Before getting into the subject matter, let’s first try to understand what Panchakarma is all about.
Panchakarma is a group of therapies conducted in accordance with Ayurveda. These therapies can either be detoxifying in nature or simply for relieving certain conditions. But nowadays it is practised widely only for the rejuvenation of the body and thus appeals to the general public more as some spa rather than an actual scientific treatment.
In my opinion, Panchakarma is as serious as surgery! All the precautions and pre or post procedures have to be taken with utmost care to get the best outcome. Let us have an overview of the whole procedure that should be followed during the Panchakarma therapy.
Steps to follow in Panchakarma
Pre Panchakarma Procedure:
Deepana – Pachana (Digestion)Snehan (Oiling Of The Body)Swedana (Sweating)Main Panchakarma Procedure:
Vamana (Therapeutic Vomiting) Virechana (Therapeutic Purgation)Basti (Medicated Enema)Nasya (Nasal Therapy)Raktamokshana (Bloodletting)Post Panchakarma Procedure:
Sansarjana – Santarpana (Balancing Back The Metabolism)Rasayana / Vajikarana ( Immunity Enhancers)According to the above steps as one can see, it is a lot to do before and after the main Panchakarma therapies. Simple inducing Vomiting just by giving some medicine or through drinking medicated or salted water is not Vamana until it is backed by Pre Panchakarma procedure. Also, the Post Panchakarma part is equally important.
So, any Panchakarma procedure is not completed in merely a day or two. Usually, it takes 1 to 2 weeks. Sometimes, according to the conditions, a single Panchakarma procedure can be extended to a month also. It all depends upon the prescription of the Ayurvedic physician.
The therapy seems so simple, but it is very difficult to get good results without following the rules and regulations therein. I have seen a case where the whole Virechana procedure went very well and the patient was getting relief from her symptoms too but just a simple mistake in post-procedure of not following the Samsarjana Karma led to a rollback of the disease, making the situation even worse. All these conditions arise when the Panchakarma practitioners do not inform the patients of the consequences and precautions to take during the therapy.
Mostly, this negligence is due to either the patient’s Pre-Notion that there will be no problem as it is an Ayurvedic therapy or due to the Ayurvedic doctor being ignorant of the particular problems arising after the procedure.
Among certain other reasons which lead the Ayurvedic physicians to care less for the patients is the desire to earn more. Athough Ayurveda is an Indian science it is not the first choice for most of the people. Thus the overall patients turn up is lesser than other medical science. Also since no or very little insurance cover is provided for Ayurveda, people do not make it their first choice for the sheer logic of affordability.
All these things lead to malpractices in Panchakarma. Some of the common malpractices are listed here. My sincere advice is to understand these and find a good Panchakarma practitioner.
Advising unnecessary multiple Panchakarma therapies
Very commonly, multiple therapies which may be unnecessary but are still advised are – Abhyanga and Shirodhara. These two therapies have almost no side effect even if done any number of times. The cost involved is less and with repeated sessions, the physicians get an ample chance to bloat up the bill.
Advising unnecessary Panchakarma therapy
Sometimes, Apart from Abhyanga and Shirodhara, Basti is also advised because it is very safe in any season and can be given to anybody. Even more, since Basti is referred as more than half of the treatment for any ailment, lots of physicians feel that giving castor oil enema prior to the start of their treatment will enhance the effect. Sometimes it may be necessary but not always. beware if you see that a particular physician gives castor oil enema to almost all of his/her patients prior to the start of treatments.
Use of plain oils instead of medicated ones
Most of the Ayurvedic oils is prepared in either sesame oil base or coconut oil base. There are some who just use the plain base oil instead of medicated ones for their therapies. It is not that this base oil does not have any therapeutic properties or we cannot use them plain. I just want to bring to notice that whatever oils may be used, the patients should be well informed about that.
Using one patient's medicine on others
Sometimes due to the shortage of the oils or for higher profit some centers do these kinds of adulteration or practices. This is a very serious issue as it may increase the chance of cross-infection and is very unhygienic.
Charging differently for rich and other patients
There should be a list of fees at the reception readily available for the patients to see the rates of the therapies offered. This clarity of charges is important to keep up the goodwill.
