The modern-day juice cleanses are rapidly becoming a fad of the past. Oddly enough, the ancient cleansing practice of panchakarma is becoming much more common, due to its gentle yet effective protocol. Panchakarma is rooted deep in Ayurveda, a preventative medicine system that focuses on the mind-body connection.
This ancient cleanse is a pragmatic, five step detox intended to nourish the system. You are typically guided by an Ayurvedic practitioner, but there are many modern-day versions of the cleanse that work just as well. It is important when embarking on this cleanse to prepare for it, rather than jumping in head first. To prepare, it is encouraged to first start by tweaking your diet and exercise habits. You should cut out all processed foods, including sugar, alcohol, caffeine, meat, gluten, and dairy (with the exception of ghee). You should also up your hydration and start incorporating light movement, while cutting out any high intensity exercise.
After you prepare, it’s time to get into the deeper cleansing. The first step is to change your diet to eat only kitchari, a traditional Indian dish consisting of basmati rice, split mung beans, ghee, and spices. This food is a complete protein and the ghee serves as a source of fat that eases digestion by softening and lubricating the digestive tract. It is encouraged to eat kitchari for three meals a day, for at least three days. You will begin to feel a gentle increase in elimination with no discomfort. The bonus is that you are getting all of your essential nutrients and calories, with no extreme deficit.
The second phase of this cleanse is to incorporate more mind-body healing practices. These include:
Abhyanga (i.e. warm oil massages): You can have someone else massage you or do it yourself. Gently massaging with a carrier oil like sesame oil, coconut oil, or sunflower oil moisturizes the skin, relieves muscle tension, reduces stress and supports lymphatic drainage.
Steam baths and/or saunas: Sweating out toxins is a great addition to cleansing as it has amazing cardiovascular effects by increasing one’s heart rate, blood flow within the skin, cardiac output, and purging of amas.
Dry brushing: This helps to break down and detox lymphatic fluid within the skin barrier.
Cleansing enemas and colonics: While not necessary, enemas and colonics are alternatives to flushing out built-up waste when the buildup is substantial.
Meditation: Since panchakarma is about healing the mind and body, it’s important to connect to the self by meditating and tapping inward to try and release any emotional stress, trauma, or shadow patterns.
Neti pot: By flushing out the nose with warm salt water, you are clearing the nasal passageways from any built up mucus.
Gentle laxatives: Bulking up on soluble fiber helps your body to gently remove built up waste. An example of a gentle laxative is psyllium husk.
Self-reflection practices: In addition to meditation, it’s important to consciously self-reflect by writing about your emotions, thoughts, and desires.
By incorporating these practices into your cleansing regime of kitchari and light exercise (e.g. walking and yoga), your mind and body experience a very soothing but powerful detox. The length of this cleanse can range from three to fourteen days. It is recommended to do a panchakarma three times a year (between seasons) but if you ever feel a bit stagnant, you can incorporate aspects of the cleanse or add kitchari into your regular diet.