Detoxification Ayurvedic Treatment

What is detoxification?

 The removal of toxins from body is termed as detoxification. As per Ayurveda, these toxins are called ‘Ama’. Due to the consumption of unhealthy food/ incompatible food/ unaccustomed food, seasonal changes, faulty habits etc ama is formed and accumulated in body without proper elimination. Ama can be produced even with healthy lifestyles in healthy person as a bye-product of digestion and bodily functions. Consider human body as a machine, it has an inbuilt capacity to function with whole power for a certain period, and after that its efficiency gradually reduces. Then we need to repair it to get the all-new machine with full power and efficiency. Likewise, human body needs to be repaired time-to-time to retain its full efficiency. This process is called detoxification.

   As per Ayurveda, shodhana (elimination of impurities) is the term used for detoxification. It can be done in healthy people as well as those suffering from diseases. Shodhana in healthy individuals is called seasonal purification (Rtu shodhana). 

Ayurvedic methods of detoxification

 There are five methods of shodhana (elimination therapy) in Ayurveda called ‘Panchakarma.’ They are vamana (emetic therapy), virechana (purgation therapy), nasya (nasal administration of drugs), asthapana/ kashaya vasthi (enema with decoction) and anuvasana/ snehavasthi (enema with lipid formulations). Raktamoksha (blood- letting) also considered as a shodhana therapy. All these five procedures include elimination of ama/ impurities through natural orifices (except raktamoksha). 

 Before doing shodhana/ panchakarma, we need to make the ama ready for elimination as it is mixed with bodily fluids, tissues etc. It should be carried to the easily approachable natural orifice (like mouth, nostrils, and anus) for shodhana therapy. For this, snehana (oil massage and internal administration of lipid formulation), and swedana (sudation therapy) are done, and these two are the preparatory procedures of shodhana

Who needs detoxification?

Both healthy and ill person are eligible for detoxification/ shodhana therapy. After timely shodhana therapy, healthy individual regains their vitality and immune power. In fact, it is the internal cleansing method of body just like brushing teeth or bathing to remove waste material from external body. Those suffering from disease conditions need detoxification therapy if there is excess ama in body. A physician can identify the presence of ama in a disease by assessing the signs and symptoms, state of dosha etc. Common symptoms of ama are blockage of channels, weakness, heaviness of body, impaired bodily activities, fatigue, indigestion, constipation etc. 

Common diseases that require detoxification

 By assessing the signs and symptoms, dosha, severity of disease etc the physician determines one’s eligibility of detoxification. Common disease conditions that require shodhana are:

  • Inflammatory conditions like arthritis
  • Liver diseases
  • Obesity
  • Skin diseases 
  • Diabetes
  • Gynaecological disorders- like PCOS, uterine fibroids, infertility etc
  • Cancer 
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Digestive problems- eg: IBS, Chron’s disease 
  • Diseases of eye, head etc
  • Mental disorders 

What is the right time to do detoxification/ shodhana?

 Shodhana should be done after proper snehana and swedana in both healthy and ill-healthy people. Without these preparatory procedures, the detoxification therapy will not be effective; and it may lead to many complications. After proper snehana and swedana, the person may feel sluggishness, loose joints, nausea etc, and then the physician advice detoxification therapy. 

In healthy individuals, seasonal detoxification is to be done at certain point of time at the transitional period of one season to next. At these points, there will be natural aggravation (chaya/ slight increase) of dosha in body. If they are not eliminated at chaya stage, they may gradually cause many diseases by producing ama. The seasonal variation of dosha is like this:

Seasons

Vata

Pitta

Kapha

Shishira (January- March)

Chaya

Vasantha (March- May)

Kopa

Greeshma (May- July)

Chaya

Shamana

Varsha (July- September)

Kopa

Chaya

Sarat (September- November)

Shamana

Kopa

Hemantha (November- January)

Shamana

 

 Detoxification in healthy people should be done in the next season following doshachaya (slight aggravation), ie vata, pitta and kapha should be eliminated during varsha, sarat and Vasantha respectively. 

Who cannot do detoxification? 

 Shodhana cannot be done without proper preparatory procedures (snehana and swedana) in both healthy and ill-healthy people. Very weak persons are not supposed to perform detoxification. 

The common contraindication of detoxification therapy includes- those who do not follow the instructions, those who are afraid of the therapy, those who are impatient, depressed one, those who are not prepared for the procedure, those who fails to observe the changes in body during after the procedure etc. 

What are the precautions and after-care of detoxification? 

 Before any shodhana therapy, snehana and swedana must be done. The materials required for each shodhana therapy are different. The person must stay calm and ready for the procedure. Follow the dietary and behavioural modifications advised by physician. 

 After the procedure, the person must follow the special dietary practice for the prescribed period. Physical exertion, day sleep, late night sleep, exposure to wind, heat, cold etc are strictly prohibited after the procedure. Gradually, the normal diet can be practiced as per the direction of physician.

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