When our constitutional balance gets disturbed, it creates an imbalance. When the imbalance is complex enough and/or goes on for long enough, the disease process can begin. We all experience situations that are not ideal for our well-being, and we humans have a tendency to make decisions based more on short-term gratification (that box of cookies!) rather than long-term influences on our health.

Similar to the way a home collects dust, our bodies accumulate metabolic wastes and toxins from season to season. These are usually due to poor lifestyle and dietary choices, as well as stress. Agni (our digestive fire) becomes weak under this heavy load, and internal toxicity increases as we are less able to make use of the nutrition in the foods that we eat.

Pancha Karma to the rescue! Pancha Karma (from Sanskrit; literally, “five actions”) is a cleansing and rejuvenating program for the body and mind. Pancha Karma helps us to move toxic metabolic wastes out of our cells and tissues while also deeply nourishing us with nutritional foods.

The duration of Pancha Karma is a time away from the daily routine and stress of life. You will be giving your body and mind time to release old toxins, repair tissue, and rebuild your essential fire. This time away from old habits and patterns is a time to forgive the past and grow in self-love and self-awareness. You will take away healthy lifestyle and nutritional tools to incorporate into your daily life as your cleanse concludes and your new life begins.

Life during a Pancha Karma becomes very simple. Pancha Karma includes a prep phase, the cleanse itself, and the gradual reintroduction back into “regular” life. This presents you with an opportunity to make conscious choices about how you prioritize taking care of yourself. We all want to live a long and healthy life, and Pancha Karma supports that goal.

The benefits of Pancha Karma include:

  • Eliminate toxins and toxic conditions from your body and mind
  • Restore your constitutional balance
  • Strengthen your immune system and become more resistant to illness
  • Reverse the negative effects of stress on your body and mind
  • Slow the negative effects of the aging process
  • Enhance your self-reliance, strength, energy, vitality, and mental clarity
  • Bring about deep relaxation and a sense of well-being
  • Reduce dependence on medications
  • Implement positive lifestyle changes

Pancha Karma Contraindications

Pancha Karma is a process of ridding the body of toxins. It is designed individually and as such is safe for most people to undergo. However, certain people should not do a Pancha Karma. These following conditions are generally contraindicated:

  • Pregnancy or Lactation
  • Menstruation
  • Lymphoma
  • Cancer
  • Angina Pectoris
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Emaciation
  • Extreme Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Infectious Disease
  • Respiratory Disease
  • Active Covid-19 symptoms

The Five Basic Cleansing Methods

“Pancha Karma” literally means “Five Actions;” it is a Sanskrit term. Classically, five therapeutic actions are used. Here in the United States we use discretion when employing these methods. They are not appropriate for all clients.

—Vamana (therapeutic vomiting)

When there is congestion in the lungs—causing bronchitis, colds, cough, or asthma, for example—Vamana is very helpful. This eliminates the excessive Kapha dosha that has built up.

—Virechana (therapeutic purgation)

When excess Pitta has built up, issues typically show up in the gall bladder, liver, and small intestines. Rashes, skin inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of fever, and jaundice can also occur. Purgation helps relieve the excess Pitta and restores balance.

—Basti (therapeutic enema)

Basti is the most effective treatment for Vata disorders such as: constipation, cold, kidney stones, backache, sciatica, muscle spasms, headache, and joint pain. Bastis are always nourishing and are never depleting; they are substantially different from colonics and colon hydrotherapy.

—Nasya (elimination of toxins through the nose)

Impurities can—and do—accumulate in the sinuses, throat, nose, and head. The pathway out for these impurities is through the nose. This leads to improvement with headaches, poor memory, dry nasal passages, sinus congestion, allergies, and brain fog.

—Rakta Moksha (blood detoxification)

Reducing impurities and waste products that circulate with blood benefits all tissues and organs, ensuring that they get the nutrients that they need while getting rid of their own waste products. Blood detoxification improves many skin conditions and the overall health of the liver.

The Steps of Pancha Karma

Pre-Cleanse Prep: Purva Karma

Purva Karma prepares the body’s tissues for cleansing and the release of toxins. There is a need to prepare the body to encourage it to let go of toxins and metabolic wastes. The process begins approximately one week before the Pancha Karma treatments. During this time the client:

  • eats a simple diet
  • takes ghee internally
  • takes herbs to support the body’s elimination process
  • reduces the usual day-to-day activities
  • reduces exposure to mass media
  • spends time being quiet and still (ie: in meditation, taking walks in nature, etc)
  • establishes a consistent daily routine
  • eliminates refined, packaged, and prepared foods the your diet (including alcohol, leftovers, coffee, chocolate, caffeine, red meat, and sugary foods)

The Cleanse Itself: Pancha Karma

The Pancha Karma Therapies

This is the heart of the Pancha Karma. It is a time where resting is emphasized. Doing less is the priority over doing more. Clients eat a very simple diet and focus on really taking care of their needs.

