Panchakarma Basics

Pancha Karma
Ayurveda offers unique therapeutic measures
that heal mild and chronic diseases. Even
diseases that are believed to be incurable
by modern medicine have been healed. Stories
abound of people being carried into pañcha karma
centers, and a few weeks later, walking out on their
own two feet, healthy and rejuvenated. Áyurveda
is not based on magic; rather, it is based on understanding
medical principles and the six stages of
The most deeply seated toxins that cause disease
are heavy and sticky, lodging in the deepest tissue
layers. Pañcha Karma permanently eliminates
these toxins from the body, allowing healing and restoration
of the tissues, channels, digestion, and mental
Six therapies are divided into two categories: 1)
Toning or nourishing (b^iμhaòa or saμtarpaòa), and
2) Reducing or detoxifying (la´ghana or
apartarpaòa)—those that cause lightness.
B^iåhaòa La´ghana
(earth, water) (ether, air, fire)
Snehana Rúkßhaòa Svedhana Stambhana
(oil therapy) (drying) (sweating) (astringent)
B^iμhaòa tones because it uses therapies that promote
earth and water elements, while la´ghana lightens
by using ether, air, and fire elements to reduce.
Illness is relieved as doähas become balanced through
these therapies.
The six major therapeutic categories are either

toning or reducing in nature. 1. Reducing (la´ghana
or lightening) the body, making it light.
2. Nourishing (b^iμhaòa or expanding) the body by
adding corpulence.
3. Drying (rúkßhaòa) or producing roughness in the
4. Oleation (snehana) or applying oil to the body
creates softness, fluidity, and moistness.
5. Sudation (svedhana) or sweating, removes
stiffness, heaviness, and coldness. 6. Astringent
(stambhana) balances the flow (slow or fast) of
bodily fluids (e.g., diarrhea, bleeding, etc.), and
prevents mobility.
The therapeutic measures involved for each category
primarily include herbs, foods, internal and
external application of oils; fasting, and exercise.
Below are listed the respective therapeutic measures,
1. Lightening (la´ghana)—light, hot, sharp, non
slimy, rough, subtle, dry, fluid, hard.
Two forms of lightening exist: strong (¤hodhana)
and mild (¤hamana). £hodhana expels the doßhas
out of the body through decoction enema, emesis purgation of the body and head, and by bloodletting.
£hamana is a palliative approach that, rather than
expel the doßhas, merely normalizes them through
seven approaches. 1) Digestive, carminative herbs,
2) Hunger-producing herbs, 3) Avoidance of food,
4) Avoidance of drink, 5) Physical exercise, 6) Sunbathing,
7) Exposure to wind.
Palliative therapy is used by people with
diabetes, poor digestion, excess watery conditions
(e.g., congestion, overweight), toxic buildup (áma),
and fevers. These measures are also used for stiff
thighs, skin diseases, herpes, abscesses, spleen, head,
throat and eye problems; and are provided to people
during the cold season (£hi¤hira—mid Jan. to mid
Pitta and Kapha disorders follow ¤hodhana
(strong) therapies of purgation and emesis. Symptoms
include the presence of toxins, obesity, fever, vomiting
or nausea, diarrhea, heart disease, constipation,
heaviness, and excess belching.
People with moderate symptoms of weight gain
and medium strength are first given digestive herbs
like ginger, cardamom, or cinnamon. Persons who
need to boost their appetites are also given hungerproducing
herbs like bibhítakí and guggul. Once the
person is strengthened and digestion is improved, then
both groups of herbs are administered, along with
the other purificatory therapies, for a more thorough
Those people who are only mildly overweight, and
of medium strong, and those who have medium
strength and have doßha excesses, are advised to
control their thirst and hunger. For people who are
weak and ill, and are not yet able to withstand the
stronger therapies, mild therapies are initially
suggested (i.e., sun and wind bathing and mild
Excess use of reduction therapies cause joint pain,
body aches, cough, dry mouth, thirst, loss of appetite,
anorexia, weakened hearing and sight. Further
disorders include mental instability, excess fasting, a
desire to enter dark places, emaciation, weakened
digestion and depleted strength. Other imbalances are
giddiness, cough, indigestion, insomnia, depletion of
life sap (ojas) and semen; hunger, fever, delirium,
and belching. Additional disorders include pain in
the head, calves, thighs, shoulders, ribs, fatigue,
vomiting, constipation, and difficult breathing.
2. Nourishing (b^iμhaòa)—heavy, cold, soft,
unctuous, thick, bulky, slimy, sluggish, stable, smooth.
This is also a ¤hamana (palliative) therapy because it
alleviates and/or mitigates both Váyu and Váyu/Pitta
imbalances. This is mostly applied to the very weak
or those with Váyu excesses. Included here are the
very young, very old, emaciated, people suffering
from lung injury, those experiencing grief, strain,
dryness, excessive emission of semen or excess travel.
Nourishing therapies may be given to everyone in
the summer, depending upon the condition of their
health. Nourishing therapies include bathing, oil
massage, oil enema, sleep, nutritive enemas, warm
milk with whole sugar, almonds, tahini, organic dairy
and ghee.
Excessive use of nourishing therapies causes
obesity, congestion, difficult breathing, heart
problems, diabetes, fever, enlarged abdomen, fistulain-
ano, and áma. Other developments include skin
disorders, cough, fainting, dysuria, poor digestion,
and scrofula (TB of the neck lymph nodes). Further,
if toxins are in the body, they should be eliminated
before toning.
To counter excessive use of nourishing therapies,
antidotes include less sleep and the herbs guæúchí,
guggul, ¤hilájit, ámalakí, viæa´ga, t^ikatu, and chitrak,
with honey.
3. Drying (rúkßhaòa)—rough light, dry, sharp, hot,
stable, non slimy, hard. Herbs and foods having
pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes produce dryness.
Usually, this therapy is applied when there are Kapha
excesses and obstructions in the srotas (channels).
These therapies are also used with major diseases
involving the heart, urinary bladder, spastic thighs,
gout, urinary disorders.
Excessive use of drying therapies causes the
same symptoms as excessive la´ghana therapies 4. Oleation (snehana)—these qualities are liquid,
subtle, fluid, unctuous, slimy, heavy, cold, sluggish,
and soft. Medicated oils are used. Therapy lasts for
3 to 7 days. .
5. Fomentation (svedhana)- these properties are hot,
sharp, fluid, unctuous, rough, subtle, liquid, stable,
and heavy. Sweating techniques such as warm water,
poultice, and steam; and medicated lotions are used.
6. Astringent (stambhana)—qualities include cold,
sluggish, soft, smooth, rough, subtle, liquid, stable,
light VK+. Although this approach seems similar to
lightening, astringents are used more for Pitta
excesses, while lightening may be required for any
Indications for using this therapy include excess
Pitta, blackish complexion, bradycardia (less than 60
heart beats per minute), alkali, diarrhea, vomiting,
poisoning, and perspiration.
Excessive use of astringents develops stiffness,
anxiety, stiff jaw, cardiac arrest, constipation, cracked
skin, dry mouth, thirst, and decreased appetite. Other
conditions include memory loss, increase of upward
moving Váyu, and malaise.
All therapies fall into one of two categories,
nourishing (santarpana), and depleting
Aßhþáñga H^idayam Sú: Ch 12 verse 1
Generally speaking, Kapha doßhas need reducing
or depleting therapy to reduce earth and water
excesses (toxic Pittas need a milder form of
detoxification). Kaphas also need nourishing therapies
for the ether, air, and fire elements of Váyu and Pitta.
In fact, each doßha may need some form of
detoxification, depending upon its condition.
It is a unique insight of the Áyurvedic system that
healing requires a removal of the toxins through one
of the various reduction therapies.
Then a nurturing therapy to build healthy new cells
and tissues follows. To nourish before detoxifying
would be adding to the preexisting toxins. In other
words, nourishing therapies would only nourish the
toxic condition. Only after toxins are removed can
one begin to rebuild their system.
Reduce - then Tone: Most people can use some
degree of reducing, whether it is with herbs, fasts,
sweating, etc., purifying the body, and preparing it
for toning.
When Not to Reduce: Some people, who are already
weakened by illness—or the very old or very
young—become even weaker through reduction. In
these cases, a combination of the two methods is
employed so the person’s strength is not depleted
completely. Reducing and toning are used especially
for long term therapies.
Excess application of nourishing or depleting will
cause diseases of the opposite nature. Generally, being
too thin is better than being too heavy because
gaining weight is easier than losing it.Kapha is already heavy and needs to become
lighter. Váyu is already light and needs to develop.Results of therapeutic reducing include sharp, clear
senses, removal of toxins, light body, appreciating
the taste of foods, normal hunger and thirst. Other
results include normal or healthy feeling in the heart
and throat, little or no belching, reduction of disease
severity, more enthusiasm, and removal of laziness.
Excess reducing produces emaciation, weakness, etc.
Results of therapeutic toning include strength, a
nourished mind and body, and healing of diseases
related to being underweight and to having a weak
immune system. Symptoms of excess toning include
profound obesity, diabetes, fever, enlarged abdomen,
cough, toxins, skin diseases, fistula.
Note the difference between purification and palliation.
If the aggravated humors are in the GI tract,
they are ready for purification (pañcha karma). If they
are still in the dhátus, malas or áma (tissues, waste or
undigested foods) they cannot be directly eliminated
and palliation or pacifying methods are first needed.
Toning/£hamana, B^iμhaòa, and Snehana
For Váyu and Pitta Saμ¤hodhana, [bloodletting, emesis (vamana), purgation
(virechana), dry enema (nirúha basti), and
head purgation (nasya)] are all elements of the unique
cleansing called pañcha karma. This will be discussed
later as the main healing approach for chronic disease.
It is used for excess Kapha, Pitta, fat, blood,
wastes, minor Váyu disorders, along with the other
doßhas. These therapies are useful with diabetes, áma,
poor digestion, fever, water retention, obesity, and
stiff thighs. They are also used for skin disorders,
herpes, abscesses, spleen, throat, head, and eye disorders,
and used by everyone in the cold seasons. For
skin diseases, diabetes, and high Váyu, reduction is
not used between November and February. It is said
that by undergoing saå¤hodhana treatments, disease
will not recur.
Doßha Type of Therapy
Kapha mild/light herbs like elcampane,
Pitta moderate/cooling herbs like
¤hatávarí, aloe gel
Váyu strong/a¤hwagandhá, ginseng, rich
diet, oils
strong energy, strong pulse, good
muscle tone or muscle tension,
prominent tongue coating
chronic low energy, weak pulse,
emaciation, lack of muscle tone,
flaccid or weak, obesity.Saμ¤hamana, [digestive stimulants (including spices,
fasting, and exercise), thirst, sun or wind bathing, and
fresh air] are gentler therapies to pacify mild disorders.
Strong persons may be healed just from exercise,
sunbathing, and fresh air. Those with moderate
strength begin with digestive stimulants including
herbs. These therapies are used for vomiting, diarrhea,
heart diseases, cholera, intestinal disorders, fever,
constipation, heaviness, belching, nausea, anorexia,
Kapha, and Pitta.
£hodhana reduces excess wastes, while
¤hamana heals excess doßhas. These therapies
eliminate the wastes and balance the doßhas Summary
Preliminary Therapies (Purva Karma)
Before pañcha karma is employed, persons first
reduce the excessed doßhas and cleanse áma (toxins)
from their system. This is achieved by eating lightly
spiced meals according to their doßha (see Chapter
Ten therapies are useful in Purva karma, also
known as palliation or £hamana.
Herbs were discussed in detail in Chapter 4, and
foods, nutrition and ghee were reviewed in the last
chapter. Now, we take a closer look at body oil and
sweat therapies. Later chapters will detail the remaining
topics. Taking herbs and eating the proper diet
according to one’s doßha are a long-term form of
pañcha karma. These 10 applications can be used
independently of preliminary palliation to heal and
help maintain one’s balance of physical and mental
Palliation generally lasts for three months, one
month, or one week. When an illness is chronic or
strong, palliation may be shorter since the humors
may be ready to be eliminated. Conversely, healthy
persons undergoing pañcha karma merely for
enhancement or prevention may skip the palliation
Snehana & Svedhana (Oleation & Sweating Methods):
After palliation therapies remove toxins, two
main preliminary therapies are used, oleation and
sweating. Both begin to unseat the toxins that have
moved and situated themselves in places they do not
belong. These relocated toxins are the cause of ill
health or imbalance.
Below is an overview of the 10 therapies and what
measures are suggested for each doßha. Readers are
advised to see their respective chapters for a complete
understanding of their procedures.
£hamana - Palliation
1. Oil Massage [Snehana]
Váyu—lots of sesame oil with mahánáráyan and
castor oil are best. Massage should be warm, gentle
and firm. Oils are only used after most of the áma is
removed by eating hot spices.
Pitta—touch is soothing, light, gentle, slightly cool
with a moderate amount of oil (cool cocoanut, ghee,
safflower), bráhmí (gotu kola), or mahánáráyan oil
is also applied.
Kapha—strong, dry, or with light and hot oils (i.e.,
mustard, canola, olive), deep tissue, perhaps with
some slight pain. Also, da¤hmúl oil is helpful for
Kapha doßhas.
2. Sweat Therapy [Svedhana]
Váyu—(mild) brief steam baths or hot tubs (head
is kept out of the heat), or ingesting mild diaphoret-ics like nirguòæí, cinnamon, and ginger, or tonics like
balá, comfrey, or da¤hmúl. They need to drink plenty
of liquids to replenish the water (during and after
sweating) or they will become too dry. Too much
sweating may lead to dizziness, convulsions, fainting,
or vertigo.
Pitta—cool or mild sweating using cool and
dispersing herbs (i.e., kuóki, yellow dock, burdock)
followed by a cool shower. During excess sweating
one may feel thirsty, develop burning sensations, feel
dizzy, or develop a fever.
Kapha—strong, dry heat, hot diaphoretics and
expectorants (i.e., ginger, sage, pippalí, cinnamon).
One sweats until one begins to feel uncomfortable,
but not exhausted.
3. Herbal Tonics
Váyu—¤hatávarí, a¤hwagandhá, balá,
triphalá with digestive spices like ginger or cinnamon,
and herbal wines like drákßhá are useful. Excessive
use of these herbs aggravates Váyu, coats the tongue,
distends the abdomen, and may cause constipation.
Pitta—cool, bitter, astringent alteratives, aloe gel,
barberry, dandelion, burdock, red clover, pau d’arco,
bráhmí, mañjißhþhá, comfrey, and coriander. These
are all blood and bile cleansers, and drain the excess
heat from the body.
Kapha—hot, dry, pungents (i.e., ginger, pippalí,
myrrh, t^ikatu), bitters (i.e., aloe, turmeric, barberry)
reduce fat. Herbs are most effective when taken with
a little raw honey (which helps loosen phlegm).
4. Oils & Ghee
Váyu—(daily use of sesame or ghee—1 to 2 tbs.—
taken internally). This moistens the dry Váyu
membranes and tissues, and softens and loosens dry
and hardened toxins in the body tissues.
Pitta—ghee, internal (1 to 2 tbs. daily) and
external (especially in eyes). Triphalá or bráhmí ghee
are the suggested medicated ghees.
Kapha—1 to 2 tsp. daily of mustard, canola, and
flax seed oils are taken internally. These oils loosen
5. Exercise
Váyu—mild exercise, calming yoga postures
(sitting or lying down) and gentle breathing exercises
also strengthen (see the haóha yoga chapter). Mild
sunbathing (avoiding wind and cold) and daily
sádhaná (meditation) automatically heal the mind and
Pitta—moderate amount, in cool air or wind, walks
taken during the full moon and other moderate
activities like flower gardening. Cooling Yoga
postures, like shoulder stands or sitting and lying
down, and práòáyám are suggested. People with heart
problems are advised not to do shoulder stands. The
best práòáyám for Pitta is ¤hítalí and lunar practices
(see Chapter 9). Both are best taught by a qualified
yoga or práòáyám instructor, rather than by clients
trying on their own. Exercise that creates excess heat
and sweating (i.e., aerobics, heavy exertion, exercising
under a hot sun) are contraindicated.
Kapha—strong aerobics (e.g., jogging in the wind
and sun), long hikes, camping, and strong physical
labor. One must first be healthy and strong enough to
exercise at this level. If persons sweat or exercise too
much they feel tired afterwards.
6. Food
Váyu—adequate, nutritious, Váyu reducing (i.e.,
dairy, nuts, grains of basmati rice, oats, and wheat,
root vegetables, sweet fruits, boiled milk with ginger,
cardamom, cinnamon, fennel). One should eat
nutritiously; overeating should be avoided. Fasts for
1 to 3 days, with ginger and cinnamon tea, are all
right for those who are strong enough. (Meat is used
when one is recovering from a debilitating illness).
Pitta—moderate and cool Pitta reduction, sweet
fruits, raw or lightly steamed vegetables, green vegetable
juice, cool grains like rice, oats, and wheat,
and yellow split múngdal (or whole múng beans).
Spices include coriander, cumin, fennel—cool spices.
Hot spices should be avoided, as are salt and vinegar.
Moderate fasts with cool herbs (i.e., dandelion or
burdock), green vegetable juices or fruit juices (i.e.,
pineapple or pomegranate) are also suggested. Weak
Pittas may take more dairy (preferably organic— no
drugs or steroids fed to the animals, and from contented
animals—not factory-herded ones).Kapha—light, anti-Kapha, steamed diuretic
vegetables, diuretic grains, beans, hot spices, reduce
water and juice consumption. Fasting on spices and
honey from 3 to 7 days is suggested. Overall, sugar,
sweet foods, dairy, heavy oils. and meats should be
7. Aromas
While aromatherapy is not technically a
consideration of saå¤hamana, it is incorporated here
for additional therapeutic value. Aromas work more
on the mind than the body, so they help balance
psychological causes of illness.
Váyu—sandalwood, frankincense, cedar, and
myrrh, are calming and grounding.
Pitta (cool)—oils, incense, soaps, sachets of
sandalwood, rose, geranium, and other flower scents
open the heart and reduce fire.
Kapha—oils, incense, soap, sachets etc. of
myrrh, frankincense, cedar, eucalyptus, sage.
8. Colors/Environment/Meals
Fresh air, wind, and sun help stimulate digestion
in mild cases of illness. While color therapy is not
technically a consideration of saå¤hamana, it is
incorporated here for additional therapeutic value.
Colors work more on the mind than the body, so they
help balance psychological causes of illness.
Váyu—balancing therapies include short fasts (1
to 3 days), being warm and comfortable inside and
outside the home, moist air (for one living in a dry
climate), and mild sunbathing. Wear warm colors of
red, orange, and gold. White (a moist color) also
balances mild Váyu excesses. The bed should be soft
and comfortable. The environment should be
pleasing. One must adopt measures for self-care.
Pitta—mild fasts (about one week), air and wind
bathing reduce excess heat. Cool-colored clothing
(i.e., white and pale shades of green, pink, and blue)
are also balancing.
Kapha—sunbathing, fresh air, long fasts, warm
color therapy—red, orange, yellow in clothes,
furniture, and decor—in both home and office—
balances excess Kapha.
9. Lifestyle
Váyu—resting the body and mind. Excess
traveling, noise, distractions are avoided, sleeping
during the day, if tired, and having a secure and stable
lifestyle—with happiness, contentment and joy—is
suggested. Mild exercise (stop when perspiration
begins) is useful.
Pitta—cool, pleasing environments, cool
breezes, moonlight, avoiding sun, heat, and fire.
Relaxation is advised, doing various or diverse things,
allowing time for amusement and play, practicing
sweet, affectionate, loving, friendly behavior; being
near water and gardens. Conflict, arguments,
aggression, ambition, strain, and overwork, and effort
are avoided. Moderate exercise is useful (stop when
perspiration begins).
Kapha—dry, rough clothes and environment (i.e.,
austere life—sleeping on the floor, physical labor,
staying up late at night, not napping or sleeping late),
avoiding cold and damp; and being in hot, dry, sunny,
fiery, and warm breezy places. This is a time one when
breaks attachments and habits—giving up the past
(mentally) and possessions. Strong exercise is useful
(exercise a little past the point of fatigue).
10. Sádhaná
Váyu—for calm and peace—allows one to be less
talkative, or even silent, emptying the mind of
thoughts, worry etc.; surrendering fears, and anxieties
is also practiced.
Pitta—one focuses on positive energies of love,
peace, forgiveness, visualization, and artistic
Kapha—practices active meditation, (e.g., study,
thinking, inquiring, reading scriptures, chanting aloud,
dancing, and singing) stimulates and activates the
mind until one feels strained.
Purification Therapy
Unique to Áyurveda is a process of completely
expelling toxins from the body. First, through
palliation and purification, one loosens toxins lodged
in the body. This allows the toxins to return through
the bloodstream to their origin sites in the
gastrointestinal tract. Once there, the toxins can be
completely expelled from the body through five
methods known as pañcha karma. Pañcha karma (five
actions) actually includes three stages (see table
Therapy Description
1. Preliminary (palliative)
employing oil and sweating methods (snehana
and svedhana). [often used throughout the year as
a general maintenance and preventive program]
2. Primary purificatory practices( pañcha karma)
uses emesis, purgation, enemas, nasal therapy.
3. Post PK therapies
rejuvenation and tonification.
Oil Therapy
Using oils, both internally and externally, is a very
important Áyurvedic therapy
Warm, medicinal oils are applied in large
amounts all over the body. Some practitioners use
sesame oil for all three constitutions. Others use
medicated oils like mahánáráyan oil. Still others use
medicated oils in specific body sites, such as on the
chakras and marma points, or at specific trouble spots.
Essential oils may also be employed according to the
doßhas. It is the use of the oil that is important, and
not the massage technique or training. (Actually, a
professional massage produces the same effects as
snehana and svedhana). Specific Áyurvedic massagelike
techniques (abhyañga) will be discussed later.
Along with the application of oil, intake of oil or ghee
(snehapána) is also recommended. Sesame oil or ghee
is used for Váyu, sunflower or ghee for Pitta, and
mustard, canola, or flax seed oils for Kapha.
Oil Uses: Oils help loosen and liquefy toxins and
humors in the skin and blood (called the outer disease
pathway), dislodging and removing the heavy, sticky
toxins from the smallest channels. Thus, toxins begin
to drain from the central disease pathway (deeper
tissues) and start to flow into the GI tract. Secretions
are also activated, enabling easier doäha transport of
toxins (áma) and wastes (malas) as they return to the
GI tract for elimination. Oil lubricates and protects
tissues from damage, as áma returns to the GI tract.
Finally, since Váyu is responsible for movement, oil
lubrication restores proper Váyu functioning, allowing
for proper flowing of wastes and toxins to their
removal sites.
Special herbs blended with the oils enable the
tissues to expel the oil from tissues. Therefore, oil
does not accumulate in the body. Herbs like guæúchí,
kaóuka, harítakí, yaähóí madhu (licorice), and chitrak
have bitter properties that cause oils to be expelled.
Specific oil massage (abhyañga) therapies are
discussed later in this chapter.
Oils and purificatory therapies are useful for
arthritis, insomnia, paralysis, tremors, convulsions,
nervous exhaustion, dry cough, constipation, and
other Váyu derangements. Oil is also useful for
alcohol addiction, the elderly, children, eye problems,
tumors, sinus conditions, worms, ulcers, memory,
dryness, poisons, Váyu, Pitta, and Kapha diseases.
Such therapies promote alertness, slimming, toning,
and studying the body; improving strength, voice,
complexion, and they cleanse the female genital
passage. Oil builds plasma, reproductive fluid and
ojas (life-sap). Kapha doßhas use oil for worms and
gas.Sesame is the best oil. Overall, oil reduces Váyu, is
neutral for Kapha, and increases Pitta. Oils are used
during the rainy season.
Contraindications: There are some people for whom
oleation is not recommended. They in-clude people
who have very weak or very strong digestion, who
are very obese, who have stiff thighs, or who suffer
from diarrhea and toxins (i.e., they must be expelled
first). Oleation is also not used to treat throat diseases,
enlarged abdo-men, fainting, vomiting, anorexia,
abnormal child delivery, Kapha excesses, or
inebriation. Instead, clients are given nasal, enema,
and pur-gative therapies. Charak notes that while oil
reduces Váyu, it does not aggravate Kapha (as long
as oils are warmed).
Ghee Uses: Ghee is best used for improving intellect,
memory, and intelligence; plasma, re-productive fluid,
and ojas (life-sap). It helps soften the body, and
promotes clear voice and complexion.
Váyu: Medicated ghee, or ghee and black salt.
Its moistness balances Váyu.
Pitta: Plain ghee. Its cool and sweet nature
balances Pitta.
Kapha: Ghee with barley and t^ikatu (empowers
the herbs).
Ghee is used in the autumn. For Váyu/Pitta
imbalances in the summer, evening oleation is
advised. For aggravated Kapha, and throughout the
winter, unction on sunny days is advised. In
emergencies, and for those with extreme Váyu
disorders, oleation may be used anytime. Ingest-ing
ghee (snehapána) follows the same schedule.
Precautions: Do not use snehana for ascites, fe-ver,
delirium, drinking or with alcoholism, loss of appetite,
vomiting, fatigue, on cloudy days, rainy season, after
basti, purgative emetics or nasya, after premature
birth, for too strong or weak digestion, stiff thighs,
diarrhea, áma, throat diseases, artificial poisoning,
enlarged abdomen, fainting. Do not use oil for coma,
thirst, anal secretions, pregnancy, and excess
salivation. Use drying herbs for 10 days following
After taking ghee, one drinks hot water. After oil,
one drinks boiled rice water. This should cause
belching and a desire to eat. If one feels thirsty, they
may stimulate the regurgitating re-flex. Afterwards,
cool baths, head plasters, or towels are used. Those
with strong digestion can take more oleation. Those
with moderate diges-tion can use moderate amounts
of oil or ghee, and those with weaker digestion use
less unction. Results of snehana include proper flow
of Váyu, improved digestion, proper feces, moistness,
and initial fatigue.
As the snehana begins to get digested, one may
experience thirst, vertigo, lassitude, mental
disturbance, and burning sensations. After olea-tion,
one needs to rest, get to sleep early, avoid exposure
to wind and hot sun. One should ob-serve celibacy,
and eat light, simple foods, ac-cording to one’s doßha,
and not suppress bodily urges. If this is not followed,
serious diseases may develop. After snehana is
digested, one takes a hot shower, then eats a small
portion of plain rice or barley (at room temperature).
Snehana therapy lasts an average of 3 to 7 days, or
until the symptoms disappear. The elderly, the weak,
the very young, and those with thirst should take such
therapy with lunch. Persons currently drinking wine
are not eligible for sne-hana. Váyu doßha follows
snehana for 7 days, Pitta for 5 days and Kapha for 3
Dose: There are 3 doses of drinking snehana,
according to the strength of the doßha .
Mild Strength: Váyu—oil stays in the system for
9 hours. This dose is for slight aggravation.
Medium Strength: Pitta—oil stays in the system
for 6 hours. It is for moderate aggravation, and builds
and tones the system. Use for 4 to 6 days.
High Strength: Kapha—oil stays in the system for
3 hours. It acts as an emollient for extreme
aggravation. Use for 7 days.
Tryaheòa ¤hleßhmikaà sníhyát pa´charátreòa
Vatikaà sapta rátreòa sátmyatáò param
[Reference Bhog]

