Ayurvedic medicine system includes various therapies for purification, detoxification, rejuvenation, preventative and healing. Virechana is an ayurvedic purgation therapy which is used to eliminate body toxins. The meaning of word virechana is the evacuation or expulsion of waste out of the body. This therapy is basically designed for elimination of the accumulated pitta from the lower gastrointestinal tract. It is one of the best cures of health problems arising due to pitta dosha. The medications given during this therapy tend to produce heat in the body for countering vitiated doshas. In some sites, there is co-existence of pitta along with kapha. Thus, it not only cures excessive pitta but also kapha simultaneously.
The treatment includes oral administration of medicated oil or ghee into the body. Generally, virechana therapy is indicated in skin disorders, worm infections, constipation, hyperacidity, other digestive problems, urine problems, etc. Induced purgation is also a very effective treatment for blood diseases and impurities. In some cases, virechana karma is also effective in treating a group of gynecological diseases and herpes.
Virechana Karma Procedure
Before this procedure, the ayurvedic doctor examines the patient for his/her health condition, tolerance and some other parameters as per ayurveda principles. According to the health conditions, duration of pre-treatment is decided, which may vary from 3 to 7 days. During this period, the patient is advised to take a specific medicated ghee that benefits in the disease. Your doctor may also give some herbal medicines for reducing ama (toxins). The day of the main treatment is also decided before starting this pre-treatment. During the pre-treatment period, in addition to internal oleation with medicated ghee, external oleation is also done. For this, the patient requires daily ayurvedic massage and herbal steam bath.
Main Treatment Procedure
On the day of carrying out virechana, the physician first examines the patient in order to determine that he had a proper sleep and the food eaten before is properly digested. Only after ensuring this, the virechana karma is started and the patient is given purgative medicine.
The combination of herbs or use of ayurvedic formulations depends upon the level of action to be achieved, the severity of the patient’s disease and the body tolerance of the patient.
Make sure the patient is an empty stomach when the oral medication for purgation is given. The medication is prepared in such a way that the patient can stay without eating for about 10-12 hours. The patient is advised to keep drinking hot water throughout the day during the whole therapy.
After around 1 hour of taking purgative medicine, the patient starts having loose stools. The frequency of loose stools may vary according to medicine and patient’s body type. There is no requirement to take any medicine for treating loose stools. It will subside itself.
- The patient is advised to keep a check on the number of fecal discharges, consistency, color, etc. If complications arise during the therapy, they should be treated accordingly.
- The signs of an effective virechana karma involve lightness in the body, feeling of cleanliness of organs in the abdomen, increased appetite and rejuvenation of sense organs.
- If the patient gets weak during the therapy a bedpan must be arranged for him. Excessive bowel movements arising due to this therapy may be controlled by some medications used for diarrhea.
After the subsidence of loose stools, the patient must take rest physically as well as mentally. The patient is not allowed to take normal diet. He requires to follow the strict ayurvedic diet for a few days after this procedure. The diet basically consists of something very light for digestion like Khichdi or moong dal soup, etc.
Benefits of Virechana Karma
Virechana Karma has several benefits. Here are a few:
Our skin is very sensitive and any problem in the internal organs easily reflects through our skin. Blood impurities, excessive ama in the body, toxic waste, improper digestion are also major reasons for some skin diseases. Virechana karma is often helpful in treating skin diseases. It helps in eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin diseases. This therapy also improves overall skin health.
Performing virechana karma before administration of internal ayurvedic medicines is very helpful for increasing cure rate and preventing recurrence of eczema. According to the study, a few patients reported recurrence after getting treatment with virechana karma and ayurvedic medicines. 81.3% cure rate was reported in this study.
Similarly, virechana therapy has great importance in the management of psoriasis and decreasing the frequency of recurrence of its symptoms. People with psoriasis should undergo virechana therapy before starting treatment with ayurvedic medicines. This procedure enhances the effectiveness of ayurvedic medicines.
