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Ayurvedic Treatments

As Ayurveda is a holistic science concerning the body, mind and Atma (Spirit) as a complete system, the treatments and the regimens are organised and carried out in such a way which ensures the health of these three entities. The Ayurvedic treatments can be broadly classified into two

  • Shodhana (Eliminative procedures)
  • Shamana (Palliative procedures)

The Shodhana procedures include the Pancha karmas (5 Therapies) which are aimed at detoxifying the body by a series of procedures. But before these Shodhana procedures are to be administered, there are preparatory procedures whereby the toxins are directed to koshta (GIT, Gastro intestinal tract). The therapies like Snehana (Unction) and Swedana (Sudation) serves this purpose.
The toxins are dissolved in the body fluid which is in constant motion. Snehana helps in mobilisation of the toxins from the site of morbidity (like the interstitial tissue spaces and other organs). These toxins are then directed to the Koshta (GIT) by the heat of external Swedana where it will be eliminated by the Shodhana procedures done through the proximal route.

SHODHANA (Eliminative Procedures)


Panchakarma is a Sanskrit term which means Five Therapeutic Procedures. The Panchakarma comes under the Shodhana procedures which are basically eliminative in nature. They include:

  • Vamanam (Therapeutic emesis)
  • Virechanam (Therapeutic Purgation)
  • Vasti (Medicated enema)
  • Nasyam (Nasal medication)
  • Rakthamoksham (Bloodletting)

1. Vamanam - Therapeutic Emesis

This is the induction of vomiting for expelling the toxins accumulated in the GIT by the oral administration of emetics. Vamanam is the process of eliminating waste from the body through upper pathways. This is considered to be an excellent therapy for kapha and also in its conjunction with pitha.

2. Virechanam - Therapeutic Purgation

Elimination of doshas by way of inducing purgation is referred by the name Virechanam. Here the doshas are eliminated through lower pathways of the body. The accumulated pitha dosha is best expelled by this method. Virechanam cleanses the Pitta's main site, stomach and small intestine. This therapy is also useful in clearing the excess kapha dosha.

3. Vasti - Medicated Enema

The administration of liquid medicine through rectal, urethral or vaginal route is collectively referred by the name vasti. Vasti has an edge over all the Panchakarma procedures. This is prescribed for vata dominated patients, is a cure to many spectrum of diseases, revives ojas (energy level of the body), and rejuvenated the body. So vasti is considered as a best therapy, easily administered, well accepted by the clients as well as very effective. Vasti is generally classified as Kashaya Vasti (Decoction enema) and Sneha Vasti (Oil Enema) depending on the medium of fluids used for the procedure.

Vasti is described as the best line of treatment to cure the imbalance of vata dosha. It is equally effective in rectifying diseases of pitha and kapha origin. As the vata dosha has predominant role in pathogenesis of any disease, and this vata dosha alone is capable of mobilising pathological accumulation of doshas from the periphery to the GIT from where they get eliminated. This explains the superiority of Vasti over other therapies

4. Nasyam (Nasal Medication)

Administration of medicines through nasal route is called as Nasyam. The nasal passage is said to be the gateway to head, is the easiest and closest opening for conveying the potency of medicines to the cranial cavity, so the diseases of head are best treated by this procedure. Rather this is more or less essential in all ailments above the neck. Many of the nerves emanating from the head have their ends extended to the inner nose. Thus the medicines applied there can effectively spread their potency to the entire head and to some parts of the body through these nerves directly or by means of stimulating them and producing desired results. As nose is the outlet for respiratory channel, nasya also alleviates ailments originating in it.

5. Rakthamoksham (Bloodletting)

The surgical procedure of letting the impure blood out of the body is termed as Rakthamoksha. Ayurveda advocates Rakthamoksha as a line of treatment when those curable diseases are not getting cured even after the application of all other treatments. A wide spectrum of diseases, especially of the Pitta origin is effectively cured by this technique. There are various modalities used for letting the impure blood out of the body which includes venesection, application of leeches, puncturing with sharp instruments etc.

