on particular symptoms of imbalance. This will be determined when you visit your practitioner. In order to be guided through these actions and prepare your body for letting go of what isn't needed, you will receive hours of massage and other treatments with oils and herbs to move the toxins from your deeper tissues.
It is important to allow space in your schedule when going through panchakarma. Rest and empty space in your day are an important part of panchakarma. When there is space and emptiness in your life, it will be experienced in your mind and body, and healing starts to happen. Toxicity, stagnation and trauma will surface and panchakarma supports their elimination. To let go of mental and emotional toxins it is highly recommended to meditate and cultivate the 'witness' state, so that old and not serving emotions and patterns can consciously be let go of. The result often is a spiritual rejuvenation - deeper levels of trust and more ease in surrendering to what life brings. To support letting go of physical toxins, melted ghee is ingested, which causes mobilization of toxins, that are mostly lipid-(fat)-soluble, from your body's tissues.
These are benefits you can experience from panchakarma treatment:
In ayurveda's ancient texbooks there may be no mention of the word cancer, but there are many references to the growth of masses, tumors, malignancy, with Sanskrit names like, apachi, gulma, granthi and arbuda. Cancer is a disease in which certain of our bodies' cells develop defects, caused by a mutation in their DNA. These mutant cells, dependent on several factors, like the strength of the immune system, and pathogens, sometimes duplicate at enormous speed, causing growths, tumors, that are adversarial to the body's tissues. Not all cancers produce tumors. Some - leukemia - cause rapid cell growth in the bone marrow or blood. In metastasis, cancer cells multiply and travel through blood and the lymph system to the rest of the body.
Conventional medicine treats cancer as a focal disease with local symptoms. Ayurveda sees the whole body-mind as a system, and recognizes that the malfunctioning of this system can lead to cancer. Ayurveda treats the whole individual.
According to ayurveda cancer involves all three doshas - vata, pitta and kapha, it is tridoshic disease. But the root of the cancer may be either in vata, pitta, or kapha, and consequently it is disease of vata, disease of pitta, or disease of kapha, and the treatment will be accordingly. Also the tissue in which the cancer is found, will ask for different herbal treatment, so there really is no one way to treat cancer in the ayurvedic system. Specific herbal formulations and therapies will be directed towards the cancer, but it doesn't stop there. The therapeutic approach is prophylactic, palliative, curative and supportive. Ayurveda offers a lifestyle of prevention; it can soothe symptoms through lifestyle, dietary and herbal adjustments; it can cure, especially when the cancer is in earlier stages, offering powerful internal and external herbal applications in conjunction with dietary and lifestyle adjustments; and it can support conventional medical treatment, and counteract its side effects.
Ayurveda sees the fundamental cause of tumor, or uncontrolled cell, growth to be a build-up of pathogens, toxins, in the organism. This then leads to deficiency in the immune system. If we consider the immune system our protection against external pathogens, we can see the weakened immunity as a "giving up or a giving in", since, as Dr. Robert Svoboda says so poignantly, "the hallmark of cancer is the rebellion of cells against the organism's self-identity", our body is allowing cellular mutiny to take over. The causes are poor lifestyle choices, wrong diet, stress and anxiety, poor sleep, mental/emotional incoherency, overuse of stimulants, intoxicants, chemical drugs, and nowadays, exposure to environmental toxins. Ayurveda uses the word ama for this toxic build-up in the organism. It is partly self-generated, by poorly digesting all that we ingest, and choosing industrial foods that are already full of ama, like pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, preservatives, and packaged in xeno-estrogenic plastics. But even the most beautiful organically grown, free-range, grass-fed foods can turn into ama if the digestive system cannot properly digest, absorb the nutrients and eliminate the waste products. It is this ama, that confuses the immune system, makes it overwork. Then it will tire and give into the fast-growing ama that is cancer.
The mental-emotional component of the weakening immunity is addressed nowadays by physicians like Dr. Lawrence LeShan, Christiane Northrup, Wayne Dyer and many more. The experience they have working with cancer patients is that they see that same "giving in or giving up", and they will encourage and guide their patients to use the cancer as a "Turning Point, to take charge of their lives and bodies and gently coax the cancer into remission.
