The Gerson Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine                                                           

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Basic Principles Of Ayurveda

Aushadi Chikitsa in Panchakarma (Herbal Medicine Treatments)

Panchakarma is the process by which toxins in the various tissues and channels of the body are digested and liquefied. Preliminary procedures prime the digestive organs to be able to process the large toxic load which will imminently follow. For panchakarma therapies to be effective, we must increase the Agni, or digestive fire, of the body. This includes not only the main digestive fire (Jathagni) located in the stomach and proximal small intestine, but also the seven agnis associated with each of the seven dhatus (Dhatagnis) and the five agnis which correspond to the five elements which compose the physiology.(Bhutagnis)

Aushadi chikitsa (treatment with medicines) involves the ingestion of Agni-promoting herbs. These herbs are generally pungent and bitter in taste (Rasa), heating in potency (Veerya), and pungent in post-digestive taste (Vipaka). Their physiological effects are to increase internal heat, stimulate the metabolism, enkindle the digestive enzymes, increase peristalsis, improve the circulation, and promote mental focus. These are herbs which warm the gastrointestinal tract (kostha), are commonly diaphoretic, stimulate gastric and intestinal digestive juices, provide kinetic energy to the circulatory system, and sharpen the five senses.

Many of these herbs happen to have anti-parasitic or antibacterial properties and some may have immune-enhancing effects. They all share the properties of being Kapha-decreasing and revivifyng a lethargic digestive system. They are generally Vata-decreasing as well except for the herbs with a predominantly ruksha (drying) quality. They can be used, in smaller amounts, in persons with a Pitta prakriti or in those with a Pitta excess related condition, especially if that condition involves ama.

Examples of some commonly used herbs for aushadi chikitsa in panchakarma include:

  • Trachyspermum roxburghianum
  • Emblica officinalis
  • Zingiber officinale
  • Syzygium cumini
  • Piper nigrum
  • Calotropis procera
  • Terminalia chebula
  • Coriandrum sativum
  • Ocimum sanctum
  • Carum carvi
  • Cuminum cyminum
  • Operculina turpethum
  • Ferula foetida
  • Citrus limon

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