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Charaka’s Evaluation of Panchakarma

A quick outline of Charaka's approach to Panchakarma, the predominant version of Ayurveda practised in Kerala.

The term "Panchakarma" was coined by Charaka. This is the name given to all Shodhana Therapies of five fold.The importance of sodhana therapy starts from RituCharya. Panchakarma procedures are explained for eliminating the doshas that accumulate in the body due to seasonal changes.

The therapies are two fold: Shodhana and Shamana. Shodhana therapy is indicated if the level of dosha vitiation is profuse, if the body can withstand the tedious procedures involved. Samana is highly indicated where the dosha vitiation can be rectified by internal medicines.

Doshas have a habit of their own. They gather in their locations before beginning perturbation. When doshas are gathered or accumulated they are prone to perturbation due to various factors which include unfriendly diets, emotional surcharges and suppression of natural urges. In the case of severe perturbation the elimination of doshas is a must for which Panchakarma is the prescribed course.

Vamana (Emesis), Virechana (Purgation), Nasya (inhalation therapy), Sneha Vasti (enema with medicated oil), Niruha vasti (enema with decoctions) are the procedures adopted by Charaka in Panchakarma. Charaka has not adopted blood letting among Shodhana therapy.The five procedures adopted by him have proved efficient for mobilizing the vitiated doshas in the body constituents and thereby eliminating them through three routes – oral, nasal and anal passages.

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