Ayurvedic Detoxification: Averting the Danger Not Yet Come

In Maharishi Ayurveda seasonal purification is recommended on a regular basis. The removal of environmental toxins is important, but is not the only priority. How in-depth purification is accomplished is one of the great strengths of Maharishi Ayurveda.

According to the classic ayurvedic model, there are six distinct stages to the development of a disease state. The early stages generally involve seasonal imbalance of the doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. For example, not following a good balanced routine in summer may increase the Pitta or heat element in the body. These early stages of an ayurvedic imbalance usually can be treated with diet and routine changes. However there are other imbalances and accumulations of toxins that need more specific treatment.

The Three Amas

The concept of toxins, called "ama," is unique to ayurveda. Maharishi Ayurveda recognizes three types of ama.

Ama is described in the texts of ayurveda as heavy and sticky. Think of plaque accumulating in arteries and you have a general idea. But ama goes deeper and farther. It collects in all of the "gaps" — and there are millions — in the body. It is formed through poor dietary habits and low digestive fire (weak digestion). Over time ama tends to accumulate in the body and block the channels of the body, causing a variety of conditions. That is basic ama.

But there is a more troublesome, more toxic kind of ama. It is called amavish. This type of ama mixes with the doshas, tissues or waste products of the body. In the ayurvedic model, this type of ama is believed to cause more chronic health problems. The third type of ama is called garavish; this kind of ama is associated with the accumulation of environmental toxins. All of these kinds of ama can be eliminated. The approach to eliminating them starts with the highest principle first:

The texts of ayurveda describe the solution in Sanskrit: "Chikitsatam vyadhikaram pathyam sadharanam aushadam prayshitam prakritisthapanprashanam itaman."

The saying translates as: "Eliminate that which is not wholeness, that which is disrupting, by that which is suitable for the self, with procedures and preparation to restore the self to re-establish prakriti (wholeness) and pacify by that which is conducive to health." This is why Maharishi Ayurveda experts always recommend the Transcendental Meditation® program, because this is a program that creates balance in mental states, which has a powerful beneficial effect on the body.

Identifying Imbalances — Secrets the Pulse Reveals

In taking the pulse, the Vaidya (ayurvedic physician) is assessing two key areas. He learns the person's Prakriti — their "essential nature" — as well as the "nature of their current imbalance," or Vikriti. From this knowledge the Vaidya begins to recommend specific ways to correct the imbalances. Only through skilled ayurvedic diagnosis can the Vaidya determine the strength of each treatment needed and the sequential placement of treatments needed to restore balance or prevent the development of a deeper imbalance. Throughout this process, it is essential to not create a new imbalance or set of symptoms. This is one of the great distinctions and directives of ayurveda: solve problems without creating new ones.

The Vaidya employs a variety of methods of purification to restore balance to all areas of the body and mind. The treatments support the body's natural ability to purify itself. This is a key feature of Maharishi Ayurveda. The tools available at his disposal include herbal formulas, purification treatments, sounds, aromas, yoga postures, diets and specific foods, the practice of Transcendental Meditation®, and adjustments to routine and lifestyle, among many others.

In an intensive approach, he might recommend Maharishi Rejuvenation Therapy. This approach applies the ancient ayurvedic techniques of purification known as Panchakarma. This program focuses on the elimination of various types of ama (impurities), thereby restoring balance. The process is done in residence with expert oversight, because the biotransformation systems through which this purification occurs are delicate yet powerful. It is a customized process for each person that must be supported with the right nutrients, and the right treatments at the right time without weakening the body.

Purification does not focus on just one area. Many detox programs focus on just the liver or the bowel. Maharishi Ayurveda provides a more complete approach and understanding — all areas of the physiology must be supported for purification to be effective. In addition, Maharishi Ayurveda recognizes and provides after-treatment programs to strengthen those systems over time and recommends individually tailored post-purification programs. This customization includes diet, routine and herbal preparations. The post-purification program adds knowledge, because there is no point in doing purification if one continues to make the same mistakes. Maharishi Ayurveda equips the patient with knowledge so he can become more self-reliant. This is one of the beauties of the approach — it empowers the patient with knowledge and effective tools for maintaining increasing states of balance. This robust body of patient-supporting knowledge makes it easier for a person to follow an ayurvedic routine daily and seasonally. This better ensures that the body and mind stay balanced. This is the foundation of averting health problems before they arise: first restore balance and then maintain it with mental and physical methodologies.

This system of purification allows for different levels of personal participation — from in-residence intensive purification program, to home cleansing and herbal forumulations. If one cannot do Panchakarma, then there are excellent herbs available from Maharishi Ayurveda Products.

What the Texts Say

The 5000-year-old ayurvedic texts speak thoroughly about "elimination therapy" (shodhan therapy).

"The vitiated dosas are eliminated from the body through the alimentary tract (koshtha), the power of digestion and metabolism is enhanced, diseases are cured and normal health is restored; the sense faculties, mind, intelligence, and complexion become clear (prasada); one gains strength, plumpness, offspring and potency; one is not affected by old age and lives long without any disease. For these effects, one should undergo elimination therapy in proper time. The dosas alleviated by light diet and digestive drugs (shamana therapy) do at times get aggravated but those eliminated by shodhana therapies do not recur. The dosas can be well compared with trees. Unless the tree is uprooted it will continue to grow. Such is the case with the vitiated dosas. They go on causing diseases unless they are eliminated from their very root (source)."

