Fomentation, or sweating, necessarily follows oleation. Induced by heat from different sources it brings sweat on the skin through hair follicles by opening the pores of the skin. Due to fomentation the agni is increased and the fatty tissue gets mobilised. While throwing out waste as ama (toxins) through the skin it also helps liquify aggravated doshas, dilating all body channels for the cleansing.
It is divided into two main types, Agni Sweda wherein heat is applied directly as steam and Anagni Sweda where no external heat source is necessary e.g exercises, fighting, walking, lifting heavy loads, exposure to sunlight, stay in centrally heated rooms, putting heavy blankets over the body etc.
Charaka has described about thirteen types of fomentation of which some are in practice now.
Upanaha Sweda – fomentation by poultice
Ushma Sweda – steam fomentation
Nadi Sweda – local steam fomentation (steam/vapour of medicated decoction of leaves)
Avagah Sweda – tub bath in warm decoction of medicated water.
Pizichili – pouring of oil on the body.
After this therapy patients are advised to go for rest, avoid cold, take warm baths and get adequate fresh air. Nasal therapy, enema or bloodletting can be undertaken immediately after fomentation. Purgation should be done only after two days of fomentation. However, care should be taken to ensure that no part of the treatment is missed out on as that would not only reduce efficacy but may even prove detrimental.
Once the body has been correctly and suitably prepared, under supervision of a qualified doctor only should the administering of Panchakarma happen. It is best to depend on a reputed Ayurvedic nursing home and experienced Ayurvedic doctors.