side of the planet from where one is living; both Sun and Earth are pulling in the same direction towards the mass of the planet. In sleep the spinal cord streches out parallel to the plane of the earth’s surface, giving maximum exposure to surface area to the direct pull of gravity.

Vital organs like heart and brain does not rest at night. Heart does not have the normal workload of the day during sleep, hence it can pump blood and supply through out the body with minimum effort. Brain or nervous system is relieved of countless commands dictated by a conscious system during sleep, circulation to the brain increases as the whole head is provided with more oxygen and vital force.

Studies have shown that sleep is essential for normal immune system function 7 to maintain the ability to fight against disease and sickness. Sleep is also essential for normal nervous system function both physically and mentally. In addition, sleep is essential for learning and for normal healthy cell growth.

When we cut down our sleep we learn less, we develop less, we are less bright, we make worse decisions, we accomplish less, we are less productive, we are more prone to errors and we undermine out true intellectual potential.

Measures to induce sleep:

Intake of milk, sugarcane juice, rice that is more than 60 days old, bath in cold water, application of oil in head and body, nourishing eyes, ears by filling them with oil, free and unattached mind. These are some of the measures to induce sleep in people those who suffer from loss of sleep.

Sleeping well appears to be one of the most important factors underlying success in learning. Sleep is a mechanism provided by nature to restore inertia of the body, as good and bad to the body depends upon sleep, a circadian (physiological) phenomenon. We are in a position to understand the importance of sleep and follow the right and habits that helps us to enjoy good sleep and get benefited so that we can get away from the sleeping disorders in future.


India is fast becoming a hub for medical tourism. People fro west prefer Indian hospitals for surgery, as the cost here is less prohibitive than in the western countries. The waiting period to avail the medical facilities that their government provides is too long often ranging from 3 to 6 months for a minor operation. All this has further contributed to the inflow of tourists seeking medical aid in India. Indian doctors are abreast of the technology without losing touch with humanity. Also since time immemorial India is renowned for its hospitality.

Substantial number of tourists also comes here to get rid of their chronic health problems or to simply rejuvenate their body and mind through Ayurveda and spirituality, both of which go hand in hand. Many allied therapies like yoga, crystals, chanting of mantras also form part of Ayurveda. However the most significant part of Ayurveda is the preventive medicines. To maintain the health of a healthy individual, Ayurveda has in great detail explained the daily regime one needs to follow and also the variations to be made in the same depending on the season, place where a person resides and his or her constitution. In case a person is unable to follow this regime either through ignorance or due to lack of control on his or her mind and falls ill, then a variety of therapies are prescribed for an individual depending on their constitution.

The greatest gift to mankind is Ayurvedic panchkarma or the five procedures described in Ayurveda to establish equilibrium between the various doshas. Ayurveda believes that imbalance of dosha is the root cause of all the disease. Panchkarma help to set this equilibrium again.

However it may prove to be a boon or a bane depending on whether it is done scientifically or not. Since we are discussing the benefits of Ayurvedic therapy for the sick and healthy individuals it would be apt to describe the panchkarma procedures briefly before we proceed to the rejuvenation therapy. Also it is a norm to detoxify the body before rejuvenating it as this helps to augment the benefits of rejuvenation therapy. The best method to detoxify the body is through panchkarma.

