My first Ayurvedic Detoxification ("Panchakarma") treatment took place several years ago and healed my recurrent pancreatitis. My second round of Panchakarma four months later got rid of my allergic asthma. I have experienced the benefits of this therapy firsthand, and I continue to practice it every Autumn and Spring to maintain my health.
I'd like to share a few words about Panchakarma and draw attention to important distinctions between "colon cleansing" and this Ayurvedic Detoxification protocol.
I see "colon cleansing" programs advertised all the time, in stores and on social media. When I read the details about these programs or look into the supplements involved, what I find out is that these "cleanses" are just pricey ways to increase bowel movements (the herbal supplements involved are simply laxatives). It is true that bowel movements are an important aspect of our body's natural daily elimination of toxins. However, the idea that our colon should be "cleaned out" through extreme measures is very misguided. Having the bowels cleared out makes us feel lighter, and often results in temporary weight loss (which is really just loss of the fecal matter from the colon). You can poop all you want, but taking laxatives is not equivalent to detoxification.
The Ayurvedic detoxification process of Panchakarma is a clinical protocol designed to restore the body's natural balance. Unlike with "colon cleansing", the treatments used in Panchakarma are individualized to treat specific health conditions.
Panchakarma means "five actions", and each of the actions has the effect of restoring balance to a particular system in the body. The five classical actions include:
1) Expectorant therapy to remove excess mucous from the lungs and sinuses.
2) Herbally medicated enema given to nourish the colon. Dry colon mucosa is often the cause of chronic constipation. This therapy also calms anxiety and supports bone health. Some people have strong aversions to this step and we can work around it if that is your preference.
3) Herbal therapies for healing the sinuses.
4) "Blood cleansing": either donating blood to stimulate the spleen to produce new blood cells, and/or herbal medicines used to support these systems - liver, spleen, gallbladder, female reproductive system.
5) Purgation to remove toxins from the digestive tract (this is usually the final step of the program).
The "colon cleansing" that most people associate with detoxification is actually one of the final steps in Panchakarma. In Panchakarma, individualized therapeutic actions done for a specific number of days draw toxins from their stored locations in the body and bring them to the digestive tract for elimination. In the final stage of Panchakarma, purgative therapy is done to eliminate the contents of the bowels, including the toxins that have been drawn to the digestive tract during the detoxification period.
No Panchakarma or Detox program is complete without rejuvenation. After detoxification, a rejuvenation program is created to replenish the body with nourishing foods, herbal treatments, and daily practices such as Yoga and meditation.
In contrast to the popular “colon cleansing”, Panchakarma is a complete program, designed by a trained Ayurvedic health professional, to facilitate healing for a specific condition. Rather than just making us feel lighter, Panchakarma is known to heal such problems as eczema, psoriasis, lethargy, allergies, digestive disorders, acne, and foggy mind.