Panchakarma Research

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Panchakarma has been shown to:

  • Decrease cholesterol, by lowering toxic lipid peroxide levels
  • Decrease the rate of platelet clumping and thus lymphatic congestion
  • Decrease 14 major toxic and cancer causing chemicals from body tissues including heavy metals, pesticides and other hazardous environmental chemicals
  • Significantly raise the good HDL cholesterol
  • Lower diastolic blood pressure
  • Reduce free radicals, which are the leading cause of all disease, cancer and death
  • Significantly reduce bodily complaints, irritability, bodily strain, and psychological inhibition, as well as greater emotional stability.
  • Decrease anxiety, aging and reduced doctors visits

Research cited was done on Maharishi Ayurveda – Dr. Douilard co-directed the Maharishi Physicians Training Program for eight years and received much of his early training in the Maharishi Ayurveda school of panchakarma.

Studies founded by the National Institute of Health and conducted by Maharishi University have shown that person’s receiving Pancha Karma treatments had a 70% reduction of heavy metals, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals than the general population. They also needed 80% less doctors visits. Pancha Karma recipients showed significantly less aging.

In a study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in its September/October 2002 issue, two Maharishi University of Management scientists, Dr Robert Herron and Dr John Fagan, have shown that Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma therapy greatly reduces the levels of 14 important ˜lipophilic’ (i.e. fat-soluble) toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the body, which would otherwise remain in the body for a very long time.

Maharishi Panchakarma was investigated for its effect on cardiovascular risk factors. PK was given for three to five days to 31 subjects (15 male and 16 female). Fasting blood samples were tested for various biochemical parameters before, during, one week after, and 2.9 months after PK. Results showed improvement in several cardiovascular risk factors. Lipid peroxide (LP) levels rose during PK, then fell at 2.9 months to levels lower that the original levels (p=0.023). The transient rise in blood stream levels of LP may be due to an exchange of peroxidized cell membrane lipids for undamaged lipids present in ghee and sesame oil. Both sesame oil and ghee contain linoleic acid, an important structural lipid in the cell membrane, which also serves as the substrate for other structural lipids. The massage that is a part of PK may accelerate this exchange process, possibly by the activation of phospholipase A2. As the peroxidized lipids are removed from the body by the extraction and elimination procedures of PK, the levels of LP should ultimately decrease, which is what this study confirmed.81

Other cardiovascular risk factors also showed improvements with use of PK. Total cholesterol fell acutely in all subjects (p=.0001) and HDL cholesterol rose 7.5 % (p=0.015) at 2.9 months, if original values were mg/dl. Vasoactive intestinal peptide, a coronary vasodilator, rose a significant 80% (p=0.003) 2.9 months after PK. Reductions were seen in pulse (p=0.033) and diastolic blood pressure (p=0.027) after PK. State of anxiety measures also improved significantly (P<0.025).81

An additional study on Maharishi Panchakarma was conducted in the Netherlands on 93 patients and also showed improvement in cardiovascular risk factors. Total cholesterol was measured before and immediately after a two week treatment program. Results showed a significant reduction in total cholesterol levels (p<0.001). A psychological evaluation was conducted using the Freiburger Personality Inventory before, immediately after, and six to eight weeks after PK treatment. Over the two week treatment period, there were significant reductions in bodily complaints, irritability, bodily strain, and psychological inhibition, as well as greater emotional stability. Results of testing conducted six to eight weeks after treatment showed evidence of sustained benefits for mental health and well-being.

