Pañcakarma – psychic status of patients during various phases of pañcakarma
Prof. Dr. S.N. Gupta
Pañcakarma is a group of therapies meant for radical expulsion of harmful accumulations from the body those are not eliminated through routine excretory procedures. In this way, these therapies bring the body’s milieu to normal. Being delicate procedures they require special care and attentiveness at every level. They do not clean the body’s atmosphere only but also influence at mental level as mind has to operate through body. The body is in highly turbulent state during all phases of pañcakarma. This is like cleaning a glass bottle by shaking vigorously after pouring a cleansing liquid in to it. Because of turbulence in body’s milieu, mind is also in a shaky state. Therefore, patient needs a good support not only physically but mentally at every level. Then it may result into wonderful outcomes. Therefore, Ayurveda advices to take care of a patient like a tender egg, bowl brimful of oil or like a cowherd carrying a stick manages the cows (Ca.si.12/5)
Patients usually have some misunderstandings and confusions about pañcakarma procedures. They often compare them with some spa type of treatments. Therefore, when they encounter real pañcakarma, this is difficult for them to accept it easily and immediately. Moreover, they are not familiar with such situations. Patients have a common belief that Ayurvedic treatment consists of only pañcakarma, though it is not necessary to perform these procedures in every condition. In several conditions pañcakarma, particularly the oleation is contraindicated. When the image about pañcakarma created by them is shattered they develop confusion, uncertainty and anxiety.
When it comes to internal oleation therapy, they develop anxiety because of their early information though unrealistic, about harms of the fatty substances particularly ghee. Body’s milieu is turbulent during the pūrvakarma. Doṣas are agitated and set to come out. It also influences the mental status of the patient which may give rise to certain emotional outbursts. When we think about mental reaction during pañcakarma (in which gut is the major operating organ), we have to keep in mind also the theory of gut-mind relation. These emotional reactions are observed when patient is alone in the room are while getting abhyaṅga etc.
Anxieties are observed during pradhānakarma also. Emotional outbursts have been observed sometimes during vamana. During virecana, frequency of stools may cause anxiety even though there is no dehydration. Forceful expulsion of colonic contents and straining during nirūha may sometimes cause vasovagal attack resulting into momentary fainting. This may also generate anxiety related to basti. During paścātkarma patient is weakened bodily which also influence his mental status. He has to observe absolute rest. He gets enough time to contemplate. This free contemplation is beneficial for the patient to see the mental problems clearly. However, if a proper support is not provided, he may be dragged in to anxiety and negative thinking.