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Ayurveda > Panch-karma - Virechan

By Dr. Satish Kulkarni

This article will discuss virechan (purgation). Virechan comes second in the series of panch-karma (five main procedures). Ayurveda believes that in pitta prakop (aggravation of pitta— one of the basic body constituents), virechan helps in eliminating the cause of aggravation and in re-establishing a status of health. When pitta crosses its normal limits, it accumulates in the dhatu (body tissues) and in the strotasa (body channels). This accumulated pitta is liquefied, directed towards an outlet and then pushed out of the body by means of virechan.

Virechan is useful in skin problems like acne, allergic skin conditions, inflammatory skin conditions and dermatitis. It helps in settling digestive tract problems like indigestion, loss of appetite, food intolerance, suspicion of entry of toxic substances through food/milk/water (except in case of a foreign body in the digestive tract), tendency to constipate, digestive disturbance due to contradictory food consumption, acid peptic disease (early stage), nausea or vomiting without any particular reason, biliary vomiting, jaundice, etc. Virechan lubricates the digestive tract in case of chronic fever. It is advised for certain urinary problems as well. One ayurvedic school recommends virechan in case of enlargement of the spleen. Virechan is part of the treatment in motion sickness, nightmares and mental stress and strains. Virechan is recommended for repeated eye inflammation, burning eye syndrome, and other eye problems occurring due to high temperatures in summer.

According to ayurvedic scholars, the administration of virechan (purgation in therapeutic doses) eliminates aggrieved pitta dosha from the body and re-establishes the vaat-pitta-kafa balance which in turn brings back physical and mental health.

There exists a range of purgatives from mild to strong. Senna leaf concoction, tea, 2 to 4 teaspoonfuls of clarified butter mixed with warm milk, grapes, raisins and mango juice are mild purgatives. Prune, flax seed husk, dandelion root and psyllium seed are moderate purgatives and a few of the above substances in a higher dose, triphala powder (myrobalan, beleric myrobalan and dried rind of amla fruit), castor oil and a few ayurvedic combinations like ichchabhedi, narach-rasa are strong purgatives. Choosing laxatives appropriate for the individual, for the particular condition and suitable to the season is where the skill of the ayurvedic therapist is called into action.

The patient is given snehan and/or swedan early in the morning. A light and preferably bland diet is given as lunch. This is followed by good rest. It is important to check the diet when the patient is subjected to virechan. The patient should not eat food (both qualitatively and quantitatively) which will aggravate the vaat-pitta-kafa (basic body constituents). The patient is given plenty of water or natural fluids by mouth in order to avoid post virechan dehydration. Again, bland food in small quantity is given as dinner. This avoids post virechan fatigue.

Virechan is given at bedtime and the results are observed the following morning. 3 to 4 loose motions are sufficient for complete cleansing.

Virechan is contraindicated in impaired immunity, dehydration, agnimandya (demeaning of body fire), acute fever, acute diarrhea, gastritis and gastroenteritis, ulcerative colitis, haematemesis and PR bleeding.
If virechan is carried out properly, the person feels light and fresh. Virechan gives a feeling of confidence in addition to positive thoughts in the mind.

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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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