Panchkarma as the name suggests is a group of five therapies. The therapies described by different school of thoughts vary slightly but for our convenience we would consider the following widely accepted ones.
Vaman: Detoxification of the body by inducing emesis (vomiting) is known as vaman. It is important to differentiate vaman and vomiting. Vomiting could be a result of some pathology in body e.g. indigestion, hyperacidity, raised intracranial pressure, or diseases of internal ear etc. However any kind of vomiting could be labeled as vaman. Vaman is therapeutic vomiting induced in patient to treat various diseases or as a preventive medicine to prohibit occurrence of diseases. All the panchakarma are preceded by certain procedure known as ‘purvakarma’. These are to be carried out properly in order to avoid complications that panchkarma may cause. Vaman is particularly helpful in treating disorders caused by vitiated kapha and up to certain extent those caused by vitiated pitta. Thorax, upper part of stomach and head are considered to be predominant areas of kapha. Healthy kapha bring about the function of lubrication in body and prevents wear and tear of its tissues. However if there is imbalance of cough it may lead to various problems such as cold, cough, asthma, etc. To eliminate problems like these and various other problems like obesity, hysteria, skin diseases, anemia, indigestion, some diseases affecting ear, nose, throat and eyes etc., vaman is induced. Patients unfit for vaman are patients suffering form haemoptysis, heart diseases, gout, anuria, piles, diseases affecting the vision like retinal detachment, tumors, pregnant women, very weak individuals, etc. are advised not to undergo this therapy. Most of the procedure involved in panchkarma have to be followed by certain other treatments like ‘gandush’, ‘dhoompan’ etc. Also a stringent diet regime has to be followed for 3-7 days after the procedure. However, describing all the procedure n elaborate details along with the preceding and succeeding procedures is beyond the scope of this article.

Virechan: Induction of purgation to treat various ailments caused by vitiated pitta. The predominant area of pitta in the body is the duodenum and liver. The procedure of virechan can cleanse the whole alimentary canal and is comparatively safe. For very delicate and weak persons mild form of virechan may be given using raisins, milk, etc. An ailing person who is capable of and in need of stronger purgative may be given seeds of cotton tiglium, pichrorrhiza kurroa etc. Formulations containing these herbs are available in market and generally used to induce purgation. The diseases in which purgation is helpful are various skin diseases, splenic disorders, ascites, hepatitis, haemorrhoids, fissures etc. Again it is important to carry out purvakarma like oleation and fomentation before the virechan is given. Dietary restrictions have also to be observed for a few days before and after panchkarma. These precautions have to be followed before all the procedures and hence it is implied that they will be carried out in all the panchkarmas.

Basti: It is the most potent of the five procedures. It gains importance from the fact that it is used to treat vitiated vata. Vata is responsible for most of the diseases. Although vitiated kapha and pitta are also responsible for diseased states, these doshas need help from vata to carry out functions (physiological as well as pathological) in our body.

Secondly, basti can carry out seemingly opposite functions such as slimming down or putting on weight or it may be used to treat consumption and also to treat loose motions depending on the medications used. Basti can be safely given to infants as well as geriatric patients. Hence some ancient masters regarded basti as a complete treatment in itself. Basti literally means bladder. In olden days animal bladders were cleaned, processed and used for giving medicated enemas to the patients. This procedure of giving medicated enemas is known as basti. The predominant site of vata dosha is the colon and hence giving medicines via rectum is the closest and the fastest route to treat different ailments. Commonly used substances are decoctions, herbal oils and medicated milk. These are used to treat various acute or chronic ailments like constipation, diarrhea, lumbago, sciatica, paralysis, failure to gain weight, obesity, infertility, sexual problems, renal calculi etc.

Basti is classified into many categories depending on the substance used for the basti, route used for administration of drugs, or the function that the procedure carries out. However the three main categories of basti are:
1. Niruha basti also known as aasthapan basti: In this mainly decoctions are used to treat the patient and these are administered via the rectal route. This type is contraindicated in haemorroids (piles), intestinal perforation, ascies, and diarrhea especially where the patient has fever and other toxic symptoms, skin disease etc.
2. Anuvasan basti: Oil, either plain or medicated, is mainly used in this procedure. However animal fat, ghee and bone marrow of various animals may be used in some cases. This is comparatively easy to give and may be given to most in varying proportions. The only contraindications are indigestion, obesity, diabetes, and person who sleeps during the day.
3. Uttar basti: This is given not via rectal route but through the urethra or vagina and after administering niruha basti. Medicated oils, decoction etc. may be used for uttar basti.
Nasya: a relatively simpler yet beneficial procedure. Nasya means administration of drugs through the nasal route. These drugs could be either extract of juices of various plants, medicated oils, dried powders of different herbs etc. It is mainly used to treat the diseases affliction head. Done systematically it is helpful in treating premature graying of hair or hair fall, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, migraine, cluster headaches, fractures afflicted on upper limbs etc. Regular use helps improve vision and hearing capacity of an individual. Only contraindications for nasya are a person who has acute attack of cold, asthma, etc. pregnant ladies or women who have delivered recently, a person who has recently undergone vaman, virechan or basti (less than 15 days ago), or any individual who has just had a heavy meal, or head bath, alcohol, diet rich in fat etc.