Claiming that it can treat all incurable diseases
Ayurveda to has its prognosis system by which it is decided that whether the person is treatable or not. Just putting up a statement like - all incurable diseases can be treated - is totally wrong. Only awareness among the patients can take care of this situation and get them better treatment.
In conclusion, i just want to say that it is only the patients’ awareness which can reduce the malpractices in Panchakarma. The time when people realize that an ayurvedic physician too can make a mistake and he/she is answerable for his/her practices, then only we can see the “healthy healing for better life”.
ayurveda believes that whenever the body is not in harmony with its prakruti (basic constitution), a build-up of ama (toxins) and an imbalance of vata, pitta and kapha is created, which can lead to diseases such as cancer.
cancer prevention is targeted towards creating balance and harmony through diet, lifestyle, herbs, meditation, pranayama, yoga and cleansing the body of its toxic load through an ayurvedic cleansing program called panchakarma. towards the end of this article, there are notes on which imbalanced doshas are associated with specific types of cancer.
how can ayurveda help cancer and life after cancer?
before chemo: tonify and build up body and ojas (immunity and inner strength).
during chemo: healthy diet, meditation, pranayama, yoga as tolerated, gem therapy, aromatherapy, body treatments as tolerated. doing chemotherapy between the hours of 6 and 10 has been found to help chemo to mostly go after diseased cells and protect healthy cells against chemotherapy. the reasoning is that kapha represents the strong structure, strength, and ojas, and that’s what is promoted in the body between the hours of 6 and 10.
after chemo: cleansing to remove toxins from treatment, and rejuvenating herbs to begin building healthy tissues.
role of patient: people need to be open to exploring the deeper meaning of cancer, what does it have to teach me? how can i make different choices?
tonification for weak patient.
rejuvenate the body so the immune system becomes stronger.
purification for strong patients, possible panchakarma; the digestive system is considered the root of disease therefore proper diet, removal of ama, herbs and cleansing therapies are very important.
sattvic foods - organic milk, almonds, sesame, honey, rice, and fruits).
herbs can reduce tumor growth and perhaps limit metastasis; herbs can be taken internally or applied externally as a paste or lepas (herbal pastes).
sweat, oiling, shirodharas (oiling for the forehead), nasaya oils (nasal oils), purgation, bastis.
there are several herbs that can destroy tumors such as red clover, burdock root (available at health food stores), dandelion root, guggul, turmeric, and chaparral, green tea, cat’s claw, manjishtha, madagascan periwinkle, shatavari. herbal usage should be gauged by an ayurvedic practitioner.
herbs for mind & oiling of the forehead.
positive thinking activates the immune system and supports healing; mental and emotional challenges produce blockages of energy flow in the body; physical body is capable of manifesting what the mind imagines. the nervous system is aware of emotional turbulence and this information flows into cell formation so that issues can become tissues; so much of one’s mental power of healing lies in one’s capacity to experience self-love. a lack of self-love, contentment, and compassion equates to lack of mental ojas, and are the additional roots of all diseases including cancer. mental purification is the process of removing these negative feelings.
examining lessons to be learned.
working to change/heal samskaras (habitual patterns) and underlying karma that generated the samskara (habitual pattern); lessons often surround destructive lifestyle habits, thoughts, and emotions, and exist to give us the opportunity to grow, learn, and evolve on our journey toward enlightenment. without suffering, we would have no feedback about how we are living or progressing on our spiritual journey.
make better choices; what can i do to better align my energies with nature?
healthy diet and ayurvedic practices for cancer prevention:
* consume plenty of foods full of prana (life-force) whole, fresh, sun-ripened, enzyme-rich, alkalizing, organic and mostly plant-based. * avoid processed foods, refined flour products, hydrogenated fats, fast food, excessive low-quality meat and dairy, microwaved food and leftovers.* eat low glycemic foods that have a low sugar content. (tumor cells love sugar).
* reduce/eliminate caffeine & alcohol.* eat dark green leafy vegetables, especially those that are in the cabbage family such as kale and collards.
*almonds, rice, honey, fresh sweet fruits, mung dal beans and easy-to-digest, fresh seasonal vegetables and leafy greens are examples of sattvic foods (foods that lead to clarity in the mind and body).
