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the preparation for Panchakarma

Ayurveda believes that the causes of chronic disease are deep-rooted imbalances in the doshas (basic body elements), dhatu (body tissues), and mala (waste products) and recommends Panchakarma to facilitate deep cleansing and healing of the body and mind.


The initial stage of Panchakarma therapy is called Purvakarma. Purvakarma helps to mobilize and liquefy waste products (ama) from the adipose tissues and move it towards the intestines, which then allows the Panchakarma treatments to flush them out. Purvakarma is recommended for the full success of Panchakarma and it starts with:


Internal lubrication (snehan)

Snehan reduces the dryness of body tissues (dhatu) and body passages (srotasa). This ultimately helps to drive impurities out of the body during Panchakarma. Snehan mobilizes unwanted matter lodged in the body and allows them to be removed from you body through the alimentary canal, this adds to the results of Panchakarma. Ghee (clarified butter) acts as the lubricant and is taken orally in the dose recommended below. Instructions on how to make ghee at home can be found here.

Notice: do not use ghee if you have high cholesterol or a history of heart disease. Rather use organic flaxseed oil.


Intake of cleansing herbs (triphala)

Triphala is an Ayurvedic herbal formula that aims at cleansing and rejuvenating the body. It has a very mild laxative effect. You can obtain it from your local health food store or search for it online (or our own store). Take two triphala tablets or 1 teaspoon of powdered triphala every evening before bedtime with 8 ounces of room temperature water.


You will have greater results from the Panchakarma experience if you follow these Purvakarma directions. However, if you are not able to begin all the preparation at home, please simply begin to eat a healthy vegetarian diet.


1-3 weeks before arrival for Panchakarma treatment

  • Avoid all processed, junk and fried foods, and sweets

  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee and alcohol

  • Avoid most dairy products

  • Begin self-massage with an Ayurvedic massage oil or sesame oil before showering. Warm the oil before applying liberally to your entire body and then wait 20 minutes before showering


1 week before arrival for Panchakarma treatment

  • Stop eating meat, fish, and eggs

  • Modify diet so it becomes predominantly cooked vegetables, whole grains, and beans. These foods (vegetables especially) create a more alkaline (vs. acid) environment in the body, which supports the cleansing and detoxifying process

  • Eat a sattvic diet consisting primarily of kitchari, which is a delicious rice, bean and vegetable meal that balances the doshas and starts the process of detoxification (recipe here)

  • Prepare organic oatmeal and steamed apples for breakfast

  • Drink 4 cups of cumin-coriander-fennel tea daily (recipe here)


7 day home preparation for Panchakarma therapy

  • Day 1 (t-7 days from retreat) - upon awakening, take 2 tablespoons of ghee. This should be available from your local health food store, Indian grocer or you can make your own (instructions on how to make ghee at home can be found here). The ghee should be melted and warm. You may add a little black pepper or powdered ginger to make it more palatable. For the next hour sip warm/hot water regularly. This should be done on an empty stomach. After one hour you may have your morning oatmeal and steamed apples.

  • Day 2 (t-6 days from retreat) - follow the same procedure as Day 1 but increase the intake of ghee to 4 tablespoons.

  • Day 3 (t-5 days from retreat) - take 4 tablespoons of ghee in the early morning. At bedtime take 2 tablespoons of castor oil mixed in a cup of warm ginger tea. This will induce a mild purgation in the morning. Do not plan on doing anything the following morning. If you weigh under 110 pounds, use only 1 tablespoon of castor oil

  • Day 4 (t-4 days from retreat) - stop taking ghee. In the morning only sip warm/hot water or ginger tea, until you have 2-4 bowel movements. This mild purgation starts the detoxifying process of Panchakarma. Eat breakfast only if you have an appetite. For lunch and dinner prepare watery kitchari (recipe here). At bedtime take 2 triphala.

  • Days 5–7 (t-3,2,1 days from retreat) - continue kitchari diet and take 2 triphala at bedtime. During this preparation phase, try to shift your activities in order to become more internally focused. This means letting go of some day-to-day activities and spending time meditating, doing yoga and taking walks in nature. Practice deep breathing and try to focus on the exhalation phase, which helps to rid the body of old ideas, emotions and blockages.

Recipes for kitchari and cumin-coriander-fennel tea and instructions on how to make ghee are found here

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