virechanaThe elder tree that lurks in my garden makes an attempt each year to take over.  Every year, I chop it back to its stalk and ensure it doesn’t achieve its goal.  Every year I think I should probably dig it up and prevent any further dashes for glory but it looks like a monumental task and I always find other things I’d rather be doing.

In Ayurveda, we deal with disease in the same two ways.  One technique ‘cuts back’ or pacifies the disease situation by reducing the cause of disease, changing diet and lifestyle and taking medicinal herbs.   The other does a deeper, more thorough clear-out, including all the cells of the body.  This is panchakarma.

Panchakarma is a set of 5 incredibly powerful cleansing therapies which work to rid the body of the causes of disease.  If used as preventative medicine at appropriate times of the year, they also ensure continued health and longevity.

Panchakarma proven to destroy diseases from the roots

Virechana is one of these powerful panchakarma therapies, used to cleanse the blood, stomach, intestines, liver, spleen and kidneys.  It has been used for millennia to great effect and many recent studies have backed up the ancient knowledge.

It is commonly used in skin disorders (especially eczema[1] and acne), IBS, piles, metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes[2], asthma[3], swelling in the lower half of the body, rheumatoid arthritis and gout, high blood pressure[4] and liver diseases.  It is very useful for any disease caused by high pitta and is recommended on an annual basis in the autumn (after the heat of summer) to prevent the build up of pitta.

A precise specific process

The virechana procedure is complex and must be done by a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.  There are several distinct stages:

  • Neutralisation of āma (unmetabolised sticky waste).
  • Internal oiling – the daily consuming of increasing calculated doses of ghee or oil to separate the doshas from the tissues of the body at a cellular level and bring them to the digestive tract (from whence they can be easily eliminated).  The doshas are separated from the cells with this oiling just like dirt is separated from a cloth by soap and water.
  • External oiling and sweating – this is the fun bit.  Three days of massage and therapeutic heating.  This lubricates from the outside too and allows the body to sweat, opening up the channels and further helping the doshas to make their way to the digestive tract.  Continuing with the dirty cloth analogy, you get a better effect with warm water than cold.
  • Virechana procedure – the main event; you take a purgative herbal mixture designed to eliminate all that has accumulated in the digestive tract.  The bowels evacuate, multiple times.
  • Post-procedural regime – as you’d expect, care is needed after such a procedure to rebuild digestive strength.  A prescribed diet is given for about 5 days post-purge.

Experience virechana as an inpatient or outpatient

You can experience inpatient virechana in a few centres in Europe and obviously many centres in India, where you’d expect to stay for at least 2 weeks.

Here at The Ayurveda Practice, you can experience virechana as an outpatient with a carefully designed programme.  You can continue to work in certain parts of the programme and take some days off for others, so it is easier to fit around your schedule than an inpatient treatment.

After a specific consultation at the clinic, the first two stages are managed from home with daily phone or Skype check-in calls.  The 3 days of massage which follow are usually done by daily visits to the clinic.  On the day of the purge, you are accompanied for most of the day at home, where your meals are also prepared for you.  The post-purge regime is straightforward and managed by you at home.  For pricing and more details of this service, please click here.

Some people can’t have virechana

Only people with good mental and physical strength can undergo virechana.   You also can’t have it if you have bleeding from the rectum, have rectal prolapse or ulcerative colitis. If you’re desperate for a virechana treatment and have any of the above why not book a consultation to see if we can sort those problems out first?

But the rest of you can!

If you suffer from any of the disorders mentioned above, feel you have high pitta or just want to cleanse after the summer, it would be well worth thinking about having a virechana treatment.

Until next time, take care of yourselves.


Author: Kate Siraj, Ayurvedic Practitioner, BSc Ayurveda, MChem (Oxon), MAPA. © The Ayurveda Practice

Photos thanks to


[1] Eczema: study shows virechana giving 81% cure rate and neglible recurrence.

[2] Diabetes: Virecana showed to decrease fatty acid storage in the body and increase insulin sensitivity.

[3] Asthma: good response to virechana

[4] Essential hypertension: Virecana shown to give marked relief


sheeja paulos · April 20, 2017 at 09:04

Nice Blog…In Ayurveda the Panchakarma proven to destroy diseases from the roots this is something really helpful. Thank you for sharing…

parijatak ayurvedic · April 13, 2018 at 14:08

Thank You for posting such a good blog.

ankit · May 19, 2018 at 06:32

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nitesh · May 19, 2018 at 06:34

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prana ayurvedic center · November 26, 2018 at 06:48

Extremely useful article.Thank You for your tips.its very useful.

Cool inflammation with the ‘quick purge’ - The Ayurveda Practice · February 9, 2021 at 11:29

[…] purging is one of the 5 panchakarma procedures, which together form the gold standard of cleanse in Ayurveda offering roots-up […]

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