SHAMANA (Eliminative Procedures)

The Shamana procedures are the preparatory therapies carried out before the Panchakarma or the Shodhana procedures. They include various treatments like the massages, nourishing foods, fasting, intake of herbal medicines, wholesome activities, Swedana (sudation), internal and external Snehana (Oleation) etc.


External Snehana is applied in different ways. Many of these Snehana therapies involve massage and oelation. Some of the much practiced Snehana therapies are explained below.


Abhyanga or oil massage is the application of medicated oil or ghee to the skin followed by massage in specific direction. Massage is the most ancient technique used for relieving pain. Abhyanga is used to manipulate and correct dosha imbalance and has a multitude of beneficial effects, some of which are, as explained in Ayurvedic classics;

Improves body complexion, cleans the skin, maintains the original luster of skin, rejuvenates body tissues, promotes health and reduces ageing process, relieves Vata and Kapha imbalances, helps to overcome anxiety, stress and mental fatigue, improves physical strength, promotes excellence of body tissues, induces sleep and by nourishing the body tissues abhyanga is said to increase the healthy life span too.

Abyanga is done whole body and also locally. When done in head it is called Siroabhyanga, in foot and leg, is called Paadabhyanga etc.


Murdhataila is the application of oil to the head. It is also called as Shirastharpana. There are four modalities by which oil is applied on head, vizSiroabhyanga (application of oil to the head followed by massage), Siraseka or Sirodhaara (pouring medicated oil or other liquids on the fore head), Siropichu (placing cotton swab soaked in oil on the vertex for a certain period of time) and Sirovasti (keeping certain amount of oil in the vertex for some time)

The beneficial effects of Murdhataila include; Prevents and cures headache, baldness, premature greying of hair, hair fall. Improves the ability of sense organs, induces sound sleep. It is very effective in management of stress, hypertension, psychological disorders and cranial nerve disorders.

The very famous treatment Sirodhaara comes under this category.Sirodhaara is the continuous pouring of oil or other liquids on the fore head and then allowing it to flow over the scalp. Sirodhaara has all the benefits of Murdhataila and is specially indicated in Mental stress, hypertension, headache, insomnia, ulcerated and inflammatory conditions of the scalp, dimness of vision, heaviness of the body, diseases of head, ear, eye and many neurologic complaints. Sirodhaara is done with medicated oil, medicated butter milk, herbal decoctions and many other fluids depending on the condition.


The procedure of applying oil to the eyes is called as Akshitarpana. This is done in healthy to protect the eye from degeneration due to ageing and to improve eyesight. In various diseases of eye such as Glaucoma, Ulcerated cornea, Refractive errors etc, akshitarpana gives excellent results.


The procedure of pouring warm medicated oil into the ears is called as Karnapoorana. Various diseases related to the ear, head and cervical spine are effectively treated by Karnapoorana. This is helpful in diseases of Vata origin in ear, stiffness of neck and mandible, headache, ear ache and protects the ear.

5.Gandusha and Kavalagraha

These are two main gargling procedures. Procedure of holding oil or decoction in buccal cavity for a certain period of time is called as Gandusha. Here the mouth is completely filled with liquid thus rendering gargling impossible. In Kavalagraha, the liquids are held in mouth followed by gargling for a certain period.

Gandusha improves the strength of the mandible, nourishes mouth, taste perception of tongue is improved, voice becomes more melodious, increases the stability of gums and teeth, prevents dental caries and makes the tooth more strong to resist decaying.

Kavalagraha is good in curing head ache and ear ache, effective remedy in diseases related to mouth and throat, cures dryness of mouth, rhinitis, nausea, dental caries and tooth ache. It also provides almost all benefits of Gandusha.


This is the procedure of massaging the whole body with powders of paste of herbs in a direction opposite to the orientation of hair in the body. The direction of massage is quite opposite to that in abhyanga. Udwartana opens the channels of the body, facilitates metabolic activity and improves the complexion if the skin.

