Panchakarma Chikitsa of Ayurveda needs no introduction to society. It has proved its worth, time and again, in treating of nerve disorders and rheumatic diseases (vata disorders), when other techniques, Ayurvedic (medicine), or modern (Allopathic) failed to bring relief to the patient.
It is only during the last quarter of a century that the practice of Pancha-Karma has spread from Kerala to the other parts of India. And whenever adequate arrangements have been made by an institution to conduct this treatment effectively, the results have been eminently satisfactory and in many cases spectacular.
It is time that the knowledge of this Keraleeya-Panchakarma be made available to the society in general so that the benefits of the technique of Pancha-Karma are made available to needy people residing far away from Kerala, the state which preserved and developed the knowledge and practice of this important branch of Ayurveda during the centuries of neglect when the system suffered at the hands of foreign rulers.
In short about Panchakarma: Ayurveda is age old and scientific. To preserve the good health of a healthy person and to treat the unhealthy person are the two main aims of this science. Accordingly in Ayurveda the treatments are broadly classified into two, ie Shaman (to pacify) and Shodhan (to purify). In this science, great importance is given to the Shodhan Chikitsa ie Purification methods of treatment. Because it does both the works ie prevention as well as treatment.
In Shodhan Chikitsa there are five procedures named as Panchakarma and they are Vaman, Virechana, Basti, Nasya and Raktamokshana. Apart from this there are two pre-operative procedures ie Snehan (Oiling) and Swedan (Sedation). Whereas the post-operative procedure is called as Sansarjan Karma. These Panchakarmas are more commonly used everywhere. But some other Panchakarmas are also developed in Kerala known as Daivat Chikitsa or Keraleeya Panchakarma. They are (1) Shir-shek ie Shirodhara (2) Kaya-shek ie Sarvangdhara, (3) Pinda-sweda ie Pottalisweda (4) Annalep (5) Shirolep. Here Pinda or Pottali Sweda is of two types ie Patra Pinda Sweda and Anna Pinda Sweda (ie Pachichil and Nyavarakhizy). But for reference there is no specific book or text. Only Sahastrayogam text is available which is useful during preparation of medicine and has great respect in Kerala.
By this it is clear that apart from the Panchakarmas which are explained in Ayurvedic Samhitas, there are separate Keraleeya Panchakarmas which are also equally effective. These Keraleeya Panchakarmas are also called as Dhara Kalpa.