I recently completed my first ever Panchakarma therapy, an ancient Ayurvedic extended cleanse that is considered foundational to achieving perfect health.
Loosely translated it means “five binding actions”, or cleansing methods. These are; vamana karma (vomiting), nasya karma (nasal irrigation), basthi karma (herbal enema), virechana karma (purgation therapy) and Raktamokshana (blood letting). Now days not all are practiced frequently.
We also detoxify via our lymphatic system, skin and kidneys, and there are treatments given throughout to encourage the release of toxins via these pathways.
The whole process is deeply nourishing. You slow down, like right down, and are cared for daily by others. After becoming a mother, what I had forgotten was that no matter what your diet, lifestyle or herbal regime, your body CANNOT heal when it’s stressed. And so often it’s a vicious cycle, where the more stressed you become, the more you make choices that are not conducive to optimum health. As my wise friend said, people don’t have an addiction problem, they have a stress management problem. When you are under pressure (or perceived pressure), you often reach for stimulants (caffeine, nicotine, sugar etc) for energy and depressants (alcohol etc.) to relax. When you are in your natural state of relaxation, it becomes much easier to make choices in harmony with your wellbeing.
Ayurveda acknowledges that exposure to toxins is unavoidable, and never more so than now. Toxins are not only environmental, they also come from improperly digested food as well as experiences and emotions. We live so much of our modern lives with our sympathetic nervous system (responsible for “fight-or-flight” response) switched on, that we burn out our adrenals and our digestion suffers (the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “rest-and-digest” response). Resetting the digestive system and making it strong (agni is the digestive fire, which is responsible for breaking down and assimilating nutrients from our foods, sadhaka pitta, the energy in the body responsible for digesting and integrating our emotions and experience) is prioritised, as is collecting and then removing toxins from the body.
Also considered is the balance between the “doshas” in the body, vata, pitta and kapha.
The whole process is profoundly transformational, some say, if done properly you leave with the physiology of a brand new baby and can imprint whatever you wish on it.
I would recommend it to anyone seeking to improve their health and quality of life, and it is particularly effective in treating many diseases which modern medicine is unsuccessful with.
I was left with a new found appreciation for many of the herbs we use at Bliss Elixir, and a more complex understanding of how they impact our physiology.
One such herb, which I have a longstanding love- affair with, is Hemidesmus. Also called Sariba, Sariva, Anantamul, Anantamool and Indian Sarsaparilla.
Anantamul literally means “the eternal root” in Sanskrit, and it has a great affinity with the blood and circulatory system, mirrored in the branching pattern which it grows, and the crimson colour of the decoction of the root.
Indian Sarsaparilla is intricately woven into the history of Ayurvedic herbal medicine. Considered very sacred, it is a Rasayana or rejuvenative herb. In Sanskrit Rasayana means “Path of Essence”, it is a term that in early Ayurvedic medicine means the science of lengthening lifespan, or an elixir for longevity.
Its qualities in Ayurveda are as follows; vipaka (post-digestive effect) is sweet and nourishing. It is tridoshic (favourable for all three doshas).
Its karma (actions) include removing foul odor, removing ama (toxins or undigested food), purifying the blood, pacifying burning sensations, and anti-inflammatory.
“Nervous Disorders: Anantamul’s sweet and cooling effect theoretically nourishes sadhaka pitta and the mind, making it particularly good for disturbed, angry or irritated emotions due to high pitta aggravating the equilibrium of the mind.
Anantamul has been combined with gotu kola, rose, and brahmi for hot emotions and disturbed pitta.”1
In Western Herbal medicine it is used primarily as an immunomodulator, but it has a much wider range of uses from cleansing and detoxifying the body, to rejuvenating and nourishing the tissues.
It’s the purifying effect it has on the blood that is primarily responsible for its ability to treat many of the conditions it does. And one happy side effect of cleansing the blood is that it promotes smooth, healthy, glowing skin.
We’ve combined it in our Yin Yang formula, with dandelion and chicory to support the liver and digestive system in the removal of toxins. Along with Carob, Cacao and Vanilla making it a delicious and uplifting way to gently remove toxins and nourish the body each day.