The benefits of Udwartana include; it alleviates the vitiation of Kapha dosha, reduces excess fat in the body leading to a sense of lightness, increases stability of body tissues, improves body complexion etc. .


Application of medicinal paste to a body part is known as Lepa. It is applied locally over the affected part of the body. Lepa is usually done in Skin diseases, diseases of scalp. Hairfall, dandruff, painful condition of the musculo-skeletal system, inflammatory swellings and peripheral vascular disease.

8.Dhaara or Parishekam

Pouring of medicated liquids or oils on a diseased part or the whole body is called as Dhaara. It is very beneficial in reducing pain, in neurological diseases, speeds up healing of ulcers, in inflammatory arthritis, and peripheral vascular diseases. Moreover it relaxes the body tissues and mind thereby provides better healing environment in the body.

The benefits of Dhaara include; improves the stability of the body, increases the functioning of the gastric fire, renders excellence of Ojas, improves efficiency of sense organs, alleviates vitiation of vata and other doshas, used effectively in treatment of paralysis, traumatic pain, stiffness of joints, neuro-muscular diseases etc.


Swedana is the induction of sweating for therapeutic purpose. By definition, the procedure that alleviates the stiffness of the body, relieves sense of heaviness, and cures the feeling of cold is called as swedana. These are achieved by increasing the natural process of perspiration. The process of sweating involves elimination of sweat and toxins from the body.

In Panchakarma, Swedana is applied after Snehana. Swedana liquefies the aggravated doshas, which become ungrounded by the preceding Snehana therapy thus rendering them ready for expulsion form the body. Swedana is done also as a form of treatment to cure specific diseases or to relieve symptoms like pain, stiffness etc.

Swedana therapy involves various forms of sudation treatment. Although these treatments are used to eliminate excess of all three doshas, they are best suited to vata and kapha disorders. Like Snehana, there are many modalities by which Swedana is performed, some of them being explained below.

1.Shastikashali PindaSweda.

Inducing perspiration by using heated boluses of rice dipped in milk-decoction mixture is referred to as Shastikashalipindasweda or NavaraKizhi. Specific rice is boiled in decoction and milk and is then tied in pieces of cloth to make packs. These are then heated in the decoction-milk mixture and the warm packs are rubbed over the body to induce perspiration.

This procedure is highly recommended in spasticity, reduced mobility, rigidity, low back ache, paralysis, arthritis and other conditions which results in muscle dystrophy and emaciation.

2.Patrapinda Sweda.

Inducing perspiration by applying heated pack made of specific herbal leaves is called as Patrapindasweda or Ilakizhi. Specific herbal leaves are cut into small pieces, fried in oil and made into boluses. These are then made warm by heating in metal vessel and applied over the body.

This procedure is effective in conditions of pain, sprain, degeneration etc.

3.Bashpa Sweda.

Making the client perspire by setting his body below the neck inside a specially designed steam chamber is called as Bashpasweda or Steam bath. This is the most popular and easiest way of swedana. Here, the whole body is subjected to swedana simultaneously and thus has an edge over other swedana procedures.

This is beneficial in whole body pain, arthritis and neurological diseases like paralysis, motor neuron disease, muscular contractures etc.

4.Upanaha Sweda.

The procedure of applying warm herbal paste to the desired part of the body followed by bandaging is referred to as Upanahasweda. This is usually preferred to perform swedana for a limited part of the body. Application of heat by the warm herbal paste induces perspiration.

This is indicated in localized pain, swelling etc.

"Person desirous of long life which is the means for achieving dharma(righteousness), artha(wealth) and sukha(happiness) should repose utmost faith in the teachings of Ayurveda."


"Be detached and do your duty. In performing your prescribed task with spirit unattached, you shall mount to highest bliss".

Bhagavat Gita

"He, who within himself has found joy, will attain the peace of eternal one".

Bhagavat Gita

"My hand is the Lord
Boundlessly blissful is my hand
This hand holds all healing secrets
Which make whole with its gentle touch"

Rig Veda