Pre Cleanse Stage
The vital preparation for Panchakarma
Charaka & Vaghbhata in Sutrasthana define health as:
“Samadosha, samagnischa samadhatumala kriyaha prasanna atmenindriya manaha swasthya ityabhidheeyate”
Above is the Ayurvedic Definition of Health which teaches that the basic body humours (doshas) must be in equilibrium, the digestive fire (agni) must be in a balanced state and the tissues (dhatus) and wastes (malas) must work in a normal state. The soul (atma), sensory and motor organs and mind (manas) must also be in a pleasant state. Such a person is called a healthy person or Swastha.
“Panchakarma” refers to the classical facilitation of deep cleansing, healing and rejuvenation of the body and mind. These therapies have been practiced for thousands of years to effectively improve health by strengthening immunity, removing stress, restoring enthusiasm and slowing the aging process, among many other benefits.
The initial stage of Panchakarma therapy is called Purvakarma. This stage helps to mobilize and liquefy waste products (ama) from the tissues and move it towards the intestines, which then allows the Panchakarma treatments to flush them out. Purvakarma is of great importance for the full success of Panchakarma.
Internal lubrication (snehan)
Snehan reduces the dryness of body tissues (dhatus) and passages (srotas). This ultimately helps to loosen up and drive impurities out of the body during Panchakarma, mobilizing unwanted waste matter lodged in the body; which adds to the transformational results of Panchakarma. Ghee (clarified butter) acts as the lubricant and is taken orally in the dose recommended below. Instructions on how to make ghee at home can be found here.
Notice: do not use ghee if you have high cholesterol or a history of heart disease. Rather, choose organic flaxseed oil. This is also suitable for vegans.
Intake of cleansing purgative herbs
Triphala is an Ayurvedic herbal formula that aims at cleansing and rejuvenating the body, with special affinity for the blood and liver. It has a very mild laxative effect. You can find this at your local health food store or online. Take two triphala tablets or 1 teaspoon of powdered triphala every evening before bedtime with 8 ounces of warm water.
You will have greater results from the Panchakarma experience if you follow these Purvakarma directions. However, if you are not able to begin all the preparation prior, please simply begin to eat a healthy vegetarian diet.
1-3 weeks before Jessica’s arrival for your Panchakarma treatment
- Avoid all processed, junk and fried foods, and sweets
- Avoid stimulants such as coffee and alcohol
- Avoid most dairy products (ghee is permitted)
- Begin self-massage with an Ayurvedic massage oil or sesame oil before showering. Warm the oil before applying liberally to your entire body and then wait 45 minutes before showering. This is a good time for mediation, reading or even doing gentle asana and pranayama.
1 week before Jessica’s arrival for your Panchakarma treatment
- Eliminate meat, fish, and eggs from diet
- Modify diet so it becomes predominantly cooked vegetables, whole grains, and beans. These foods (vegetables especially) create a more alkaline (vs. acid) environment in the body, which supports the cleansing and detoxifying process
- Eat a sattvic diet consisting primarily of khichdi which is a delicious and nutritious rice, bean and vegetable one pot meal that balances the doshas and starts the process of detoxification (recipe here)
- Prepare organic oatmeal and apples steamed with 2 cloves for breakfast
- Drink 4 cups of cumin-coriander-fennel tea daily (recipe here)
Breakdown of your 7 day Purvakarma home preparation for Panchakarma
Day 1 – upon waking (ideally around 6am) take 2 tablespoons of ghee. This should be available from your local health food store, Indian grocer or you can make your own (instructions on how to make ghee at home can be found here). The ghee should be melted and warm. You may add a little black pepper or powdered ginger to make it more palatable. For the next hour sip the hottest water you can handle regularly. This should be done on an empty stomach. After one hour you may have your morning meal.
Day 2 – follow the same procedure as Day 1 but increase the intake of ghee to 4 tablespoons.
Day 3 – increase ghee to 6 tablespoons. At bedtime take 2 tablespoons of castor oil mixed in a cup of very warm ginger tea. This will induce a mild purgation in the morning. Do not plan on doing anything the following morning.
Day 4 – stop taking ghee. In the morning only sip warm/hot water or ginger tea, until you have 2-4 bowel movements. If you do not have a bowel movement, drink 2 cups of senna leaf tea or smooth move. This mild purgation starts the detoxifying process of Panchakarma. Skip breakfast and only have lunch when you develop true hunger (not just emotional or dutiful eating). For lunch prepare watery khichdi (recipe here). At bedtime take triphala.
Days 5–7 – continue khichdi diet and take triphala at bedtime. During this preparation phase, try to shift your activities in order to become more internally and rest focused. This means letting go of some day-to-day activities and spending time meditating, doing yoga and taking walks in nature. Practice deep breathing and try to focus on lengthening the exhalation, which helps to rid the body of toxins, outdated ideas, emotions and blockages.