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What is Virechana in Panchakarma?

Updated: Mar 10, 2023

Virechana in Panchakarma | Shreshtha Ayurveda

Virechana means removal or downward expulsion of excess doshas through anal route by taking medicines. Virechana is chosen when the bahudosha (excess dosha) is predominantly ‘Pitta’.

It is also done when the excess Pitta is along with vitiated kapha dosha and also if any other dosha has occupied the location or seat of Pitta dosha.

What are the classifications of Virechana?

There are 3 classifications of Virechana.

Based on the strength of the medicine

  1. Sukha virechana– Laxatives (which are mild and do not cause any discomfort) Eg., Trivrt (Operculina turpethum) Used in Kapha-Pitta conditions

  2. Mrdu Virechana: Bowel softeners, herbs like Aragwadha (Cassia fistula)

  3. Tikshna Virechana: Drastic purgatives like Jayapala (Croton seeds)

Based on the targeted dosha

  1. Anulomana: Herbs given to expel Pakva mala (In cases, where the patient needs to push out well formed digested stools) Dosha affected: Vatha; Example: Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)

  2. Sramsana: Herbs given to expel apakva mala (In cases, where the patient needs to push out undigested stools) Dosha affected: Vatha, Kapha; Example: Castor oil

  3. Bhedana: Herbs given to expel both the pakva and apakva mala (Without diluting). Doshas affected: Pitta, Kapha; Example: Katuki (Picrorrhiza kurroa)

  4. Rechana: Herbs given to expel mala in pakva or apakva form by diluting and pushing out forcibly. Doshas affected: Kapha, Pitta; Example: Sonamukhi (Cassia angustifolia)

Based on diseases:

  1. Snigdha Virechana: These are oily purgatives usually chosen in Vata conditions like lumbar disc prolapse. Example: Castor oil

  2. Ruksha Virechana: There are dry purgatives used in Pitta and Kapha conditions like Skin diseases, Swellings, Jaundice, Ascitis, Herpes, Anemia etc., Example: Patola (Trichosanthes dioica)

How is Virechana performed?

  • Just like Vamana, Virechana is a controlled procedure wherein medicines are used to induce the loose motions for a particular period of time and then stopped.

  • Virechana is mainly used for the elimination of doshas lodged in the waist downward part of the body.

  • First, the agnibala (digestive power) of the patient is checked. If it is not adequate, then the procedure is started by prescribing digestive and carminative medicines or herbs to increase the agnibala in the patient. Trikatu is commonly used for this purpose.

  • After 3 or more days of taking them, once the physician ascertains that the agni is good, medicated ghee/oil is prescribed to be taken for 3/5/7 days. The dosage and the specific ghee is selected according to the agni/shakti and the disease condition. The dosage is prescribed in increasing quantities day after day. This procedure is called Snehapana.

  • After Snehapana, the patient is given Snehana (Oleation) and Swedana (Sweating) therapies like Abhyanga and Steam bath.

  • On the previous night of the actual Pradhanakarma of Virechana, the patient is fed with food items which are light, easily digestible, war and semi solid/liquid.

  • On the next morning, the patient is given the loose motion inducing medicine. Sometimes, the virechana inducing medicine is given on the previous night.

  • The medicine dosage is determined by the physician after checking the bala (strength) and the severity of the roga (disease)

  • After taking the medicine, the patient is made to drink small quantities of warm water and continue sipping warm water in between the bouts.

  • Once the loose motion starts in the early morning, the physician will decide whether more medicine is required based on the number of vegas (bouts) passed.

  • Once the procedure is done, the patient is gently washed and rested.

  • The end point is passing small quantity of kapha (mucus discharge)

  • The paschat karma will be having light food for a few meals before getting back to his regular food habits. This is also called Samsarjana karma. Different types of Kanji (gruels) will be suggested by the physician. This is very important to get the full benefit of the Virechana as the agnibala of the patient who undergoes the procedure will be very low and any indigestion can trigger loose motion.

What diseases are treated with Virechana?

Virechana is extremely useful in all pitta disorders, gaseousness, abdominal enlargement, worms, skin diseases, eye diseases, headache, constipation, infertility, jaundice and any other condition where the physician sees a necessity of eliminating the Pitta dosha.

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