According to the ancient practice of Ayurveda, the root cause of almost all disease is the accumulation of toxins that linger in our bodies when we have improper digestion. Cleaning these toxins from our bodies can treat an innumerable list of ailments, from diseases that are linked to poor immunity, to inflammatory disease, and even cardiovascular disease and cancer. Below are keys to an Ayurvedic detox.
In India, Ayurvedic followers practice what is called panchakarma. It is a seasonal cleanse that you can spend thousands on by going to a fancy spa, or that you can spend pennies on by practicing at home. This is a 2500 –year-old traditional set of practices, outlined in the Charak Samhita, which allows the body to purge all of its stored toxins. The result is usually more energy, a brighter emotional outlook, and the lessening of disease development.
Panchakarma usually entails 5 essential elements to help the body restore itself to a highly functioning, disease-fighting machine. The word panchakarma translates from the Sanskrit to mean ‘five actions.’ Here they are:
- 1. Oleation – This is a process of preparing the body for deep detox. It helps the body to enter fat metabolism (since many of our toxins are stored in our fat cells) and pulls toxins from deep within the muscles into the digestive system for release. It also balances blood sugar levels and opens detox channels. Oleation includes eating ghee to help lubricate the channels of elimination prior to a deep detox. Each morning ghee is eaten, and after a few days, a nonfat diet of rice and beans with some steamed vegetables and lean protein is added as needed. Simply changing the diet prepares the body to release toxins stored in the body over years, and possibly decades. Steam baths are also very helpful during the process of oleation to rid the body of toxins. This step can also include massage.
- 2. Sesame Oil Massage – This is possibly the most pleasurable of the Ayurvedic cleansing practices. A sesame oil massage before bathing helps to relax the entire nervous system and open the detox channels of the skin and internal organs. Sesame seed oil is also known as the ‘queen of Ayurvedic oils’ because it is naturally antibacterial, and even aids in cell regeneration. It has been used for centuries medicinally to treat everything from hepatitis to cancer, to diabetes and migraines. At least 5000 years old, Abhyanga, the practice of Ayurvedi massage is essential for ridding he body of daily accumulated stresses and toxins.
- 3. Nasal Irrigation– Less familiar to westerners is the practice of lubricating and cleaning the nasal passageways. You can use a neti pot and warm, salted water or a combination of healing oils to help open the nasal passages, clear the mind, and ready the body for a deep cleanse. Even the Mayo Clinic has adopted nasal irrigation as a way to get rid of seasonal allergies, and to aid the body rid itself of toxins.
- 4. Elimination and Release – Utilizing different herbs and herbal enemas, the body is encouraged to eliminate fat-soluble wastes that have been ushered toward the GI tract with the practice of oleation. Purgation and rest are combined to allow the body time to release and recuperate. Depending on how much toxic build-up someone has accumulated, the process of releasing them can be very tiring, and requires extra rest and recovery. Made from three dried fruits native to the Indian subcontinent – amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki, the herb triphala is the most commonly used Ayurvedic herb since it greatly aids in eliminating toxins. They have anti-bacterial properties as well as a long, documented history of helping Ayurvedic doctors in treating disease over the centuries. Aloe vera, turmeric, and licorice root are also helpful to aid the body in eliminating toxins.
- 5. Rasayana or Rejuvination – Rasayana means ‘that which is nourishing.’ Once the body has gotten rid of all that it no longer needs, it is time to replace those toxins with nourishing foods and herbal remedies. Herbalized oils are used in further massage, nourishing foods are prescribed, and herbal colon cleanses are used so that the body can absorb nutrients through the digestive organs now that they have been cleansed.
Better health starts with a good, detoxing cleanse, and Ayurvedic medicine has centuries of practice providing the key elements to a very effective one.