Doses: Depending upon the strength of the person
and the severity of the disease, mild, moderate or high
doses are used. Snehana is ingested either first thing
in the morning or late in the afternoon (ideally 3:00
to 6:00 a.m. or p.m.) on an empty stomach. Only when
the appetite returns does one eat.
Mild: One to 4 days. The diet during snehana involves
3 days of avoiding very fatty foods, eating simply, no
food combining and eating warm, regular quantities
(according to one’s constitution or doßha). Before and
after snehana, take warm baths and drink warm water;
be celibate. Avoid becoming stressed, angry, or grief
stricken. Avoid exposure to cold, sun, travel, talking,
naps, and pollution. Do not suppress natural urges.
Take the dose just after sunrise.
Moderate: Four to 6 days. Avoid sticky, oily, and
incompatible foods.
High: Seven days/with hard bowels or until healthy
symptoms appear. The high dose always causes
intolerance, but persons are made to drink by holding
their nose and closing their eyes while drinking.
Some authorities suggest always using 7 days of
oleation in order to reach all 7 tissue layers. Others
follow the mild, medium, and high doses, depending
on which dhátus are unbalanced. Signs of effective
oleation include soft, shiny skin, softer skin and hair,
healthy elimination of stool that looks yellowish,
shiny, oily, and softer; urine may look brighter, and
urine and stool smell like ghee. Eye, ear, and nose
secretions shine slightly. Mental clarity, enthusiasm,
energy, and strength increase.
If diarrhea results from snehana, then persons have
only moderate or mild symptoms; for the 3rd and 4th
days of snehana, lemon juice is added to the snehana
formula (ghee with hot water may be used. Oil with
vegetable soup or hot water is an alternative £hodhana (purification): Drink alone, soon after
digestion, drink the large or maximum dose.
£hamana (removal of mild doßha/disease
symptoms): Use a medium dose with fasting.
B^iμhaòa (toning): Take the minimum dose (a
small quantity) with food.
Precautions: Snehapána is not used for indigestion,
abdominal enlargement, acute fever, weakness,
anorexia, obesity, fits, intoxication, immediately after
basti (enema), vamana (vomiting), virechana
(purgation), with thirst, fatigue, after premature
delivery, or on rainy days.
Depending on when snehana is taken, different
parts of the body will be affected.
Unctuous Substances: Those who cannot comfortably
ingest plain oil or ghee may begin by eating unctuous
items. These substances include porridge
(odana), gruel (vilepí—grain with 4 to 8 times as
much water), gruel (yavágu—grain with 6 times as
much water), legumes, curry, vegetable soup,
kámbalika (curd, rock salt, sesame oil, and ghee),
sesame oil or sesame butter, sugar, organic milk, ghee,
lassi, pippalí, and ¤hatávarí.
Váyu doßhas do well with a little rock salt.
Pitta doßhas do well with ghee. Kapha
doßhas do well with t^ikatu.
For worms, a large dose of sesame oil is used.

Herbs for particular diseases may be cooked in
the ghee or oil to apply snehana more effectively.
For example, gokßhura may be added to oil for urinary

Ghee is ready when froth and cooking sounds disappear,
and the ghee emits an aroma. Oil is ready
when it becomes frothy on the surface, and an aroma
Sample Recipes
1. Pippalí, rock salt, yogurt, sesame oil, or ghee. This
sneha produces quick results. 2. Barley with milk,
and a small amount of rice and ghee.
3. Milk, ghee, cane sugar. This is an instant emulsive
4. Barley fried in sesame oil, 1/2 boiled molasses,
rice, green dal, milk, ghee, lassi, jaggery, and salt This preparation causes tissues to exude, entering
minute pores, not drying, and spreading throughout
the body warming and transforming) [i.e., for
immediate oleation effects].
Precautions: Do not use this formula for skin
diseases, edema, diabetes. Instead use, 4a.
Triphalá, pippalí, guggul, ¤hilájit, gokßhura, ghee.
Oil snehana is very good for tumors, sinus ulcers,
worms, excess Kapha, fat, and Váyu. It improves
digestion, clears the digestive tract, strengthens the
tissues, senses, slows the aging process, and improves
Other snehana therapies include oil massage, enema,
douche, gargle, nose, ear, and eye drops, (See
pages 197 - 201 and 242 - 244)
Inadequate snehana administration: Causes dryness,
burning, weakness, and slower digestion.
Excess snehana administration: Causes yellow complexion,
heaviness, stuffiness, undigested food in the
stool, dullness, anorexia, nausea, vomiting.
Complications: Indigestion, thirst, fainting, dullness,
nausea, tympanitis (inner ear inflammation), fever,
stiffness, anorexia, abdominal pain, slowed digestion.
If ghee causes abdominal pain, hot water should be
drunk to produce vomiting. For severe thirst due to
excessive digestive fire, cold water should be drunk
after sneha.
Chronic Symptoms: Dry skin, itching, anemia,
edema, GI diseases, sprue (malabsorption of nutrients
in the intestines, leading to diarrhea, emaciation,
and anemia), hemorrhoids, numbness, difficult
Other forms of oleation include abhyañga, lepa,
gandúßha (mouth gargling), head, ear, and eye baths.
These will all be discussed later under Kerala
abhyañga (except for gandúßha, which is discussed
in Chapter 19 under mouth conditions and therapies).
Application of oil and oil pastes are discussed below.
Sudation or Sweat Therapy
isnagDasya saUxmaeSva yanaeSa laInaó
svaedstau daeSaó nayaita ]vatvamaý .
Snigdhasya súk¤hmeßhva yaneßhu línaå
svedastu doßhaå nayati d^ivatvam
Sweat applied to uncted persons liquefy impurities
hidden in minute channels.
Charak: Sidd. Ch. 1, verse 8
According to Aßhóáñga H^idayam, after oleation,
steam or sweating therapies are employed for effective
dislodging and liquefying of toxins and improving
digestion. Svedhana causes the body’s channels to
widen, enabling áma to easily flow from the tissues
back to the GI tract and improve circulation. Heat
allows the skin and blood (outer disease pathway) to
be cleansed. This relieves, cleanses, and reduces fat
tissue and muscle tension.
Heat also restores balance to Váyu and Kapha (i.e.,
removing coldness and stiffness) and reduces the
heavy, sticky nature of áma. Once toxins are back in
the G.I. tract, they are ready to be completely expelled
from the body through pañcha karma (five
purificatory actions).
Internal (e.g., spicy herbs) and external (e.g.,
jacuzzi, sauna) heat are used to dislodge wastes and
toxins. Castor, arka, red punarnavá, sesame, and
barley all induce sweat.
Four types of Svedhana therapies exist,
1. Tápa or fomentation—placing a heated cloth, a
metal object or warm hands on the body. This therapy
is best for Váyu and Kapha doßhas.
2. Upanáha or applying a hot poultice to the body
(before bed) made with the appropriate herbs and
foods to reduce the respective aggravated doßhas.
After the poultice is applied, an oiled and heated silk
or woolen cloth is wrapped around the body, and the person goes to sleep for the night. It is removed in
the morning (in the winter it may be kept on longer).
This therapy is best for Váyu disorders. General
ingredients include wheat, barley, unctuous
substances, kußhóa, kákolí, and kßhír-kákolí.
Váyu: Poultices include vachá, aromatic herbs,
yeast, licorice, cedar, castor oil, ghee, lassi, milk.
Váyu/Kapha: Triphalá, t^ikatu.
Váyu/Pitta: Guæúchí, licorice.
Upanáha Recipe: General suggestions include
Váyu-reducing herbs, sour juice, milk, and a little
rock salt. Boil until it becomes a thick liquid and apply
to the whole body (in the direction against the hairs).
When it becomes cold, reapply. This process is
repeated many times.
Other heating therapies include exercise, staying in
warm, draftless rooms, wrapping oneself in heavy
clothes, and sunbathing.
3. Úähmá or warm steam is used by boiling the appropriate
foods and herbs for a doßha, and allowing
the steam to surround the body. Steam may be applied
with a sweat box (with the head kept free from
heat) or apparatus like a pressure cooker. Appropriate
herbs are added to the water in the pot. The steam
is applied locally to an illness spot, like arthritis. This
therapy is used for Váyu and Kapha imbalances.
Stones, pebbles, mud, leaves, and sand are also
heated and applied to specific body parts. They are
more useful in Kapha disorders as they are a form of
dry heat.
4. Drava or Dhárá means pouring warm, medicated
liquid over the body. Again, herbs and foods are used
to reduce the respective excessed doßhas (or for specific
health concerns). This method is useful for áma,
Kapha, and fat excesses, stiff thighs, and breast milk
disorders. The part of the body needing attention is
covered with a cloth, and then the medicated water is
slowly poured over the cloth. When Váyu disturbs
the entire body, a medicated water bath is used. The
water temperature is 85 to 100 degrees. This is also
useful for all diseases of the rectum and urinary tract.
Drava is used for Váyu/Pitta disorders. Useful herbs
include castor, vásá, vaå¤ha, arka, turmeric, and licorice.
Two types of drava exist,
1. Parißheka: Medicated liquid is applied to
specific body parts (that are covered in cloth).
2. Avagáhan: Persons soak in a tub filled with a
medicated decoction.
Svedhana is best used for Váyu disorders (i.e.,
nervous conditions). It is used only after one has
undergone snehana (internal and external oil
application), is in a warm room protected from
breezes and has fully digested their last meal. Sudation
is applied in strong, moderate, or mild measure,
depending upon the strength of the person undergoing
Sessions last 5 to 10 minutes for Váyu and Pitta
doßhas, and 10 to 15 minutes for Kapha doßhas.
Alternately, a strong intensity is used for strong
persons or severe diseases; moderate intensity is used
for persons with moderate strength or moderate
diseases; and a minimum intensity is used for persons
with minimal strength or minor diseases.
Kapha doßhas use a dry sudation (dry heat and
warming oils—for example, sitting under a blanket
with a space heater). Kapha/Váyu doßhas use both
dry heat and oily liquids (e.g., ghee). They can sweat
in warm rooms or in the sunlight. Ghee is used in
situations such as a Váyu excess in the stomach and
a Kapha excess in the colon. If used, sudation should
be administered very gently on the testes, heart, and
eyes. A cool cloth should be placed over these areas
to prevent exposure to heat.
For Váyu/Kapha excesses, (e.g., Váyu in the
stomach) first clients sweat without oil, then with oil.
For Kapha/Váyu excesses, (i.e., Kapha in the colon)
first clients are given oil/steam, then a steam treatment
without oil).
Svedhana is suggested for cough, cold, earache,
headache, monoplegia, hemiplegia, paraplegia,
constipation, absence or retention of urine. It is also
indicated for stiffness and tetany arthritis (musclespasms and tremors caused by poor metabolism of
calcium, and associated with poor parathyroid gland
functioning). It is also good for enlarged spleen,
fistula-in-ano, hemorrhoids, renal calculi, and before
surgery. Svedhana is also advised after an operation
that removes a foreign object, or after abnormal,
premature or normal delivery.
faItafaUlavyauparmae stamBagaaErvainagaRHe .
sajó ata e maadvá a e svade e svade naai}ritama®tá aa ..13..
£híta¤úlavyúparame stambhagauravanigrahe.
Saåjate márdave svede svedanádbhiratirmatá.
Svedhana is stopped only when cold, colic pain,
stiffness and heaviness subsides in the body,
or until softness and sweating are produced.
Charak Sú, Ch. 14, verse 13
Three Types of Sweat
13 Sveda Forms
According to Charak Saåhitá, 13 forms of sveda
(sweat) are available; some use fire to generate heat,
some do not. Oil abhyañga is required before
initiating any of the methods.
Whole Body Svedas
1. Sankara Sveda: (use of bolus). Piòæa Sveda is
such a therapy. It is discussed in detail on page 235.
2. Jentáka Sveda:, 3. Prastara Sveda: Similar to
sauna rooms.
4. Avagáhan Sveda: Persons lie in a tub filled with a
medicated decoction, milk, oil, or ghee. It is
administered every other day or every two days. This
process dilates the veins, arteries, hair follicles, and
strengthens the body. It is useful for Váyu disorders,
hemorrhoids, dysuria, and other painful diseases.
A person either sits in a tub filled with a decoction
until they begin to sweat, or sits in a tub and has
oil, milk, or ghee poured over their shoulders until
the liquid reaches six inches above their navel.
After the medicated bath, persons are first massaged,
then take a warm bath (in plain water), and eat
nourishing foods according to their doßha. They rest
for the remainder of the day.
The therapy sessions cease after one feels relief
from cold, pain, stiffness, heaviness, and develops a
good appetite and softness of body parts.
5. Aßhmaghana Sveda, 6. Karßhú Sveda, 7. Kutí
Sveda, 8. Bhú Sveda, 9. Kúmbhí Sveda, 10. Kúpa
Sveda, 11. Holáka Sveda: Other ancient forms that
can be replaced by modern steam tents.
Partial Body Svedas
12. Náæí Sveda: Herbal decoctions are heated over a
low flame in a pressure cooker, steamer, or covered
pot with a hose placed over a hole in the top, and
pointed at the sore spot (e.g., bursitis), joint pain, or
other local condition.
External heat (e.g., steam)—use fire
Internal heat (exercise, warm clothes,
etc.)—no fire
Whole body (external heat)
Part of the body (e.g., shoulder—náæí,
With oil (wet)—for Váyu—fire/no fire
Without oil (dry)—for Kapha—fire/no
fire Steam tent and
massage table
Steamer or
Pressure cooker