Sesame oil, which is used in Panchakarma, for massage and enemas has also been shown to have antineoplastic properties. Lipase-digested sesame oil and undigested sesame oil dramatically inhibited the growth of three malignant colon cell lines in vitro but did not substantially inhibit growth of normal colon epithelial cells. Sesame oil also selectively inhibited malignant melanoma cell line growth in vitro, as compared to normal melanocytes (p=0.006).84

  • 2. Sharma H; Freedom from Disease. Toronto Veda Publishing, 1993
  • 81. Sharma HM, Midich SI, Sands D, Smith DE: Improvement in cardiovascular risk factors through Panchakarma purification procedures. J Res Educ Indian Med, 1993; 12(4); 2-13.
  • 82. Waldschutz R: Influence of Maharishi Ayurveda purificat eatment on physiological and psychological health. Erfahrungsheilkunde-Acta medica empirica, 1988; 11; 720-729.
  • 83. Salerno JW, Smith DE: The use of sesame oil and other vegeteable oilsi the inhibition of human colon cancer growth in vitro. Anticancer Res, 1991; 11; 209-216.
  • 84. Smith DE, Salerno JW: Selective growth inhibition of a human malignant melanoma cell line by sesame oil in vitro. Prostaglandins Leukotrienes Essential Fatty Acids, 1992; 46; 145-150.


Maharishi Ayurveda Therapy Shown to Reduce Dangerous Carcinogenic Chemicals in Body Tissues

By Dr Alex Hankey

In a study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in its September/October 2002 issue, two Maharishi University of Management scientists, Dr Robert Herron and Dr John Fagan, have shown that Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma therapy greatly reduces the levels of 14 important ˜lipophilic’ (i.e. fat-soluble) toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the body, which would otherwise remain in the body for a very long time.

Indeed, Herron and Fagan had designed their study knowing that Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma therapy includes traditional treatments with the potential to eliminate fat soluble wastes, including carcinogens, and also that no previous study had found reductions in such lipophilic toxins.

Their study therefore represents a great breakthrough, being the first ever to find significant reductions in these important toxins in a short period of time. Lipophilic toxicants, it states, may cause hormone disruption, immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, and several types of cancer. Even though lipophilic toxicants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PC13s) have been banned for decades, they continue to persist in the environment, and are found in significant concentrations in the body and represent a substantial health risk.

The greatest significance of the study, however, lies in the fact that cancer incidence has grown to alarmingly high levels in recent years, and is widely believed to be due to increased levels of polluting chemicals like these, particularly in the food we cat. No one else has ted such a practical preventive solution to this appalling problem.

Chemicals stored in body fats

According to the International Journal of Cancer, the United States has the highest adult cancer rate in the world. Even though mortality rates due to cancer have fallen slightly due to decreased tobacco use and better treatment, cancer is now the second highest cause of death, and this is mostly attributable to environmental causes. The same is true throughout the developed world.

Organic chemicals found in living organisms and used in modern agriculture usually fall into two categories: the hydrophilic, which will dissolve in water, and the lipophilic, which will not and which lodge in fats (or lipids) in the body. The body usually excretes only water-soluble products, so it cannot remove lipophils, which therefore remain in the body for a long time.

Lipophils Accumulate in the Body

Carcinogenic chemicals, like any others, fall into the classes of hydrophilic, which are relatively easily excreted, and the lipophils, which are not, and which may only be reduced by 1% or so a year. It would thus take a lifetime for a specific quantity of toxic lipophil carcinogens to be reduced by half.

Dr Robert Herron, co-author of the study: “This is the first published study on humans to show that a specific detoxification regimen can significantly reduce blood levels of lipophilic toxicants known to be associated with many disease conditions including cancer.”

Instead, to neutralize their effect and protect itself, the body deposits lipophils in fatty tissues where they naturally reside, and, being surrounded by fatty molecules, cannot cause much harm. Their steady accumulation in the body, however, due to the consumption of agricultural pesticides or other chemicals, has a serious effect on long-term health.

Eventually, they reach a level where the tiny fraction that is in circulation becomes sufficient to produce potentially disastrous effects on cells throughout the body. This is when cancer may occur, particularly if other factors also favour it.

Two Parts of Study

In a recent press conference, Dr Robert Herron, director of research at the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, and lead author of the study, presented the results of the new study.