Understanding the cancer as being either caused by excess vata, pitta or kapha, outlines a specific disease development, based on a person's inherent constitutional tendencies, and specific lifestyle and dietary choices. Vata, being composed of space and air, will bring a different etiology from kapha, being composed of water and earth, or pitta, made up of fire and water. They come with their own digestive disturbances, dietary preferences, behaviors and mental-emotional tendencies. All leading to the same manifestation of cancer, but with specific characteristics.
Strengthening of the immune system, healthy lifestyle, diet, appropriate exercise and as Deepak Chopra suggests, "access to the Divine consciousness within, through yogic and meditative disciplines, can correct the wrong information that triggers uncontrollable cell multiplication, and cure cancer from the quantum level of the body". Ayurveda, the medical system and "science of life", offers many internal and external herbal and metal-based medications to help remove cellular overgrowth.
by: Simone de Winter, MA, certified ayurvedic specialist
Through our classical western upbringings, we both have strong memories of the hydrogenated fat trend... grandmother's spreading “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” on rye, and in Holland the cooking in Becel margarine. We both didn't like it, loved the taste of butter much better, but came out with the idea that fat is a no no. Until we got educated on the latest nutritional research and began our studies of Ayurveda, we did not have a full understanding of the important role of dietary fat. In India, ghee is recognized as an essential part of a nourished life. Not only is it celebrated for its delicious rich flavor, it is also loaded with nutritional and medicinal qualities, and many psycho-spiritual qualities are attributed to it.
So what is ghee? Ghee is the essence of butter. It is the result of boiling cultured butter, and boiling off milk solids and water, leaving pure butter fat. This makes it a fine food for those who have trouble digesting lactose. Its predominance in saturated fatty acids makes it shelf stable, meaning that it does not need to be refrigerated. If kept clean, it won't go bad, it won't oxidize, oxidation being what makes a fat a threat to the health. Ghee is one of the best high temperature cooking oils because of its 485 degree fahrenheit flash point. Ghee also offers a long list of nutritional benefits. It is comprised of short, medium and long chain fatty acids, contains vitamins A, D, E and K and is the highest natural source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). CLA has anti cancer fighting properties which have attributed to stopping tumor cell growth. Ghee also is a rich source of butyrate, which revives colon cells, supports healthy inflammatory response and has many more positive effects on our bodies. Ghee supports a strong and lean body, increases energy and sexual vitality, lowers cholesterol (even though we know now that it is not cholesterol that causes heart disease, but unhealthy inflammatory response), makes for a strong digestion, and brings calm to body and mind. Ofcourse the ghee is only as good as the milk that it comes from. Poorly nourished cows won't produce rich and nutrient-rich milk, let alone ghee. But it is also true that making ghee out of bad milk will concentrate whatever nutrients there are in this milk and cook off the bad components.
Many people complain about the taste of ghee. This is because its taste changes when it gets older, making it stronger and more pungent. This is not a problem, Ayurveda considers 100 year old ghee to be very medicinal. But it is definitely a taste that not everyone likes. So buy only fresh ghee, from free-range, grass-fed cows, or make it yourself. There are many videos on YouTube that show how to do it.
In India ghee is considered a sacred substance. The Rig Veda (a 3,500 year-old ancient Sanskrit scripture) says:
This is the secret name of ghee:
"Tongue of the gods", "navel of immortality."
We will proclaim the name of ghee;
We will sustain it in this sacrifice by bowing low.
These waves of ghee flow like gazelles before the hunter...
Streams of ghee caress the burning wood.
Agni, the fire, loves them and is satisfied.
It indicates that ghee is superb at nourishing the fires (agni) of digestion, and promotes longevity . Ghee has been used in the Hindu religion and yogic rituals as an offering to feed the Gods. Ayurveda says that ghee increases the memory and intellect, that it counteracts the drying and aging process of the body, reviving the rasa, or mucus membranes in the body. It nourishes the skin, as in a 100 times washed ghee, where the ghee is massaged with water a hundred times, leaving a white fatty substance that is used as a cream. And it is used to bathe the eyes, nourishing the optic nerve. Ayurveda uses it as a carrier for medicine, activating the lipid-soluble properties of the plants, and providing fast penetration through the lipid membranes of the cells, again providing more nourishing and soothing qualities.