The tube has two or three curves to lessen the heat
of the vapor. Traditionally, the hose lengths are either
91.44cm/@36” (high dose), or 45.86cm/@18” (low
dose). The circumference of the tube is 22.86cm/@9”
at the steamer and 11.43cm/@4.5” towards the body
Aromatic, channel-clearing herbs (eucalyptus, cinnamon,
camphor, calamus, sage, da¤hmúl (10 roots)
are used with emollient tonics (i.e., ¤hatávarí, balá,
a¤hwagandhá, comfrey root, or marshmallow). Emollients
are used to soften, protect and heal. Steam burns
up localized toxins and restores or stimulates circulation
at these sites.
Kapha—varuòa, guæúchí, erand, vásá, arka,
and vaå¤ha.
13. Parißheka Sveda: The specific body part that
needs therapy is covered with a thin cloth. Then, a
decoction made with herbs suitable for the condition
is heated and poured into a pitcher that has small
holes in its bottom. The pitcher is held over the body
part and the decoction sprinkled over the cloth. Suitable
ingredients include grape juice, sugarcane juice,
rice water, sugar water, yogurt, honey water, barley,
cedar, ghee, acidic herbs, milk, and sweet herbs.
Parisheka sweda.
Sveda Preparations: Váyu people must drink enough
fluids before sweating. Sour juices like lemon or
lime with a little rock or sea salt prevent dehydration
and excess sweating. Caution is advised not to
allow the steam to create excess dryness for Váyu
doßhas. Kapha prak^iti can promote stronger sweating
by the use of long pepper, black pepper, and
ginger (t^ikatu), or some similar formulas. For Pitta
doßhas who have no Pitta diseases, burdock, dandelion,
or red clover teas are drunk. This helps cleanse
the blood. Hibiscus or other astringents help prevent
excess sweating or heat buildup. It is advised not to
overheat the Pitta doßha with steam. All are advised
to keep the head (and eyes), heart, and groin cool
throughout the therapy. Cold, wet towels may be
placed on these sites to prevent them from becoming
overheated. A pearl necklace may also be placed on
these sites to keep them cool.
Signs of Proper Svedhana: Sweat, reddish skin, body
warmth and lack of chill or stiffness. Persons will
feel more enthusiastic and light.
Contraindications: Sudation is not administered to
the very obese, dry, weak, those with debilitating chest
injuries, those suffering from emaciation, or to those
with diseases stemming from alcohol usage or with
alcoholism. It is not used for blindness, abdominal
disorders (udara roga), herpes, skin diseases, TB,
gout, or administered to those who have just eaten
dairy, fats, and honey; nor is it used after purgation or
for prolapse and burns of the rectum. Further
symptoms requiring avoidance of sudation include
heart disease, high blood pressure, blood disorders
(e.g., anemia, leukemia), exhaustion, anger, grief, fear,
excess hunger, thirst, sweat; and jaundice, Pitta
diabetes, or Pitta diseases (chemical). Sudation is also
not administered to pregnant or menstruating women
(or those who have recently given birth). It is not given
to one who has fainted, undergoing sthambhana
(astringent) therapy, wasting, bleeding, diarrhea, low
ojas, starving. In emergencies, people with these
diseases are given mild sudation or náæí sveda.
Uses: Svedhana is given to those suffering from
difficult breathing, cough, runny nose, hiccup,
constipation, or hoarseness. It is used for Váyu or
Kapha diseases, áma/toxins, stiffness, heaviness,
body aches, pain in the waist, ribs, back, abdomen,
or lower jaw. Svedhana is used for an enlarged
scrotum, toe or finger contraction, tetanus, sprains,
or difficult urination. It is used for cancer or benign
tumors, obstructions of semen or urine flow, obstinate
Pitta urinary disorders, rigid thighs.
Although the main pañcha karma practices may
take only a few days, these preliminary practices
require 3 days to 3 months to work the toxins to the
GI tract.
Once persons feel that heaviness, coldness, pain,
and stiffness have been removed, they should rest for
at least 3/4 of an hour before eating or drinking. No
physical exercise should be done that day.
Cautions: Heavy application of oils can depress the
digestive fire and cause digestive disorders (i.e., loss
of appetite, constipation etc.). Beyond moderate use
of oil, digestion-promoting herbs are suggested, like
ginger, fennel, cardamom, or pepper. Further, the
same effects may be gained by mild, daily oil
application, and mild sweating herbs like diaphoretics
and expectorants (e.g., ginger, calamus, cinnamon).
These methods may be used over a longer time. Even
if one follows this life regime of oils and sweating, it
is suggested that one occasionally have a major
pañcha karma therapy to. This can be done seasonally
or yearly for to maintain good health.
Results of excess sweat therapy: Pitta and blood
excesses, thirst, fainting, weak voice and body,
giddiness, joint pain, fever, blue, black, or red skin
patches, vomiting. To antidote the excesses, astringent
therapy (i.e., light, cool, dry, bitter, astringent) and
sweet therapy are used.
If one only follows the preliminary practices, then
the toxins return to their site of accumulation, but are
not removed. This may cause distress or disease as
toxins can be reabsorbed and return to their site of
For Váyu doßhas, failure to follow oil and
sweating with an enema may create a variable
appetite, gas, distention, constipation, and insomnia.
Incomplete Pitta practices may cause
irritability, fever, and hyperacidity. For Kapha doßha,
it may cause loss of appetite, fatigue, or constipation.
Post Svedhana
After sudation, persons receive a slow and gentle
massage followed by a warm water bath (to calm the
person and to wash off the toxins that have been
expelled through the skin). A wholesome diet is
followed thereafter. Exercise and drinking of cold
water is are avoided on this day. Fresh air, a warm
bath or shower, and a nap after lunch is advised.
Pañcha karma therapies (see below) are
begun a set number of days after svedhana,
Vamana—second day after svedhana
Virechana—third day after svedhana Basti,
Nasya, Rakta Mokßha—just after
Pañcha Karma (five actions) returns toxins to their
sites of origin to be properly eliminated. This differs
from most other healing systems that mainly flush
the various organs or body systems regardless if the
toxins are present. Once the toxins are removed from
the organs and systems, no method exists to remove
them from the body gently. Thus, many healers tell
clients that they will feel bad for a few days as they
detoxify, then they will feel better. With pañcha
karma, the detoxification process happens without
discomfort or withdrawal symptoms, and the body is
completely rid of toxins.
Pañcha Karma
Primary Practices
Pañcha karma consists of five cleansing aspects:
emesis, purgation, medicated enemas, medicated
nasal oils, and toxic bloodletting. These therapies are
employed for acute diseases as well. For example,
emesis (vomiting therapy) may be used during acute
asthma attacks, obesity, and acute Kapha disorders.
As mentioned before, the person needs to be strong
before undertaking pañcha karma because these
reducing therapies temporarily weaken the system.
Additionally, pañcha karma is used to prevent the
accumulation of the humors, or as a seasonal health
maintenance and a longevity/rejuvenation program.
What is unique about this Áyurvedic approach is that
it is used not only for healing, but also for prevention
and rejuvenation (longevity).
Enemas that include tonics and nutritive herbs are
also used in supplementation therapy, as they build
tissues rather than reduce humors. Thus, pañcha
karma offers various therapies that may be used in
various ways, depending upon the person, disease,
season, culture, etc. The milder therapies may be used
seasonally in self-healing, prevention, and
Therapeutic Vomitng
Of all the five pañcha karma therapies, this is the
most dangerous; one can strain to vomit and damage
the nerve reflexes. With proper guidance one learns
the method for oneself or consults a qualified pañcha
karma specialist. It is done regularly to cleanse the
stomach and remove áma (toxins) and mucus from
the náæís (channels) and chest. It is used for relieving
recent fever, diarrhea, pulmonary TB, and all lung
conditions, skin diseases (e.g., eczema, psoriasis,
leukoderma), diabetes mellitus, goiter, tumors, cough,
asthma, and difficult breathing. Vamana is also useful
for nausea, herpes, head and sinus diseases, allergies,
chronic colds, rhinitis, rheumatic diseases, arthritis,
viral disorders (e.g., herpes zoster), insanity, parasites
(filariasis), bleeding of a downward nature, and excess
salivation. It helps heal hemorrhoids, anorexia,
cervical adenitis, edema, epilepsy, confusion,
abscesses, and sore throats.
Vamana helps heal obesity, ear discharge, epiglottis,
uvulitis, stiff neck, acute fever, Kapha fever,
and nasal discharge. It is also useful for indigestion,
gastroenteritis, alasaka, poison, chemical burn, and
diseases due to bad breast milk. When vomiting or
heart diseases are due to Kapha, then vamana is also
used (but never when Pitta causes these two diseases—
as per the below caution).

Chardishu bahudoßhasu vamanaå
hitamuchyate - Sußhrut Saμhitá.
Vamana is used with Kapha excesses alone,
or when Kapha is predominant while being
associated with Váyu or with Pitta.
Precaution: Vamana is not recommended for pregnant
women, with other Váyu excesses, before
oleation, when hungry, under constant grief, for children,
elderly, emaciated, Váyu obesity, wounded,
heart problems, high blood pressure, and vomiting
(Pitta or Váyu imbalances). It is not practiced with
weakness, enlarged spleen or abdomen, blindness,
intestinal parasites, upward movement of Váyu (reverse
peristalsis) bleeding, immediately after an enema,
loss of speech, urine retention, or abdominal
tumors. Vamana is not for those having difficulty with
emesis, with strong digestive fire, hemorrhoids, giddiness,
enlarged prostate, rib and chest pain, catchexia,
thrush, fatigue, with excess sex, study or exercise;
neurasthenia, constipation, helminthiasis, G.I. disorders,
prostatitis, aphonia, cataracts, headaches, earache,
eye pain, confusion,neuromuscular disorders,
deficient emesis, or belching with edema.
Two types of vamana herbs exist:
a) Those that induce vomiting (vamaka). They
are hot (circulating throughout the body, loosening
and liquefying), sharp (separating qualities), and penetrating
(throughout the body). Therapies include
kuþaj, salt water, licorice, and vachá.
b) Herbs that further help or enhance the inducing
herbs (vamanopaga). Herbs include pippalí,
ámalakí, rock salt, neem, and madana phal.
Time: The best time to practice is during the late
spring or early summer (Kapha- provoking time) and
close to the full moon when the water element is high,
one day after snehana and svedhana, after a good
sleep, after food is digested, or after sunrise—6:00 to
900 or 10:00 a.m. (Kapha time).
After 7 days of oleation and sweating, the skin
should look shiny, soft, and slightly oily. Feces also
should look shiny and oily, and increased in quantity.
The smell of oil should be emanating from the skin
and stool. These are indications that persons are ready
for vamana.
Method: Two to three days after svedhana (and after
oleation), the evening before vamana, one eats Kaphaincreasing
foods like sugar, dairy, bananas, sesame
seeds, and urad dal; causing Kapha excesses that
make vamana more easily applied. Just before sleep
persons can take 1/2 to 3/4 gram of vacha to stimulate
secretions, further increasing stomach volume

Disease Origin Ingredients
Kapha pippalí, rock salt, warm
Pitta vásá, neem, páóola cold
Kapha/Váyu madana phal, milk
Indigestion rock salt
of Kapha. The heating effect of vacha begins to reduce
the áma and, because heat rises, prepares the
body for emesis.
The next morning the stomach remains empty (i.e.,
don’t eat), causing further secretions to de-velop in
surrounding tissues, promoting secre-tion movement
to the stomach. After meditation persons undergo mild
snehana and svedhana, increasing body temperature
and insuring expan-sion of tissues and subtle
Next one eats 11/2cups of a thin, sweet-tasting
porridge of rice or wheat cooked with milk, salt, and
a little ghee. The use of Kapha-increasing foods and
liquids coats the inner membranes and induces the
need to vomit. After about an hour, one prepares a
strong emetic tea like licorice, calamus, chamomile,
or madan phal. This will promote immediate emesis.
When the tea is properly prepared, persons will not
feel sick or uncomfortable. The entire process lasts
about one hour.
Recipe: The dose is 1 ounce of herbs to 2 cups of
water. Alternatively, 2 tbs. of salt added to each cup
of warm water may also be used. A third option is to
soak madan phal powder in honey overnight and
make into a paste. The next day 1/2 tsp. is licked with
the tongue. These methods are emetic—or vomit-promoting.
Vamana is not done on a full stomach (after
eating). Another recipe using madan phal adds 4 parts
of the herb with vachá (2 parts), rock salt (1 part),
and is used with raw honey as its vehicle (anupána).
If no urge to vomit exists, pippalí, ámalakí, vachá
and salt are added to the tea. The proper-ties of honey
and rock salt liquefy the mucus. In order for vamana
to proceed easily, persons can drink large quantities
of licorice tea prepared the night before as a cold
infusion (soaking the herb in room-temperature
water). Licorice collects toxins from tissues without
it being absorbed into the body itself.
a) Milder liquids include one or two cups of mild
carminative tea (mint, fennel, etc.—2 tsp. herbs are
infused into 1 cup of water). Children, the elderly,
debilitated, impotent, and frightened people drink
milk with raw sugar, honey, and rock salt. The amount
ingested depends upon the severity of the illness. A
moderate dose is 23/4 ounces of a decoction, fresh
juice extract, or infusion; 1 3/4 ounces for powders or
While facing the east, one should recite a prayer
of health. (e.g., “May Brahma, Dakßha, A¤hwinís,
Rudra, Indra, Earth, Moon, Sun, Air, Fire, Sages,
medicinal plants, and all the crea-tures, protect me.
May this therapy prove an effective rejuvenative for
sages, nectar for the gods, and ambrosia for the best
among ser-pents.”) Then the liquid is drunk.
b) After drinking mild liquids the person waits 48
minutes before vomiting. Sitting on a seat parallel to
the knees (some suggest squatting), one feels the
reflex, then attempts to vomit. If unable to vomit, the
person places a spoon or finger in the back of the
throat (without harming the throat) to stimulate the
emetic reflex. The head and ribs are supported by
another person, and the navel and back are massaged
in an up-ward direction. If excess Kapha exists, then
Kapha-reducing herbs (e.g., hot or pungent) are also
drunk. When excess Pitta exists, sweet and cold herbs
are used. For Kapha/Váyu diseases, salt, oily, and
sour herbs are used. If Kapha is deficient, emetic herbs
are used.
c) One makes sure the stomach is empty from
vomiting. Once the vomit reflex occurs, it is advised
to let it proceed all the way. Allowing for a few good
reflexes is easier than many weak ones. This ensures
the likelihood of not develop-ing side effects. Four,
six, and eight regurgita-tions define minimum,
medium, and maximum bouts. Alternately, when the
mucus and phlegm are released and bile begins to be
expelled, or until there is a bitter, sour, or pungent
taste in the mouth, one stops the process. If some of
the licorice has entered the small intestine, persons
may experience two or three loose stools over the
next 12 hours.
The amount expelled during vamana is measured
by the practitioner to determine proper
elimination. For example, if persons drink 2 quarts
of licorice decoction and expel 3 quarts, this last quart
is the áma and excess Kapha. The color, consistency,
and odor are also observed to provide more
information on the effectiveness of the treatment.
Persons can follow a long-term emesis alternative
with the daily use of expectorants like ginger,
cardamom, and calamus or t^ikatu. These herbs are
taken with a mucus/Kapha-reducing diet and lifestyle.
Additional Decoctions
1. Triphalá may be added to the tea for excess
salivation, gland disorders, fever, anorexia, and
abdominal disorders.
2. Boiled milk is used for internal bleeding in a
downward direction or burning sensation in the heart
3. Yogurt is used for Kapha-vomiting disorders,
bronchial asthma, and salivation.
4. Cold yogurt (about 51/2 ounces) is taken to
reduce pain in the chest, throat, or heart.
5. Butter is added for low digestive fire due to
Kapha or when the body is dry.
6. Neem, guæúchí, bh^i´garáj, pippalí, chitrak, ginger,
sesame seeds, and rice flower are used to reduce Pitta
in a Kapha organ.
Results/Post Emesis: Outcomes of correctly administered
emesis include calmness, ease, clarity, improved
digestion, absence of symptoms of the illness,
and not too much discomfort. After emesis, persons
wash hands, face, and feet; and inhale herbal cigarettes.
Sleep or rest is very important. After sleeping,
hands, face, and feet are again washed. If hungry,
light food is taken in liquid form (solid food is not
taken for at least 4 hours when manda or rice water is
1. Manda: Is drinking only the lukewarm water in
which white basmati rice is boiled. Some authorities
suggest that a small amount of ghee and a pinch of
black salt may be added to manda.
2. Peyá: The next meal is taken two hours later. Peyá
is a slightly thicker rice liquid made of 8 parts water
to 1 part white basmati rice. Rice is cooked until it is
very soft, thin, light, and porridge-like. (Two or three
meals of peyá are taken depending upon the degree
of purification used.)
Rest is required for the remainder of the day,
avoidance of speaking, strong emotions (e.g., worry),
drafts, travel, sex, sun, and suppressing natural urges
are required.
For mild purification, only 1 meal of peyá is
For moderate purification, 2 meals of peyá are
For strong purification, 3 consecutive meals of
peyá are required. Meals are taken only twice daily,
lunch (noon) and dinner.
3. Vilepí: After this, vilepí or thick rice soup, is served,
consisting of 4 parts water to 1 part white basmati
rice. A little sugar cane powder (e.g., turbinado sugar
or Sucanat) and a pinch of black salt can be added
for taste. A small slice of fresh ginger can be sauteed
with turmeric, cumin, coriander, or fennel in a small
amount of ghee to build the digestive fire. This is
taken in the same manner (once, twice, or thrice).
4. Odana: The next meal is soft, plain basmati rice
(odana), and vegetable soups. (Some authorities
suggest omitting the vegetables.)
5. Yuäha: Or rice and split yellow múng dal soup
meals are next taken with ghee, rock salt, and sour
tastes added (some practitioners suggest avoiding
the sour tastes). This meal begins on the third day
after vamana
6. Kicharí: Meals include ojas-increasing herbs (e.g.,
guæúchí, balá, a¤hwagandhá, ¤hatávarí), depending
upon one’s doßha. Kicharí starts thin (3 parts water
to 1 part basmati rice and 1/4 part múng dal). Next, it
is prepared thicker using only 2 parts water to 1 part

After this, regular meals are gradually introduced
as the digestive fire grows stronger. Just as a fire is
gradually increased from paper and twigs, to sticks,
and then to logs until there is a strong flame, so then
is food gradually increased after emesis naturally
strengthening the digestive fire until it is strongly and
healthily. The general rule of thumb is to eat only
when hungry.
Alternative post-pañcha karma or samsara-jana
diets are listed below.
Post-Strong Dose Purgation Meal Plan
*Moderate thickness gruel (vilepí/odana) is taken with little
or no ghee. Drink warm water after all meals from this point
until the end of the seven days.
+ Múng/yuäha soup is taken with a little ghee and salt; all
remaining meals (of the seven days) will include ghee and
** Some say to begin normal meals at this time.
Inadequate Vamana: If vomiting does not occur, or if
it is only partially eliminated, symptoms develop such
as itching, excess expectorating, itching, skin rashes,
or fever.
This is the simplest method of pañcha karma and
has most easily observed effects. It is an excellent
method to heal various conditions, including abdominal
tumors, hemorrhoids, smallpox, patches of skin
Meals Food
1-3 thin gruel (manda/peyá)
moderate gruel (vilepí)-little or
no ghee and salt with the meal.
Drink warm water after the
meal until the
end of the 18 meals.
7-9 porridge and thin soup, ghee,
and salt (yuäha/odana)
thicker meal (grain and beankicharí),
ghee, salt; drink warm
water after meals
same, and add a sweet taste to
the meal
14 same, and add a sour taste to
the meal
15 same, and add a salty taste to
the meal
16 same, and add a pungent taste
to the meal
17 same, and add a bitter taste to
the meal
18 same, and add an astringent
taste to the meal
resume normal meals
Day 11:00 a.m. - Noon 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
1 vaman thin gruel
2 thin gruel/peyá thin gruel/peyá or
3 Moderate gruel/vilepí
or odana*
gruel/vilepí or
4 moderate
5 Múng soup/yuäha+
6 thicker kicharí thicker kicharí
7 thicker kicharí taste 1-sweet**
8 taste-sweet taste 2-sour
9 taste 3-salty taste 4-pungent
10 taste 5-bitter taste 6-astringent
11 normal meals from now on
discoloration on the face, jaundice, chronic fevers,
and enlarged abdomen. Virechana heals poisoning,
vomiting, spleen diseases, abscesses, blindness, cataracts
and other eye problems, colon pain, and colitis.
It further heals vaginal diseases, diseases of the semen,
intestinal parasites, ulcers, gout, bleeding diseases
in the upward direction, blood toxins and diseases,
suppression of urine, and obstructed feces.
Purgatives eliminate excess Pitta from its site in
the liver, gall bladder, and small intestine (it does not
deal with the large intestine). The bitter purgatives
like rhubarb, senna, or aloe also clean the liver and
gall bladder, decongest bile and remove obstructions
to its flow. They are preferred for Pitta and liver
disorders (e.g., gall stones). Because this cleansing
weakens the digestive fire, it is not always
recommended for Váyu doßhas. Kapha doßhas,
however, benefit from this therapy, as they have excess
bile, congestion, fat, or phlegm. It also helps
constipation, old fevers, acute diarrhea, dysentery,
food poisoning, kidney stones, boils, carbuncles,
excess bile, or toxic blood conditions.
For those who have not had vamana (emesis), there
are 3 days of snehapána, followed by 3 days of body
oleation and sudation before beginning virechana
(purgation). If virechana follows a vamana therapy,
then after the 7 days of proper diet (samsarjana), 2
days of regular meals are eaten. On the 9th day,
snehapána (drinking ghee) is begun for 3 days. The
following 3 days persons receives oil abhyañga and
sudation for three additional days. On this 15th day
(since starting samsarjana) virechana is begun. If
sudation (sweating) is contraindicated, then virechana
begins after the third day of snehapána (drinking
Precautions: Virechana is not recommended for those
people with recent fevers, poor digestion, bleeding
diseases of a downward nature (e.g., hemorrhoids),
ulcers, rectum ulcers, and diar-rhea. Nor is it
recommended for those who have recently received
a decoction enema, have hardened feces, suffer from
TB, and are greatly lubricated. It is not used for the
very young or very old, the weak, debilitated or
emaciated, while pregnant, during or immediately
before menstruation, or with prolapse of the stomach
or uterus.
Method: The stool is examined to determine the nature
of the purgation therapy to be used. Soft stools suggest
mild virechana (e.g., boiled milk, ghee, honey, and
cinnamon), while hard stools will require stronger
purgative herbs (like triphalá, castor oil, rhubarb, or
senna). For Pitta disorders, herbs of astringent, and
sweet tastes are added. Kapha excesses require
pungent herbs. Váyu disorders require rock salt, ghee,
and hot herbs. It is important for persons to undergo
3 to 7 days of oleation (internal and external) before
purgation if they haven’t already gone through the
process for vamana.
Time: According to Aßhþáñga H^idayam, the time of
purgation is after vamana (emesis), and after 9:00
a.m. (the end of the Kapha time of day). This is done
with rapidly acting purgatives. Others suggest
medium to mild doses to be taken just before sleep.
Still others suggest eating dinner around 7:30 p.m.
and taking virechana 9:30 p.m., then retiring to bed.
Some pundits say food should be fully digested while
others suggest waiting two hours after the meal, until
food passes out of the small intestine (fasting is
advised for stronger people). The best season for
virechana is late spring to early summer.
Sample Ingredients: A strong purgative like rhubarb
root (it may produce gripping). A mixture of rhubarb
(4 parts), fennel, ginger, and licorice (1 part each),
taken with 2 to 5 grams honey or warm water before
sleep to prevent gripping). Castor oil is a moderately
strong purgative (2 tsp. in warm water). Triphalá (10
to 30 grams with warm water, or boiled milk with
ghee and cinnamon) is a mild purgative. The first
approach is the strongest and not suggested for
thosewho are somewhat weakened or of Váyu doßha.
[The Sußhrut Saμhitá devotes an entire chapter of
additional purgatives (Sútrasthána - Ch. 44).]