The study was divided into two major parts. The first was a controlled 11 cross-sectional study designed to see if people who had been through regular panchakarma treatment in the past had lower levels of agricultural toxins than those who had not. This phase of the study compared 48 people, who had had an average of 18 panchakarma treatments, with 40 controls who had never had one. The second part was a “longitudinal study” on 15 subjects in which toxins were measured before and after panchakarma therapy.

PCBs Lower in Panchakarma Subjects

In the first part of the study, 17 toxins commonly found in blood serum serum toxicants – were measured. These fell in two major categories of agricultural toxins, nine polychlorobiphen yls (PCBs), and eight pesticides. In the first part of the study, the PCBs were all found to be lower in the subjects who had taken panchakarma than the controls. For the pesticides, 3 were undetectable in all subjects; 5 were lower for the panchakarma subjects; only one (beta-hexachlorohexane or b-HCH) was higher for the panchakarma group. This fact was later concluded to be due to diet, since, in the second part of the study, which measured all 9 PCBs, but only b-HCH among the pesticides, even b-HCH was found to decrease as a result of panchakarma therapy .

One exciting fact is that for several subjects in the second part of the study quite high initial levels of a single toxicant (bHCH) were reduced to undetectable levels during the period over which the panchakarma treatment occurred. This is surely most encouraging. How general it is merits further investigation.

Toxins at Unexpectedly High Levels

The first part of the study might be regarded as a justification for the second. (Were toxin levels not lower in those who had had panchakarma many times, the treatment would not appear to be having any effect, and there would be little justification for seeing if it resulted in a decrease.) The significantly lower levels of 13 out of 14 toxins with detectable levels was therefore encouraging, and justified the more expensive, and longer, second part of the study.

One alarming finding of the study, Herron added, was that levels of specific toxins banned in the US decades ago were found to be unexpectedly high in the general population.

“These were assumed to be declining to negligible levels in the US population,” he said, further commenting, our findings suggest, however, that, since they appear to be increasing, they are still entering the food chain. (Recent reports from the US Congress show members to be highly concerned about levels of many pollutants, including dioxin, pesticides, arsenic and heavy metals, many of which cause cancer.)

Herron pointed out that 100 years ago, breast and prostate cancer were rare. Now, one out of eight women develop breast cancer; breast tissue is inherently fatty. Lipophilic carcinogens such as those investigated may thus be one of the principle contributing factors to the alarming increase in cancer.

Hence the significance of Herron and Fagan’s findings: No previous study has found any reduction in these lipophilic carcinogens without unacceptable side effects. Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma therapy has the potential to solve a major world health problem.

Ayurveda Panchakarma: Elimination of Toxins

Traditional panchakarma therapy, as used in Maharishi Vedic Medicine, cuts no corners. It starts with an initial period of gradually increasing intake of a specific fat – often clarified butter – in the mornings.

After a few days rest, the patient is given the main treatment repeatedly on several successive days. This includes precisely and carefully delivered therapies such as Abyanga, or oil massage, which brings toxins out of the fatty tissues; Shirodhara, which relaxes the body completely, encouraging circulation; and Swedhana, or sweating treatment, which brings toxins to the exterior surfaces of various organs in the body. From here their elimination is quickly effected by further therapies such as Matra (herb lised oil enema).

The main treatment is followed by another period of rest days and careful diet to encourage further elimination to take place. This is a perfectly designed and co-ordinated set of therapies that encourage dispersal and elimination of fat-soluble, lipophilic, materials, such as the carcinogenic toxins of modern industrial agriculture.

Encouraging Results and Need for Larger Trials

The authors concluded that the results were sufficiently encouraging to justify large, randomised clinical trials. Cancer incidence is increasing greatly, and environmental and agricultural pollutants from food production, including that in third world countries are clearly implicated. It is therefore vital that irrefutable clinical evidence for the effectiveness of Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma therapy be obtained as soon as possible.

Reprinted from Transcendental Meditation News October 2002