In Panchakarma and in any ayurvedic purification program there are three stages of the purification process.

  • Stage one is Purva Karma. This means pre-treatment. At this stage decisions are made as to the nature of the imbalance of doshas, the type and amount of ama and the quality and type of digestion. Once this is determined, only then can the most effective program be given.
  • Stage two is Panchakarma, or the purification programs themselves. Specific treatments are given for loosening and initiating the removal of toxins. In other cases herbs are more appropriate. There are specific treatments to open the shrotas — the channels of the physiology. There are special natural ways to facilitate the pacification or removal of excess doshas and ensure good elimination.
  • Stage three occurs after the main treatments. At this stage the body is considered ready for Paschat Karma, or post treatment. In this stage digestion is slowly restored to a balanced state, and specific diet, routine and strengthening herbs are given to ensure future good health and a long, happy life free from serious imbalances. Again, many factors have to be taken into account; each patient is treated on an individual basis, so the program is specific to their state of balance and imbalance (Prakriti and Vikriti).
The Science

Scientific research on Maharishi Rejuvenation Therapy has demonstrated beneficial effects on short-term memory, long-term memory, speed of processing, alertness and general intelligence. It has also been shown to increase psychological well being. In a study published in the September/October 2002 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, it was shown that Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma therapy greatly reduces the levels of 14 important lipophilic (i.e. fat-soluble) toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the body, which would otherwise remain in the body for a very long time.

Dr. Robert Herron, co-author of the study, said: "This is the first published study on humans to show that a specific detoxification regimen can significantly reduce blood levels of lipophilic toxicants known to be associated with many disease conditions, including cancer."

Dr. Herron explains that to neutralize their effect and protect itself, the body deposits lipophils in fatty tissues where they naturally reside, and, being surrounded by fatty molecules, cannot cause much harm. However, Herron says, their steady accumulation in the body due to the consumption of agricultural pesticides or other chemicals has a serious effect on long-term health.

Eventually, they reach a level where the tiny fraction that is in circulation becomes sufficient to produce potentially disastrous effects on cells throughout the body. This is when cancer may occur, particularly if other factors also favor it. One exciting fact is that for several subjects in the second part of the study, quite high initial levels of a single toxicant (βHCH) were reduced to undetectable levels during the period over which the Panchakarma treatment occurred.

Maharishi Rejuvenation Therapy and individual assessment by Maharishi Ayurveda experts is available at The Raj, America's premier Ayurveda spa in Vedic City, Iowa.

Herbs for Home Cleansing

Herbs are seen as food by the body and are more easily absorbed. When the blend of herbs has a balanced synergy, then they will be most effective and will not have side effects.

For all types of toxins, the first and foremost treatment is to improve elimination. Herbal Cleanse and Organic Digest Tone are gentle yet effective herbal supplements for cleansing the bowel. Herbal Cleanse contains rare forms of Senna Leaf and Turpeth Root (Indian Jalap) along with six other herbs to aid natural elimination, enhance cellular purification and improve assimilation of nutrients.

Certain herbs are famous in ayurveda for their detoxifying effect, such as Indian Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus Indicus) and Manjistha (Indian Madder). These are contained in Elim-Tox and Elim-Tox-O, which are highly effective in flushing out toxins from the liver, blood, sweat glands and elimination system. Other herbs included in these formulas are Tinospora Cordifolia (Indian Tinospora), Rose Petals and King of Bitters (Andrographis) to help balance and purify the liver. Indian Sarsaparilla (Hemidesmus Indicus), Red Sandalwood and Neem Leaf strengthen purification of toxins through the sweat glands and the skin. Other herb groups support elimination through the urinary tract, and still others support elimination of toxins through the stool and urine by lubricating the digestive tract. Both Elim-Tox or Elim-Tox-O purify all of the major elimination organs and systems in the body. Elim-Tox is faster acting, and is ideal if you have only simple ama. If you have a Pitta imbalance, or have some amount of amavisha, take Elim-Tox-O instead. It is slower-acting than Elim-Tox, but is safer for Pitta-based people because it first pacifies the reactivity of Pitta and amavisha before flushing out the toxins. Finally, Organic Genitrac helps flush out ama from the genitourinary tract. It targets the genitourinary channels to help eliminate toxins through the urine. So you can see that by using these three products together — Herbal Cleanse (or Organic Digest Tone), Elim-Tox (or Elim-Tox-O) and Organic Genitrac — you will be cleansing all of the body's detoxification organs and the shrotas simultaneously to provide a holistic and balanced effect.

Western research has shown us the intricate mechanisms inherent in the human physiology for purification. Maharishi Ayurveda has reintroduced ancient techniques that utilize these processes to deal more effectively with either modern chemical toxins or the toxins we create through poor diet and routine, and does so in a way that is safe and balancing.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.