What is Panchakarma

Explanation of Pancha Karma

A quick explanation of Panchakarma that is the most popular term for therapies offered in Kerala and is strongly associated with the state.

Its a therapeutic process much favored in Kerala and to some extent distinctive to Kerala where the local panchakarma process has been simplified without loss of efficacy. It is the most effective way to alleviate stress and to combat functional impairments of the body.

Pancharakarma is preceded by poorvakarma or pre-purification. The body is ‘readied’ to let go of toxins through swedanam and snehanam. Swedanam means ‘sudation’ or sweating. This procedure liquefies toxins and increases their movement into the gastrointestinal tract. Snehanam, which follows, means oleating the body. It helps toxins to move towards the gastrointestinal tract and makes tissues soft and supple, thus helping to remove stress and nourish the nervous system. The doshas are now active. A particular panchakarma is then given according to the individual’s constitution and disorder. Panchkarma is the classic five-point revitalisation treatment that is gaining worldwide fame these days. Although Panchakarma is often thought of as the entire procedure, it is, in fact, part of a group of therapies belonging to a class of cleansing procedures called shodhana. At Kalari, the Panchkarma rejuvenation process is intensive and closely follows the early texts of Ayurveda like the Charaka Samhita and the Sushruta Samhita. Pradhana karma - main procedure

There are five basic Shodhanas, or therapeutic cleansing processes.

  • Nasyam: Elimination of toxins through the nose or Errhine Therapy
  • Vamanam: Therapeutic vomiting or Emesis Therapy
  • Virechanam: Purgation Therapy
  • Vasthy: Medicated Enema
  • Rakthamoksham: Detoxification of the blood or Blood letting Therapy

This is followed by paschat karma or post-purification measures, which advises a diet and lifestyle that is harmonious with one’s constitution.

Some Common PanchaKarma Therapies

Shiro Dhara

This means quite literally Shiro = head; dhara = flow.

The application of a flow of oil to the head which offers profound relaxation to the nervous and immune systems of the body. Patient find that it clears years of deep seated stresses.

Look & feel decades younger, improves hair & complextion.

Efficacious for stress, diabetes, anxiety, anger, and some brain disorders like MS, epilepsy although this is claimed rather than a proven to the satisfaction of allopathic scientists

Pinda Sweda

Medicated bag application for neuromuscular and some systemic diseases, for neurological and bone conditions including the brain, supple bones and joints, circulation, cleansing, vigor, improved digestion, MS, chronic rheumatism, osteoarthritis, gout, aging, insomnia, HBP, diabetes, facial paralysis, skin disorders, balding, premature graying, wrinkles. – It requires 2 practitioners to be correctly applied.

Podikkizhi Sweda

Body oil application for Vayu & Kapha disorders – requires 2 practitioners


Body oil application - most beneficial nervous system rejuvenation. Promotes tissue strength, digestive fire, beautiful complexion, clear senses, Vayu disorders, hemiplegia, paralysis, muscle spasms and degenerative disorders – requires 2 practitioners

Udwartana abhyanga

Body powder application for obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, Kapha disorders – requires 2 practitioners


Herbal liquid application for memory, comprehension, head & eye disorders, chronic sinusitis, stress, Central Nervous System – requires 2 practitioners

Ksheera Dhara

Similar to Takradhara – requires 2 practitioners


Nose oils for sinus disorders & sinus headaches, jaw, ear and throat disorders

Karna Poorna

Ear oils for discharge, tinnitus, prevents deafness and headaches

Netra Vasti

Eye oils for inflammation, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, night blindness, VP eye conditions

Kati Vasti

Oil soaking for lower back and spinal pain

Uro Vasti

Oil soaking on chest region for pain


Herbal paste for pains due to inflammatory conditions

Shiro Lepa

Head paste for facial paralysis, hemiplegia, Vayu brain disorders including Parkinson's, MS, etc.

Nadi Sweda

Localized steam aimed at individual body areas for pain due to arthritis, muscle problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, paralysis, etc.

Ooshma Sweda

Sitting or lying in a steam tent (head not in steam) releases toxins and stress from muscles, improves circulation, digestion, complexion, stiff joints and Vayu conditions.

Upanaha Sweda

Hot medicated paste for gout & inflammation, arthritis.


This is various forms of smoke inhalation to relieve neck, jaw, nose/sinus, eye and head disorders including chronic coughs, asthma, chronic rhinitis, voice disorders, bad breath, pallor, hair disorders, mucus, hearing, taste, sight, stupor, hiccup, heaviness, hemi crania, earache, eye pain, toothache, dullness, Vayu and Kapha disorders.

Face Glow Therapy

Different treatments for normal, dry, and oily skin

Wrinkle Therapy

Herbs applied to the face also reduce/remove wrinkles

Pimple Therapy

Herbs applied to the face also remove pimples

Scar Therapy

Herbs applied to the face also reduce/remove scars

Dark Patches Therapy

Herbs applied to the face also reduce/remove dark patches

Hair/scalp Therapies

Herbs applied to the head also address hair growth/loss, dandruff, premature graying, lustrous hair.

What is the value of Shiro Dhara?

The oils that flow from the Shiro Dhara bowl run across the forehead, most especially in between the eyebrows (what is sometimes called in ayurveda the third eye). At this location all the nerves of the body meet. So warm oil massaging this area massages all the nerves of the body.

The entire nervous system and immune system becomes extremely relaxed. In this relaxed state the body is able to release deep seated stresses and illnesses.

It is claimed that diseases that are difficult to heal by other methods, such as allopathy (for example diseases such as diabetes, Multiple Schlerosis, etc.) can be healed through the application Shiro Dhara treatments.

The warm oil on the head also brings tranquility to the mind, helping to calm or assuage mental and emotional disorders.

Additionally the oil provides for both beautiful hair and a vital and lively complexion.

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