Result: The next day (or later that morning), about
five stools (movements) are passed, flushing toxins
from the small intestine. The number of stools can
range from 4 to 15, depending upon the doäha, health
condition, etc. If one has fewer than 4 stools, the process
is repeated within a few hours. Stools may be
loose, but if cramping or griping results, a little medicated
ghee can be taken, and cardamom or fennel
should be added to future purgatives. Traditional stool
amounts are 30 (maximum or ideal), 20 (moderate),
and 10 (minimum), or until Kapha is expelled in the
stool. An example of a quick acting purgative is castor
oil with two times as much triphalá. Purgation
can be done for 2 to 3 days in a row in severe conditions,
or 2 to 3 times every other day. If one can schedule
this day for a weekend or other calm day, it will
be more beneficial, practical, and more relaxing. Mild,
short-term purgation may also be used, as needed.
Successful purgation: This results in clear mindedness,
keen senses, stable tissues, strong digestion,
light, clean, strong, removal of symptoms, and slowed
Abnormal Bouts: These are noted by symptoms of
abdominal and heart discomfort, anorexia,
expectorating bile and mucus, itching, burning, skin
eruptions, rhinitis, gas, and no elimination of stools.
Excess Bouts: Symptoms include watery stool that
are white, black, or red in color, rectum prolapses,
thirst, giddiness, and sunken eyes.
Follow-up: Purgation is followed by hot spices to
increase the digestive fire (e.g., ginger, t^ikatu). They
are especially useful in the winter or, if the appetite
does not return to normal, after the therapy. Meals
are given as described for vamana (emesis) on page
189. After purgation and before any other purificatory
therapies, oleation is again given to strengthen the
Lack of results: The person eats that day, and purgation
is given again on the next day. For weaker people or
those with unlubricated alimentary tracts, oleation and
sudation are given for 10 days, and then purgation is
Exceptions: Váyu doßhas, people who exercise
vigorously, those with a strong digestive fire and those
with dry alimentary tracts find that purgatives are
digested before they produce the desired results. For
these people, an enema (basti) is given first (see
Those suffering from trauma, skin problems,
edema, herpes, jaundice, anemia, poisonous intake,
and diabetes are given mild oleation, as this alone
may produce the purging action.
Post-Virechana: Symptoms of successful virechana
include feeling lightness in body, calmness of mind
and in whom gas moves in a downward direction.
Rice and a lentil dal soup are suggested as restorative
Enema is half of the medicinal therapy,
or even the complete treatment.
Charak- Sid. Ch. 1 verse 39
Basti therapy is primarily used for Váyu

This enema moistens dry tissues and organs,
reduces hyperactive digestion, and Váyu disorders,
including nervous conditions. It is done in the day
during the spring and on colder winter days; and in
the night during the summer, the rainy season, and
on milder winter days.
Anuvásana Doses
The day after basti a warm ginger/coriander
decoction is drunk to prevent any adverse effects from
2. Nirúha or Ásthápana (non-unctuous)— This
is a highly beneficial herbal decoction enema mixed
with milk and a little oil. Nirúha is given to those
with abdominal pain, distention, tumors, gout, splenic
diseases, diarrhea (without other associated diseases),
chronic fever, runny nose, obstructed semen, gas, or
feces; enlarged scrotum, urinary stones, amenorrhea,
or severe Váyu disorders. It provides health to the
healthy and gives strength to the tissues that are weak.
Symptoms of proper basti include feeling lightness
in the body. Two, three, or four nirúha bastis
can be given in a row.
excesses, either alone, or as the predominant doßha
deranged. Basti is the Sanskrit name for urinary
bladder. Originally the bladders of larger animals, like
buffaloes and goats, were used as enema bags. The
colon is related to all other organs and tissues, so by
cleansing and toning the colon, the entire body is
healed and rejuvenated. The colon is the main organ
that absorbs nutrients. A healthy, functioning colon
is imperative for proper assimilation of nutrients.
Basti is unlike Western enemas or colonics.
Enemas only cleanse the rectum and sigmoid colon
(only the lower eight to ten inches of the colon)
causing an evacuating effect. Colonics remove feces
blocks but may weaken the mucus membranes and
dry the colon. This further imbalances Váyu’s normal
elimination process. Basti, however, treats the entire
length of the colon from the ileocecal valve to the
anus. Not only is feces flushed from the system but
also áma is removed from the tissues. Furthermore,
balanced and healthy colon function is restored as
tissues and organs are rebuilt.
General Benefits: Basti is useful for many disorders
including chronic constipation, sciatica, lower back
pain, arthritis, gout, and rheumatism. It also heals
numerous neurological disorders like Parkinson’s,
MS, muscular dystrophy, paraplegia, hemiplegia,
poliomyelitis, osteoporosis, and muscle and nerve
atrophy. Further, basti helps with mental conditions
such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, mental retardation, and
sensory disorders.
General Precautions: Basti is not used for babies, for
diarrhea, colon cancer, diverticulitis, rectal bleeding,
polyps, fever, and some forms of diabetes.
Three types of bastis exist:
1. Anuvásana (unctuous)—this enema remains
in the body for some time without causing harm.
Mainly herbal medicated oils and ghee are used. The
amount of oil used in anuvásana basti is 48 or 96
grams (1.7 oz. or 3.4 oz.). It is administered through
the rectum. It is given to all those who are suited for
nirúha (non-unctuous basti), especially those having
strong digestion, to those not receiving oleation, and
those with Váyu diseases (only). This form of enema
is given before nirúha.
Strength Basti Dose Rock Salt
& Fennel
Maximum 10 oz. 4.5 gms.
Moderate 6.8 oz. 3 gms.
Minimum 3.4 oz. 1.5 gms.
Strength Basti Dose
Maximum 33.9 oz.
Moderate 27.7 oz.
Minimum 20.3 oz.

Simple Nirúha Basti
-1-3/4 cup daçhmúl herbal decoction -1-
1/2 oz. sesame oil
-a little honey
-a pinch of black salt to increase colon secretions
3. Uttarabasti—is an upper-tract enema that uses a
combination of decoction and medicated oils. It is
delivered through the urethral and vaginal passages
for the particular problems associated with these
Enemas are not given for the following reasons,
Nirúha—This is not used for excess oleation, chest
injury, severe emaciation, diarrhea with áma (toxins)
or of a recent onset; vomiting, just after purificatory
therapies, or just after nasya (nasal oil therapy). It is
also contraindicated for asthma, coughs, salivation,
gas, poor digestion, rectal swelling, taken before food
is digested, or with an enlarged abdomen due to intestinal
obstructions. This enema should not be used
when clients suffer from perforated alimentary tracts
and water, skin diseases, diabetes mellitus, or when
women are in their seventh month of pregnancy. Other
conditions when nirúha is not advised include after
drinking ghee, with aggravated doßhas, when fatigued,
hungry, thirsty, overworked, angry, anxious,
frightened, or drunk. It is also not used when there is
difficult breathing, hiccup, alasaka, cholera, dysentery,
urinary disorders, hemorrhoids, anemia, edema,
anal inflammation, confusion, anorexia, coma, obesity
dry throat, or lung injury. Nirúha is not used on
the very young or very old.
Anuvásana—This is not for persons unsuited for
nirúha, nor for anemia, jaundice, diabetes, rhinitis,
fasting, splenic diseases, diarrhea, constipation, and
an enlarged abdomen from Kapha excesses. It is not
suggested for those with eye problems, obesity, intestinal
parasites, gout, goiter, lymphatic TB (swollen
lymph glands), blood or tissue parasites, or for
those who have consumed poisons.
Anuvásana basti can be done the same day as
nirúha. If symptoms persist, a second application can
be given the 2nd, 3rd, or 5th day. The second
anuvásana can be stronger if stool is not passed within
48 hours.
Birth until 2 years old, 48 grams (@1.7 oz.) of
liquid are used. [For emergency cases only]
2 to 13 years old, each successive year it should be
increased by 48 grams (until it reaches 576 grams
or about 20 oz.).
13 to 18 years old, each successive year by 96 grams/
@ 3.4 oz. (until it reaches 1,152 grams or
approximately 41 oz.).
18 + years old, 960 grams (@34 oz.) are used.
The amount of oil used is 1/4 that of a decoction,
according to each age group.

Method: After oleation (snehana), sudation
(svedhana), (and if necessary) emesis (vamana), and
purgation (virechana); after elimination, on an empty
stomach, after performing prayers; considering one’s
doßha, the proper herbs, the practitioner, and having
other basti experts present, basti (enema) is given. If
a person is strong and is so suited, an oil enema is
given first. [According to the Aßhþáñga H^idayam,
from September through March, enemas are given
during the afternoon. In the remaining months, bastis

are administered in the evening. Some suggest it be
always given in daytime. Regarding time of year,
some suggest basti during the late summer or early
fall]. Charak says non-unctuous enemas can be given
during the day in the winter and spring, and in the
evening during the remainder of the year.
1. An oil massage (abhyañga) and bath are given,
followed by an easily digestible meal (1/4 less the
usual quantity). Afterwards, they drink a liquid then
take a walk. Meditation or prayers are performed as
well. Next the person evacuates stool and urine and
then lies on a comfortable bed, neither too high nor
low (Charak adds, on white sheets with head facing
the East). They lie on their left side, with the left leg
extended and the right leg bent (knee close to chest)
for easier administration. A lubricated nozzle is
inserted into the rectum, approximately six inches,
after the air has been expelled from the enema bag.
Fluids are slowly released into the colon. Some liquid
is left in the bag to prevent air from passing into the
rectum. Different herbs are made into a decoction to
be used in the basti with the oil.
If stool, urine, or gas blocks the basti flow, a
smaller dose is given to ensure the oil enters into the
body (and not just the water).
2. After the basti is administered and the nozzle
is removed, the person lies on their back while the
practitioner gently hits the person’s buttock several
times. The person then slightly raises the heels and
buttocks and gently pounds against the bed. Next,
the foot of the bed is raised
three times, followed by extending both legs. A pillow
is then placed under the legs, and the person receives
an oil massage, working out any painful or
knotted spots. This helps the enema to stay in longer
(if the enema is soon expelled, another oil enema is
immediately given).
3. Nirúha or water-based basti is held in the body
for about 48 minutes. Anuvásana or oil basti must
remain in the body for 9 hours. Should the elimination
reflex cause early release of the fluids, they are
If, after anuvásana, the person has regained a
strong digestive fire, they can eat a light meal in the
evening. If the oil does not come out due to the excessive
dryness inside the body, and the person feels
good, it can remain inside overnight. It is expelled in
the morning by drinking warm water. If it does not
come out after 24 hours, the person is administered
an herbal (fruit) rectal suppository or strong decoction
enema. Signs of proper administration of enema
include feeling relief from the toxins, and finding the
oil being expelled along with the feces, followed by
4. Basti is repeated on the 3rd or 5th day, or until
the fat is well digested. Those with excessive dryness,
or who exercise daily and have good digestion,
receive daily oil enemas.
5. When the body becomes well lubricated, a
purificatory decoction enema is given to clear the
channels (srotas) 3 or 5 days after the unctuous enema
(Sußhrut suggests the same day). It is given in
the afternoon, after the person digests a light meal,
and after oleation, sudation, elimination of feces,
urine, and meditation. The strength of the decoction
depends on the strength of the client.
After receiving an oil enema, a decoction enema
is given to restore balance between toning and
reducing. This balances all three doßhas. Oil enemas
are given after a span of three days so as not to impair
the digestion. For extreme Váyu excesses and
dryness, oil enemas may be given daily.

Oil is used for unctuous enemas.
Pitta doßhas may use ghee.
Results of Nine Bastis
An ideal therapy consists of a series of nine
1st permeates the inguinal and pelvic region with
demulcent properties
2nd restores Váyu in the cephalic part of the head
3rd improves body strength and complexion
4th permeates the plasma (rasa)
5th permeates the blood (rakta)
6th permeates the muscles/flesh (máåsa)
7th permeates the fat (medas)
8th permeates the bones (asthi)
9th permeates the marrow (majjá)
This series is repeated twice;
once without oil, once with oil.
Non-unctuous (nirúha) enemas promote longevity,
intelligence, voice, complexion, and draw out feces,
mucus, bile, and urine. Unctuous (oil) enemas (used
after non-oil enemas) help the complexion, strength,
Váyu, mental clarity, energy, and weight. After oil
enemas, fasting is advised for the rest of the day. Oil
enemas are best for conditions of the head, heart,
bladder, and Váyu excesses. Pain, numbness, and
swelling may develop when Váyu is obstructed by
fat or Kapha. For these situations, unctuous enemas
are not advised as they will aggravate the fat and
Kapha conditions.
The number of enemas suggested are traditional,
but in today’s fast-paced life, it may not be practical
or necessary for persons to take so many enemas.
Readers and practitioners are advised to use intuition
and evaluate the results even one or two enemas
produce before possibly forcing more sessions. Just
as the dose of herbs has been found to be much less
in the west than in India, so too vamana, virechana,
and basti may need to be applied in moderation.
Post-Enema Precautions: It is always best to stay on
a wholesome diet, but if this is not possible, persons
should eat properly for at least double the length of
the basti therapy. For example, if one undergoes a
nine-day basti program, healthy foods should be eaten
for at least 18 days immediately afterwards. Otherwise,
persons may feel worse than they did before
they began the basti therapy.
After basti one is also advised to avoid excesses
of any kind, such as prolonged sitting, standing,
speaking, travel, naps, coition, cold, sun, grief, wrath,
and suppression of natural urges.
If too much oil has been administered during basti
and excess pressure exists, one may experience
aversion to food, an oily or greasy complexion, an
oily smell in the mouth, coughing, difficult breathing,
and dull senses. Also, each person may develop
symptoms specific to their doßha.
Váyu— astringent taste in mouth, yawning,
shivering, limb pain, Váyu discharges, vißhamsa fever
(i.e., malaria, viral fever, or fever due to injury).
Pitta—fever, burning, thirst, perspiration,
pungent taste; yellowish complexion, urine, and eyes.
Kapha—water brash, sweet taste in mouth,
heaviness, vomiting, difficult breathing, mucus, fever,
food aversion.
Receiving inadequate or cold enemas (either dry
or oily) without proper pre-cleansing can produce
scanty stools, cramps, heaviness, distended intestines,
or constipation.
Enemas after a heavy meal cause cramps, a heavy
stomach, no release of gas, heart problems, bad taste
or food aversion. If oleation, sudation, proper diet,
and elimination of stool have not been done properly,
one may experience heavy limbs, colic, abdominal
distention, difficult breathing, or heavy intestines.

Decoction Enema
(Nirúha Dravya Kalpaná)
Preparation: (The recipe in Aßhþáñga H^idayam
Sú.; Ch 19, verse 381/2-40, is as follows),
• 960 grams (34 oz.) of the herbs appropriate for
ones doßha (constitution) are made into a decoction.
• [Herbs are boiled with 16 parts water
(approximately 4.2 gallons over a low flame) until 1/
4 of the water remains (about a one-gallon decoction).
• Next oil or ghee is added to the decoction, in
the amount of 1/4 of the decoction for Váyu, 1/6
quantity for Pitta, and 1/8 quantity for Kapha.
• 1/8 quantity of medicated paste is sometimes
added, making the decoction neither too watery nor
too thick.
• Lastly, 48 grams (@1.8 oz.) of raw sugar cane
(jaggery) or molasses is added, along with similar
doses of honey and salt, depending upon the doßha].
Author, Vághbhata, notes other views:
• Oil and honey are each 144 grams (5.1 oz.),
• Salt for the strong person is 12 grams,
(.42 of an ounce) medicinal paste is 96 grams (3.4 oz.).
• All other liquids are 480 grams (17 oz.).
Further, Charak offers a breakdown similar to
the Aßhþáñga formula for oil enemas:
• 1 year old 40 grams (@1.5 oz.).
• 2 to 12 years old—each year an additional
40 grams is added.
• 12 to 18 years old—80 grams (@3 oz.) are
added each year until it reaches 960 grams (@34 oz).
• 18 to 70 years old— 960 grams.
70 +— 800 grams (@28 oz.).
The order of mixing ingredients is honey, salt, oil
(or ghee), paste, and decoction. The ingredients are
well mixed and mildly warmed before being
administered to the person.
The flow of the enema should be moderate (i.e.,
not too forceful). After receiving the enema, the
person lies on their back with a pillow
under their head, concentrating on the enema. When
the elimination urge presents itself, they should squat
on their heels to expel the enema and wastes. If the
enema should stay in for 48 minutes, it becomes critical
to expel it. Various substances, including oils, alkalis,
hot and sour properties, are immediately given.
Alternatively, an herbal (from fruit) suppository is
given, along with sudation and—even frightening the
person, so as to expel the enema.
Decoctions may be given several times until the
person feels relief from the toxins. Once they are
feeling better they take a warm bath to remove any
lingering complications due to the enemas. Food
consists of rice and soothing herbal teas with ghee. If
the enema increases Váyu, an oil enema is
immediately given.
Charak suggests, that once the enema is expelled,
the person should be sprinkled with cool water and
given boiled rice. Later in the evening, after the earlier
meal is digested, the person eats a small and easily
digestible meal. Then an oil enema is given to restore
Herbs used in decoctions by Charak include
guæúchí, gokßhura, sandalwood, triphalá, daçhmúl,
bilwa, vachá, musta, pippalí, also jaggery, honey,
ghee, oil, and rock salt.
Sample Decoction Basti
Calamus, ginger, fennel, 1-2 tsp. rock salt, and up
to 1/2 cup sesame oil, per quart of decoction. Licorice,
other demulcents, or oil is used because the enema
may be too drying or depleting. Cleansing enemas
are followed with an oil enema (1/2 cup sesame oil
in 1/2 cup warm water). This balances all three
Helps: Chronic constipation, colitis, arthritis, epilepsy,
paralysis, anxiety, neurosis, insomnia, sciatica, lower
back pain, kidney disorders, neuralgia, and Váyu disorders.
Note: Vamana, virechana, and basti are not given
to people before age 10 or after age 70.

Urethral Basti (Douche)
For complications of urine, genital tract pain,
prolapsed uterus, urine retention or incontinence,
menorrhagia, and during the menstrual cycle, douches
are advised. During menstruation the uterus is not
covered; therefore, it receives unction very easily. This
allows for easy release of Váyu.
After a meal (with ghee), passing stool, urine, and
after bathing, a person sits comfortably on a straight,
soft, knee-high seat. The catheter is introduced gently
into the orifice, neither too deep nor too shallow. The
nozzle is greased with ghee and 20 grams (.7 of an
ounce) of a decoction and is inserted into the body.
As the decoction is expelled, the process is repeated
another two times. If the third decoction is not
released, it is all right. Decoction herbs include
pippalí, black salt, apámárga, mustard, nirguòæí, and
cane sugar. The same procedures, restrictions,
complications, and signs of proper application of
unctuous enemas apply to douching.
For women, the catheter is 10 finger-widths long.
It is inserted into the genital tract up to four fingerwidths
deep. In the urethra, it is inserted up to about
two fingers deep. The catheter is easily inserted while
the woman lies on her back, with legs fully flexed.
Douche is given 2 to 4 times over the course of 24
hours. After the douche, a somewhat thicker
suppository is inserted. This therapy continues for 3
days, with the dose gradually increased. After a 3-
day rest, the procedure is repeated.

