One of the world’s oldest forms of holistic and whole-body healing is the ancient art of Ayurvedic medicine. Developed more than 4,000 years ago in India, the basis of Ayurvedic medicine lies with the belief that your health and wellness depends upon the delicate balance between your mind, body, spirit connection.
The intention of Ayurveda is rather simple, at it’s core the aim is to bring your body into a state of balance and bliss – so that your body can heal itself. Ayurvedic medicine is a form of ‘vedic science’ and like yoga, it has one purpose: to expose the illusion and neediness of the mind and become free.
If this is your first time hearing of Ayurvedic medicine, there is much to learn. Firstly, Ayurveda represents the “science or knowledge of life”. In this form of medicine, everyone is treated and considered as unique, meaning there is no one diet or lifestyle routine that works for everyone.
THE 5 ELEMENTS
Ether, air, fire, water, and earth; these are the five elements which are found in all living things – and from an Ayurvedic perspective, these elements are our building blocks for life – creating the foundation that unites all humans. These five elements then combine to create our three different basic types of human constitution.
Ayurveda is based on the principles of these three human constitutions, or ‘doshas’. Dosha is the name for these energies that make up every individual, and they perform different physiological functions in the body.
THE 3 DOSHA TYPES
Ether + Air
This energy controls bodily functions that are associated with motion. This includes blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable.
In balance: Creativity and vitality.
Out of balance: Fear and anxiety.
Fire + Water
This energy controls the body’s metabolic systems. This includes digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body’s temperature. If Pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and we have a strong appetite for life.
In balance: Contentment and intelligence.
Out of balance: Ulcers and anger.
Water + Earth
This energy controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing.
In balance: Love and forgiveness.
Out of balance: Insecurity and envy.
While we have all the three doshas in us, typically there is just one or two doshas that are dominate, and for each, there is a balanced and imbalanced expression. Discover what you dosha type is in this Dosha Quiz by The Chopra Centre.
When these energetic forces (vata, pitta, and kapha) are out of balance, this lowers our digestive fire (agni), and toxins (ama) are created. When this ama enters our bloodstream, it clogs our channels, and lodges into our joints, muscles, organs, and reproductive tissue, etc. This is detrimental to our prana (life-force or energy), tejas (metabolic energy), and ojas (immunity).
CHANGE WITH THE SEASONS
As we make a transition into a new season, this makes for an ideal time to re-balance your body and sync with the new change – you can do this by following a cleanse to support detoxification and rejuvenate your health.
THE 5 DETOX
In Ayurveda, “panchakarma” translates to “five therapies” – this is a term that describes the gentle detoxification processes used in Ayurvedic medicine. This ultimate mind-body healing experience can be used to detoxify the body, strengthen the immune system, and restore your balance and well-being. This ‘5 Detox” is recommended on a seasonal basis, and is also a great ‘reset’ plan during a time when your are feeling out of balance or are experiencing illness.
A traditional panchakarma cleanse is a simple, 4-day detox that can easily be performed at home using different Ayurvedic herbs, a plant-based diet, a detox skincare routine and an important therapy known as ‘oleation’.
In Sanskrit, pancha means 5, and karma means action. These are the 5 actions to perform every day for 4 consecutive days to get the most out of your seasonal cleanse.
ACTION ONE: IN THE MORNING, DRINK MELTED GHEE
This is known as oleation. Ghee is better known as clarified butter, and in the process of preparing this healing food the impurities from the milk are removed, leaving you with the pure butter fat (discover the benefits of Ghee and how to make it). During oleation – the ghee works to penetrate the tissues of the body, softening and lubricating the hardened tissue that builds as we age. Ghee also forces the gallbladder to produce new digestive enzymes, and it works like a magnet – pulling out toxins to help reset your natural fat-burning metabolism.
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Every morning of the cleanse, after scraping the tongue with a tongue scraper and brushing your teeth, you will be enjoying a dose of melted ghee. Each day of this 4-day detox, this amount will increase. Be sure to choose an organic, pasture-raised or grass-fed ghee!
Daily ghee doses are as follows:
Day 1: 2 tsp Ghee
Day 2: 4 tsp Ghee
Day 3: 6 tsp Ghee
Day 4: 9 tsp Ghee
You may enjoy the melted ghee as is, or you may mix it into a small amount of warm, unsweetened dairy-free milk, with a pinch of ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom for some added flavour.
Do not eat or drink anything for 30 minutes after ingesting the ghee. After 30 minutes, prepare a quick elixir of warm water with lemon juice from half of a fresh lemon. If nausea occurs (this is not uncommon on days 3 &4), sip on some fresh ginger tea.
ACTION TWO: FOLLOW A SIMPLE MONO-DIET OF KITCHARI
Kitchari is a traditional mung bean and rice porridge with a nourishing effect on the body. Kitchari will be eaten for each meal for the duration of the cleanse. This meal allows the digestive system to rest while still nourishing the body and keeping blood sugar levels stable. Following the recipe provided is the most effective option, however – you may can add cooked seasonal vegetables to the mung beans and rice as needed.
It is important that no oils are added to the kitchari, fatty foods such as avocado and coconut oil should be avoided. Your daily dose of healing fats will come from your ghee in the morning. At each meal you should enjoy enough of the kitchari so that you do not need to snack in between.