Raktamokshan: This is a procedure in which impure blood is removed from the body of patient by various means. It may be done using venesection or leeches. Leech therapy gives instant results in reducing pain in patients of rheumatoid arthritis, infections, joint disease etc. It is also easier to be carried out as compared to venesection. After determining whether the patient is fit for the procedure, only precaution one might need to take while using the leeches is to determine whether they are poisonous or not. Ayurvedic texts have elaborately described the kind of leeches as regards to their colour, length etc. that can be used for the procedure. In many European countries this procedure is already in use. Although, they discard leeches after single use, it is possible to re-use the leeches after treating them with turmeric and salt immediately after use. This treatment induces vomiting in leeches and the impure blood they have sucked from a patient’s body is thus removed. After ensuring that the leeches are free from the toxic blood, they are rested in clean water for a period of 15 days and then re-used. Venesection is rather skillful procedure and needs expertise. The vein to be punctured is determined by the ailment that a person is suffering from. In olden days hollow horn or pumpkin was used to withdraw blood after venesection. However presently doctors use syringe for the same. This method is useful in treating skin problems like psoriasis, erysipelas, herpes, gout, benign tumours, abscesses etc. However this procedure should never be implemented in persons with bleeding disorders, pregnant women or in women who have just delivered a baby, a person having jaundice as one of the symptoms, persons suffering from paralysis, piles, anemia, dropsy, tetany etc.

Although panchkarma helps fat and complete detoxification of the body, it may prove to be cumbersome for a person who is either too delicate of ignorant of its benefits. Such persons who need to rejuvenate their bodies may detoxify them through fasting followed by detoxifying diet of fresh fruits and vegetables or their juices, milk, honey etc. and then proceed for rejuvenation. It is every person’s dream to stay youthful, healthy, and full of vigor and vitality. This basic need of mankind was observed by the ancient masters and hence two branches of Ayurveda developed to cater to this need. These are rasayan and vajikaran. The former deals with retaining the youth and health while the latter deals in improving the fertility and sexuality of mankind. Although with changing times it is not possible to follow everything described to Ayurveda completely as many ancient herbs are extinct now and so are the animals. Also population and population have risen exponentially. However even now with right kind of diet and lifestyle these benefits can be reaped up to a large extent. Long and healthy life, boost in memory, glowing complexion, erect posture, regaining control over one’s mind, improving sexual life, enhancing vision, hearing power, olfactory senses and voice quality are just some of the benefits a person may experience with regular rejuvenation therapy. However, good habits have to be formed consciously like observing right kind of diet and lifestyle.

After ensuring that the body is free from toxins, many procedures can be adopted depending on the person’s needs and physician judgment. These have been improvised over a period of time. Some of them have been listed below.

Abhyanga: In layman’s language it means massage. Now the common question, which pops up, is how often should one take massage? The answer to which is everyday. Application of oil and its slow absorption in the body through massage helps lubricate the skin and joints, tones muscles, improves the texture of hair, relaxes mind, helps fight insomnia. Although due to constraint in time it may not be possible for everyone to go to the spa or ayurvedic centre daily for a massage in that case just heat sufficient oil in a water bath and apply and massage it on the body till it is absorbed. If even doing this is not possible then just apply ail to head, soles of feet and ear daily. While ayurvedic massage does not provide a complete therapeutic cure, it does provide nutrients to various tissues of the body and helps excrete the toxins from the body by facilitating the circulation. Marma chiktista is a specialized form of massage, which deals with 107 vital points of the body. These points are known as ‘marma’. This treatment is useful in treating musculoskeletal ailments caused due to trauma or accidents. It is the treatment that works on the extremely sensitive vital points of the body (the 107 ‘marmas’). However this is practiced few centers only. In north Kerala massage is given by foot. This form of massage is inspired by the local martial art known as ‘kalarippayttu’.