Nasal Therapy
or Snuff (Nasya)
Áyurveda suggests that the nose is the gateway to
the head. Thus, nasal herb therapy is used for healing
diseases of the throat, neck, head, and senses (e.g.,
ears, nose, eyes, etc.). Nasya is also used for toning
and strengthening these areas.
Nasya is useful in relieving stiffness in the head,
neck arteries, throat, and jaw obstructions, coryza,
uvulitis, tonsillitis, cornea, vision and eyelid disorders,
migraines, disorders of the neck, shoulders, ears, nose,
mouth, head, cranium, and scapula. It helps facial
paralysis, convulsions, goiter, pain, tingling sensation,
loose teeth, tumors, hoarse voice, speech disorders,
and Váyu disorders of the mind, head, neck, and
throat. Nasya is also helpful in head diseases caused
by Kapha (e.g., stiffness, numbness, heaviness).
Saturating nasyas are recommended for Váyu
disorders (e.g., facial paralysis, trembling head).
Pacifying nasyas are useful for internal bleeding and
other Pitta head and neck disorders.
Snuff is suggested three times daily in the rainy,
autumn, and spring seasons when there are no clouds
in the sky. Snuff is said to improve vision, smell, and
hearing; keep hair from graying and falling out;
prevent stiff neck, headache, and lockjaw. It is also
said that snuff relieves chronic rhinitis, and head
tumors. The veins, joints, ligaments, and tendons of
the skull gain greater strength. The face becomes
cheerful and well developed; the voice becomes more
melodious. (See Charak: Sú. Chapter 5; verse 56-62
and Sußhrut: Chapter 50 for further information.)
Nasya herbs include balá, viæa´ga, bilwa and
musta. They are made into an oil decoction with
various other ingredients.
Three kinds of nasyas exist:
1. Virechana (purgatives)—for headaches, eye
problems, throat problems, swellings, enlarged
glands, parasites, tumors, skin diseases, epilepsy,
rhinitis, and loss of head movement. Ingredients
include the appropriate oil, herbal powders, pastes,
or decoctions; and are mixed with honey and salt.
Virechana is of two types: avapída (fresh herb
juices) and pradhamana (blowing of herb powders
through a tube).
2. B^iμhaòa (nourishers)—for Váyu headaches,
migraines, loss of voice, dry nose and mouth;
difficulty speaking, opening eyes, or moving the arms.
Medicated oils help with premature graying and hair
loss; ringing in ears, neck, shoulder, and arm
disorders; dental problems, and headache on either
side of the head. It is also highly beneficial for
degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, MS,
epilepsy, and mental retardation. Ingredients include
medicated ghee and extracts from plants.
3. £hamana (palliatives)—for discolored patches
on the face, blue patches on the skin and for hair and
eye diseases. Ingredients include medicated ghee,
milk, or water.
There are two general methods to administer
nasyas: powder form (blown through a tube); and
liquid drops (4, 6, 8 drops—minimum, moderate,
maximum). Traditional powder quantities are 6
grams, but even 1/2 gm. may be effective for
Westerners. The tub length is 6 a´guli long (6 finger
Five forms of nasya are used: snuffing, pressing,
blowing, smoking, and smearing. Two categories of
snuff exist: uncting and evacuating. Also, 2 types of
pressing are available: evacuating (¤hiro virechana)
and retaining (nasya). Blowing of powders into the
nose cleans the body channels (srotas). Smoking has
3 categories: pacifying, evacuating, and saturating.
Smearing promotes both evacuating and pacifying
results. The two most effective methods are powder
(inhaled through a tube) and liquid drops (4, 6, 8
drops—minimum, moderate, maximum).
Snuff—uncting (nasya) and evacuation (¤hiro
virechana) are the most effective forms of nasya.
Snuff is subdivided into five categories, as shown in
the chart above.
1) Uncting (Sneha): Oil increases deficient oily matter
of the brain, reduces feelings of void or emptiness,
tones nerves and muscles in the neck, shoulders, and
chest. It improves eyesight, balding, premature
graying, loose teeth, earaches, cataracts, dry mouth,
nose disorders, loss of voice, Váyu-head disorders,
and wrinkles. Váyu- and Pitta-reducing herbs are
used. Four, 6, or 8 drops constitute the minimum,
moderate, and maximum doses. Other sources
suggest using only 3 drops.
2) Evacuating (£hiro-virechana): Powders of pippalí,
viæa´ga, apámárga, or any oil mixed with these herbs,
is used to reduce Kapha and mucus in the throat,
palate, or head. This procedure helps with food
aversion, headache, heavy head, cold, coryza,
hemicrania (headache on one side of the head),
edema, skin disorders, epilepsy, laryngitis, worms,
and hysteric convulsions. Four, 6, or 8 drops are the
minimum, moderate, and maximum doses.
3) Pratimarßha: This is also an uncting procedure in
which oil is dropped into the nose and expelled
through the mouth. Sußhrut says, 1 to 3 drops, or
whatever amount it takes for the oil to move through
the nose and reach the mouth. Sußhrut also suggests
that oil be used for Váyu and Kapha doßhas, and ghee
be used for Pitta doßhas. However, any medicated
Pitta-reducing oil is also suggested by other writers

(e.g., bráhmí oil). Pratimarßha is useful for those who
are wounded, emaciated, children, and the elderly;
and at all times and seasons (including rainy weather).
It strengthens the senses, helps prevent premature
graying and hair loss, thirst, head and mouth diseases,
and all disorders above the shoulders.
4) Avapída: This is an evacuative procedure. Fresh
pungent herbal juice is dropped into the nose. Then
the nostrils are pressed with both palms. Four, six, or
eight drops constitute the minimum, moderate, and
maximum doses. This method helps with tridoßhic
fevers, throat disorders, excess sleep, parasites, and
mental disorders (including epilepsy and insanity).
Some ingredients, for example, are licorice, black
pepper, vachá, and rock salt, made into a liquid with
warm water.
5) Pradhama: This is another evacuative method.
Here, evacuating six gms. of herbal powders are
blown into the nostrils through a tube six a´guli (six
finger widths). It is useful for those with extreme
doßha imbalances (e.g., unconsciousness).
Ingredients include rock salt and t^ikatu.
Precautions: It is not advised to take nasya when
thirsty, after a meal or a fast, just before or after
bathing, with acute rhinitis, the last few months of
pregnancy, during menstruation, just after asthma
attacks or with difficult breathing, colds or coughing.
Nasya is also not used just after oleation, emesis,
purgation, basti, after sex or drinking too much water
or alcohol; on sun-less days, with acute coryza, anger,
grief, fatigue, when excited or suppressing natural
urges. Further, it is not used during bad weather or
for children under 7 years old, and the elderly over
80 years of age.
Pratimarßha is not used after wine, when weak,
with head-worms, and when doßhas are greatly
excessed and move around.
Time: Nasyas are taken before meals. Kapha doßha
take these nasyas in the morning, Pittas in the
afternoon, and Váyu doßhas in the evening or night.
Healthy persons take snuff in the morning in the
summer, afternoons in the winter and rainy seasons
(when it is not cloudy). Snuff is not taken during the
early rainy season, fall, and spring, except during
emergencies. Then, it is taken in the morning.
Nasya is taken daily, both morning and evening,
for Váyu head disorders, hiccup, tetanus, convulsions,
stiff neck, and for a hoarse voice. For all other diseases
it is taken only once daily for 7 days.
Method: Nasya is taken after elimination of stool and
urine, brushing teeth, smoking herbs and receiving
oleation (oil massage) to the neck, cheeks, and
forehead. The palms are first rubbed together until
warm and then placed over the face (as fomentation).
Alternatively, a warm wash cloth may be placed over
the sinuses. This process begins to loosen toxins and
expand the channels for easier toxin elimination.
Next, the persons lie on their backs on a bed in a
room with no drafts. Feet are slightly raised and the
head is slightly lowered. The limbs are extended.
Nasya oil is slightly warmed and then inserted into
the nostrils, (right nostril first), while the other nostril
is kept closed. Oil is sniffed up into the head. To better
achieve this effect, nostrils may be closed with the
fingers while inhaling through the nose begins. Then
fingers are released, causing a sudden rush of air into
the nostrils. This process can be done five to ten times.
Afterwards, the soles, neck, palms, ears, and face
are fomented again with warm palms, and gently

Nasya Small Medium Large
Snuff 8/8 16/16 32/32
Evacuative 4/4 6/6 8/8
Pratimarßha 2/2 2/2 2/2
Doäha Nasya Time
Váyu 3:00 - 6:00 a.m./p.m.
Pitta Noon and/ormidnight
Kapha 6:00 - 9:00 a.m./p.m
massaged. Turning to the side, persons spit out any
oil that may have reached the mouth and throat. This
procedure is taken two to three times. Should fainting
occur, cold water is sprinkled over the body (but not
the head). After a purgative nasya, a medicated oil
nasya is administered (according to one’s doßha).
Persons lie on their backs for about two minutes,
inhale smoke from various herbs, then gargle with
tepid water several times to cleanse the throat from
the nasya.
In the above chart, Sußhrut suggests the number
of drops applied in each nostril, for small, moderate,
and high nasya doses.
Results of effective nasya include feeling lightness
in the head, clear passages, easing of the original
symptoms, clear mind and senses. If nasya has
been done in excess, dry foods are eaten to restore
balance. If nasya has been insufficient, ghee is taken.
For more serious health concerns, the process is
followed for 7 days. After a few days rest, the process
can again be repeated for 14 days. After a few
days rest, nasya is again give for 21 days.
Suggested times for therapeutic administration
are shown below.
Remedies Disorders
Sweets (e.g., honey raw sugar, ¤hatávarí),
medicated oils
neck, shoulders, anus, dry mouth, ear ringing, Váyu and Pitta
excesses, premature gray hair, balding, fright, females, children,
weak persons, head, nose, eyes, migraines, teeth, hemicrania
Pungent herbs above shoulder diseases, loss of voice, anorexia, cold, headache,
chronic rhinitis, edema, epilepsy, skin disorders
Avapída (fresh pungent herb juice) throat, toxic/tridoßhic fever, excess sleep, remittent fever, mental
disorders, parasites
Pradamana (e.g., rock salt, vachá, black
pepper, ginger, serious disorders (e.g., unconsciousness)
Cane sugar, pippalí, black salt, ginger eye, ear, nose, head, neck, lower throat, jaw, shoulders and back
Vachá, black pepper, black salt insanity, epilepsy, severe (tridoßhic) fevers, tetanus
Results: Generally, all nasyas promote clarity, sharp senses, and improved sleep patterns.
The use of purgatives includes relief of eye strain and tension, clean mouth, and clear voice.

Specific Therapies
The £há´gadhara Saåhitá outlines therapies for
specific health concerns and their doses. Virechana,
or evacuative nasya, is divided into two kinds, avapída
(fresh pungent herb extract juice) and pradhamana
(blowing pungent herbal powders in the nose).
Ingredients: Various cleansing herbs are used as
snuffs, decoctions, oils, ghee, and smoking to heal
the nasal passageways and head. Herbs used are
calamus, cloves, gotu kola, bayberry, sage, and basil.
Nasya works directly on the práòa and brain, and it
is good for all doßhas, though smoking may aggravate
Váyu or Pitta. It is useful in helping the sinuses by
using expectorant herbs, including vásák, ginger, and
black pepper.
Sinuses and brain: Gotu kola or calamus oil, or
ghee are used.
Nasal passages: Cloves, calamus, and bayberry
are smoked.
Váyu persons take nutritional nasyas. Pitta/
Váyu persons use herbal sedatives.
Nasal massage is also suggested to release
emotions that can be stored in the nose.
Kapha doßhas use calamus or gotu kola to
relieve headaches, heavy or lethargic heads, colds,
running noses, sticky eyes, hoarseness, sinusitis,
tumors, epilepsy, chronic rhinitis, attachment, greed,
and lust.
Nutritional Nasya: For Váyu doßha. Ghee, oils,
or salt are used for migraines, dry voice or nose,
nervousness, anxiety, fear, dizziness, emptiness,
negativity, stiff neck, dry sinuses, or loss of sense of
Sedative Nasya: For Pitta doßha. Use aloe vera
juice, warm milk, a¤hwagandhá, or gotu kola juice/
oil; for hair loss, conjunctivitis, or ringing in the ear.
Oil Nasya: For all doßhas. Decoctions and oils
together are used.
Complications: Symptoms of inadequate nasya
include deranged senses and dryness. As an antidote
to this, nasya is repeated using the proper amounts.
Excess, deficient, cold, hot, or sudden nasya may
cause thirst, belching, and aggravation of the
Nasal Massage: Pinky fingers are dipped into the
oil needed and gently inserted into the nostrils (one
at a time) as deep as comfortably possible. The
passage becomes lubricated through a gentle massage.
Time of Use Benefits
upon waking in the morning removes waxy mucus in the nose, cheerful mind
after brushing teeth sweet aroma, taste, firm teeth
before leaving home safeguards from smoke, dust, pollution
after exercise, coition, travel removes fatigue
after stool/urine removes dull/heavy vision
after gargling, eye salve invigorates the eyes
on an empty stomach cleans/lightens inner channels
after emesis cleans mucus in ducts, stimulates appetite
Results of Pratimarßha Nasya:
This relaxes the deeper tissues and can be done every
day or whenever under stress. First the massage is
done clockwise, then counter-clockwise.

(Rakta Mok¤ha)
(Therapeutic toxic blood-letting) involves
releasing toxic blood from various body sites,
although mainly from the back. At first, blood should
be dark or purplish. When it turns bright red, therapy
is complete. Two to 8 ounces is the general amount
of blood released. Sometimes various sensitive sites
require only a prick to relieve problems. For example,
at the eyebrow a prick relieves headaches, and eye
inflammation. This process is no longer used in India
as often as it once was. In some countries a
professional license is required in order to practice
this therapy. Blood-letting is useful when wishing for
immediate results with Pitta disorders such as skin,
liver, spleen, and conditions like gout, headaches, and
hypertension. Late summer through early fall is the
best time for this procedure.
Precautions: Rakta mokçha is not used on babies, the
elderly, during pregnancy or menstruation, or with
anemia, edema, leukemia, bleeding, or cirrhosis.

Smoke Inhalation Therapy
Daily use of smoke inhalation is used for cough,
asthma, chronic rhinitis, voice disorders, bad smell
in the nose or mouth, pallor, hair disorders, mucus,
itching, and pain. It is also used for loss of hearing,
taste, or sight; stupor, hiccup, heavy head, head or
neck pain, hemicrania, earache, eye pain, throat or
jaw spasm, weak teeth or toothache, ear, eye, or nose
discharges, worms, sneezing, fatigue, dull intellect,
Váyu or Kapha diseases, and excess sleep.
Váyu doßhas use lubricating smoke (snigdha),
Váyu/Kapha doßhas use medium or madhya smoke,
and Kapha constitutions use tikßhna or strong smoke
therapies. Like other therapeutics discussed, the categories
of smoke fall into the categories of mild, palliative,
purificatory, or purgative.
Others suggest two medicated smokes, and one
oil smoke daily. The result is the cleansing of the heart,
throat, senses, lightness of the head, and pacifying of
the doßhas. For calming the mind, sandalwood,
jaóámáò¤hí, etc. are useful.
Mild (lubricating) herbs are inhaled after
sneezing, yawning, defecation, urination, copulation,
surgery, laughing, and brushing teeth. It is done once
a day. Ingredients include guggul, musta, sesame, and
Medium (palliative) herbs are inhaled at the end
of the night, after meals, and after nasya therapy.
Inhalation is done only once a day. Herbs include
licorice and (naturally) perfumed scents.
Strong (purgatives) are used upon waking from
sleep, after nasya, washing eyes, bathing, and
vomiting. Smoke is inhaled four times daily. Herbs
used include triphalá, vachá (calamus), and
Strength Herbs
guggul, musta, bilwa,
cardamom, madana phal,
saffron, sesame oil, and
utpala, licorice, kußhta,
frankincense, vachá,
da¤hmúl, triphalá

6 Forms of Dhúma
Time: The procedure is to take 3 puffs 3 times. Some
authorities suggest smoking 8 times during the day
for Váyu and Kapha excesses, after bathing, meals,
vomiting, sneezing, brushing teeth, after snuff, eyesalve
application, and sleep.
Others suggest two medicated smokes and one oil
smoke daily. The result is the cleansing of the heart,
throat, senses, lightness of the head, and pacifying of
the doßhas.
Precautions: Smoke inhalation is not recommended
for people who have bleeding disorders, have
completed purgation therapy (virechana), or enema
(basti); or who suffer from enlarged abdomen,
diabetes, blindness, Váyu moving upward (e.g.,
belching), flatulence, or have just eaten fish, wine,
yogurt, milk, honey, ghee, or oils, or have ingested
poison, or have head injuries, anemia, and insomnia.
Smoking at improper times results in bleeding
disorders, blindness, deafness, thirst, fainting,
delusions, and intoxication (they are countered by
cold). Exhalation through the nose causes loss of
vision; exhale only through the mouth.
Herbal smoke inhalation is not given until 18 years
of age (some say after age 12). [Mouth gargle begins
at age five].
Excess/Untimely Smoking: Symptoms include deafness,
blindness, dumbness, vertigo, internal hemorrhaging.
Antidotes include using ghee snuff, and eye
salve. Cooling herbs are used for blood disorders.
Rough herbs are used for Kapha and Pitta disorders
(e.g., cardamom, kút, black pepper).
Preparation of Smoke Wick: A reed, 12 finger-widths
in length, is soaked in water for 24 hours, then
wrapped in 5 layers of cloth and smeared with a thin
paste of the appropriate herbs. The herbs are left to
dry; then the reed and cloth are removed. Ghee or
sesame oil is added to the herbs. Then, herbs are inserted
into a pipe, and lit. Others suggest that the tube
be in 3 pieces, one fitting snugly into the other, and
that the inner tube be the thickness of the pinky finger.
For coughs, powdered herbs are placed on hot
coals, and a tube is used to inhale the smoke.
Pipe lengths vary. For evacuative purposes it is 24
finger-width long (a´guli). For oil, it is 32 a´guli.
Regular therapies require 36 a´guli. The pipe is
straight, having three filters near the mouth, ending
with a nozzle. Tube thickness is as wide as the little
finger. Excess smoking may cause dryness and heat
in the head and throat, fainting, thirst, bleeding,
giddiness, and poor sense functioning.
Specific lengths of smoking tubes are assigned
for the three types of herbs, and methods of soaking
reeds (wicks).
Method: The person sits erect.
Slight congestion (movement): With the mouth
open, as smoke is inhaled through the nose, alternating
nostrils (one nostril open, the other closed). Inhalation
is through the nose, exhalation is through the mouth.
This is repeated three times.
Clogged (non-moving): Inhaled through the
mouth (to decongest or create movement). Exhale
through the mouth.
Throat congestion: First inhale through the nose,
then later through the mouth. Exhale through the
The therapy used determines the reed length

* the tube needs to reach the ulcer
A length of two a´guli (finger widths) must be
left free. Paste is applied to the end of the nozzle and
Signs of effective dhúma include clarity of the
senses, speech and mind; strong teeth, and a pleasant
odor in the mouth.
Follow-up Practices to Pañcha Karma
(Uttara Karma)
1. Pañcha karma is sometimes repeated, for it may
take several times to cleanse deeply seated toxins.
This is especially true when following short term
methods. Also, it may be repeated after 1 to 3 months.
Pañcha karma is recommended at least once a year.
2. It is important to resume or establish a diet and
lifestyle that is harmonious with one’s constitution.
If a person returns to old, bad habits, they may worsen
their condition by suppressing the renewed healing
energies. The toxins may then directly enter cleansed
tissues and go deeper than before, causing severe
diseases. During convalescence, persons avoid loud
talking, bumpy rides, long walks, excessive sitting,
and eating, if experiencing indigestion.
To avoid aggravating the humors, persons also avoid
eating unwholesome food, day naps, and sexual
relations. If any of these harmful experiences are
followed, follow-up toning and rejuvenation
processes are used to counteract the ill effects.
3. Once therapy is successful or complete, the next
step is rebuilding the tissues damaged by the disease,
giving them a new level of strength and purity. Oil or
ghee is first taken with gradual reintroduction of the
six tastes. First, sour, sweet, and delicious tastes are
taken. Then one takes sour and salty tastes. Next bitter
and sweet tastes are introduced. These dual tastes are
used in these combinations to make food delicious.
Lastly, astringent and pungent ones are taken in small
quantities as a hygienic measure to clean the mouth
and sliminess. Rebuilding the healthy cells and tissues
is known as rejuvenation, and is the basis of the
Áyurvedic approach to longevity. Deeper tissue
rejuvenation is most important because this is the
source of the body’s energy or life-sap (ojas). Herbs
that increase ojas for each dhátu (tissue) layer are
included in the chart at the top of the next page.
Bráhmí rasáyana, a mixture of gotu kola, ghee, and
other herbs is an important rejuvenative.
Organs and Herbs
Herbs and foods can be used specifically to rebuild
tissue layers, and herbs can also have a direct
rejuvenative effect on the various body organs and
tissue layers.
. Áyurveda offers rejuvenative
therapies that achieve balance through each of the
five senses.

