Purva karma (or poorva karma or pre-karma) refers to the preparation of body for Ayurvedic panchakarma therapy. There are two different methods in purvakarma. Those are snehan and swedan. Purva karma is necessary for the body to achieve the complete benefits of panchakarma. Purvakarma can complete in one day or over many days.
Snehan — is oil therapy or olation therapy. It has two different parts.
The first part includes taking medicated ghee (ghruta) or medicatededible oil.
It reduces the dryness of the body and open the srotas (channels) of body by working
on all the dhatus of sapta dhatu. This is important to drive the ama and mala
out of the body with panchakarma. This step frees, and mobilizes the waste
matters accumulated over different parts of the body. This step adds to
the efficiency of panchakarma. A poorly administered purvakarma can
hinder the effectiveness of panchakarma therapy.
The second part includes medicated oil
massages. The skin absorbs the medicinal
parts of the oils to the blood.
This is also called Abhyangam
Swedana is given after snehan. It includes steam bathing or heating the body to facilitate sweating. There can be different types of fomentation, like heating the specific area or whole body below neck according to the specific requirements.
The choice of snehan and swedan depends on the specific conditions of the patient and his/her requirements.