What is Panchakarma and Why Is Busy Philipps Doing It?

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What is Panchakarma and Why is Busy Philipps Doing It?

Image via Instagam/Busy Phillips

If you're one of her 1.2 million followers on Instagram then you know Busy Philipps never shies away from sharing, well, everything. That includes recently revealing to her fans that she poured "gallons of oil" over her head all in the name of healing her sinuses.

After turning to conventional medicine, like surgery, the actress is now trying a Panchakarma cleanse, a form of ayurvedic medicine, to help alleviate the pain.

"Between my sunglasses being returned to me and my rediscovery of dry shampoo today, NOTHING can stop me! Except possibly the raging headache I have from this cleanse I’m doing to heal my sinuses," she captioned a selfie earlier this month.

So what exactly is Panchakarma?

"Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means 'five actions' or 'five treatments'," says Rumin Jehangir, founder of chit.chaat.chai, a holistic living, and wellness site rooted in Ayurveda and a Professional Member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association. "It is not only for detoxifying the body, but also a rejuvenating immune strengthening program to restore balance and well-being."

To better understand Panchakarma, it's important to know that ayurvedic medicine, one of the oldest holistic medicines developed more than 3,000 years ago in India, is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.

According to Jehangir, the deep cleansing program is traditionally done over 21 days and has three stages: preparation, elimination, and rejuvenation.

"The entire program is customized for the individual based on their constitution and doshic imbalances," she says. "The therapeutic process may seem quite simple in its application, however, its effects are powerful and long-lasting."

Treatments include abhyanga, an individually prepared herbal oil massage, evidenced by Philipps' greased back hair in an Instagram pic, which she captioned: "Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s gallons of oil poured all over her body and hair for 4 days."

The massage is "designed to deeply penetrate the skin, relax the mind-body, break up impurities, and stimulate both arterial and lymphatic circulation," says Jehangir.

Other treatments include a herbal steam bath, called Swedana, to remove mental, emotional and physical toxins lodged deeply within the tissues, as well as Shirodhara, a warm, gentle and methodic pouring of herbal oil over the forehead, used for balancing and stabilizing the nervous system and the activities of the mind. Nasya, oil drops that are inhaled through the nose, is also used, which clear the sinuses of excessive mucus.

While clearing sinuses is a popular use for the treatment, Jehangir says that Panchakarma can be used for a number of ailments, including clearing blocked or stagnated energy, restoring constitutional balance, strengthening the immune and digestive system, enhancing strength, energy, vitality, as well as helping with mental clarity "and bringing about deep relaxation and sense of well-being."

While it is a lengthy process, which Philipps hinted at during an Instagram video, she is impressed with her results. "I thought I was going to be done with my cleanse today but then Martha [my Pranchakarma expert], who does the whole thing, said ‘You’re not healed yet,'" she revealed in the video.

Adding, "I feel really good!"

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