Now that it’s a new year, it’s time to hit the reset button and get a fresh start from the inside out. There’s no better way to work on a new you for the new year, than releasing all of the toxins of the past, figuratively and literally. We’re all about detox, and this week it’s time to throw it back to one of the most ancient body detoxes – Panchakarma – a step towards overall body healing.
Panchakarma – it’s been called one of the most extreme cleanses on earth. It’s a full body detox that leaves no toxin untouched. It’s a major cleanse of Ayurveda, which takes a holistic view of toxins in the body. The way Ayurveda sees it, toxins are physical and emotional, stemming from your lifestyle and environment. An Ayurvedic cleanse like Panchakarma is designed to eliminate these toxins entirely.
Because it takes a holistic view of toxins, Panchakarma is designed to decrease toxic buildup through unique medicines and actions. A traditional Panchakarma cleanse is done away from home, usually at an Ayurveda center that can best accommodate those seeking a full body cleanse. The practice refers to five traditional steps, generally spread out across a 21 day period, with each week representing a specific step. These steps are: 1 – snepahanam or ghee therapy, 2 – vamanam or therapeutic vomiting, 3 – virechenam or passing stools, 4 – nasyam or herbal medicine through nostrils, and 5 – anuvasana vasthi or medicated enemas. All of the steps also tie in oil massages throughout the 21 day period.
Now, this sounds intense, which is why the practice is overlooked and administered by professionals. But, it is meant to describe a gentle detoxification process to strengthen the immune system, and restore balance and well-being. While a traditional Panchakarma cleanse may be a little extreme for a regular schedule, the technique can be modified to try on your own.
A traditional Panchakarma cleanse is the complete way to get a full detox, but if it’s not quite your speed or you want to try an at home version, there are plenty of modern Panchakarma techniques that will allow you to draw toxins from the body in a similar way. Regular oil massages are still part of the deal, but many spas will offer these treatments in shorter time, and allow you to replicate them in the comfort of your own home. Ideally, this process should be done during a weeklong vacation or time off from your regular routine. Maximize your cleanse by going completely unplugged – that means phone calls, emails and of course social media. Keep the five step mindframe when practicing Panchakarma at home, but remember that it still takes effort and diligence.
Oleation refers to the consumption of oil to draw out toxins. This is similar to the traditional first step of Panchakarma, as it uses ghee, better known as clarified butter, to penetrate the tissues of the body. Ghee is the pure butter fat that will provide you with the necessary oils to begin your detox. In the mornings, it’s important to start the day by drinking melted ghee, starting with 2-3 teaspoons, which will work like a magnet to pull out toxins and help to reset the body’s natural fat-burning. After this step – it’s best to avoid eating or drinking anything else for 30 minutes. Once this time is up, stick to drinking warm lemon water.
A common question for detoxes is food. People wonder what can they eat, if anything at all. Panchakarma isn’t all about green juices, but rather encourages you to eat a traditional Indian dish, Kitchari, which is known to create increased bowel movements. Kitchari is a traditional mung bean and rice porridge mixture that provides a nourishing effect on the body, while keeping blood sugar levels stable, despite its detoxifying impacts.
Herbal teas also aid in increased bowel movements. One of the most commonly recommended is Tulsi tea, as Tulsi is one of the most traditional herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. Tulsi is a sacred plant that helps the body adapt to outside stressors and is used for a variety of common ailments. Of course, Tulsi is near and dear to us at Sonäge as well, as it is a primary herb featured in our Tulsi Soothing Tri Clay Mask, used to extract toxins and impurities from the skin. So sit back, relax and sip on Tulsi tea while getting a double dose, masking with our calming blend of mineral clays and healing Ayurvedic herbs.
In Panchakarma, dry brushing is referred to as garshana. We’ve talked about it often, but simply dry brushing the skin has amazing detoxifying benefits on the body, helping to exfoliate, enhance circulation and stimulate the lymphatic system to release toxins. Working from the bottom of your feet, use a dry brush in circular motions to get started, and brush towards the heart until you work your way up the body.
Nasal cleansing totally sounds uncomfortable, but it can be made simple with at-home tools like a neti pot. A simple sinus rinse will help to irrigate the nasal passages to flush out mucus and debris, and mimics the traditional step of nasyam in Panchakarma.
While this treatment is thousands of years old, beauty and wellness editors have recently been raving about it for its deep cleansing impact to the body – bringing it more into the mainstream. Even celebrities are now trying this out, including Busy Phillips who found that Panchakarma helped as a starting point to treat a number of complex ailments. It’s not all buzz, people are truly looking for a holistic approach to cleansing. Sadie Adams, Sonäge ambassador and Ayurveda expert, says that “people are warming up to the idea of taking care of oneself, as well as preventative medicine practices that treat the individual and focus on the root causes of imbalances rather than only the symptoms,” in order to address bodily imbalances.
Toxins are the root cause of imbalance and addressing them entirely can help to give you a reset button on your overall body health.