Can Panchakarma Therapy Help Children?

Panchakarma is an ancient Ayurvedic technique; it involves five treatments or five actions. According to Ayurveda, undergoing panchkarma treatment periodically cleanses the internal system of toxicity and contamination.

The treatment also corrects the digestive process and increases the metabolism.

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Panchakarma therapy is generally not advised for children. In fact, some ancient Ayurvedic teachers such as Acharya Kashyap discouraged blood-letting or rakta mokshana for children. However, Acharya Sushruta recommended panchkarma kriyas or techniques such as induced vomiting, purgation, medicated enema, nasal cleansing, and artificial bloodletting for children after some years of growth and development.

Panchakarma therapy is completed in three parts.

  • Preparatory part (poorva karma).
    • Digestion (paachan)
    • Internal/external oleation (snehan)
    • Fomentation (swedan)
  • Main part (pradhan karma).
    • Induced vomiting (vamana)
    • Induced purgation (virechana)
    • Medicated enema (basti)
    • Nasal cleansing (nasya)
    • Artificial bloodletting ( rakta mokshana)
  • Post-therapeutic part (paschat karma).
    • Specific diet (sansarjan karma)
    • Smoking medicinal cigars (dhumapana)
    • Post therapy rules/activities

Snehan

Internal and external oleation (snehan) includes the oil massages. A specific type of oil massage is performed on the body to remove toxins from the gastro-intestinal tract. These oil massages also rejuvenate the nervous system and relax the muscles. Ayurveda does recommend oleation or snehan in infants and children.

Swedan

According to Acharya Kashyapa, restricted fomentation (swedan) for thin and medium built children is recommended. Swedan is the process of sweating, induced with the help (agni) or heat or in some cases without it. The process removes blockages and flushes out the toxins and impurities. Hasta swedan is advised for infants up to the age of four months. There are several types of swedan, namely, hasta sweda, nadi sweda, prastar sweda, upanaha sweda, sankar sweda, awagaha parishekha, any of which may be advised for the newborn infant, depending upon the physical constitution and the disease.

Vamana

Vamana or therapeutic vomiting is induced by administering salt water or liquorice and stimulation of the tongue, which causes vomiting through the gag reflex. The technique eases congestion, decreases breathlessness and clears the sinuses. Vamana is not advised for children less than 12 years of age.

Virechana

Virechana or induced purgation is the administration of a therapeutic laxative to cleanse excess bile in the liver, small intestine, or gall bladder. Virechana or purgation is carried out with the help of a mixture consisting of flax seeds, senna leaves, triphala or psyllium husks. Mild laxative purgation or mridu virechana is advised for children.

Basti

Basti or medicated enema is the induction of herbal blends of specific herbal mixtures and sesame oil in a liquid channel through the rectum. The powerful technique relieves and decreases constipation, chronic colds, fever, sexual diseases, kidney stones, heart disorders, sciatica, arthritis, gout, spasms, rheumatism, back and joint pains. Basti is not recommended for children under the age of seven years. However, some ancient acharyas or teachers recommend the technique for infants soon after the birth, while some other advise the treatment after four months.

Nasya or nasal cleansing is the administration of special herbal medication or concoction through nasal passage. The impurities and blockages in the throat, head, nose and sinuses are removed through the nose. The technique provides relief in convulsions, headaches, sinus congestions, migraines and other ear and eye disorders. Nasya is not recommended for children under the age of seven.

Rakta mokshana

Artificial bloodletting or rakta mokshana is done by drawing out little blood from a vein. Bloodletting improves the immune system and removes toxins, resulting in the cure of several complex blood diseases such as skin infections, circulatory diseases, and chronic itching. Bloodletting or rakta mokshana is not recommended for young children.

Panchkarma is a powerful detoxification treatment, which can help to get rid of several acute and chronic disorders and diseases. However, it is advisable to take extra precautions in case of infants and young children. The treatment may have adverse effects on their underdeveloped system. An expert medical opinion is recommended before undertaking any such treatment for children.

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