There are so many detox treatments on the market these days that a question can arise: “How is Panchakarma detoxification treatment different from all these other treatments that promise to remove my toxins”. Below is a transcript of the above video in which Ayurveda practitioner, Dr Donn Brennan, explains how the expert use of specific oils is central to the effectiveness of Panchakarma in cleansing the body thoroughly, and at the same time in strengthening and keeping it in balance.
Why are ghee and oils used in Panchakarma?
Well, Panchakarma is a very unique and specific strategy within the Ayurvedic tradition to help your body to clear the accumulated toxins and to help our body to get rid of the consequences of our past mistakes, so that we can start afresh in that we can be more balanced here and now and create more balance for the future.
Panchakarma treatments always involve the use of ghee and oils. When we recognise that we are made of oil, our physical structure is primarily of oil with protein, then we can start to see how cleansing this structure would be benefited by the use of oils.
The toxins that gather over time are fat-soluble toxin, because it is easier for the body to eliminate water-soluble toxins through the waterworks as we urinate. The fat-soluble toxins tend to gather in the tissues and become dissolved in our very cells. Those dissolved toxins interfere with normal structure and function.
If you think of the membrane, the skin of a cell, which is made of oil protein – the oil makes it flexible and malleable and it can shunt this way and that. That function of movement is used to open and close the gateways to allow in the nutrition that is needed and to close off when enough is ingested. and to allow the products of the cells to be released through opening and closing of these gateways, through moving membranes this way and that. But with the toxins you can see how this process, this malleability and the capacity of the cell to move and integrate gets disturbed. It’s the very nutrition of the cell, the very release of its by-products that can immediately be interrupted and cellular function can start to decline. Those interferences of natural function can cause premature ageing and even death of cells.
Then along comes this ancient tradition which has us ingest a lot of ghee. Ghee is a very particular oil used for the purposes of what Ayurveda calls Virechana – one of the Panchakarmas. This ghee can cross the blood/brain barrier. Using a lot of it along with heat allows the toxins dissolved in the cells, even in the brain, to start to get dissolved in this excess oil or ghee, and start to be shifted into the circulation. The body can then, through the function of cleansing, remove and put them into the bowel for elimination. Then the elimination treatment or enema type treatment, is shifting these toxins through liver and gut from the very cells in our body, even in the nervous system.
That’s why Panchakarma can have such a rejuvenating effect, because it’s eliminating the blocks of natural flow and function within the physiology. That in turn allows our digestion and metabolism to get more benefit out of the nourishment that we ingest, to create better health going forward. It has a profound effect on function and then allows for healing and health.
That’s why Panchakarma is advised in the old texts for the treatment of any disease. Our interest in it is in prevention and promotion of health and that’s why our clinics give us very simple strategies for Panchakarma that can be easily implemented into or lifestyle by taking a week or so off. It is recommended within Ayurveda to be done once or twice a year just to ensure an ongoing process of cleansing and healing so that you keep a balance going through life, and prevent the diseases from emerging and arising in the first place.
The function of oils is very significant – sesame seed oil in particular is used quite a lot for the massage, and various other processes in Panchakarma. Vata is what rules everything in mind and body, and here we have sesame seed oil which, unique amongst all oils, has all the opposite properties of Vata. Therefore, of all the substances in the universe, sesame oil is the best thing for Vata.
The applying of that oil to the body and our skin, also being made of oil, means we absorb the oil. The use of that oil in the enema type treatments, or the application of that oil in various other treatments just by virtue of its absorption – particularly in the colon area which is the seat of Vata – leaves the Vata in the body very much more reorganised and reintegrated. And, as Vata rules everything including the Pitta and Kapha in the body, this is a very profound way of reorganising from the subtlest level of the three Doshas, by getting Vata, who is the king of the Doshas, back to an integrated style of movement and function
So, both for the cleansing and from the processes of dynamics of transformation and movement in mind and body, Panchakarma is unique and very, very useful.