The Blueprint for an At-Home Panchakarma

How to Detox at Home: The Ayurvedic Cleanse That Helps You Stay Balanced

Panchakarma is an ancient Ayurvedic practice of detoxification. By adopting simple self-care practices and herbal remedies, you can achieve the cleansing benefits of this Ayurvedic detox without ever having to leave your home.

These essential oils, herbs, self-care tips, and more will help you pull off an Ayurvedic detox in no time.  

Panchakarma—or the Ayurvedic practice of physical, mental, and spiritual detoxification—is a form of self-care that has existed long before detoxes and cleanses became modern trends. Typically involving a five-step process overseen by a trained Ayurvedic practitioner, Panchakarma can last anywhere from several days to three weeks. During that time, a series of treatments are carried out in order to eliminate toxins and promote balance. 

While this Ayurvedic cleansing process provides purifying benefits and rejuvenation to those who undergo it, a formal Panchakarma is not always readily accessible. But there is an alternative: an at-home detox. By implementing elements of formal Panchakarma into a regular practice, you can re-establish balance and eliminate toxins within the body—all on your own time.

What to know before you detox

Before going into detail about the development of toxins and detox practices, there are a few things to note about at-home detoxing: 

  1. An at-home detox is not the same thing as a formal Panchakarma. While opinions vary, we believe that a formal Panchakarma should be carried out under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor. Such professional supervision can not only ensure that the process is done safely, but also that its fullest benefits can be reaped. 
  2. An at-home detox involves self-love, compassion, and pampering—not only emotionally, but physically. To break down toxins fully so they can be released, Ayurvedics believe oils and massages are critical components to “ripening” the toxins that wedge themselves throughout one’s physiological systems. As a result, toxins loosen up, break down, and become excreted through the body’s natural channels. 
  3. An at-home detox requires downtime to fully reap its benefits. One component of the detox process is a reduction in sugar intake, which can in turn lower your energy levels. You’ll want to take time to focus that energy on the effective elimination of toxins. Additionally, an Ayurvedic detox is a holistic process: a physical detox must be accompanied by a true emotional detox, which involves observing your stressors, feelings, and potentially-toxic habits before releasing the emotions that don’t serve you anymore. Emotional detoxing may also involve marinating in the discomfort of unresolved emotion, or even boredom, and you may choose to journal or read as a result—all of which requires time and commitment. As a general guideline, it is helpful to semi-seclude yourself during the duration of the detox to ensure your time is being spent effectively. 
  4. An at-home detox needs to be followed-up with rejuvenation—or rasayana. This targeted nourishment of the body will help you restore the nutrients that you may have lacked before the detox. It also enhances the physical and mental benefits you’ll take away from your Ayurvedic detox to improve the quality of your everyday life. 

How do toxins develop in your system?

Your body is built to be in balance and homeostasis—not only within itself, but also with the external environment. While most of us realize that incompatible foods can disturb this balance, all intake can make an impact—whether it be through sight, sound, or touch. Factors like excessively loud or persistently annoying sounds, very bright lights, or touching something far too hot can also create an unfavorable reaction within the body, which in turn creates toxins. 

There are many toxin-creating substances that we’re familiar with, and that we all choose to enjoy from time to time (or more). However, eating the wrong foods together, even if they’re independently healthy, can also create toxins within the body—it all depends on the particular balance of elements within and without your body. Even changing seasons can alter the body’s balance. Additionally, bodily homeostasis does not just depend on physical disturbances; emotional upheavals can also upset this balance. Through these widely-ranging factors, toxins accumulate over time, leading to discomfort and even disease. 

Why is at-home detoxing important?

Given the variety of factors in our everyday lives that can disturb our body’s balance, at-home detoxes are important for redressing these imbalances before they can instill lasting harm. By periodically eliminating toxins, an at-home detox can help restore balance to your body, improving physical and emotional health in the short term and longevity in the long term. While many may benefit from a formal Panchakarma at some point in their lives, periodic detoxes in combination with mindful eating, lifestyle and emotional habits between them can prevent the urgency of a Panchakarma altogether. 

How to prepare for an at-home detox

  1. As noted earlier, a successful detox requires time, focus, and commitment. Plan for 2-3 days of downtime when you can minimize work, social obligations, and other distractions. 
  2. There are several useful tools for carrying out the various practices of a detox, like oil pulling and tongue scraping. Consider acquiring a few tools that can help you reap the full benefits of these practices, like a tongue scraper. 
  3. Review the dietary and herbal recommendations—listed below—and stock up your kitchen. While the list is not comprehensive, it includes many central Ayurvedic ingredients. While you may or may not have several of these ingredients in your own kitchen, you will want to acquire a high quality ghee, a few key Indian spices, and Triphala.

