Panchakarma treatment is an Ayurvedic therapy to detoxify your body and balance your energies (doshas). The procedure itself is quite complex and is advised to be taken with a specialized practitioner. Also, it is costly! What you need is a Panchakarma treatment at home.
You are looking for a home-based Panchakarma treatment either because there are no Panchakarma treatment centres near you or you are not ready to shell out so much money or simply because you love DIY methods.
So, how can you do Panchakarma at home without being an expert at it or shelling out so much money? To understand this, we first need to understand what Panchakarma actually is.
Panchakarma treatment is a five-step therapy to remove the accumulated toxins from the body often known in Ayurveda as ama. These toxins accumulate over the period due to lifestyle, food and imbalanced doshas or energy types (Vata, Pitta, Kapha).
The toxins are removed over a period of 5 days to 21 days depending on the severity of the problem.
Panchakarma cleanses your body internally as well. People with dry skin, acne or rashes especially benefit from this process.
The therapy includes a pre-panchakarma treatment consisting of massage and sauna for a few days. This is followed by Pancha (five) + karma (treatments) – Vamana (Controlled vomiting), Nasya (Nasal oleation), Virechana (Enema), Basti(Enema), Rakta Mokshana (Blood cleansing).
5 steps for home-based Panchakarma
Since Panchakarma treatment is a complex procedure, it does require the supervision of an Ayurvedic practitioner. But a simplified version of Panchakarma can be done at home.
Home-based Panchakarma is relatively easy and a few technical steps are skipped. The steps given below are however very effective for a short cleanse and should be performed in the same sequence. Home-based Panchakarma should be carried out for 5 days. The five steps entailing the process are,
1. Internal Oleation
Start your day by taking 3 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) or coconut oil (if you have high triglycerides and cholesterol). Increase the intake by 1 tablespoon every day. Put a few drops of ghee or oil in your nostrils as well for nasal cleansing. This also helps in controlling snoring.
Make sure the ghee is pure cow’s ghee (clarified butter) and the coconut oil is a cooking grade edible virgin coconut oil. If you are confused which ghee (clarified butter) you should buy, you can look for ANCIENT ORGANICS 100% Organic Ghee from Grass-fed Cows, 32oz for $32 or Grassfed Organic Ghee 16 oz for $18 on Amazon.
But if you choose to go with coconut oil you can pick Carrington Farms virgin coconut oil 54 oz for $28.28 on Amazon.
If you are in India there are plenty of options available for Cow’s desi ghee. Visit Patanjali’s store or order online. The best option is to procure from a family-owned farmhouse or your ancestral village.
Coconut oil is also used as a staple in South India and you can find ample varieties of edible coconut oil in the market or online. If you are confused which one to choose you can buy Max Care Cold Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil 500 ml for Rs.390 on Amazon.
2. Breathing Exercises
Perform breathing exercises like Kapalabhati (skull shining breathing exercises), alternate nostril breathing (Anulom Vilom) and Bhastrika (active inhalation and exhalation) to generate heat inside the body which aids in the removal of the toxins.
Perform these exercises for 10 mins followed by 10 mins of silent meditation. Shower yourself with self-love during your meditation and immerse in the silence. If you are finding it difficult to sit straight, you can rest your back against a hard surface or lie down.
3. External Oleation
Massage yourself with warm sesame oil vigorously until you start sweating. If you have trouble massaging your back due to mobility restrictions, you can ask a family member to help you or better if you can get the massage done by a masseuse.
The ideal time for massage is in the morning on an empty stomach after performing step 1 & 2. However if for any reason it is not possible, you should not get the massage done right after your meals. A minimum gap of 1.5-2 hrs is appropriate.
For self-massage, long strokes on the entire body except joints are beneficial as it aids in blood circulation. Massage your joints in a circular motion.
Also known as Swedana in Ayurveda, it is done to induce sweating. Steam opens the pores on the skin and the oil is absorbed in the body. This can be done at steam rooms/sauna facility. Swedana should be done in such a way that your head and neck remain cool while your body is sweating. 10 mins Swedana should be enough for home treatment.