* do regular rejuvenation and purification practices such as regular panchakarma. discover your unique body-mind constitution and use herbs, spices, and foods according to your unique individual needs.* do the abhyanga (ayurvedic self-massage with oil) every morning, which will stimulate the lymphatic system to eliminate toxins.
ghee: clarified butter which helps to build healthy tissues and ojas (immunity and inner strength). ghee helps to dissolve wastes allowing the body to carry away toxins-ama.
spices for cancer preventionspices not only lend irresistible aromas and flavors to dishes but have potent cancer-fighting properties. spices and herbs are concentrated forms of nature's healing intelligence. they are particularly revered in ayurveda for their ability to enhance digestion and assimilation, help cleanse ama (toxins) from the body and their ability to transport the healing and nutritive value of other foods of the diet to the cells, tissues, and organs. details of spices are presented at the end.
tri-doshic spice recipe with cancer-fighting components: grind in a coffee grinder or spice grinder:
3 parts coriander seeds,
3 parts fennel seeds,
1 part black pepper,
1 part cumin seeds.
add 1 tablespoon of turmeric.
store in an airtight jar. saute´ briefly in ghee or olive oil then add to vegetables, meat or rice dishes. when eating out, bring a small jar of your spice mix and sprinkle it on food.
a few examples of powerful cancer-fighting spices/herbs:
turmericcurcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its yellow color, is said to inhibit tumor-promoting enzymes and interfere with the growth of cancerous tumors. as a powerful antioxidant, curcumin neutralizes free radicals that increase the risk of cancer or heart disease.
rosemaryrosemary has potent cancer-fighting properties by blocking carcinogen-binding to dna, and modifying metabolic enzymes to decrease the toxicity of a carcinogen. since whole rosemary seems to be more beneficial than its isolated compounds, the addition of fresh rosemary to one’s diet may have more benefit than taking it as a supplement.
gingereat a little ginger with each meal and your risk of developing cancer drops significantly. ginger not only kills cancer cells, it also prevents them from building up resistance to cancer treatment.
coriandercoriander seeds are the most cooling of all the spices that significantly improves digestion and are a good choice for people high in pitta. coriander, rich in coriandrol, helps combat breast and liver cancers. fresh coriander is known as cilantro, and is particularly powerful in detoxifying the body of heavy metals, such as lead or mercury.
fenugreekin recent research, fenugreek seeds were experimentally shown to protect against cancers of the breast and prostate cancer. a naturopathic doctor from germany told me that fresh fenugreek is particularly beneficial for individuals with bone cancer. both the seeds and the fresh leaves are good for blood sugar and fat metabolism, prevent hair loss and are beneficial for the bones.
it nourishes ojas and can enhance immunity in the treatment of cancer.
cleanses the blood of toxins, builds strength, rejuvenates all the tissues, boosts the immune system especially in cancer, offsets the toxic effects of chemoradiotherapy.
clears tumors and growths.
sebastian pole’s ayurvedic medicine
anti-cancer: ashwagandha, guduchi (decreases effects from chemo/radiotherapy, guggulu, kaishor guggulu, kanchanar guggulu, rhubarb, shatavari (immunity), turmeric.
anti-tumor: guggulu, kaishor guggulu, kanchanar guggulu, kanchanar, krishna jeeraka, manjishtha, safflower, salt, turmeric.
dabur research foundation’s major herbs of ayurveda
herbs with anticancer properties: garlic, shatavari (asparagus racemosus), neem, papaya (flowers), himalayan cedar deodar, vidanga, eucalyptus, pippali, licorice, mango ( stem bark extract), bitter melon, tulsi (holy basil), black pepper (piper nigrum specifically for colon cancer), manjistha (rubia cordifolia), arjuna, haritaki, guduchi (tinospora cordifolia), ashwagandha (winter cherry).
dr. marc halpern’s clinical ayurvedic medicine
cat’s claw, green tea (breast, lung, stomach, colon), manjistha (ovarian, uterine), madagascan periwinkle (leukemia, lymphoma), chandra prabha (urinary, male/female reproductive, menstrual system), shatavari, guggulu, red clover, burdock, turmeric, chaparral, dandelion (leaves, root), burdock root, ginger, astragalus (similar to ginseng, good for immunity), saffron, frankincense (boswellia), goldenseal, wormwood.
essiac tea ( burdock root, slippery elm inner bark, sheep sorrel, indian rhubarb root, watercress, blessed thistle, red clover, kelp).
gem and flower elixirs (can be drunk, used as a tea, rub water on body area that needs help, add it to bath water).