Virechana karma is a purgation therapy therefore, it aims in the elimination of waste from the body. This therapy directly works on the digestive system. The waste from the digestive organs is disintegrated and thrown out of the body in somewhat liquified form. This helps in treating major digestive problems like:
- Intestinal worms.
- Burning sensation in the anus.
This therapy is very effective in eradicating pitta dosha as well as kapha dosha mixed with pitta dosha.
According to Panchakarma principles, this therapy aims at cleaning the abdominal organs including colon, stomach, small intestine, liver, spleen and kidneys. All the waste material from these body sites is pushed down to the gastrointestinal tract with the help of this therapy and then out of the body. This ensures cleanliness and purification in the body. First, the fecal waste is eliminated out of the body followed by vitiated pitta dosha and then the kapha dosha. Virechana karma acts as a preventive measure for several diseases of abdominal organs.
Gouty arthritis is inflammatory diseases of small joints, which occurs due to uric acid crystals deposition in the joints. In ayurveda, this disease is compared with Vata Rakta, in which virechana is primary treatment. This therapy provides very satisfactory and long-lasting results in gout. It reduces elevated uric acid level and removes the accumulated uric acid from the joints. How this treatment works is yet unknown but decreased uric acid level after virechana therapy is observed in various studies. After virechana, the patient also requires internal medicine for 2 to 3 months to get complete relief from all symptoms including:
- Joint pain.
- Joint swelling.
- Joint tenderness.
- Joint immovability.
- The warmth of the joint.
The reduction of tophi is also reported after following virechana and treatment with ayurvedic medicine.
Purgation therapy also aims at the purification of the body. The therapy not only works on one’s digestive system but also helps in getting rid of blood impurities. Many skin problems are related to impure blood, according to traditional medicine. Restored quality of blood ensures proper nutrition and rejuvenation of internal tissues, organ systems and joints at a cellular level. It also prevents skin diseases and several other diseases.
Virechana karma helps in cleansing urinary bladder and kidneys. This helps as a preventive measure and decreases the possible risks of urinary and kidney diseases. This therapy also stimulates the proper flow of urine.
Obesity is a major health concern among people. Patients with Pitta Body Type who face burning sensation after taking several traditional medicines for losing weight can get benefits from virechana treatment and ayurvedic medicine.
Detoxification with virechana karma results in the elimination of the excess waste material accumulated in the body. It also results in breaking down of excess fat in the body. One of the main results of an effective virechana karma includes reduced weight and a slim body.
Some precautions should be undertaken to ensure better results and prevent complications. These precautions include:
- This therapy is not suitable for children below the age of 7, pregnant women, just after delivery and elderly persons.
- Also, avoid the use of this therapy in case of depression, diarrhea, acute heart problems and
- This therapy should be conducted under the supervision of an ayurvedic expert as an improper administration of this therapy may lead to many complications. Thus, always make sure you are visiting an experienced ayurvedic consultant.
- The therapy requires proper examination of the patient, thus get a proper check-up done before the beginning of the therapy. The person undergoing this therapy should also be careful about his diet and strictly follow what the ayurvedic practitioner suggests during ayurvedic consultation.
- Kaur, M., & Chandola, H. (2012). Role of Virechana Karma in cure and prevention of recurrence of Vicharchika (Eczema). Ayu. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665194/
- Chaturvedi A, Rao PN, Kumar MA, Ravishankar B, Rao N, Ravi M. Effect and Mechanism of Virechana Karma (Therapeutic Purgation) Over Fructose-Induced Metabolic Syndrome: An Experimental Study. J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2016 Jul. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26207023
- Pooja, B. A., & Bhatted, S. K. (2016). A standard controlled clinical study on Virechana Karma and Lekhana Basti in the management of dyslipidemia (Medoroga). Ayu. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5541465/
- Chaganti, S., & Prasad, B. S. (2015). Analysis of Virechana karma with Danti avaleha: A retrospective study. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4719493/
- Pooja BA, Bhatted SK. A standard controlled clinical study on Virechana Karma and Lekhana Basti in the management of dyslipidemia (Medoroga). Ayu. 2016 Jan-Mar. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28827953