Detoxification In Ayurveda
By Dr. Sajimon George BAMS. AAA. ATMS
Ayurveda emphasises the importance of detoxification. This holistic health system considers the accumulation of metabolic toxins as the root cause of pathogenesis of diseases.
Since the industrial revolution, we have been exposed to different pesticides and pollutants with unknown ill effects. These chemicals remain in the body attaining nature of dooshi visha or metabolism resistant toxins.
After attaining this state, toxins remain dormant for a long time waiting for supporting factors. Whenever there is an occurrence of favorable factors, such as climatic changes, unwholesome food habits etc, it becomes active and results in different health problems.
To make things worse, our modern lifestyle which involves unhealthy food habits, results in deficient digestive fire which causes a building up of internal toxins called Ama.
Ayurvedic Approach to Detoxification and Ayurvedic Panchakarma
Both Ama and Dooshi visha resist metabolism and elimination via normal excretory activities. Contaminated Dhatus or body tissues with Dooshi visha or Ama spread all over the body through subtle channels called srothas.
These two types of toxins can either block srothas or can remain hidden from digestive fire or Agni in vulnerable asayas or space waiting for trigger from unhealthy lifestyle and food habits.
This is the reason why many chronic diseases are difficult to treat without complete elimination of such toxins through proper detoxification procedures.
Detoxification procedures should be done in any season whenever there is a possibility of live toxins. If the toxins have reached the gastro intestinal tract it can easily be eliminated by a single medicated purgation.
When toxins reach deeper dhatus and vital points of life, removal becomes more difficult. In such conditions Ayurvedic panchakarma procedures is the only choice.
Ayurvedic Panchakarma Method
This traditional and effective detoxification method utilizes all external orifices including the nose, skin, blood vessels, urinary tract and the bowel for the elimination of toxins.
During herbal steaming, (an integral part of the preparatory procedure of Panchakarma), sweat glands and superficial blood vessels are actively involved. It is worthwhile to remember that the average skin surface area is around six square metres. Thus millions of sweat glands spread all over this skin play an active role in this mega detoxification event.
Swedana or herbal steaming done after snehana (external and internal oleation) liquefy ama (toxins) from the deep dhatus and bring it to areas or (aasaya) from which it can be removed. Removal of toxins of this liquefied state is done by five purificatory procedures of Ayurvedic panchakarma.
Any detoxification procedure may enable removal of physical toxins, but we also store mental and emotional factors which can result in ama of the mental level. Both these physical and mental toxins can be eliminated by Ayurvedic Panchakarma procedures.
Panchakarma or Detoxification Procedures
After the analysis of signs and symptoms of the patient, the level of impairment can be ascertained. The choice of Panchakarma procedure suitable to the patient will also depend on the type of toxin (dooshi visha or ama) initiated in the pathogenesis.
These preparatory procedures enable the body to convert deep rooted toxins for elimination and transports them to natural organs of excretion.
The first step of the preparatory phase is Snehana which includes oral administration and external application of medicated ghees or oils. This step is not required for Dooshi Visha since the body itself produces a layer of Kapha around this toxin to prevent any harm.
The general purpose of Snehana in panchakarma is to soften toxins. But in dooshi visha, the melting of the Kapha covering during herbal steaming makes it soften and liquefy.
The second step is Swedana or herbal steaming which liquefies toxins so that it can move easily through dilated srothas or subtle channels. Now toxins reach tracts or Aasayas through natural excretory orifices. Most of this toxin is transported to the gastro intestinal tract.
Process of Purification
The next step is the Process of purification. After Oleation (Snehana) and Herbal Steaming (Swedana) procedures, the majority of the liquefied toxins or ama moves into the gastrointestinal tract. Based on the clinical presentation, elimination is done by Vamana (medicated vomiting), Virechana (medicated purgation) and/or Vasthi (medicated enema).
After purifying toxins from the gastro intestinal tract, the balance may still remain in the head if it is not removed. It may result in diseases of the head.
To eliminate this toxin, Nasya is done. In this procedure, medicated oils, fresh herb juices or similar liquids are generally used. It is administered to the nose after gentle application of a herbal steam on the face.
Follow up phase of diet and lifestyle
A strict food regimen and lifestyle is to be followed after the Panchakarma therapies. Always use warm and easily digestible food. This is advised to prevent any chance of impairment of the digestive fire. A malfunctioning of Agni or digestive fire will result in further production of ama.
Future exposure to pesticides and environmental pollutants also should be avoided to prevent formation of Dooshi Visha or unmetabolised toxins.
Always preserve digestive fire and this is the only way to retain the youthfulness, powerful senses and emotional wellbeing achieved through Panchakarma.