To understand Panchakarma one needs to understand the source of this knowledge...
The Rishis convened and discussed human existence in all it's totality and in the context of this discussed the topic of dis-ease and how to prevent it and how to remove dis-ease from it's roots.
Rishis were completely connected with the source or the Universal consciousness.
When they discussed dis-ease it was not just about physically removing the dis-ease but also about bringing our mind, senses and awareness in alighnment with the highest love. I say love here for this is the English word that embodies the highest vibration we can picture. This is a love of pure beingness, unbounded awareness, infinite creativity, infinite acceptance and inifnite wisdom.
Physical healing is the first and most important process. But what is phsyical ? So much remains unseen. Herbs are used in Panchakarma to bring their special resonsence deep within our being. Each herb is a treasure, a message of love from the source.
The procedure in brief:
Five methods are employed as the main purification treatments. Besides these five methods there is a preparatrion period (called Purvakarma)and a post purification period (called Paschatkarma) equally important. Once the body is cleaned and digestion is strong and balanced, Rasayana or rejuvenation treatment is given. The agni or metabolism of the body is now ready to receive new intelligence in the form of matter and we give it special compounds that carry the intelligence of where we want to develop the system. For Rasayana many famous herbs such as Amalaka, Haritaki, Shatavari and Ashwaghanda to name just a very few are used.
The five methods relate to the five elements and three doshas how they manifest in our physiology:
Nasyam - This is application of medicated substances to the noise to purify the entire head reigon. Nasya has a miraculous effect on diseases of the senses, mouth, mind, head, eyes and any ailment in this critical reigon which is our main connecting point through Adipathi marma with the outside world.
Vamana - This is a beautiful gentle procedure of cleaning age old toxins from the stomach through vomiting in a very gentle managed way after drawing the toxins from the upper zone back to the stomach. It works miracles in many cases of insanity (unmada), asthma, allergies, chronic cold and cough recurring and any disease of the Kapha Zone.
Virechana - Purgation cleans the middle zone of the body. Seat of liver, gall bladder, speem, small intestine (the seat of Pitta) and so many other critical systems. It indirectly like all other practices cleans the entire system. It particularly works on the Fire element and enhances all Agni's or metabolisms in the system. Virechana is a powerful general purification as in this age of industry we all have many toxins in the mid-zone causing excess anger, emmotional distress, mental fatigue and poor digestion.
Niruha Basti - Cleans the large intestine through using special medicated preparations that pull out toxic buildup in the colon. It is a very sacred and special treatment that is said to penetrate all layers of the body. Vata is seated in the colon so if the colon is functioning well, Vata which is the organizing intelligence of the entire body, will do it's job well. When this happens, we have perfect health and immunity.
Anuvasan Basti - Nourishes the large intestine with special medicated oils and decoctions. The analogy given in the texts is to nourish the root of the tree. The colon is the root of our digestive system and the root of our body. If the colon is strong, all systems will work well. Charaka even goes so far as to say that most diseases can be treated with simple basti treatment. We can remove toxins from all systems through the colon. Vata resides here and Vata guides Pitta and Kapaha to do their work well of metabolising and structuring.
For detailed information on Panchakarma we have a comprehensive articles section for online reading.