Purvakarma – Pretreatment

The pre-treatment consists of oil therapies, massages and fomentation treatments.

Snehana (oleation or oil treatments) and svedana (sweating treatments) are two of the Purvakarma procedures and the most important preparatory measures of Panchakarma.

Snehana, the inner and outer oleation, is supposed to dissolve the toxins (Ama) that are stuck in various body tissues. During Snehana, so-called sneha– or snigdha dravyas (oily substances) are administered internally or externally in the form of taila (oils), ghṛta (ghee), vasā (muscle fat) or majjā (bone marrow).

The snehas are individually prepared with herbs to help the respective condition of the patient. If Sneha is administered in pure form without the addition of herbs, it is called accha sneha and is considered the most effective oleation therapy.

Internal Snehana is applied early in the morning for a maximum of seven days. It helps the increased doshas and accumulated Ama to separate from the tissues and pass from the tiny body channels (srota) into the digestive tract and then to be eliminated from the body (vilayana (liquefy) and utkleśana (stimulating) the doshas).

Outer snehana is the application of oils to the body. Usually this is done by massages that last about 45-70 minutes.

 

Svedana is a heat treatment that is applied to the whole body or to a part of the body, depending on the imbalance. The whole body (or the corresponding part of the body) is exposed to a medicinal herbal steam produced over an open fire (sāgni sveda). Svedana can also be performed without a direct source of heat (i.e. without fire = anagni sveda), e.g. by sitting in the sun, covering the body with thick blankets, fasting (not drinking, not eating) or by staying in a closed dark room.

Svedana expands the fine channels in the body so that the dissolved Ama (toxins) can move towards the digestive tract (koṣṭha). At the same time, sweating helps to liquefy the doshas. Svedana is performed after Abhyanga (oil massage). After several days of oiling and sweating, the patient is prepared for the following treatments – the actual Panchakarma or main cure.