[mary bruck is an advanced doctoral ayurvedic practitioner, yoga teacher, panchakarma therapist, and herbalist. she presides the vibrant health ayurveda and yoga in colorado, united states.]
प्रयोगज्ञानविज्ञानसिद्धिसिद्धाः सुखप्रदाः|जीविताभिसरास्ते स्युर्वैद्यत्वं तेष्ववस्थितमिति||(charaka sutra, chapter 11, verse 53)
[the practitioners adept at dispensing therapies, insight, and knowledge of medicines are gifted with unfailing success. they can bring happiness to the seeker. they are saviours of life.]
most people around the world are familiar with modern medicine and how it works with its set of different types of doctors, such as general practitioners, surgeons, and specialists. ayurveda medicine, however, is less known to people and they are rarely aware that this ancient and traditional science of treatment is highly effective and more precise in its diagnosis and cure for all sorts of diseases. in fact, ayurveda medicine can cure even the highly complicated diseases (such as diabetes, cancer, chronic stress, cardiac problems, etc.) which allopathy has been struggling to treat satisfactorily.
after a complete course in ayurvedasince ayurveda is fundamentally an integral science, it helps restore your health through its unique and holistic approach. the physicians who practise ayurveda are commonly known as vaidyas. the vaidyas undergo the five and a half years course known as bams (bachelor of ayurvedic medicine and surgery), after completing which they can start treating patients. a thorough ayurvedic knowledge and adequate training makes a good ayurvedic physician.
vaidyas have comprehensive knowledgeunlike modern medicine, just diagnosing the disease is not enough in ayurveda. the vaidya take into account the patient’s personality, lifestyle, social environment, food, daily habits, and a number of other such things. ayurveda undertakes physical, mental, and emotional healing altogether while treating a patient. ayurvedic studies are not just a treatise on diseases, but a thorough understanding of the individual and their relationship with their surroundings and the cosmos.
nadi pariksha and the better diagnosiswhen you visit an ayurvedic physician, they do not resort to tools like thermometer or sphygmomanometer for diagnosis. rather, they apply nadi vigyan or pulse diagnosis. it is considered a more accurate way to ascertain the physiology and imbalances of a person. this process involves a unique technique in which the vaidya would use their three fingers to take the pulse. the three fingers measure the three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. they also diagnose your prakriti (constitution), ama, ojas, etc., which gives them information on your body, mind, and senses. the examination is highly comprehensive and signifies the high understanding that ayurveda has about human body.
lifestyle and dietary correctionsthe healing approach by the vaidya is two-fold. first, they would make dietary and lifestyle recommendations based on their observation. from sleep-time correction to drinking water, a vaidya would give you many seemingly simple and small advice along with the ayurvedic medicines that they prescribe. it may appear to be non-important to you, but if you want to stay healthy and beat the diseases, every advice is as crucial as the next one. the correction in diet and lifestyle helps you fight any existing disease much effectively and prevents the possibility of other health issues to occur. since ayurveda has its unique preventive approach, listening to your ayurveda doctor can help you recover from diseases as serious and complicated as cancer and diabetes.
healthy living is always a choice you can make for your family or yourself, if you know the right way to take care of your body and mind. adopt ayurveda to live well and long. visit your ayurveda doctor every once in a while.
ashwagandha is a medicinal herb full of health benefits. in ayurveda, it is considered one of the most powerful herbs due to its restorative properties.
botanically called withania somnifera, it is also known as winter cherry and indian ginseng. ashwagandha naturally grows in arid climate which is typical to india, middle east, and africa. the name ashwagandha is derived from sanskrit and means the smell of a horse, owing to the strong odor that the plant has. extracts from the roots and leaves are used as the herb. it is known to boost immunity and provide rejuvenation against a number of health problems.