The following treatments are performed daily for five days during Pancha Karma:

—Garshan

Garshan is an energizing, oil-free massage using silk gloves to stimulate lymph flow and toxin removal. It increases circulation, aids in cellulite reduction, and brings a glow to the skin. This is done before abhyanga to enhance the oil absorption through the skin.

—Abhyanga

Abhyanga is the classical treatment of whole-body nourishing oil massage. Choreographed massage strokes balance the nervous system and move you into a deep state of blissful relaxation, release, and rejuvenation.

—Svedana

Svedana is steam therapy. Swedana has been used since ancient times to detoxify the body and, ideally, follows an abhyanga massage to purify the bodily tissues. This procedure also removes stiffness, heaviness, coldness, and inflammation while pacifying vitiated doshas.

—Shirodhara

Shirodhara is a treatment in which a steady stream of warm herbal oil is poured onto the forehead and crown. This subtle therapy induces a profound sense of peace and well being, balances emotions, calms the mind, and reduces Vata dosha.

Additionally, clients have the option to add-on other treatments, and our practitioners often recommend specific treatments based on the client’s health history and presenting imbalances.

Paschat Karma

Paschat Karma is the time post-Pancha Karma where we ease back into our usual life. We consciously construct this time to be easeful, gentle, and gradual. A too-quick re-introduction into “normal” life will shock the system, leading to new imbalances that will effectively undo the work that was just done.

Foods are intentionally re-introduced one at a time to ensure that the digestive system is ready for them. Similarly, life activities are gradually re-scheduled so that your energy can keep pace.

Pancha Karma at the Ayurvedic Health Center

Our Pancha Karma program is custom-tailored to your current state of health, wellness, and constitutional imbalances. The following are included in your Classic Pancha Karma Package:

  • Wellness Consultation
  • Individualized Treatment Plan
  • Dinacharya (Daily Routine) Recommendations
  • Daily meetings with a practitioner during the process
  • Pancha Karma informational handbook
  • Abhyanga—daily for 5 days (nourishing oil massage)
  • Swedana—daily for 5 days (detoxification through steam therapy)
  • Shirodhara—daily for 5 days (warm oil streamed onto the forehead and crown)
  • Option to add-on other services that we offer
  • Post Pancha Karma Rejuvenation Plan, including Diet Recommendations & Recipes
  • Follow-up meeting one week after the conclusion of your cleanse

What Our Clients Have to Say

“Going into the cleanse, I didn’t know what to expect. It wasn’t easy for me to stick to the diet of only kitchari. I had many symptoms that seemed unrelated in my mind, but I learned that what they all had in common was too much fire in my system. After the cleanse, my headaches, rashes, hot temper (according to my wife), and chronic heartburn were either significantly reduced or completely gone.”

the results were well worth it

“I’d always read Oprah magazine and a zillion self-help books and knew I should nurture my body, that I needed to slow down, that I wanted to find balance. But until Pancha Karma, I didn’t have the tools and techniques to do that. The magical combination of oils, herbs, food cooked with love, gentle body treatments and, most of all, the enthusiastic encouragement and support of Juliet and Laura made those abstract concepts real.”

enjoyable in my everyday world

“A “mono-diet” sounded dull, but no way. It was beautiful to make it different each day, throwing in whatever veggies appealed to me, customizing the digestive spices, stirring in water to make it soupier made it more comforting and nourishing like the soupy rice my mom made for me when I was sick as a little girl.”

Sooooo glad I did that

“It was hard to give up sugar and chocolate, but I started feeling that I’d be more tuned in to the inherent sweetness of food, how that’s so satisfying that over-intense almost artificial sweetness loses its appeal. I had a wave of feeling how grateful I was to my body and aware of how much it does for me—to my feet for carrying me through the days, to my colon for digesting food, to my hands for the infinity of work they do every day—as well as how much healing and care they need.”

at blissful peace with my body and spirit

“Allowing myself to experience the depth of Beingness on every level (mind—body—soul) was truly a blessing… I so appreciated the wisdom, intention and attention given in every detail of the PK procedures. How magnificent it is to have an Ayurvedic Health Center right here in our own community.”

one of the kindest gifts I ever gave to myself

If you would like to schedule a Pancha Karma,
please contact us so that we can customize something for you.

We conduct all aspects of Pancha Karma
at our Center in Bellingham, WA, USA.

If you live outside of this region,
we are happy to get creative and consult with you.