This recipe makes 3 to 4 meals. You may adjust the mix of spices as needed. This dish is traditionally enjoyed like a soup. Enjoy the kitchari for three meals per day during the 4-day cleanse. It’s time to get on track for a digestive system rest!
WHAT YOU NEED:
1 cup uncooked split yellow mung beans (SPLIT, not whole – these are easier to digest and are more detoxifying. Often labelled as ‘Split Moong Dahl’. Find organic options online)
1/4 – 1/2 cup uncooked white basmati rice
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger root
2 bay leaves
1 tsp each black mustard seeds, cumin, and turmeric powder
1/2 tsp each coriander powder, fennel, and fenugreek seeds
7 – 10 cups filtered water (chlorine/fluoride free)
1/2 tsp himalayan rock salt
1 small handful fresh chopped cilantro leaves or cilantro microgreens
1 pinch hing (also called asafoetida or asafetida) – optional
WHAT TO DO:
– Rinse your mung beans until the water runs clear, then par boil: bring to a boil with 4 cups of water and then remove from heat. Allow to rest for 1-4 hrs in the boiled water, then drain and rinse
-Rinse your rice until the water runs clear
-Heat a large pot over medium heat and add all the spices (except the bay leaves). Dry roast for a few minutes, and constantly stir to prevent burning. This is an important step as dry roasting your spices will enhance the flavour and their healing properties. Careful – don’t burn them!
-Add your par-boiled mung beans and rinsed rice to the dry roasted spices and stir well
-Add your filtered water (7-10 cups) and bay leaves and bring to a boil
-Boil for 10 minutes, then turn the heat to low. Cover and cook until mung beans and rice are soft (30-40 minutes)
-Serve and garnish with cilantro just before enjoying
-Add himalayan salt to taste
-Store extra kitchari in glass mason jars, and reheat in a pot on the stove, or by adding some boiling water.
ACTION THREE: HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS AND TULSI TEA
Take these herbs daily to enhance the effect of your cleanse:
Turmeric Formula: 2 capsules with meals
Liver Kidney Formula: 1 capsule between meals
Tulsi/Holy Basil Tea: 1-2 cups a day (brew less time for less bitter taste)
ACTION FOUR: GARSHANA (DRY BRUSHING)
The simple act of brushing your skin has a profound effect on detoxing the body. Using a dry skin brush, gently brush your skin in circular motions that lead towards the heart, and then work in long strokes – this practice stimulates the lymphatic system, enhances circulation and helps to release toxins. Discover 8 Reasons to Add Dry Brushing to Your Routine.
ACTION FIVE: BATH AND SELF-MASSAGE WITH OIL
Immediately after dry brushing, relax in a hot bath (as hot as you can handle) for 20-30 minutes. You can optionally add Alkabath or pure Epsoms salts for added benefits. This final daily action in the 5 Detox works to de-stress and Recharge your body – it is also the most blissful step in panchakarma (hopefully you are a bath lover)! Follow your relaxing soak with a gentle oil massage, moisturizing the skin with organic coconut or sesame oil, you can mix in a few drops of an essential oil such as Tulsi/Holy Basil, Myrrh, Sandalwood or Frankincense.
Complete these 5 Actions every day of the 4-day cleanse. On the last day of your cleanse, the final step is to flush your digestive system.
- For those with sensitive digestion: Drink a warm cup of pure prune juice after your bath.
- For normal digestion: Mix 1 tbsp of Epsom salts, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp of lemon juice in warm water and drink.
- If you are prone to constipation: Double up on the Epsom salts, olive oil and lemon juice.
After completing The 5 Detox it’s best to ease your body back into the ‘real world’. It will be of benefit for you to focus on continuing with a plant-based/whole-food diet (find detox approved recipes here). Continue on your journey to becoming your best self by adding in some daily exercise, whether that be yoga, weight training, jogging or a spin class. It would also be beneficial to continue with the dry brushing routine (my favourite detox habit for glowing skin) and it wouldn’t hurt to make some time for detox bath to bring some peace to a busy week.
** It’s important to note that everyone is different and the individual needs for herbs and certain cleansing methods may differ from person to person. It’s always best to work with a healthcare practitioner to figure out the right approach for you and your unique body.
Please consult a physician before beginning any treatment program or making any adjustment to your health care, diet, and/or lifestyle.
Do not remove yourself from any prescribed medications or treatments without consulting your doctor. Any and all dietary supplements or nutritional products and treatments discussed on this site are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. The information contained in this site is for general information and for educational purposes only.
Nothing contained in this site is or shall be or considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should always seek the advice of a physician with any questions regarding their health or medical condition. Never disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical advice or following the advice of a physician because of something you have seen or read on this site.
This article was written by Nicole Eckert, Holistic Nutritionist and the Owner + Founder of Holisticole. Check out her holistic living blog: holisticole.com for amazing clean-eating recipes, informative blog posts and online programs. Stay inspired by Nicole’s passion – follow her on Facebook & Instagram (@holisticole). BE vibrant.
- Panchakarma – 5 Steps for a 4-day Detox to Cleanse and Rejuvenate this Spring
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