Our local ghee company uses butter from Straus Organic Farm - Ancient Organics creates a sacred ritual around the process of making ghee. They play healing chants as the ghee is being made and settling into its jars, soaking up the vibrations of healing.
Finally we offer some beautiful, easy, and nourishing recipes:
Delicious ghee gravy
Place 4-6 ounces of ghee into a pan on medium heat
add in 4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of fresh grated turmeric
1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
1/4 cup of organic tamari sauce
(simmer this combination until the ghee becomes richly flavored)
Then add your favorite combination of seasonal vegetables
This season, I love adding yams, kale and green beans
Pour this over a warm bed of quinoa
garnish with dried chili pepper flakes and fresh cilantro
(drizzle additional tamari over the top if you desire more flavor)
Anti-inflammatory, nourishing for the mucus membranes and a great support for a pregnant woman.
Boil 1 cup of whole (preferably raw) milk with 1/2 tsp. of turmeric, 1/2 tsp. of cardamom, a few strands of saffron, for 1 minute. Take off the source of heat, and melt 1 tbs. of ghee, and 1 tsp. of raw unfiltered honey into it.
If you have trouble digesting milk, then use almond milk, or oat milk.
With love, by Megan Fleming and Simone de Winter
Panchakarma is an ancient ritual of detoxification and rejuvenation. As an essential part of Ayurveda’s mandala of healing practices, it invites deep renewal, activates cellular intelligence, and optimizes metabolic functions.
Ayurveda understands the microcosm of the physical body/mind to function in the same way as the great macrocosm of nature. Because of that it considers the natural elements, and their interplay – Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space – as the basis of life. Their interweaving within the body-mind, and the environment, generates three main patterns of energy transformation called doshas: vata – expressing the predominance of air and space, pitta – fire and water, and kapha – earth and water.
Each dosha has a primary site in the body: kapha, in the stomach; pitta, in the small intestines; and vata, in the colon/large intestine. Whenever doshic imbalance occurs, their excess tends to accumulate in these corresponding organs, causing specific symptoms or discomfort, leading to disease. Imbalances often result from undigested food, emotions or mental activities, stressful lifestyle, injuries, external factors, and/or genetic weakness.
Also the accumulation of toxins, or ama (the Ayurvedic term) in the body, is a cause of disease symptoms. This ama can come from external sources such as the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers we ingest through our foods; to airborne pollutants like industrial waste, car exhaust and smoke; from exotoxins, secreted by bacteria; and from prescription medications. But the human body can create its own ama as well, by not properly digesting the food that is consumed, and the ensuing improper break-down of internal metabolic waste products. The way we know that we have an accumulation of ama in our bodies is from having a thick, white or colored, coating on the tongue, from having unpleasant body odor, from a feeling of sluggishness and fatigue, fogginess in the brain, headaches and many disease symptoms. Combined with an accumulation of certain doshas, this ama can lead to all kinds of disease symptoms, often determined by genetic weakness.
Ideally the human body will digest all it ingests perfectly, and detoxify itself through the liver and gallbladder, kidneys, and large intestine. But the increasing amount of toxins in our environment, the stress we deal with combined with our diet and lifestyle, often overwhelm the individual's digestion and detoxification ability.
Panchakarma is a way to remove ama and bring the doshas back into balance, and since stress is such a large contributor to imbalance, this all happens in the context of deep relaxation. Panchakarma is applied while receiving hot oil massage and other treatments, followed by a steam application. This has the multiple function of liquefying ama, improving blood and lymphatic circulation so that toxins/ama are mobilized from the deeper tissues into the digestive system from where they will be eliminated, while at the same time bringing the body and mind into a deep state of rest and letting go.
Most of the external toxins that enter our body are fat (lipid)-soluble, and if the liver is unable (because of above mentioned factors) to break them down, they deposit in tissues all over the body. The preparation process of panchakarma consists of "internal oleation", the process of ingesting ghee or a vegetable oil in increasing amounts for a series of days. Then a non-fat diet consisting of only natural, easy to digest, foods will be taken. This moves toxins to your lymphatic system and will bring your body into fat metabolism mode. You start burning fat cells, which is where most of the toxins hide out. So fat-soluble toxins/ama are liquefied (as mentioned above) and then removed from the body through the process of panchakarma.
