Pizhichil is a traditional Ayurvedic treatment involving soft massage of the whole body in streams of lukewarm medicated oils. In olden times, the treatment was specially offered to the kings, and therefore, it was famously referred to as “Treatment for Aristocrats” or “the King of Ayurvedic Therapies”. Some other names by which the Pizhichil treatment is known are Sarvangadhara, Kaya Seka, and Thailadhara.
Pizhichil is an important part of Panchakarma Ayurveda treatment that combines oil and heat therapy to improve blood circulation and eliminate Ama or toxins from your body. The medicated oil is poured on your body by squeezing it out from a cloth following which a rejuvenating massage is given.
Before the procedure starts, the prakruti or body constitution and vikruti or the current state of the doshas are determined. After that, everything required for the procedure is gathered beforehand, including the equipment and masseurs or attendants.
The main procedure of Pizhichil starts by pouring oil all over your head and body in a steady and constant stream. The type of oil mixture used for the treatment depends on your needs and medical conditions. Generally, Chandanbala Laxadi oil, Ksheerabala oil, Dhanwantharam oil, Shatavari oil, Yashtimadhu oil work best for the procedure.
Although the Pizhichil Ayurveda treatment involves a full body massage, it can also be targeted on a certain part of the body called Ekhanga Pizhichil or half of the body called Ardhanga Pizhichil. During the massage, you have to be in several positions which include sitting, lying on the stomach, then on the back, lying on the right side and then onto the left. Two to four people are needed to perform the massage, and it may last for about 60-90 minutes.
One sitting may show good results, but for long-lasting mental and physical wellbeing, it is recommended to continue the procedure for at least seven sittings. Sometimes, the person undergoing Pizhichil therapy is also given Shirodhara treatment after that, where medicated oil is continuously poured on their forehead.
An important thing to note here is Pizhichil therapy requires about three to four litres of oils which need to be at a relaxing or lukewarm temperature throughout the process. The oil used for the massage can be drained into a collector which can be re-warmed and applied on the person.
Finally, after the therapy is complete, care is ensured to avoid immediate exposure to cold. Pizhichil massage is usually performed early during the morning as well as in the evening after which you are given a hot or lukewarm bath. As the therapy is quite soothing to your mind and the body, you will get a good night’s sleep or rest after the procedure.
It is very important that the right oil is chosen for your Nasyam massage. There are certain norms that we follow before we prescribe a particular oil.
If your body has an excess of any specific dosha, we prescribe oils that help soothe that dosha.
Each individual has an underlying dominant dosha, regardless of whether the doshas are in balance presently. For a healthy person who comes in for Abhyanga for general wellness, the oils that soothe their dominant dosha, are prescribed.
The season and weather also impact your doshas: Pitta is dominant in the summer, with Vata coming to the fore in autumn to early winter. From late winter to spring, it is the time of Kapha. It is imperative to maintain a balance of your doshas in the seasons they are dominant. One way of doing it is to have massage with the right oil.
Vata is dry, cool, mobile, and light. When Vata dosha is in excess, the patient feels cold and dry, and may become anxious and nervous. The oils to be used in the Abhyangam therapy to soothe Vata are:
- Sesame seed oil made from plain, untoasted sesame seeds. It is an important oil in Ayurveda
- Ashwagandha oil helps improve health and muscular strength
- Mahanarayan oil is a mixture of many herbs; it promotes joint movement
Oils used in Abhyanga for reducing Vata have calming properties, and normally have a blend of Shatavari, Bala, and Ashwagandha, in sesame seed oil as the carrier oil.
The characteristics of Pitta are hot, sharp, oily, fleshy-smelling, and liquid. Oils used:
- Neem oil in sesame oil base
- Brahmi oil mixed with coconut for maximum coolness
- Bhringaraj oil for scalp massage and improving relaxation
Herbs like Manjishtha, Shatavari, Brahim, and Guduchi, are added to the oils.
Static, oily, soft, and cool – this is how Kapha is characterized. Light carrier oils with herbs that are invigorating and with heating characteristics are used in Abhyangam for Kapha dosha.
- Untoasted sesame seed oil
- Corn oil
- Almond oil
Pizhichil massage is usually performed early during the morning as well as in the evening after which you are given a hot or lukewarm bath. As the therapy is quite soothing to your mind and the body, you will get a good night’s sleep or rest after the procedure.