Oil Application (Abhyañga)
Other aspects of pañcha karma include ¤hiro
dhárá (hot oil poured on the head), meridian
cleansing, abhyañga (pouring oil on the body), and
marma balancing (applying oil on sensitive points).
Because every practitioner has their own style of this
traditional therapy, both traditional and modern
approaches will be discussed.
More than 2,000 years ago in India, oils were found
that not only healed illness, but also prevented future
imbalances. These therapies were traditionally given
(to oneself or to others) on a daily basis. Oil was
poured onto the entire body (also called abhyañga),
head (¤hiro bhyañga and ¤hiro dhárá), ears (karna
púrana), feet (páda bhyañga), or specific sites that
required attention (marma bhyañga).
Lymphatic System: One important benefit from
abhyañga is the stimulation of the lymphatic system.
The lymph system is pervasive throughout the body,
except in the brain, bone marrow, and deep skeletal
muscle (though some scientists believe they may
extend there as well). The role of this system is to
carry nutrients to and remove toxins from the cells.
Some cells in the nodes destroy bacteria, viruses, and
other potential harmful particles. Other vessels send
fresh fluids from the other side of the node to the
Lymph contains about half the concentration of
proteins in the plasma, and returns the serum proteins
to the blood. Thus, this is a sort of self-feeding,
system that means the body prepares its own food
and feeds itself. Additionally, it contains many white
blood cells that help maintain the body’s resistance
to immune disorders, forming these infection-fighting
cells in the nodes.
This system contains various amino acids. One
amino acid called tryptophan is needed for producing
energy and balancing the hormonal and nervous
systems. Melatonin a brain hormone synthesized from
tryptophan within the pineal gland, is believed to be
related to the thyroid, adrenals, and gonads. It has
been found to help calm excess mental activity.
Dopamine beta hydroxylase, is an enzyme believed
to be related to schizophrenia and other mental
disorders. Histaminase, another enzyme, breaks down
histamine. If histamine is in excess, it may cause
gastric acidity, lethargy, itching, headaches, pain in
muscles and nodes; and allergies. Thus, abhyañga
may help the body produce its own natural
antihistamines. Lymphs also play a role in the various
forms of edema.
The lymph system is Kapha in nature.
£hleßhaka Kapha is a mixture of lymph and synovial
fluid found in the joints and also runs through the
nervous system. Lymph provides the nerves with
receiving and transmitting signals. It also helps
develop antibodies that are important for the immune
By rubbing the joints in a circular motion,
circulation is enhanced and rubbing the joints in a
circular motion secretes fluid secreted from the lymph
nodes. This causes more protein, glucose, minerals
oxygen, and antibodies, involved with the lymphatic
system, to circulate in the blood.
Benefits of Abhyañga:
The Aßhþáñga H^idayam, one of the triad of the
classical Áyurvedic texts, suggests abhyañga be given
on a daily basis to prevent and heal illness. Many
benefits arise from daily abhyañga. Let us look at
each benefit individually.
1. Reverses/prevents aging and increases
2. Removes fatigue and stress from work and
life overall
3. Heals and prevents nervous system disorders
4. Promotes good vision
5. Nourishes the body and promotes sturdiness
6. Remedies insomnia
7. Creates an electrochemical balance in the
8. Oil rubbed into the skin prevents dehydration
and strengthens the nerves.
9. Oil helps the electromagnetic field of the body.
10. Stimulates antibody production, thus
strengthening the immune system.
Aging (Jará) is a natural process of the body, and
surely death is one of life’s certainties. Nevertheless,
the diseases caused in the aging process are removed
through abhyañga. Symptoms of aging include gray
hair and wrinkles; loss of sleep, teeth, impairment of
sight and hearing; weakened digestion and
elimination; and brittle bones (osteoporosis, arthritis,
weakened spine, calcification, stiffness, etc.). Other
signs of aging include pains, giddiness, Parkinson’s
disease, heart, artery, and blood pressure problems;
decreased mental function (memory, concentration,
etc.), and diseases of the various organs. Through
daily abhyañga life is maintained and people can live
a normal life span (longevity or Áyußh).
Method: Sesame, mustard, or almond oil, applied
to the spine, head, and feet, remove effects of old age
and increase longevity.
Fatigue (£hrama) results from hard work, stress,
poor diet, lack of exercise, not protecting oneself from
the environment, etc. These habits weaken the
muscles, nerves, and joints. Abhyañga provides a
passive exercise, cleanses stress from the muscles,
removes toxins from the organs, cells, tissues, and
blood; and tones the muscles and nerves.
Method: Rubbing, patting, squeezing of muscles.
Add sandalwood oil to the oil mixture.
For fatigue caused by straining muscles add a
pinch of salt to warm water and soak the limb.
Adding a heating oil such as mint, eucalyptus, or
mustard helps fatigue due to toxin accumulation.
Nervous disorders (Váyu Roga) occur due to
excess air (Váyu), which is the element that regulates
sensory-motor skills. It is also the most important
element because it regulates the other two doßhas
(Pitta regulates the metabolism and enzyme and
digestive functioning. Kapha regulates the body
organs). So, balancing Váyu is necessary; daily
abhyañga achieves this balance.
Method: Mahánáráyan oil removes air imbalances
that aggravate the nervous system.
Eye (Drißhti) sight is weakened by poor lighting,
poor posture, reading print that is too small,
excessive television, gazing at overly bright or
flashing lights, (e.g., the sun, neon, and flashing
signs), receiving excess sun, heat, or cold to the
head; excess eating and drinking of pungent and
oily foods. Additionally, old age causes
impairments such as cataracts, near- and
farsightedness, night blindness, optic nerve
problems, etc. Poor or improper diet creates an
inflamed or detached retina, atrophy of the optic
nerve, etc. Áyurveda also believes that constipation
causes various eye problems. Again, abhyañga
heals these impairments and corrects the visual
problems associated with the aging process.
Method: Attending the spine, neck, head, and
feet. Before bed
a) massage the navel clockwise using sesame
or coconut oil.
b) foot massage, including pressing between
the big and index toes.
Other helpful measures for the eyes include
staring at a candle flame (at eye level),
massaging the temples, using a neti pot,
massaging the nostrils with ghee, ingesting
triphalá each morning, washing the eyes with
Nourishing (Pußhti) the tissues (dhátus, i.e.,
plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bones, nerves/marrow,
reproductive fluid), are affected by poor eating habits,
digestion, and metabolic functioning. The result is
that foods are not digested and properly eliminated.
Undigested foods become toxic waste in the body
(áma) and hamper the natural absorption of nutrients.
Through abhyañga wastes are loosened, flow to their
sites of elimination, and are expelled as urine, feces,
and sweat.
Method: Rubbing, pressing, kneading.
Sturdiness (Dárdhya) Stress, trauma, shocks, and
accidents diminish the body’s sturdiness. The inability
to overcome these blows to the system results in
many diseases and impairments. abhyañga relieves
these problems, allowing persons to recover and heal,
and prevents further weakening of their system. For
those who are physically incapacitated abhyañga
provides a passive form of exercise.
Method: Rubbing, pressing, kneading.
Sleep (Swapna) or rest is needed to recover from
the mental, physical, and emotional activities of the
day. Persons deprived of sleeping and dreaming develop
physical and mental diseases. Some people
sleep too much, some sleep too little. Sleeping pills,
caffeine, etc. are artificial attempts to balance one’s
unhealthy sleeping habits. Bad foods, overeating,
drugs, overwork, worry, anger, lethargy, fear, etc. create
these situations of insomnia and oversleeping.
Abhyañga removes toxins, calms the nerves, brings
the body and mind back into balance with nature,
and helps the person naturally adjust to daily rhythms.
Method: Rubbing of oils to the feet and tense areas
before bed.
Abhyañga and the Doßhas:
Besides removing general aging problems,
abhyañga provides specific benefits for people of
different constitutions.
Váyu doßhas tend towards excess dryness, both
on the skin (including wrinkles) and internally. They
may develop nerve and bone disorders, constipation,
anxiety, and weak immune disorders. Oil application
restores moisture to the skin, soothes the nerves,
strengthens the bones, and nourishes the tissues. Some
authorities suggest abhyañga against the direction of
the hair to open the pores, then reversing the direction.
Others suggest abhyañga only in the direction the
hair grows. Sesame oil is blended with general Váyureducing
herbs and essential oils or herbs and oils for
a specific health condition.
Pitta constitutions generally have heat excesses
such as skin rashes, ulcers, infections, eye, heart, and
blood disorders; impatience, and hot temper. Applying
oils that are sweet and cooling brings balance, and
also heals and prevents further occurrence of these
situations. Sesame oil is blended with general Pittareducing
herbs and essential oils or herbs and oils for
healing a specific condition.
Kapha people retain an excess of water, and tend
to suffer from symptoms such as weight retention,
edema, mucus, lung and sinus congestion; and
sluggish minds. Warm oils help remove the excessive
amounts of water and restore balance. Aßhþáñga
H^idayam also mentions the applying of fragrant
powders to reduce Kapha, liquefy fat, promote
compactness strength of the body parts; and create
good skin tone. Sesame, mustard, or canola oil is
blended with general Kapha-reducing herbs and
essential oils, or herbs and oils for specific health
Pressure during abhyañga varies according to one’s
doßha. Váyu people need a light, gentle touch. Pitta
doßhas prefer a moderate touch. Kapha constitutions
enjoy deep muscle abhyañga. Further, a slow, pressure
is applied around the waist with slightly more
pressure exerted around the face and neck. The head
and feet receive even more pressure, and more time
is spent on these two areas. Soft, less fleshy, and less
muscular areas are also gently pressed (e.g., navel
region, temples, heart, and ribs).
Abhyañga Time:
Daily abhyañga is done 1 to 2 hours after eating,
preferably yoga or exercise (until persons break a
sweat) is practiced after abhyañga. It is best to wait
at least 1 hour after abhyañga before taking a bath to
let the oil nourish and detoxify all the tissue layers.
The oil also keeps the body and skin flexible. Oil is
applied at room temperature in the summer and
warmed in the winter. Herbal decoctions and essential
oils, according to one’s doßha, may be added to the

Sesame oil (i.e., unscented), when used by itself,
is best applied on Mondays, Wednesdays, and
Saturdays, for auspiciousness, wealth, and longevity.
Abhyañga with unscented oil or without herbal oil is
not recommended on the lunar days, 3, 6, 8, 10, 11,
13, 14 (i.e., counting from the first day of the new
moon to the full moon. It is also not recommended
on the same days from the full moon to the new
moon). Infants and elderly may receive care on all
All days are favorable for abhyañga when
the base oil is mixed with essential
flower oils, herbal plants, or using
mustard oil (for Kapha doßha).
Abhyañga is not given immediately after enemas,
emesis, or purgation therapy; during the first stages
of a fever, or with indigestion. It should also not be
given to persons with excess Kapha (áma or toxic)
disorders, such as obesity, unless the oils or powders
are specific to reduce áma and Kapha.
One unique advantage of medicated oil abhyañga
is that their healing properties are absorbed into the
system within two minutes. It nurtures all seven tissue
elements in less than 14 minutes. Ingesting herbs takes
a longer time because they pass through the digestive
Specific Abhyañga Therapies:
Besides the general benefits of healing difficult
diseases and promoting longevity, each special
abhyañga method offers unique therapeutic properties.
Some of the approaches offer both traditional
and modern uses. Traditional methods are used
along with pañcha karma practices. Modern
approaches are generally from India’s Kerala state.
These modalities can be used for healing by
themselves; there is no need for emesis, purgation,
and enemas.
Pressure: Two views on abhyañga pressure
exist: According to doßha and according to guòa
(quality). As mentioned above, a person can receive
abhyañga with light, moderate, or deep touch,
depending on whether they are Váyu, Pitta, or
Kapha doßhas, respectively. A second option is to
apply pressure according to how much purity
(sattwa), heat/energy (rajas), and grounding
(tamas) one needs. For example, if a person is
experiencing mild imbalances (e.g., the start of a
cold), then a gentle, sattwic touch is used. If a
moderate imbalance exists (e.g., a full-blown cold)
then more heat and energy (rajas) is used. Lastly, if
the imbalance is great (e.g., chronic bronchitis),
then an even deeper pressure (tamasic) must be
Another dimension is also considered. If a person
is experiencing a Váyu (air) excess (e.g., constipation),
then moderate, warming (rajas); and deep, grounding
(tamas) pressures may be used. Likewise, if one’s
imbalance is too grounded (i.e., excess Kapha/
overweight) then moderate and light touches energize
and enlighten the overly grounded imbalance. Lastly,
if there is too much of the rajasic (heat) imbalance
(e.g., skin rash), then cool (mild/ sattwic) and moist
(deep/tamasic) pressure is exerted. The practitioner
chooses the most comfortable and balancing methods
for each client.
Yet another view suggests that for serious
disorders like high blood pressure, light abhyañga
(done only with the fingers from the middle of the
chest out to the sides), or no abhyañga at all is to be
done over the chest. Persons with low blood pressure
receive only foot abhyañga. Abhyañga is not advised
for fevers or skin diseases. Abhyañga is avoided over
troubled areas such as stomach diseases or bone
Áyurveda suggests that abhyañga be given and
received by members of the same gender. This allows
for a better exchange of energy. Of course, family
members will enjoy giving and receiving abhyañga
to each other. This develops a greater bonding

One or Two-Person Abhyañga
One very popular Áyurvedic abhyañga is done
with two practitioners. As one person works one arm
(leg, head, or torso side), the second person works
with the corresponding body part, with identical
movements and pressure. Apart from receiving a harmonious
or balancing session, the feeling is most pleasurable
and pampering. Traditional abhyañga involves
six people, four to give the abhyañga, one to
keep the oil warm (and supply the practitioner with
fresh warm oil) and one to supervise. The person receives
abhyañga in seven positions for approximately
15 minutes per position.
As with all Áyurvedic abhyañga, the main emphasis
is on feeding the skin rather than on massage
techniques. Oil penetrates the skin, all the tissues are
fed, and the toxins contained within the tissues are
released. Oil takes five minutes to permeate the skin
completely. Then it spreads through the seven dhátus
(tissues). Oil moves through each dhátu in less than
two minutes (100 seconds).
The method suggested below describes a general
overview. For every practitioner differences in
style will exist. As abhyañga is practiced on family
members and clients, persons will slowly develop
their own style.
Two-person abhyañga uses approximately 1 1/4
cups of oil (appropriate to one’s constitution). One
method of abhyañga suggests a time schedule lasting
approximately five minutes per set of body parts
(i.e., both arms, shoulders, neck, torso, back, legs,
and feet). This lasts about a 45 minutes.
Various techniques, such as rubbing, sliding,
kneading, etc., may be employed. Joints are massaged
in a circular motion. Generally, the hands follow the
contour of the body. One view suggests massaging
only in the direction of the hair. Another belief
considers massaging in the direction that the blood
flows. The key factor is that one practitioner
determines the style, speed, and pressure, while the
second practitioner mirrors these movements and
amount of pressure.
When oil is applied and rubbed in, toxins are
dislodged from the tissues and returned to the blood
system. Certain abhyañga strokes match the
movement of the five Váyus.
1. Strokes that begin at the head and move to the
navel remove excess Práòa Váyu and improve the
2. Strokes that start at the navel and end at the head
remove excess Udána Váyu, carbon dioxide, mucus,
and saliva.
3. Clockwise strokes around the navel balance
Samána Váyu, improving digestion, metabolism, the
small intestine, and liver.
4. Strokes that move from the heart to the
periphery and back balance Vyána Váyu, improving
blood circulation and the lymphatic system.
5. Moving the hands from the navel to the anus
and urethra balances Apána Váyu, improving
discharge of urine, feces, and menstrual fluid; and
improving parturition in women.
Steam therapy is employed immediately after
abhyañga to sweat the toxins out through the skin.
Abhyañga Sequence
1. Sitting
2. Lie on Back
3. Lie on Left Side
4. Lie on Right Side
5. Lie on Right
6. Sitting Again
7. Lie on Back Again
Alternative Abhyañga Sequence
1. Strokes begin from navel, moving to head
2. Strokes return from head to navel
3. Strokes move from navel to feet
4. Strokes return from feet to navel
(the process is repeated three times: on the
front, back, and sides of the body)
The remaining toxins flow back to their sites of
origin in the GI tract (stomach, small intestine,
colon). From these sites the toxins are removed
from the body through the various pañcha karma
therapies discussed earlier in this chapter.
One needs to be very careful and gentle when
working the temples, heart, and spine. It is also
important not to get oil in the client’s eyes.
For healthy persons abhyañga begins at the feet
and ends at the head. Some suggest that, for high
blood pressure, abhyañga be done on the head for 20
minutes. Points 11 and 12 in the Head Abhyañga
diagram [part 2 on page 214] reduce high blood
pressure, along with gently rubbing up and down the
sides of the neck. It is useful to place a cool towel on
the head and heart during abhyañga. If any person’s
pulse is 100 beats or more per minute, no abhyañga
is given at all.
A third school of thought suggests moving from
the soles of the feet and working toward the heart to
move impure blood to the heart for better functioning.
Áyurvedic Abhyañga Techniques
Following one’s intuition during abhyañga is
important; notice whether the client is comfortable.
The person giving the abhyañga also needs to be
comfortable, neither bending too low nor raising their
arms too high. If abhyañga is done on the floor, then
one should feel comfortable squatting or sitting in
siddhásana/siddha yoni ásana position. After the
abhyañga, both people should feel recharged.
Oil should not be cold when applied to the
person’s skin, or it will shock them, preventing
relaxation. Also, the practitioner’s hands should not
be cold. Rubbing the hands together will bring warmth
and healing energy. Working the muscles relaxes and
tones them, while working the bones strengthens the
skeletal system.
Techniques: Tapping, kneading, rubbing, squeezing.
Tapping is first introduced to inform the body it is
about to receive abhyañga. It increases circulation
and strengthens muscles. Tapping is done with open
palms and relaxed fingers.
Kneading is done as if kneading dough. It increases
the energy flow, relaxes, removes stress, and
rejuvenates the body.
Rubbing is best done with oils according to one’s
doßha (only Kaphas can have a dry abhyañga);
otherwise, dry rubbing creates friction and aggravates
Váyu. Gentle rubbing is more relaxing, whereas
vigorous rubbing creates passive exercise. Oil rubbed
under the joints works the lymph system. Circular
motion on specific points (marmas—discussed later)
releases growth hormones. Comfortable pressure is
always be applied during abhyañga. Creating a
rhythm is another important part of the rubbing
Squeezing is the fourth phase in this abhyañga
process. Both hands are used to squeeze all the areas
that were rubbed using comfortable pressure. Cross
movements are also employed. Hands slide in the
opposite directions). Pressing special points (marmas)
is also advised. Applying oil to the fingernails is the
final stage in this process. Fingers are squeezed one
at a time; this ensures that the oil seeps into the cracks
between the nail and the cuticle.
3rd Alternative Abhyañga Sequence
feet prone
legs prone
arms prone
chest prone
abdomen prone
back prone
hips prone
head sitting
neck sitting
face sitting

Some authorities suggest that healthy persons can
receive the circular portion of the abhyañga both
clockwise and counterclockwise, while persons with
an illness can receive only clockwise abhyañga.
Post Abhyañga: When the session is complete it
is advised that both practitioner and client lie in the
corpse ásana pose (Chapter 9) and rest for some time.
Sádhaná (meditation) is recommended. Aum, the
Gáyatrí mantra, personal mantra, or prayer may be
Abhyañga Length: Depends upon the health and
age of the person.
Lymph: Working the areas where lymph glands
exist will cleanse and stimulate this system. Circular
motion all around joints stimulates the lymph.
Pregnant Women: Abhyañga is applied very
carefully and gently. Traditionally, abhyañga was
received on a daily basis during pregnancy. It was
found that proper abhyañga would result in a painless
Post Partum: Traditional Áyurvedic care suggested
that the woman who had just given birth would receive
abhyañga for the next 40 days, while she rested. This
abhyañga would help return the body to its normal
size. Although this is not usually possible in today’s
world, it is advised the new mother should receive
abhyañga as frequently as possible.
New Born: Six days after birth, the baby would
receive traditional Áyurvedic abhyañga when they
were bathed. A dough ball of whole wheat flour was
made (tennis ball size), mixed with sesame oil
(mustard in the winter), and gently rubbed across the
baby’s body. This cleansed and strengthened the child.
Described below is a head abhyañga discussed in
Ancient Indian Massage, by Harißh Johari.
Age Abhyañga Time
6 days - 6 months 15 minutes
Infants (until 3 yrs.) 15 - 20 minutes
3 - 18 years 30 - 45 minutes
18 - 40 years 40 - 45 minutes
40 + years according to health
People with diseases 15 - 20 minutes
The hand contains all healing qualities; gentle touch brings wholeness. - ¼ig Veda
8 finger widths
above eyebrows
cowlick (gently turn hair
in both directions)
1 2
1. Pour oil; then massage to both sides of head.
2. Twist cowlick; pour oil and massage into both sides of head.
3. Bend head forward and pour oil at this point and massage
into back of head.
4. Next, press from point three and move hands and fingers up
the head to the forehead and back .
Head Abhyañga - [part 2]
5. Gently pound the top-middle of head from back to front,
and back again. This stimulates the circulatory and
nervous system's capillaries.
6. Twist and gently pull the hair in all three spots to increase the flow of the cerebral spinal fluid.
7. Press and rub forehead from the middle to the sides to
improve alertness, memory and balance of the pituitary
and pineal glands.
8. Rub Utkßhepa marma counterclockwise to balance
the eyes, lungs, and heart.
9. Gently rub the temples (Sthapani marma) counterclockwise
to improve the colon, intestines and balance Váyu.
10. Rub behind the ear (clockwise) to balance the intestines,
colon and brain.
11. Gently press at the junction of the neck and head to
balance the nervous system, promote stability and lower
high blood pressure.