Panchakarma literally means “five actions” and involves five eliminatory treatments to remove toxins from the body and restore energy flow throughout the organ systems and tissues:
Since these eliminatory treatments will leave the body with some "empty spaces" from where the toxins used to be, it is important of fill up these "spaces" with good, strengthening foods and herbs, so that you come out of the whole process of panchakarma strong and with a healthy immunity. So after elimination there is a rejuvenation phase in which activity level, food intake, digestive strength, are all slowly built back up again, and during which strengthening foods and herbs are ingested.
During the panchakarma process it is highly recommended to refrain from external stimuli, such as socializing, television watching, computer, movies, books. Journaling and expressing through drawing or simple art projects are wonderful ways to support this process of elimination of toxins, since it brings an opportunity to let go of mental-emotional toxins as well.
Panchakarma leaves you feeling clear and energized, deeply rested and rejuvenated. It is a beautiful component of a healthy and natural lifestyle.
Please respond to this blog with any comments of your own panchakarma experience.
This dark time of year tends to make us more reflective, and I recently found myself reflecting on time passing and the energies of the different seasons. I was remembering a radio interview I heard years ago, where a scientist of some kind was talking about his teacher and mentor who at 96 had still been fully productive. He had asked his mentor how it was possible that at his age he was still so full of life and engaged. The man had answered that throughout his life he had never related to chronological time, but only to cyclical time. That really resonated with me and I remembered that when I had two little children and was very engaged with them, I used to forget my age. When people asked me, I always had to count back to my birthday. Cyclical time for me also is much more meaningful than chronological time. The phases of the moon, the passing of the seasons and the ripening of seasonal fruits and vegetables, and the time of life. Now that I live close to the water, there is the reality of the tidal cycles as well, and how that is connected to the lunar cycle.
I realized that this is the way Ayurveda relates to life as well, and that it continuously reminds us to live according to these cycles. Since it considers the macrocosm and the microcosm to be the same, only in a different manifestation, it is clear that nature's cycles also are found in how our bodies function. Ofcourse Ayurveda relates to this in the language of vata, pitta and kapha, and we see these energies cycling through the day, the seasons and life in general.
For example the window of time between 10 and 2 is considered pitta time. Since pitta mostly represents the element of fire, this window of time during the day is a good time to eat. The fire in the belly is strong at this time. At night this is the time when people get their second wind when they stay up late. Suddenly there is a lot of focus, and energy to get things done, again a way that fire manifests itself - in the mind this time. The recommendation is to go to bed before this time, so that you don't get caught in a second wind. What really needs to happen during these nightly hours is for the liver to go through its cycle of detoxing the blood. Staying up late and putting in mental and physical energy, takes away from this important physiological task. So here we go again, nature's cycles... we should go to bed when nature goes to bed. A little later in the summer, a little earlier in winter. And it's okay to sleep a little more in winter, it's dark out!
Winter, at least the beginning of this season, is vata season. Vata represents the element of air, or wind, which is always moving, is cold, and dries things out. This is the time of year when we feel cold and easily dehydrated. We deal with emotions like fear and anxiety. So the best thing to do is to take real good care of yourself through eating a very nourishing diet, by getting enough sleep, by oiling your skin, by slowing down in general. Each season has its own characteristics, and dosha, and because of that a different way in which to treat ourselves.
The doshas also show up in the time of life. For example childhood, up until puberty, is kapha time of life. Kapha has the energies of earth and water. And when we bring these two together there is growth. Seeds sprouting into plants and blooming into beautiful flowers. This is children's job, growing up and flowering into beautiful mature people. They need lots of water and earth, in the form of nourishing food and loving care, to do this.
To go back to where I started... Ayurveda reminds us to live in cyclical time, not chronological time. We move through vata, pitta and kapha cycles all the time. Reminding ourselves of this reality, makes us take care of ourselves differently. Honoring the cycles of life and death and life again, keeps us young and healthy and always rejuvenating our body and mind.