We went for a 3-week Ayurvedic Panchkarma (PK) treatment at Sri Subramanya Ayurvedic Hospital (ssanh.com) in Calicut in Kerala. At the end of the treatment, we felt lighter, healthier, and my skin felt baby-soft. My wife Neerja saw improvement in her sleep and BP. Panchkarma treatments included oil massages and detoxes, and also herbal potions for detox and toning. Diet was simple, light and delicious. Overall it was time well spent in overhauling the body machine.
The primary element in Panchkarma is the oil massage called Abhyanga. This is followed by specialized massages using herbs and/or warm oils. I had three kinds of specialized massages, for one week each. The lavana kizhi uses a half-a-pound sack containing about 40 herbs, and the sack is dipped regularly in warm oil. This massage helps tone up the tissues. The anti/obesity uvartaki massage applies a paste of many herbs with milk and oil, applied directly on the body in linear movements from down to up. The Pizhichil massage, an invention of Kerala’s Ayurveda, is a heavenly hot oil bath. It makes the skin very soft and supple. There are many other kinds of massages to suit other purposes, such as dry powder anti-inflammation massage for the joints, and a foot massage with buttermilk.
There are powerful vastis, or enemas, of many kinds to detox the body. I was given the standard vasti for three days to flush out the colon. Then there was the oil vasti using a small amount of medicated oil. Then there is a Kashayam vasti using 800 ml of herbal concoction; it is difficult to hold but is very powerful in sucking toxins out of the intestines. There are other types of vastis using buttermilk and other herbs and fluids.
Shirodhara is the detoxing the head by driof pping wam oil on the forehead, for about 20-30 minutes. I had that on all 21 days. It is supposed to lubricate the brain itself. It also sucks out toxins from the head. The oil become dark and dirty-looking at the end of 3-4 days. Thus fresh oil (about 1.5 liters) is used every 3-4 days.
I also had the detox through the eyes. Warm medicated ghee (using triphala) is poured in the eyes, with a moat of atta or swimming goggles around the eyes. For 15-20 minutes one blinks open and closes the eyes to let the eyes release toxins into the ghee. It improves eyesight too.
It is important to rest during and after the PK treatment. The body becomes tender. The tissues become supple. The skin becomes soft. One feels lighter. During the blissful massages a lot of old memories resurface that should be let go of. I left my laptop at home to avoid during serious work during PK. The iPhone was more than enough to take care of urgent email and social media communications. In fact, social media consumed a lot of my time and attention than I would have liked to.
We developed good family-like relations with the Thekkayil family that owns and runs the hospital. With the senior Vaidya, who is a decorated authority on Adi Sankara, I had many conversations and learned many stories about Adi Sankara. The doctors invited us to their house for a nice dinner and conversation with the lovely family.
Kerala is the ideal location for PK. Kerala is called God’s own country. There are many Ayurvedic families here with centuries of tradition in practicing Ayurveda. They are able to cure many diseases incurable by western medicine. Also, the weather in Kerala is perfect … neither too hot or cold. We had a nice air-conditioned room as we used this facility even in December.
I recommend that everyone should experience this blissful helpful traditional practice of Panchkarma at least once in their lifetime and enjoy the rejuvenation it brings.