Udvartanam: In obese patients instead of oil herbal powders are used for massage. This is known as ‘udvartanam’. It is also helpful in reducing swelling of joints in conditions like gout, rheumatoid arthritis etc. In udvartanam massage is done in direction opposite to the direction of growth of hair. However this massage may cause irritation and allergies in certain skin types. In such cases some modifications or change in herbs may be necessary.

Swedanam: Oil massage is generally followed by fomentation. This fomentation can be given using various methods. The commonest form of giving fomentation is by introducing a person to steam chamber. Entire body is inside the chamber except for the head. Inside the chamber steam from boiling herbal decoctions is emitted. This kind of fomentation however is contraindicated for diabetic patients, pregnant women, and hypertensive patients. Direct steam should never be given on eyes, groins and chest. If steam has to be concentrated on one area of problem like joints then decoction is made in a vessel with small mouth and the steam emitted is given on the affected area with the help of a tube. This is known as ‘nadisweda’. Sometimes the steam is given with the help of various leaves of plants that are treated with oil and lemon. This form is known as ‘patrapottali sweda’ (patra=leaves, pottali=poultice). In Kerala this procedure is known as ‘elakizhi’. Similarly a variety of rice known as ‘shashtik shali’ is cooked in herbal decoction and milk. A poultice is then made from this rice and dipped in the same warm decoction and used for massage and fomentation. This helps in all the disorders where muscle wasting or muscular atrophy is present e.g. paralysis, muscular dystrophy, etc. this is known as ‘shashtik shali pinda sweda’ and in Kerala it is known as njavarakizhi’.

Dhara: Dhara is dropping of fluid (either medicated oils or milk, or buttermilk or decoctions etc.) of certain temperature and from certain height for defined period of time. If this dhara is done on head then it is known as ‘shirodhara’. Shirodhara is helpful in treatment of psychological problems such as anxiety neurosis, depression, and insomnia and for slowing age related mental illnesses like dementia. If instead of head whole body is given dhara then it is known as ‘kayasekam’. It is known as ‘pizhichil’ in Kerala. It is used to treat paralysis, rheumatic disorders, spondylosis etc. Kayasekam is given simultaneously with massage.

Tarpan: This procedure is used to enhance the vision and treat some disorders affecting eyes. Small well-like structures are made using dough, made from black gram, along the orbit of eyes. Oil or decoction at certain temperature is dropped in to these wells and the person undergoing the treatment is asked to gently keep on blinking while the fluid is still there. This is followed by washing the eyes with decoction of ‘triphala’.

Lepam: To remove minor flaws in the skin and for glowing complexion, various packs are applied to the skin. These packs are known as lepam. Lepam usually is done after proper detoxification and lubrication of the body. The ingredients used in lepam are usually the blood purifying and natural bleaching agents like sariva, manjishtha, neem, haldi, arjun, lodhra etc. these may be changed as required depending on the skin type.

Yoga: Following the various principle of yoga helps gain control over ones’ mind and body. If yogic principles are followed regularly along with yogic postures (asana) and mudras then one gets enormous flexibility and will power. Yoga is also known to cure minor health ailments like lower backache, menstrual cramps, chronic headaches etc. It is also help in controlling asthma, diabetes, blood pressure etc. For further reference in yoga refer the previous and subsequent editions of these editions of this magazine.

Apart from the above- mentioned treatments, which are mainly followed in most of the ayurvedic centers, there are many others smaller ones that may be carried out by some centers. Modern equipments are also used nowadays for their convenience and hygiene e.g. sterilizers, massagers to concentrate more on one area etc. Some times other alternative therapies may also be used like acupressure, aromatherapy, etc. along with these treatments.

It is needless to mention how refreshed one might feel after these treatments. Anybody who has had a good massage will know what wonders it does to your body and mind.

For more details on panchakarma visit us on or email to us on