PURVA KARMA literally means ‘before’ the Karma. This nutrition and diet plan prepares the body for detoxification and is done before main PANCHA KARMA therapies. It is a pre-purification therapy. Before the actual operation of purification begins, there is a need to prepare the body with prescribed methods to encourage it to let go of the toxins. Purvakarma is classified into two procedures;
- snehan (OLEATION)
- swedana (SUDATION/FOMENTATION)
Swedana is sudation Therapy. It is done before the main Panchakarma treatment and as a curative measure. Swedhana is sweating induced by steam and is done every day immediately following the snehan. An essential oil(s) may be added to the steam to further loosen the toxins from the individual. Swedana liquefies the toxins and increases the movement of toxins into the gastrointestinal tract. After three to seven days of Snehan and Swedana, the Doshas become well ripened. A unique Panchakarma method is then given according to the individual’s constitution and disorder. Swedana means dry or wet fomentation or heat therapy. Different types of fomentations are possible. These include taking a sunbath, sitting in a specially prepared wooden sweat box, pouring warm water on the body, sitting in a bath tub or taking a steam bath. Variations like Swedana for the whole body (below the neck), for the diseased part of the body (e.g. only extremities), sitz’s bath (for perineal region) can be used according to the need of the patient. Many kinds of warm solids like cloth, sand bags, heat pads and liquids like warm water, water with milk, herbal decoctions and medicated oil can be used for fomentation as decided by the ayurvedic physician diagnosing the condition of the patient.
Ayurvedic physicians have developed swedana therapy for curing many diseases like neurological disorders, arthritis, back pain etc.
Treatment procedures under Swedana are:
Ushmasweda (Steam Bath)
This includes application of steam by steam chamber or through tube to the affected part in the case of certain ailments.
Benefits of Swedhana or Steam Therapy:
- Removes impurities and melts toxins within the body so that they move more readily into the gastrointestinal tract, supporting elimination.
- Ignites digestive fire, metabolic fire and the immune system of all the cells within the body.
- Brings deep relaxation, removes stress and crystallized negative emotions.
- Relieves muscle and joint pain.
- Promotes weight loss.
- Reduces cellulite.
- Works well with clays, muds, scrubs and essential oils.
- Eliminates the need for body wraps.
- Transforms your massage table into a spa.
To summarize, oiling the body and ‘sweat’ procedures are Purvakarma (pre-procedures) which help in liquefying the accumulated Ama (toxins), in cooling the irritated Dosha (basic body elements), in opening the blocked strotasa (body channels) and in lubricating the passages of mala (waste products) there by secreting them outside the body. Prior to Swedhana Therapy, the one receives oil massage or Garshan (dry brushing).
Pindasweda is the preparation of cloth balls containing leaves, rice, cereals, meats etc. which is used to massage the whole body or an affected part. It is a type of abyanga and is classified into many types according to the ingredient used or the purpose served.
PATRAPINDASWEDA: It is a type of massage using Kizhi containing medicated leaves and oil. It is very effective in Hemiplegia, Quadriplegia, Sciatica, Spasticity Obesity, General Weakness, Sterility, tremor, rheumatic arthritis, ankylosis, spondylosis etc.
SHASHIKA SHALIPINDASWEDA: It is a type of massage using kizhi containing navara or grains, rice and milk. It is very effective in muscular wasting, Hemiplegia, Sciatica, back pain, general and sexual weakness, old age problems, polio, muscular atrophy, Rheumatic arthritis etc
MAMSAPINDASWEDA: It is type of massage using Kizhi containing powders of medicated cereals and oil. It is very effective in back pain, Hemiplegia, Quadriplegia, Sciatica, accidental problems, general and sexual weakness and total body pain.
MAMSAPINDASWEDA: It is type of massage using Kizhi containing meat and oil. It is very effective in muscular wasting, muscular atrophy, polio, general and sexual weakness, old age problems, Hemiplegia, Tremor, total body pain etc.
Sarvangadhara is an anointing of the whole body, a special form of Snehan (OLEATION) treatment that combines rich oil massage with a special heat treatment. This therapy is known as the “King’s Treatment” due to its popularity with the Maharajas and royal families of ancient India.
During this indulgent treatment medicated and warmed Ayurvedic oil(Type and dosage decided by the physician) is continuously poured over the body while two practitioners rub and stimulate the skin using hands and special cotton cloths. The process is performed with the person both lying down in the oil tub and while sitting in a chair both specially designed for the purpose of applying medicated oils. The flow of warm oil gently washes away tension accumulated over years of stress. Habitual patterns of holding vital energy deep inside feel opened and soothed. As the treatment progress for a series of days the effects are felt in increasingly deeper areas so that the body and mind are enveloped in a cocoon of warmth and nurturing.
This is a highly Ayurveda rejuvenation treatment that enhances muscular tone and retunes and rejuvenates the entire nervous system and skin, promotes relaxation and inner balance. It is a cure for extremely high Vata dosha types, muscular aches and pains, rheumatic problems, osteo arthritis, insomnia, depression. Pizhichil is regarded as the ultimate treatment to renew vibrant health and happiness.
Takra dhara is a form of Shirodhara. It is the treatment of choice for all diseases related to head and brain. This is an Ayurvedic treatment method which involves continuous flow of medicated butter milk to the centre of forehead continuously for up to an hour a day. Abhyanga is done prior to the treatment. After Abhyanga patient is allowed to lie on his back with head in a slightly elevated position. Eyes are then closed by cotton and a long band of cloth is tied around the head. Medicated butter milk is then gradually poured over the forehead from a height of four fingers from a vessel which is hanged on a stand. The stream of butter milk is made to fall over the whole area of forehead. The process can last from 7 to 21 days. It is a cure for Vata toxins predominant diseases. It relieves tension and cures certain types of skin diseases as well. It is very cooling and very effective in skin diseases, like psoriasis. The excessive secretion of Cortisol which is produced by stress causes rise in blood levels of glucose. This may be reduced due to the relaxation effect of Takradhara.
Ksheera dhara is one of the important treatments among Kerala special treatments. After Abhyanga, patient is allowed to lie on his back with head in a slightly elevated position. Eyes are then closed by cotton and a long band of cloth is tied around the head The process by which the body is made to perspire by means of pouring warm medicated milk with a special vessel from a certain height in a rhythmic manner and is rubbed into the body in seven different postures for a certain period of 7 to 21 days. When this treatment is done with milk (Ksheera), it is called ‘Ksheeradhara’. To do this, cow’s milk is preferred, but buffalo’s milk is also used at times. Decoctions of various herbs are added to the milk. If Ksheeradhara is done for the head alone, it is called Shirodhara and if it is for the whole body except the head, it is known as Sarvangadhara. A Sarvanga Ksheera Dhara is usually prescribed for diseases caused by disorders of Pitta humor (one of the three Doshas or somantic humours in Ayurveda, which is characterized by the properties of element fire. As a first step, suitable medicinal oil is applied on the head. At least three attendants are needed, two to pour the fluid and another to replenish the vessels. The treatment is conducted while the patient goes through the standard seven positions.
This method strengthens the tissues, nourishes the skin and promotes longevity, and also rejuvenates the body. It is especially good for Vatha and Pitta disorders.