12. Rub the Vidhura marma behind the earlobe (clockwise) to lower hight blood pressure.
13. Rub finger tips along the top middle of the head (back and forth, pressing the skull (#5 line).
14. Twist and pull the hair in the three places, starting at the base of the scull and ending
with the point eight a´gula above the forehead .
Fingers gently
massage up and down
to reduce high blood
1. Gently rub and press the palms from the middle of the forehead, moving
over the eyebrows, eyelids, nose and chin. Then move towards the jaws and
up, in front of the ears.
2. Press along the sides of the head, behind the ears, to the lower back of the
head. Then twist and gently pull the hair (see arrow #2).
3. 4. Follow the arrows in the picture, twisting and pulling the hair where shown.
5. Gently clap over the top of the head.

Marma Abhyañga
Another form of abhyañga is the use of the major
and minor marma points. Marma is discussed in one
of the four main Vedas, and also detailed in the
classical Áyurvedic text, Sußhrut Saμhitá. The
marma points are similar to Chinese acupuncture,
only no invasive use of needles is involved.
Marma points are positions on the body where
flesh, veins, arteries, tendons, bones, and joints meet.
They may be seen as the junctions where Váyu, Pitta,
and Kapha meet; where sattwa, rajas, and tamas
meet; or where eternity and relativity meet. Some
say they are also the points where the three aspects
of Self-realization meet, i.e., inner Self, outer world,
and between the two (knower, known, and process
of knowing). They may also be the junctions between
the physical, astral, and causal bodies. In short, they
are points that have great importance to a person’s
body, mind, and spirit.
Movements are down,
(i.e., in the direction the
hair grows), and following
the contours of the body.
Circles are made
around joints.
Circle around shoulder,
elbow, wrist, knee, and
ankle joints.
Follow the
on the back
Chest may
follow circular
pattern in the
direction of the
[Hands may
move up lightly,
but pressure is
applied in the
Another technique
is to massage from the
inner arm to the leg—down,
and from the outer hand
and foot—up (in the
direction of the blood
Although the marmas are the junctions of all five
principles (i.e., flesh, veins, arteries, tendons, bones,
and joints), at each point a predominance of one
principle exists. It is at these points where abhyañga
can most effectively restructure or rebalance the
system to function most healthily. Further, abhyañga
helps develop the preventive health and longevity of
the body and mind by ensuring the proper balance
and flow of hormones, fluids, immune factors, etc.
One hundred seven marma points exist on the body.
This makes it much easier to remember and work
with, compared with the thousands of points in
Chinese acupuncture. Áyurveda details major (mahá)
and minor marma points. The major points
correspond to the major chakras (secret energy points)
on the body, while the minor points are found around
the torso and limbs. Thus, healing through marma
abhyañga affects the chakras, physical health, and
the doßhas.

The purpose of a marma abhyañga is to stimulate
the various bodily organs and systems. Like
acupuncture, these points are measured by finger units
(a´guli or a´gula) to detect their correct locations.
Many marma points are larger than acupuncture
points. Thus, they can be found more easily.
One school of thought suggests that marmas are
not so much points as they are circular bands around
certain parts of the body. For example, a marma exists
just above the knee (the width of the client’s four
fingers above the middle of the knee), known as Ani
Marma. This marma relates to the small intestine. It
is also situated on the back of the leg, directly behind
this spot. If one were to move the hands from the
front Ani Marma, in a straight line to the back (i.e.,
by working the sides of the leg that are in line with
Ani Marma) this marma would also be stimulated.
So when one works a marma point, they can affect
the front, sides, and back of a marma (i.e., encircling
the area around the arm or leg).
In ancient India, it was cautioned that these
marma points were to be guarded from harm. If these
points were pierced by arrows or hit forcefully, it could
result in disease, trauma or even death. Obviously,
places like the heart, forehead, and throat are vulnerable
areas, whereas sites on the arms and legs are
less vulnerable to severe injury. When imbalances
exist in the body, these same spots become sore.
Through marma abhyañga health is restored.
Marma points are grouped according to the region
of the body (arms [22 points] and legs [22 points] 11
per limb), abdomen [3 points], chest [9 points], back
[14 points], and head and neck [37 points]). They are
also grouped according to muscles [10 points],
tendons/ligaments [23 points], arteries [9 points],
veins [37], joints [20 points], and bones [8]. (Some
group these points slightly differently.)
Traditionally, marma points are grouped into three
categories: those on the legs and feet (£hankha
Marma), those on the trunk (Madháyamañga
Marma), and those on the neck and head (Jatrúrdhva

Marma Arm & Leg Marma Location, Number, Size Governs
Tala H^idaya center of palms and soles (4 points/i.e., 1 per limb) 1/2
finger width lungs
Kßhipra between big toes/fingers & first toes/fingers (4 points)
1/2 finger width heart, lungs
2 finger widths (a´guli) of client, above Kßhipra-of
feet and thumb roots (4 points/i.e., 1 per limb) 4 finger
Alochaka Pitta
just below the ankles (8 points/2 per limb) 1 finger
width and sides of wrists muscle spasms
Indrabasti center of the calf muscle (in line with the heel-12
fingers above it) 1/2 or 2 finger widths (varying views)
Ani four fingers above Janú (just above kneecaps) front
and back. 1/2 finger width muscle tension
Urvi thigh center (front and back) 1/2 finger width Udakavaha Srota
Lohitákßha joint of groin and thigh (2 points) 1/2 finger width leg blood supply
Manibandha center wrist joint (2 points) 2 finger widths relieves stiffness
Kurpara on elbow joint (2 points) 3 finger widths heart, spleen liver
Kakßhadhara between chest and shoulder (2 points) 1 finger width muscle tension
Gulpha foot/calf junction (Achilles tendon area) 2 finger
relieves stiffness
calf/thigh junction (center of kneecap and directly
behind it on the back of knee)(2 points) 3 finger
heart, spleen liver
between groin and scrotum (measure from Lohitakßha,
down & angled towards scrotum, length-index finger
tip to its midjoint-2 a´guli) (2 points) 1 finger width
belly muscle

Marma Trunk: Thorax/Back Marma Location, Size Governs
Guda perineum, 4 finger widths (a´guli)
reproduction, colon,
urine, gas, stool, 1st
chakra stimulation
Basti between pelvis/navel, 4 finger widths urinary, Kapha
Nábhi navel, 4 finger widths seat of all veins transfer
points, small intestines
H^idaya between nipples, 4 fingers widths
main Pitta marma,
Sadhaka Pitta, Vyána
Stanamula just below nipples, 2 points, 2 finger widths Kapha, Pitta, blood
Stanarohita above breast nipple (from Stanamula, from the index finger tip to
mid joint), 2 points, 1/2 finger width
Kapha, Pitta, arm
Apastambha either side of trachea base- mid collarbone area, 2 points, 1/2
finger width
blood, sympathetic/
parasympathetic nerve,
Apalápa the armpit, 2 points, 1/2 finger width
blood, sympathetic/
parasympathetic nerve
Katíkataruna sacrum top by spine/lower buttocks, 4 points, 1/2 finger width fat, constipation, Váyu
Kukundara just above buttocks, both sides of spine, 2 points, 1/2 finger width
elimination, leg mobility,
controls 2nd chakra
Nitamba 5 fingers above & lateral Kukundara, over hip bone (on back), 2
points, 1/2 a´guli
Váyu & Pitta digestion,
vitality, RBC
Pár¤hva Sandhi from mba Nita , measure from the index finger tip to the mid joint,
and lateral (about 1" up and 1" to the side), 2 points, 1/2 a´guli
Pitta, digestion,
Brihati £hirah between shoulder blades, on both sides of spine (directly behind
Stanamula), 2 points, 1/2 finger width
a major Pitta
accumulation site.
Controls 3rd chakra
AnsaPhalaka above Brihati (arm root - mid shoulder blade), 2 points, 1/2 finger
Váyu touch/sensation,
atrophy, 4th chakra
Ansa 5 finger widths above Ansaphalaka
between shoulder bones-
between shoulder &
neck, 2 points, 1/2 finger
The first eight are located on the thorax & trunk. The last seven are located on the back.
The Áyurveda Encyclopedia
Marmas Head & Neck Marmas Governs
Dhamani (Nilá &
both sides of the trachea
(posterior/anterior sides of larynx,
respectively, 2 points, 4 finger
speech, taste, perception,
blood, transfer marma
Mátriká 4 points on each side of the throat, 4
finger widths
blood circulation
Krikátiká head/neck junction (back of head), 2
points, 1/2 finger width
tremors, disability, stiffness
Vidhura just below the back of both ears, 1/2
finger width
hearing, head support
Phana both sides of the nostrils, 1/2 finger
smell, sinus, ears, stress
Apáñga outer corners of both eyes-ends, 1/2
finger width
vision, stress
Ávartas above both outer eyebrows, 1/2
finger width
depression, vision, posture
£hankha temples-front bone (above
eyebrows), 1/2 finger width
Utkßhepa 1 finger width above £hanka, 2
points, 1/2 finger width
Sthapani center of eyebrows, 1/2 finger width main Váyu marma, mind,
nerves, hypothalamus
£hringataka [4 points] cleft, under nose, outside
eye bones, nose tip
eyes, ears, nose, tongue,
Simanta sideways and upwards on the skull, 4
finger widths
sanity, grounding,
intelligence, blood
Adhipati crown chakra (baby's soft spot), 1/2
finger width
mind, nerves, epilepsy

1st chakra- Múládhára
reproductive, urinary,
menstrual systems, obesity,
prostate, excretory, Apána Váyu
2nd chakra-
All Kapha functions,
water metabolism,
urinary system, pituitary,
gonads (testes & ovaries),
(main Kapha marma)
3rd chakra- Manipúra
small intestine, subtle
body, Pachaka Pitta,
adrenals, pancreas
Samána Váyu
4th chakra- Anáhata
circulation, blood, spiritual
goals, discrimination, thymus,
Sadhaka Pitta, Vyána Váyu
(main Pitta marma),
Nilá & Manyá
5th chakra- Vißhuddha
blood, liver, spleen
7th chakra- Sahasrára
mind, nerves, ether, pineal
Marmas and Chakras
6th chakra- Ágñá
mind, nerves, colon, heart,
lungs- respiratory system,
bones (main Váyu marma)

Marma Points and the Srotas (Bodily Systems)
The various bodily systems (srotas) are also balanced with marma work.
Srota Marma Governs
Práòavaha Sthapani respiration, heart, lungs/asthma
Annavaha Indra Basti digestion/ indigestion, gas, nausea, diarrhea,
stomach, intestines
Udakavaha Basti/Urvi water metabolism, pancreas, diabetes
Rasavaha Nilá/Manyá lymphatic/lymph glands, Kapha disorders
Raktavaha H^idaya/Nilá/Manyá
Brihati £hira/Mátriká
blood, hemoglobin/liver, spleen, skin rashes,
bleeding disorders
Máåsavaha Tala H^idaya/Guda/
Stanarohita/Indrabasti water metabolism/pancreas, diabetes
Medavaha Guda fat (adipose)/ kidneys, visceral membrane
Asthivaha Sthapani/Adhipati/
£hankha/Utkßhepa Skeletal/bones, colon, hair, nails
Majjávaha Simanta/£hringataka/
nervous system-marrow/ bones, joints,
memory, insomnia, anxiety, worry
£hukravaha Guda/Kukundara/Vitapa male reproductive/genitals, impotence,
prostate, TB
Mútravaha Katíkataruna/
Kukundar/Basti colon, urinary bladder
rectum, anus, diarrhea, constipation, colitis,
blood in stool, hemorrhoids
Swedavaha Stanamula/Stanarohita/
Kakßhadhara/Basti adipose tissue, skin pores, sweating
Artavavaha Katíkataruna/
Females-uterus, fallopian tubes/PMS,
menstruation problems, menopause,
fertility/Apána Váyu
Stanyavaha Stanamula/Stanarohitam
Females-breasts, nipples/lactation, breast
tumors and abscesses

We have detailed the three doßhas, Váyu (air), Pitta
(fire), and Kapha (water). A doßha excess means an
increase of that element in the body and/or mind.
These excesses or imbalances are mild or severe
diseases (depending upon the degree of the excess).
For example, excess Váyu can develop into
constipation, dry skin, anxiety, etc. Further, most
illnesses can be caused by any doßha excess (e.g.,
asthma can be caused by any of the doßhas. Each
doßha has its own unique set of symptoms. This
enables one to detect the doßha causing the disease).
This yogic or spiritual tool is unique to Áyurveda.
Thus, one can fine tune or note distinctions instead
of merely working with generalizations. This insight
into individualized symptoms is an invaluable tool in
determining the root cause of an illness.
Each doßha has five aspects—or sub-doßhas —
that further describe the different activities that each
doßha performs. The sub-doßhas govern various body
functions. For example, we know that one function
of Váyu is related to stool elimination. One sub-doßha
exists to specifically govern the downward movement
of the air, called Apána Váyu. This added insight allowed
the ancients to know which marma points were
related to downward moving air, and to properly
stimulate or reset this downward flow. Through
abhyañga and stimulating marma points the downward
flow air flow can be restored or balanced.
2nd chakra
4th chakra
6th chakra
Doßha Marma Points
Three of the seven marmas relate specifically to the three doähas,
and are the primary marmas worked with.

Váyu Major Marma Points
colon, urine, gas
stool, 1st chakra
near colon
seat of all veins
and nerves;
transfer point
Nilá & Manyá
(transfer point)
mind, nerves,
mind, nerves,
(main Váyu marma)

Secondary marma points exist for Váyu; these
points are used with the main marmas as assisting
points. One traditional Váyu method involves the use
of one hand on the main Váyu marma point
(Sthapani), while the other hand is used on the minor
Váyu marma points.
This approach is similar to polarity therapy, which
was derived from Áyurvedic marma abhyañga.
Persons will also notice that a ‘mirroring’ effect
occurs; some of the same points are sited on both the
arms and legs.

Apána- downward air:
anus, thighs, elimination
(semen, ovum, feces, urine, fetus)
small intestine,
Vyána- pervasive air:
muscle joints, circulation,
walking, lifting, body
movements, opening/
closing eyes
Nilá & Manyá
Udána- upward air:
throat, speech,
will, higher
Prá`a- outward air: mind,
nerves, senses/sneezing,
belching, expectorating,
inspiration, swallowing

Final Abhyañga and
Energy Transfer Marmas
After abhyañga the practitioner checks the major
doßha marma points (Sthapani—third eye,
H^idaya—heart, Basti—below the navel) feeling for
energy and heat comparisons. If one mahá marma
still feels out of balance, additional time is spent
balancing the transfer marmas, the throat (Nilá and
Manyá), and navel (Nábhi) chakras.
The process begins with one hand on, or over the
crown chakra (adhipati) and the other hand on, or
over the main doäha marma of the client.
Next, one palm lightly rests on, or is held slightly
above one of the mahá marmas. The other palm is
placed on, or over the throat transfer point, then after
a while, moves to the navel transfer point. For example,
if there seems to be too much air in the region
between the eyebrows (Sthapani Marma), the practitioner
keeps one palm on, or over this marma. The
other palm is on, or over the throat. This position is
held for some time, then the hand over the throat
moves on, or over the navel. When the hand is by the
throat, excess air transfers out of the head and sends
in extra warmth or fire from being near the heart
marma (Pitta mahá marma). Similarly, when the hand
is by the navel, it sends moisture from the nearby
Basti marma (a Kapha mahá marma) in the direction
of the head.
The sizes of the marmas are measured by finger
breadth, called a´guli or a´gula (e.g., 1 a´guli
is the width of one’s own finger). All marma measurements
are made with the client’s own fingers, not
the fingers of the practitioner. Most of the marmas
have the same meaning as their position, making it
easy to remember their location. The charts below
oup the marmas according to size.

Abhyañga Oils
Áyurveda offers numerous oils for various pañcha
karma, abhyañga, and nasya treatments. Presently
many of the oils are not readily found in the US.
Bráhmí, chandan, neem, and ma-hánáráyan oils
seem to be among the main oils used. Below is a
sample of some Áyurvedic oils and which diseases
they help. Oils often can be applied externally, taken
internally, and as nasal drops.
Doßha Marma Oils

Oil Use
Bráhmí Head & eyes
Fever, alcoholism,
confusion, burning,
rheumatism, jaundice,
mental diseases
Dúrba or Neem Dandruff
Gandha Sprains, fractures
Hemiplegia, nervous
disorders, acute gout,
rheumatic pain,
Hemicrania, glands,
facial paralysis,
conception, arthritis,
Mahámaäha Hemiplegia, facial or
arm paralysis, lockjaw
Kumkum Acne, pimples
Nararsas Nasal polyps

Doßha Marma Oils
Váyu Pitta Kapha
Sandalwood Sandalwood Sandalwood
Rose Rose
Jasmine Jasmine
Lily Lily
Vanilla Vanilla
Lavender Lavender
Patchouli Patchouli
Basil Basil
Frankincense Frankincense
Myrrh Myrrh
Sage Sage
Cedar Cedar
Musk Musk
Lotus Lotus
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus
Cinnamon Cinnamon

Keralíya Áyurvedic Abhyañga
Contemporary Methods
Kerala is a state in southern India where pañcha
karma abhyañga has been preserved. However, unlike
pañcha karma, it is used more for rejuvenation
purposes than for cleansing. Various contemporary
forms of abhyañga are used in Kerala, and are very
effective. Some modern authorities note that some of
these practices are especially useful in healing serious
mental disorders. However, other modern authorities
believe they aggravate the condition. Practitioners
have noted that procedures such as ¤hiro dhárá
have evoked troubling past emotions in some persons.
Therefore, persons who have very deep emotional
problems may be advised by some practitioners
to heal through herbs, aromas, and professional
counseling first.
Several important differences exist between
Kerala and ancient pañcha karma therapies.
Even though there are numerous treatments in
Keralíya Pañcha Karma they all fit into five major
Ancient Rules Kerala Rules
pañcha karma must
be done only during
certain seasons
pañcha karma can
be done in all
oil and sweat are
oil and sweat are the
principle therapies
treat the constitution treat the illness

Therapy Benefits
1. Dhárá Karma
(£hiro Dhárá)
diseases of the mind, Práòa
Váyu, CNS, ears, eyes, nose,
and throat; facial palsy,
insomnia, nervous disorders,
memory, psychosis, fainting,
confusion, excess perspiration,
alcoholism, coma, etc.
2. Káya Seka
promotes tissue strength,
biological fire, luster,
complexion, ojas, clear senses,
Váyu disorders, muscle spasms,
degenerative muscle disorders
3. Pinæa Sweda
heals neuromuscular (facial
paralysis, MS, muscular
atrophy), and some systemic
diseases/ most useful of the
4. Anna Lepa used when Pinæa Sweda does
not work (medicated grains)
5. £hiro Lepa Mental and brain disorders
5 Keralíya Pañcha Karma Categories
Both dhárá and lepa are palliative measures that
eliminate excessed doßhas. They remove stagnant,
sticky toxins from the body’s channels (srotas) without
applying traditional reducing methods
(¤hodhana). Both can be given at all times in all seasons.
1. Dhárá Karma
Three forms of this therapy exist.
Dhárá karma makes use of medicated oils, milk,
1. head baths (¤hiro dhárá)
2. whole body baths
(sarvánga dhárá)
3. local bath (ekánga dhárá)
The Áyurveda Encyclopedia
ghee, etc. (see page 246). Sarvánga Dhárá
(Avagáhan—medicated baths) and Ekánga Dhárá
(Parißheka—liquid sprinkling) were previously discussed
under sudation therapy.
Dhárá karma makes use of medicated oils, milk,
ghee, etc. (see page 246). Sarvánga Dhárá
(Avagáhan—medicated baths) and Ekánga Dhárá
(Parißheka—liquid sprinkling) were previously
discussed under sudation therapy on pages 182 to
Medicated oils include bh^i´garáj, balá, musta,
sandalwood, licorice, medicated milk, and medicated
decoctions. Examples of ingredients for each doßha
include the following:
Váyu—balá, da¤hmúl, bh^i´garáj, sesame oil.
Pitta—sandalwood, coconut water, bh^i´garáj,
Kapha—licorice, balá, bh^i´garáj.
2. Káya Seka (Pizhichil)
This form of abhyañga is said to be most
beneficial for rejuvenating the nervous system. In this
method, the medicated oil used during dhárá karma
is poured over the person’s body from a height of 15
a´guli (head) and 13 a´guli (body), while
simultaneously being rubbed into the body. These
heights may cause the oil to splash on practitioners,
so old clothing is worn. Pizhichil is also known as
Taila Seka or Sarvánga Senchana. This method
strengthens the tissues and promotes the biological
Oil and ghee can be reused for another 3 days, but
must be replaced on the 4th day. When milk and
vinegar are used they are replaced daily.
Healthy persons can receive káya seka twice daily,
using a mixture of sesame oil and ghee. For weaker
persons a 2- to 6-day interval between sessions is
advised. The body’s luster and beauty are enhanced,
ojas becomes stabilized, and sense organs are cleared.
The process also promotes longevity, regeneration,
and rejuvenation of the body. It is especially good for
Váyu disorders. The same massage table, eye
protection, and other oil requirements used in pinæa
sveda and ¤hiro dhárá are applied here (see page 240).
For healthy persons, warm sesame oil and/or ghee
are used along with rejuvenating herbs (e.g.,
¤hatávarí, a¤hwagandhá, guæúchí). Medicated milk
or sour vinegar can be used in place of medicated oil.
For Pitta disorders, oil or ghee can be unheated. Kapha
and Váyu disorders require warm oil. However,
unheated oil is used on the head in all cases.
Four practitioners attend the seated person. Two
practitioners massage from the shoulders to the navel,
and the other two practitioners massage from the navel
to the feet. In this approach, cloths are soaked in ghee
or oil and squeezed on the body (or oil is poured on
the body from vessels) with the right hand. The left
hand rubs the oil into the body. Again, insuring
uniform pressure and movement, at a moderate speed,
among all the abhyañga practitioners is important.
Hand strokes start from the upper portion of the body
and move downward.
A cloth is tied around the eyebrows to prevent
liquids from dripping into the eyes. Again, oil applied
to the body is lukewarm, while the oil applied to the
head is at room temperature. A fifth practitioner keeps
the cloths in warm oil and replaces them as they cool
off. When lying down, the head faces the east in the
morning and the west in the evening. The person
receives massage for 1 hour in the same seven
positions as in pinæa sveda (page 236).
If the treatment lasts for 14 or 21 days, the hourlong
session is gradually increased by 5 minutes from
the 2nd day on, until it reaches 11/2 hours. When it
reaches 11/2 hours (i.e., the 7th day), the time of each
session is shortened by 5 minutes. For the 21-day
series, upon reaching the 7th day (11/2hours), the
sessions remain at the 11/2 hour time through the 14th
day. From the 15th day on, each session is reduced
another 5 minutes. It is stated that the oil fully
penetrates one tissue layer (dhátu) a day. Thus, on
the 1st day the oil is absorbed only into the skin. Since
there are seven dhátus, it takes seven days for oil to
completely penetrate all the tissue layers.