If you don’t have this facility at home you can simply dip a towel in hot water and squeeze it to remove the water. Bring it closer to your body and let the steam seep in. This is one of the traditional and the best method of steam as it avoids exposing the neck and head to steam.
A lot of importance is placed on enema in Panchakarma for the right reasons. The toxins that are released by the body after following the 4 steps mentioned above are accumulated in the rectum. In order to remove those toxins, concoction and oil-based enemas are given to the person undergoing the therapy. Since enema should not be done by yourself, taking a laxative is a better option.
Triphala churna, a combination of three fruits Amla (Gooseberry), Harad (Myrobalan) and Bibhitaki (Bastard myrobalan) taken in the dosage ½ -1 teaspoon in hot water should be the best laxative to remove the toxins. You can buy Triphala churna on Amazon here.
Diet in home-based Panchakarma Treatment
During a home-based therapy, your breakfast, lunch and dinner should be light meals.
- Kitchari is a one-pot meal cooked with ghee aka clarified butter, rice and moong dal and perfect for the cleanse. Find the recipe of Kitchari here. However, if the very thought of having Kitchari for five days is petrifying to you, you can eat either oats or porridge for breakfast.
- Oats or porridge: Indian porridge can be taken with milk or cooked as a one-pot salted porridge. If you don’t like the taste of Indian porridge or it is not available in your country, you can try salted oats instead. The recipe for salted oats can be found here.
NOTE: Omit the chillies completely while cooking.
No snacking in between the meals should be done and taking raw vegetables and fruits should be avoided for these 5 days. But sweet and juicy seasonal fruits like mangoes that act as laxatives can be taken in a limited amount.
Effects of home-based Panchakarma Treatment
Initially, you will feel a little nauseous after intaking ghee or oil on the first day. If this happens, keep a cup of hot ginger green tea (if you are a Kapha type) or fennel tea (if you are Pitta and Vata type) ready and sip it right after ghee/oil intake.
You might feel a little low on energy on the first day. However, it will improve after the 3rd day. There might be feelings of anxiety, grief, fear or sadness, which is a good sign that negative emotions (also considered as toxins in Ayurveda) are leaving your body.
You will experience cravings for sweets or junk food but self-control is the key. 4th day onwards you will start feeling refreshed and rejuvenated and you will have more energy during the day.
What to do after home Panchakarma treatment?
- Don’t start eating junk or heavy to digest foods right after your Panchakarma. Give your body some chance to recoup.
- Find out your Prakriti/dosha type and identify your imbalances. Follow a diet that suits your composition type.
- Follow an Ayurvedic diet for a few days after Panchakarma. Don’t eat raw vegetables after Panchakarma. Saute or boil them so that they are easier to digest.
- You can continue massaging even after Panchakarma as it is nourishing for the body. Maintain a gap of 1.5-2 hrs between eating and massaging.
- Adopt a daily pranayama and meditation routine. Find a few yoga poses ideal for your dosha balancing and perform them daily.
- Start writing a gratitude journal. You will realise how many good things we take for granted.
The benefits are immense. You will see a significant glow on the skin due to regular massage and steam. Flatulence and bloating will be reduced substantially and your stomach will feel light. Cravings will also see an immediate decline.
If you want to make the process more effective you can try writing a journal to record the data. Journal your mood swings and other changes in the body so that you can figure out what feelings control your thought process. For e.g., if you experience difficulty in passing, the stool it might correlate to their feelings of not letting this go off easily. This cleanses will also give you a better chance to introspect.
That’s it. Now you are all set for your at-home Panchakarma. Go for it!!
If you plan on going for a professional therapy you can find the list for best treatment centres in the USA. The list contains yelp ratings and the cost fo the treatment.
If you are curious about Ayurveda in India, it has some beautiful Panchakarma treatment centres as well. Here is a list of 15 most trustworthy and beautiful places for every budget.
If you find the article beneficial, share with your friends and family.
Comment below if you have gone through the therapy and how was your experience throughout.
Chakshu is a US alliance certified yoga teacher, a biotechnologist and an Ayurveda evangelist. Her passion is to help people live a toxic-free life, emotionally and chemically. She loves reading self-help books. When she is not writing, she is busy thinking about life.