Daily practices for an at-home Panchakarma (and beyond)

The body attempts to eliminate toxins every day. Ayurvedic practices can help you support the body’s natural detoxification processes. Even after your detox concludes, you can use these practices to make lasting improvements in your body’s balance: 

  • Oil pulling: This ancient Ayurvedic practice is surprisingly simple to carry out—all you need to do is swish a tablespoon of oil around your mouth for 15 to 20 minutes, making sure the oil makes contact with all areas of the gums and cheeks. The effects of oil pulling extend from whitening the teeth to removing the toxins and impurities (ama) that contribute to conditions like gingivitis, cardiovascular issues, and diabetes. Our own oil pulling blend contains a base coconut and sesame oils alongside neem oil, clove oil, turmeric, and peppermint oil, which will freshen your breath and combat harmful bacteria all at once—making it the perfect introduction to the practice.
  • Tongue Scraping: The tongue harbors loads of impurities—food, dead cells, fungi, and ama, to name a few—that, when untreated, can lead to problems like acne, digestive issues, and fungal and yeast infections. Tongue scraping (or jihwa prakshalana) is an effective and easy way to expel these impurities: by scraping your tongue from back to front, rinsing, and repeating the process a few times, you’ve already done wonders for your oral hygiene. Our tongue scraper is made of pure copper for even greater impact, as copper contains antimicrobial and detoxification properties. 
  • Dry Brushing: While our skin is so important for protecting us from the impurities of the outside world, it can also become an inflamed and painful site due to the build-up of dead skin follicles, toxins, oils, and dirt. Through the Ayurvedic practice of dry brushing, you can help your skin remove these impurities. By brushing your skin in caring strokes, you can promote circulation, exfoliation, and the healthy appearance of skin. 
  • Abhyanga and Head Massages: Abhyanga, or self-massage, is an Ayurvedic practice of self-care that uses essential oils to address a variety of health problems and therapeutic needs. From pain relief to increased focus to digestive treatment, the right choice of essential oils massaged before a shower can effectively treat your specific needs. Additionally, self-massage doesn’t just apply to your body—you can also massage your head to promote luscious hair growth and improve mental function. Read our guide to self-massage to find out which oils are best for you. 
  • Daily Showers: In Ayurveda, the adoption of small practices can make a big impact—and that includes showering. By taking a shower every day, you can improve not only your physical health, but your mental and spiritual sense of well-being. Taking a daily shower is a ritual that cleanses the body of impurities, improves circulation, and leaves you feeling relaxed—so why not do it every day?
  • (Warm) Water and Lemon in the Morning: Another daily practice that can positively impact the rest of your day is that of drinking warm water with lemon juice in the morning. Such a simple ritual allows you to flush out toxins, improve circulation, hydrate the body, and enter the day feeling refreshed. (If you're of Pitta constitution, use more tepid or room-temperature water)
  • Avoid Intense Cardio (during the cleanse): While cardio sessions may be a good way to let out steam and energize the body, during an at-home detox your energy should be focused on eliminating toxins through Ayurvedic practices. Stick with yoga and meditation, which will leave both your mind and body feeling refreshed and serene. 
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    What to eat during an at-home detox

    Before beginning your detox, you’ll want to stock up on these ingredients: 

    • Triphala: A mix of three native Indian fruits—bibhitaki, amalaki, and haritaki—Triphala is a multi-purpose herbal remedy especially useful for promoting gentle, but complete elimination from the digestive tract.
    • Ghee or Castor oil: A teaspoon of Ghee or Castor oil can be taken at night to combat congestion.
    • Neem: Neem is an Ayurvedic herb that can help purify the blood and detox the immune system.

    Here are a few general tips for eating simply during your at-home detox:

    • Kitchari, a dish made of rice and lentils, helps rekindle the agni and nourishes your body without weighing down your digestive system. We recommend a three-day diet of only fresh kitchari, if possible. Here are some of our favorite simple kitchari recipes. 

    • If you’re looking to add variety to your diet, we recommend fresh yogurt or fruit, though they should ideally be eaten separately. Fruit with any type of sourness, when combined with dairy, interferes with effective digestion and nutrient assimilation, thus creating toxins. 
    • We recommend sticking with a vegetarian diet during your detox.
    • Teas can be helpful—especially non-caffeinated teas, which will help you avoid overstimulation and promote rest. For example, you can create a beneficial “decoction” by boiling fresh ginger and basil together as a tea, or you can drink fennel tea or coriander tea. 

    All in all, an at-home detox is a simple and revitalizing way to restore balance to your mind, body, and spirit. Through these recommendations, you can harness several of the benefits of a formal Panchakarma without needing to leave your home. And what’s more—the practices and eating tips you will learn from an at-home detox can (and should) make a lasting impact your everyday life. By creating intentional and regular habits of physical and mental restoration, detoxing can transform from a special occasion to a constant state of rejuvenation. 

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