here’re the six benefits of ashwagandha as an ayurvedic herb:
1. it is a natural adaptogen that relieves stress and anxiety
ashwagandha helps the body processes normalize and adapt to the stress level effectively. the herb has been a part of the ayurveda medicine for over 3,000 years. studies have shown that a medical prescription of the herb helps regulate the chemical signals and prohibits stress to take course through the nervous system(1). clinical trials too have showed that ashwagandha is helpful in reducing the symptoms in people suffering from chronic stress or anxiety disorders(2), (3), (4). the trials concluded that only 11% of the people registered an improvement in the placebo group, while 69% people in the group that took ashwagandha showed alleviation in their stress levels. the herb also reduced the cortisol levels effectively.
2. it reduces blood sugar levels
ashwagandha is beneficial in diabetes too. it is known to bring down the glucose level. a test-tube research observed that the herb tends to increase insulin sensitivity in muscle cells which results in better insulin secretion(5). other studies concluded that the herb can reduce the blood sugar levels in both the diabetic and non-diabetic people as well as in patients suffering from schizophrenia (6), (7), (8). in some smaller studies, the result with ashwagandha was as good as that of the oral medication of diabetes.
3. it helps in depression too
the health advantages of ashwagandha as a medicinal herb are well known in ayurveda. this herb is effective against illnesses like chronic depression too. a study done a few years back showed a 79% decrease in severe depression in patients who took ashwagandha as per the prescription(9). in the same study, the people in the placebo group with no ashwagandha medication reported a 10% increase in depression levels.
4. it can help fight cancer
studies on animals as well as test tube research have concluded that ashwagandha can uniquely help fight cancer. it not only slows down the growth of new cancer cells, but also effectuates apoptosis( programmed death) in cancer cells(10). the herb helps in formation of reactive oxygen species (ros) which are hostile to the cancer cells but do not harm the healthy cells and at the same time decreases the ability of the cancer cells to resist(11). the further research and human trials would possibly reveal the miraculous working mechanism of ashwagandha, the great benefits of which have always been known to ayurveda since the beginning.
5. it can lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels
ashwagandha is good for the heart too as it is known to bring down the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body. studies done on animals (rats) reported a blood fat reduction of 53% which is remarkable in itself(12). human studies too have yielded significant results(13).
6. it improves memory and brain functions
various studies have shown that ashwagandha is beneficial in improving the brain functions and memory too. it can help the neural system recover from brain-related injury or illnesses and increases antioxidant activity as well. from neurocognitive disorders to insomnia to epilepsy and memory issues, the herb has immense healing properties against all such problems too(14), (15), (16), (17).
ashwagandha is a herb full of medicinal value. it’s use and intake, however, should always be under the guidance of an expert ayurveda practitioner. it is would be the best way to address you health woes without making it worse by not knowing the appropriate dosage and combination, as well as some other aspects of taking this herb in the right manner.
ayurveda is an ancient and holistic science of health and medicine. the ayurvedic herbs and therapies have the potential to revive the healthcare in significant ways. modern medicine is increasingly becoming helpless against the epidemic rise of many non-communicable diseases. it is time to adopt ayurveda as your immediate choice of treatment for an integral health resolution. stay well with this centuries-old medicinal science.
image credit: wikimedia
according to ayurveda, milk is super-nutritious and a unique food. also known as dugdha, ksheer, and paya, milk is an important part of your diet as it not only maintains and promotes health, but also reduces the clinical conditions of various diseases effectively. milk is known to improve the ojas. it is a balancer of vata and pitta. read on to know what is the best time to have milk.
cow milk acts as a brain tonic and boosts memory in addition to immunity. it also improve bone strength and fights diseases like bronchitis and sinusitis.
milk is good for digestive system as well. milk should always be boiled before consumption and taken without any sugar and other artificial additives.
milk has calming and sedative properties too. it relaxes your brain, reduces stress, and helps you sleep better.
so what is the best time to have milk? for adults it is, from evening to bedtime.
for kids, morning is the best time to have milk.
