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It's called Panchakarma and means "five actions." The benefits of this ancient, entirely natural detox method are being re-discovered today. This series of procedures was first described in the ancient records of ayurveda. A quote from the Charaka Samhita, one of the old classical texts of ayurvedic teaching (about 400 BC), describes the essentials of this powerful detox tool:

"In a person whose digestive system has been cleansed and purified the metabolism is stimulated, disease is reduced, and normal health is maintained. Sense organs, mind, intellect and complexion are improved; strength, good nourishment, healthy progeny and potency are the result. Symptoms of aging do not appear so easily and the person lives long and free from disorders. For this reason, elimination therapy should be carried out correctly and at the right time."

Panchakarma treatment is a truly unique approach for revitalization, rejuvenation and prevention. Authentic ayurvedic detox is not done piecemeal. The treatments are intended to be done in careful sequence, not in isolation. Each stage and step, physiologically, supports the next. This is one mark of "authentic" royal Panchakarma: the treatments are performed as prescribed by the texts — in an authentic manner — allowing the maximum benefit to be derived. What follows is a primer for understanding authentic Panchakarma, from Maharishi Ayurveda, and your best detox.

The Essentials of Your Best Detox


Abhyanga is the name of the synchronized oil therapy, adjusted to each individual. During Abhyanga two therapists gently treat the patient simultaneously, in a set manner. Ladies are treated by female therapists; men by male therapists. Abhyanga dislodges from the body tissues those toxins and waste products that have already been dissolved by the earlier procedures. Abhyanga is carried out in silence, which helps to harmonize the body's functions. Silence and rest are important components in the process of activating the body's own self-healing mechanisms. The abhyanga treatment uses herbal essences and choice ingredients specially put together for the individual patient. These ingredients are prepared together with soothing oils, in our own oil kitchen.


This is a full-body treatment carried out by two therapists applying extra pressure. It serves to relax the muscles profoundly, and powerfully stimulates the circulation in the tissues.


An exercise with raw silk gloves creating friction on the surface of the skin and increasing circulation in the body. It promotes weight loss and clears away clogging impurities that might cause problems such as cellulite. Garshan is followed by oil treatment.


This treatment with a paste made with ground grains and herbal powders cleanses the skin, increases circulation and supports healthy weight.


Pizhichill is a special form of treatment, half way between oil treatment and heat treatment. In this so-called "royal treatment" a gentle, synchronized action is carried out under a constant flow of warm herbal oil. This treatment is highly appreciated by all guests and produces good results supporting joint health and soothing muscle tension.


The oil treatment is often followed by an herbal steam bath with specially-selected medicinal herbs. This dilates the vessels and thereby assists the detoxification of the system. The term Svedana includes many different forms of heat treatment. The heat can be dry or damp, applied locally or to the whole body.


At the end of each day, after the impurities from different parts of the body have been loosened and drawn into the intestinal tract, the patient receives a basti. These gentle internal cleansing treatments use either warm herbalised oil or water-based herbal decoctions to eliminate impurities from the intestinal tract. This is one of the most important aspects of treatment; according to the ancient ayurvedic texts "with basti alone 50% of illness can be reduced."


A relaxing treatment to the head, in which a stream of warm oil flows evenly over the forehead, lasting for some time. Shirodhara treatment is done in absolute silence, leading to deep relaxation and a balanced state of rest in mind and body. Men and women alike experience it as a high point of Panchakarma applications.


Nasya supports healthy sinuses, calms disturbed memory and supports normal hearing function (e.g. tinnitus). Thorough treatments to the head, shoulders and neck, inhalations and compresses are the well-balanced techniques of this highly effective therapy. An additional benefit of nasya therapy, according to ayurveda, is that it is said to strengthen the mind and intellect.

Netra Tarpana

Today's world is saturated with visual stimulation. Our eyes can be strained and overused, which can create an adverse effect on our vision and brain activity. Netra tarpana treatment has a relaxing effect on the eyes and surrounding tissue. It is carried out in conjunction with the application of herbal oil to the face and is experienced by clients as very enjoyable and relaxing.

Pinda Sveda

Small linen bags filled with specially-prepared herbal mixtures are applied locally to relieve pain. An additional major role in this therapy is played by the highly effective Maharishi Ayurveda herbal oils which are specially selected by the doctor for the parts of the body that are painful. The effect of the herbal extracts is to relieve the pain, and to relax and build up the affected area.

For more information on authentic Panchakarma treatments and your best detox, contact our full-service ayurvedic detox expert spa: The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Spa, in Fairfield, Iowa.

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  • Improvement in Cardiovascular Risk Factors Through Panchakarma Purification Procedures

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