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Ayurveda > Panch-karma: Vaman

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

In the previous article we discussed Purva-karma i.e. snehan (olation therapy) and swedan (fomentation therapy or induced sweating). These procedures facilitate the release of ama (toxins) accumulated in the body channels thus making their expulsion easy. After purva-karma the ayurvedic therapist schedules one or more panch-karma (five main procedures) as per the need of the patient. Vaman (induced vomiting) tops the list and is the most frequently chosen therapy for ama accumulation, especially when there is accumulation in the respiratory and/or digestive tract.


Shirodhara (image right) is a form of Ayurveda therapy that involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead and can be one of the steps involved in Panchakarma. The name comes from the Sanskrit words shiro (head) and dhara (flow).

The liquids used in shirodhara depend on what is being treated, but can include oil, milk, buttermilk, coconut water, or even plain water. Shirodhara has been used to treat a variety of conditions including eye diseases, allergic rhinitis, greying of hair, neurological disorders, memory loss, insomnia, hearing impairments etc.

It is also used non-medicinally at spas for its relaxing properties.

Vaman (induced vomiting or emesis therapy):

Respiratory conditions like repeated attacks of common cold, chronic cough, chronic bronchitis, asthmatic bronchitis and bronchial asthma need thorough cleansing of the respiratory tract (pranavaha strotasa) and vaman is the preferred therapy in these conditions.

Digestive disturbances like acid peptic disease (amla pitta), tendency to indigestion (mandagni), a type of jaundice (rudhdha path kamala) and motion sickness also need purification and vaman shows good results.

Vaman helps in relieving the aggrieved kafa accumulated in the respiratory tract and/or the aggrieved pitta accumulated in the digestive tract.

This ayurvedic treatment of therapeutic vomiting also helps in eliminating accumulated thoughts and tension from the mind (manovasa strotas). It is said that vaman is effective in psychological conditions like feeling of saturation, vague dizziness, anxiety neurosis, compulsive obsessive disorder, disturbed sleep and nightmares. In these cases, vaman helps in expelling suppressed or repressed emotions. Many times people feel they have swallowed hair or a pin-like object or glass or that they have consumed poison or a substance causing irritation, unknowingly through food. Vaman helps in expelling random troubling, irritating and unending thoughts in these conditions.


One to three days prior to vaman, internal snehan (drinking a measured amount of oil or pure ghee) and/or swedan (fomentation) is carried out. This induces nausea which ultimately facilitates vaman.


Vaman is arranged preferably early in the morning after motion has been passed. 3 to 4 glasses of decoction of licorice (yashtimadhu) or emetic nut (madan fal) or simple salt water are administered orally and vomiting is stimulated by rubbing the tongue as this rubbing stimulates the vomiting center in the brain.

After a few minutes, the patient starts vomiting and this vomitus is collected in a measuring pot. It mainly contains mucous lodged in the respiratory tract and digestive juices causing irritation. These include accumulated bile and other unwanted secretions.


After effective vaman the patient instantly feels relieved and fresh. Congestion, suffocation, fullness and dullness disappear and the body channels (strotasa) become clear. This in turn restores lost appetite and energy.

Fasting for 8 to 10 hours is observed after which the patient is allowed to take a light and bland diet. Drinking plenty of water or natural fluids like lemon juice, coconut water, rice water and water from boiled pulses is recommended after vaman to avoid dehydration.
Vaman is a harsh treatment and is contraindicated in pregnancy and impaired immunity. Also, if a patient is suffering from hematemesis or hemoptysis then vaman is contraindicated.

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Ayurvedic Milestones
Ayurvedic Thought
 Vaat, Pitta, Kafa, Dosh
 Dhatu, Mala, Fire
Pathology - Ama
 Ashtang Ayurved
 Agad Tantra
 Kaumar Bhrutya Tantra
 Shalya Tantra
 Shalakya tantra

Actual Case Notes
 Asthmatic Bronchitis
 Bleeding per anum
 Hair Loss
 Pregnancy Care
 Senile Debility
 Solution To Baldness
 Vaat Related Fever

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