women should consume milk during the pregnancy, lactation, and menopause periods. it makes them less prone to osteoporosis. sour food is a complete no-no to have with milk. as dr. sandeep madaan from aastha ayurveda tells us, "i'd not advise taking yogurt, curry, or sour fruits with milk. this combination must be avoided as per ayurveda." building on his remarks, here're some don'ts for taking milk:
and here're some do's. taking milk with ashwagandha, triphala, or haldi is good for health and has specific benefits. so, now you know the essentials of drinking milk, let everyone have a glass of milk in your family at the right time everyday and stay healthy.
new year is round the corner and you must be planning to spend the holidays with your family, organize a get together of sorts. how about a vacation trip? celebrating the last week of the year with your friends and family at a beautiful place has become a trend in itself. so, if a trip is on the cards it is the time to make the bookings in advance, and before you go for that you might want to consider some natural health packages for a thoroughly rejuvenating experience. health and vacation? read it as ayurveda health tourism which is the best way to enjoy your holidays.
here’s some food for your thought though.
while traveling is always a refreshing exercise in itself, including health in its ambit of benefits is a win-win for your entire family. a busy modern lifestyle gets you quite a little time to take care of yourself. you can end the year on a good note by putting health first in a lot of things that you do.
a travel vacation can offer you more than you have hoped for, if wellness becomes an integral part of it. so, let’s walk you through some scenic holiday destinations in india where enjoying the vacation comes with the added perk of wellness choices.
down south in the scented forests of palakkad in kerala
ayurveda has remained integrated in the traditions of kerala for centuries. it is the land of ashta vaidyas who long served the society through the healing wisdom of ayurveda. palakkad is a heritage city which is often hailed as the gateway of kerala. the place abounds in placid lakes, splendid gardens, historic sites, spectacular hills, rich wildlife, several acres of national parks, and spellbinding rainforests. nestled among the milky pines of palakkad are the some renowned ayurveda centers that offer a handful of rejuvenation therapies and retreat packages. oil and herbs massages, spa, detoxification, and other natural treatments are part of these therapies.
in the serene foothills of the himalayas in uttarakhand
the foothills of uttarakhand have a lot to offer if you are looking for wellness, tranquility, and adventure. rishikesh is the most favorite destination in this state for health tourists. scenic views, fresh air, the enchanting flow of ganges river through the valley, and spa resorts like ananda make the region a perfect destination for those seeking harmony, health, and happiness. you can indulge in an optimal revival of your health with a harmonious routine of organic meals, ayurveda, meditation, and yoga around here. it would help you destress your body and mind, overcome anxiety problems, and experience the bliss of healthy lifestyle.
basking in health amidst the laid back aura of pondicherry
pondicherry has its old world charm with its quiet, laid back atmosphere that gives you a lot of time to unwind yourself. most of the health tourists who visit here, head to auroville which is a small town within pondicherry. auroville has beautiful beaches with the sunlight perfectly hitting the shoreline, offering a warm experience. the place has well-equipped ayurveda centers for relaxation and detox. a week long stay in auroville will make you feel revitalized and healthier. this destination is ideal for those who want to relax and avail the ayurvedic therapies without any hurry.
reviving in the natural splendor of dharamshala in himachal pradesh
dharamshala is a picturesque hill destination that has a rich cover of hills and forests. the greenery around and the fresh air in these hills act as some kind of remedy for the senses. health benefits multiply when you consider the rejuvenation centers that are based around here. ayurveda, reiki, naturopathy, yoga, and other health programs offered at these centers give you a lot of choices. you can go for complete panchakarma therapy which includes vamana (emesis), virechana (purgation), niroohavasti (decoction enema), nasyam (instilling herbal medicine through nostrils), and anuvasana basti (oil enema).
these are some of the health destinations that would go well with your holiday travel plans. the retreat health packages vary from one day to a week, so you have choices there too. a typical three-day rejuvenation package comes with complete hospitality, from hygienic accommodation to healthy meals to ayurvedic treatments to lectures and sessions to fitness coaching and demonstrations on how to live a balanced life by following the principles of ayurveda. make a visit to these ayurveda retreats for a unique experience that would earn you better health and overall wellness in its true sense.