Some authorities suggest that Váyu disorders require
a 2-hour session and Váyu/Kapha disorders only
require 1 hour. In these cases, the oil is applied first
and absorbed for a 100 to 300 count before massage
begins. These times should correspond with the forehead,
chest, and armpits beginning to perspire. The
abhyañga is then over.
At the end of the session the client sits again while
their shoulders and back are massaged vigorously.
While this is happening, the oils are wiped off with a
If persons feel tired after receiving the abhyañga,
they may be lightly fanned, sprinkled with cold water;
then rest. Afterwards, the body is massaged, and the
excess oil is rubbed off with a towel. Fresh oil is then
applied to the body and head, and chick-pea flour
(besan) is sprinkled over the oil to remove the excess.
The head and body are then cleansed again of excess
oil by wiping off the flour. Persons then bathe in
lukewarm water (room temperature water for the
head) to wash off the flour. After bathing, they put on
clean clothes and drink a cup of ginger/ coriander
tea. If hungry, they may eat a light, boiled meal with
carminative herbs (e.g., turmeric, cardamom) for
Váyu and Kapha doßhas, or coriander and fennel for
Pitta doßhas.
Following káya seka, persons remain on this diet
for as many days as they have received treatment.
The number of abhyañgas depends upon the strength
of the person and the strength of the disease they have.
They may receive abhyañga daily, or on every second,
3rd, 4th, or 5th day; abhyañga requires 14 days for
one course of treatment.
3. Pinæa Sveda (Navarakizhi)
This is considered the most important of all the
Keralíyan methods. It is also used in traditional
pañcha karma. Pinæa sveda is a rejuvenation
technique that causes the entire body to perspire by
using medicinal puddings followed by abhyañga.
Pinæa sveda makes the body supple, and removes
stiffness, and swelling in the joints. It heals Váyu diseases,
clears obstructions, improves blood circulation,
removes wastes from the body, improves complexion,
increases Pitta, strengthens digestion, and
restores vigor. It also prevents excessive sleep while
promoting sound sleep. This therapy is very effective
in healing disorders of the nervous system and
brain (e.g., paralysis, MS, chronic rheumatism, osteoarthritis,
gout, muscle emaciation, and toxic
blood). It makes the entire body strong, sturdy, and
well developed. The senses are sharpened and the
aging process is slowed. Insomnia, high blood pressure,
diabetes, skin disorders, balding, premature
graying, and wrinkles are prevented. It is helpful for
all neuromuscular diseases and some systemic (whole
body) diseases.
In this procedure a warm bolus of medicated grain
is applied to the body. Snehana or body oil application
is a prerequisite for pinæa sveda. A cloth is tied around
the eyebrows to prevent oil from dripping into the
Preparation of Decoction and Pudding: About 17.5
ounces of balá root (crushed chips) are poured into
two gallons of water and boiled until only 1/4 of the
water remains. This decoction is then strained, leaving
a 1/2 gallon quantity. One quart of this decoction
is mixed with one quart of cow’s milk. The other quart
is retained for later use. Next, about 17.5 ounces of
dehusked and crushed rice is added and cooked until
the decoction becomes a semisolid pudding
Eight pieces of soft and strong cloth, about 15
square inches in size, are used to hold the pudding.
The pudding is divided equally into 8 portions and
placed in the cloths. The edges of the cloths are
wrapped together and tied with string.

For Váyu diseases, some authorities suggest using
black gram, ghee, oil, porridge, or puddings. Pinæa
Kapha disorders can be done with barley or sand.
Pre-Pinæa sveda: Traditionally, persons giving
abhyañga offer some prayers and meditate before
beginning the therapy. Then, oil is applied over the
head and body of the client. Head oil is not very
greasy; body oil is greasy (medicated oils differ
according to illness). Oil application helps maintain
the uniformity of the heat of the pudding ball (bolus)
and protects the skin from sudden evaporation and
perspiration. Experimenting sudden cold or draft after
the treatment may cause various forms of respiratory
A piece of cloth is tied around the eyebrows to
prevent oil from dripping into the eyes and irritating
them. A special abhyañga table is used, just like the
¤hiro dhárá table (see p. 239). Practitioners use a table
with or without legs; standing or squatting while
giving abhyañga. Four practitioners are required,
along with a supervisor and an attendant who heats
and replaces the boluses. All four practitioners need
to use the same degree of pressure when rubbing.
The atmosphere is quiet. Traditionally men do
abhyañga on men and women on women. All clothing
is removed except undershorts. The room is well
ventilated, with soothing lighting. Drafts, dust, and
direct sunlight are to be avoided.
Four bundles are removed from the simmering
liquid and left to cool for five minutes. The bolus is
held by the tuft in the right hand and placed on the
back of the left hand to check the temperature.
Method: The session always begins at the neck,
and the movement is always in the downward
direction. Two practitioners are on each side of the
person. Two persons work in simultaneous motion,
at the same temperature and pressure, from the neck
to the hip. The other 2 persons work in unison from the
hip to the soles of the feet. While the first 4 bundles are
used, the remaining 4 are kept heated in the decoction. As
the bundles cool, the attendant replaces them with the warm
ones and reheats the cool boluses. The attendant ensures
that no interruption during abhyañga occurs. The attendant
constantly replaces the practitioners’ cooled boluses with
warm bundles.
Persons receive Pinæa sveda in seven alternating
positions. Abhyañga continues for 15 minutes in each
When the liquid in the bowl is used up, the boluses
are opened and the pudding is applied over the
body and rubbed for 5 minutes. It is then gently
scraped off with a blunt edge and the head is gently
wiped dry with a towel.
The head and body are then anointed with the appropriate
medicated oils (according to the nature of
the illness or doßha).
Post-Abhyañga: Next, the client takes a lukewarm
bath with the appropriate herbal decoction added to
the water. The head is not washed or submerged in
the bath water; water at room temperature is used to
wash the head. Chick-pea flour is rubbed on the body
and head to remove the excess oil.
After the bath, persons are wrapped in cotton or
wool and rest for about an hour (but do not sleep),
avoiding drafts, sun, noise, dust, cold, and smoke. At
this time persons are advised to medietate or mentally
recite holy scriptures of their respective faiths.
After an hour, persons may eat a light meal.
1. sitting 5. lying on their
2. prone (lying on
one's back)
6. lying on their left
3. lying on their
right side 7. sitting
4. lying on their left

Depending upon the strength and nature of the
disorder persons are experiencing,
Pinæa sveda may be applied daily,
or on alternating days for
7, 9, 11, or 14 days.
Pinæa sveda is good for persons of all ages, but
caution is advised for those with heart diseases.
However, if boluses are applied with uniform
temperature, no adverse effects will develop.
Medicinal Plasters
These methods are considered the most important
method to reduce inflammatory swellings. All plasters
are applied against the direction of the hair (i.e., in an
upward direction). Plasters are removed as soon as
they dry (except when drawing pus to a head). For a
further introduction to plasters, see the earlier
discussion under sudation on page 180.
Lepas can include a number of ingredients:
kußhóa, vachá, barley, oil, ámalakí, and mixed with
water. The consistency of lepas is semisolid, and is
neither too thin nor too thick.
If oil or ghee is included in the lepa, 1/4 the amount
of the herbs is added for Váyu doßha, 1/6 the amount
of herbs is used for Pitta lepas, and 1/8 the amount of
herbs is mixed for Kapha doßha.
Three forms of this procedure exist.
1. Pralepa: These pastes are thin and cold, and
have either absorbing or non-absorbing properties.
They restore deranged blood and Pitta.
2. Pradhena: These pastes are applied either thick
or thin, cold or warm. They have non-absorbing
properties. They reduce Váyu and Kapha excesses;
purify and heal ulcers; and reduce swelling and pain
(in either ulcerated or non-ulcer conditions).
3. Alepa/Átepanam: These pastes are applied over
ulcers. They are either arrestive or astringent. Results
include stopping local bleeding, softening ulcers,
withdrawing local bad flesh, stopping pus from forming
in ulcers, correcting doßhas, relieving Pitta-burning
sensations, Váyu aches and pains, severe itching caused
by Kapha, and cleansing the skin, blood and flesh.
The £hár´gadhar Saåhitá discusses these types
of lepas and their respective paste thickness.
An example of a lepa for all forms of edema
includes ingredients like punarnavá, cedar, and
A da¤hmúl and milk plaster is useful for acute pain.
Ghee is added in plasters for Váyu rheumatism.
Unlike abhyañga oil, plaster is not reused.
Anna Lepa
When Pinæa Sveda is contraindicated or ineffective,
Anna Lepa is used. This Keralíyan therapy is not
merely contemporary treatment. Its use is discussed
in the ancient Áyurvedic texts, Charak Saåhitá and
Aßhþáñga H^idayam. Preparation of ingredients,
methods, and proportions for Anna Lepa are the same
Lepa Thickness
1. Doßha-reducing
(doßhaghna) 1/4 a´guli
2. Poison removal
(vißhaghna) 1/3 a´guli
3. Cosmetic (va^inya
mukhalepa) 1/2 a´guli
as for Pinæa Sveda; only medicated grains are used without
the oil application.
£hiro Lepa
The use of herbal pastes to treat brain disorders,
and head and neck diseases is also discussed in the
traditional Áyurveda texts, Charak Saåhitá, Aßhþáñga
H^idayam and Sußhruta Saåhitá. Herbs include
sandalwood, kußhóa, balá, musta, licorice, triphalá,
da¤hmúl, and are chosen according to the health concern.
The procedure is simple. Medicated oil (e.g.,
bráhmí, bh^i´garáj, ámalakí) is applied to the hair
and scalp before the herbal paste is applied to the
hair (not on the forehead). It is removed from the
hair after 11/2 hours. Steam therapy is then applied to
the body. After ¤hiro lepa a lukewarm medicated bath
is given (as described under Pinæa sveda).
£hiro Lepa:
1. Oil is kept in hair for 11/2 hours 2.
Steam therapy 3. Lukewarm medicated
£hiro Lepa is given either: 1.
2. Alternating days or
daily for 1 week
Other forms of abhyañga exist in Kerala and
throughout India; there are too many to mention here.
Áyurveda, like most professions in India, is a family
tradition passed on from parent to child. Thus, many
methods are unique to each family.
£hiro Dhárá
(Hot Oil Flow On The Head Abhyañga)
Unique to Áyurveda is the hot oil flow on the head.
Warm oil poured on the forehead is one of the most
divine, relaxing therapies one can experience. ‘£hiro’
means head, and ‘dhárá’ means flow. When people
get up from this therapy, a healthy glow radiates from
their skin. People look 20 years younger. Eyes gleam
with tranquillity while lips wear a smile of serenity.
£hiro dhárá helps with diseases of the head, Práòa
Váyu, neck, eyes, ears, nose, throat, and nervous
system. It also relieves insomnia, asthma, cholesterol,
enlarged prostate, ulcers, rheumatism, etc., and is used
to heal difficult diseases like diabetes, schizophrenia,
and epilepsy. Various methods of ¤hiro dhárá exist.
The traditional approach includes giving the client a
short haircut and combing the hair. A modified version
is described here, taking into consideration modern
day practicalities of time and finances.
General Method: The client lies on an abhyañga table
or a specially built oil table which drains the excess
oil. The oil is held in a quart-sized bowl. A small
hole, a little less than 1/2 inch, is in the bottom-middle
of the bowl. A spigot might be attached to the bottom
of the bowl to more accurately control the oil flow.
The bowl material retains heat, so the oil does not
cool before it is poured on the client’s head. If the
bowl hangs over the client’s head, the therapist doesn’t
have to hold the bowl for the entire session (45
minutes, to 1 1/2 hours). Three holes must be in the
top of the bowl so that a chain or string can be used to
suspend the bowl from the ceiling or mobile stand.
The distance from the hole or spigot to the forehead
is 2 to 3 inches.

A traditional bowl was set up a little differently.
Inside the bowl, half a coconut shell was placed openside
down. It too had a hole at its base. A string, about
6 finger-widths long was placed through the hole and
tied to a stick (2 to 3 inches wide). The other end of
the string was threaded through the hole in the bottom
of the bowl, and hung 2 to 3 inches above the person’s
forehead (see diagram to right).
Below the table was another wide-mouthed bowl
or pan to catch the oil that falls from the head after
being poured. Having a heater under this pan to keep
the oil warm may be useful if it will be reused during
the session.
The bowl is filled with enough warm oil to
continue the flow for an entire session. If this is not
possible, then one stops every so often to replace the
drained oil (oil is reheated if necessary before
Fourteen-day treatment: The first session lasts for
1 hour. From the 2nd day to the 7th day of the
treatment, 5 minutes are added to each session, with
a maximum time of 11/2 hours. From the 8th day
through the 14th day, the time is reduced by 5 minutes.
In this way the 14th session lasts for 1 hour again.
Twenty-one-day treatment: The 7th through 14th
Ideally, the client with a severe illness will be
vacationing at the Áyurvedic resort and receive daily
sessions for 7 to 14 days. Weekly sessions are useful
and sometimes more practical.
day times are kept at 11/2 hours. Then, from he 15th
day on, the session is reduced by 5 additional minutes.
£hiro dhárá is usually never given more than 21 days.
It is believed that the medicated oil flow completely
affects the entire body in 21 days.
Early morning is the best time for ¤hiro dhárá;
spring and fall are the best seasons for ¤hiro dhárá .
String or chain
to hang bowl
Quart bowl
String (6 inches)
2 - 3 inch oil drip

£hiro Dhárá:
A 14 - or 21-day series is ideal
Weekly or monthly sessions
are more practical Best
Time: Early morning Best
Seasons: Spring and fall
£hiro dhárá is ideally practiced on auspicious
mornings (according to the Indian astrological
almanac—pañchang). It is best not to have eaten for
at least an hour before the therapy. The room should
be clean, quiet, have fresh air, and no drafts. Any
windows should have curtains to prevent sun glare
and to ensure privacy. Soft-colored lights, incense,
or aromas suitable for the client help create a healthy
and calming environment, even before the session
begins. Soft spiritual music, like classical Indian
ragas; can enhance the session. Ragas for each time
of the day exist to further harmonize the relaxation
and healing process.
Before therapy, the practitioners meditate,
preparing themselves to be effective healers. Clients
and practitioners practice mantra meditation during
the session to keep their minds spiritually focused.
Whether clients stay at an Áyurvedic resort for
several days or weeks, or make daily visits for çhiro
dhárá, they are advised to follow their Áyurvedic
lifestyle. Appropriate foods, baths, exercise, spiritual
studies, yoga, etc. are recommended. This further
balances one’s constitution and develops good habits.
Thus, persons feel the maximum healing effects and
find it easier to follow their program once they return
Clients receiving weekly sessions, will find relief
from the stress and strain of their daily work
schedules. This is truly a constructive form of
In a traditional session the client sits on the
massage table facing east. Room-temperature oil is
poured through the hair three times. Then, the body
is massaged below the neck (i.e., from the shoulders
down) with slightly warm oil. A cloth is placed or tied
over the eyes to prevent oil from leaking into them during
¤hiro dhárá.
Practitioner and client can meditate
before and during çhiro dhárá to bring
the highest spiritual energy into the
healing session
The client is supine on a massage table with a pillow
under their neck for comfort. Oil is released from the
bowl onto the forehead. Traditionally, oil is circled
on the third eye (just above and between the
eyebrows). Modern experience finds that many people
find this directed application too powerful. Thus, oil
must be moved around the entire forehead and
When the oil in the bowl (or funnel) runs out, it is
once again placed in the bowl and reused. If the oil is
cool, it can be reheated during the session or just after
the bowl is empty.
After the session is over, the client rests for a
few minutes on the table. The oil in the hair is pressed
into the scalp as its warmth further soothes the client.
Then a towel is placed over the head and the
practitioner helps the client sit up, making sure the
head is covered with the towel to prevent the oil from
dripping. The client is given a few minutes to adjust
to the seated position. Then, they are helped to stand
up. Sometimes they are so relaxed that they feel
disoriented upon standing, so helping up them is
If the weather is cool—to avoid catching a cold—
a warm hat and scarf are worn when leaving the
session. It is best that for the remainder of the day the
client rest, taking light meals, and retire to bed early.
Oils £hiro Basti
£hiro basti, like ¤hiro dhárá, is another head oil
application. However, in this method the oil soaks on
the top of the head for some time. £hiro basti is useful
in healing facial paralysis, insomnia, dry mouth or
nose; cataracts, headaches, and other head diseases. It
prevents and stops hair loss, balding, and premature
graying. This therapy also strengthens hair roots and makes
the hair soft and glossy, heals eye problems, improves
complexion and sinus disorders. £hiro basti balances the
air and fluid (Váyu and Kapha) in the space between the
brain and skull.
The head oil (dhárá drava) is prepared in different
ways for different situations. Basic oils listed below
are useful for ¤hiro dhárá as well.
Dry hair: Coconut and sesame oils.
Memory: bráhmí, ámalakí, bh^i´garáj oils. Young
Women: Black sesame, bh^i´garáj, ámalakí oils.
Women 40 to 50: Black sesame, wheat germ,
almond oils.
Women 50+: Black sesame, coconut, wheat germ,
sandalwood oils.
Newlyweds: Coconut, jasmine, almond, wheatgerm
Ear Pain: Mustard oil
Váyu: Sesame, coconut, canola, bráhmí oils
Pitta: Sunflower, coconut, bráhmí oils Kapha:
Canola, mustard oils
All: Sesame, bráhmí, bh^i´garáj, ámalakí oils
Many complicated formulations, such as takra
dhárá, kßhír dhárá, can be prepared. Since these products
are scarce outside of India (and also for the sake
of simplicity), plain oil or any of the above-mentioned
medicated oils can be used.
Precaution: In some cases Váyu becomes aggravated
during extended treatments. To counter this, clients
receive a warm oil abhyañga followed by a warm
medicated bath.
Definition: Basti is defined as a bladder or container
that holds medicated herbs and oil. £hiro basti is
somewhat similar to ¤hiro dhárá in that the oil is
placed on the head. The differences are that in ¤hiro
basti, the oil is kept soaking on the head.
The bladder can be made of a flexible plastic, approximately
3 feet high. The circumference is wide
enough to fit around the head. Whole-grain flour is
mixed with warm water (2:1) and kneaded into dough.
It is used between the head and bladder to prevent
the oil from leaking. The dough is placed in a circle
parallel to ear level. A belt or rope is used to secure
the bladder to the head.
Method: After a person completes the appropriate
pañcha karma therapies, oleation and fomentation
are given. Next, the person sits on a stool or chair
(knee-height). The paste is applied to the head under
the cap to prevent the oil from leaking. The flour,
cap, and belt are placed on the head. The medicated
oil is heated to a lukewarm temperature and is then
placed in the bladder on the head. Oil should be about
six inches above the scalp (one finger width).
It remains on the head for about 2 hours, 45
minutes; 2 hours, 15 minutes; 1 hour, 40 minutes; or
until the mouth and nose begin to expel secretions
and clients feel relief from their symptoms. The length
of time the oil remains on the head varies according
to the doßha causing the disorder (Váyu, Pitta, Kapha
For healthy persons who are merely receiving
preventive measures, oil remains on the head only
for approximately 17 minutes. The therapy lasts no
more than 7 days.

£hiro Basti Duration
The oil is taken out of the cap, the belt is
removed; then the cap and paste are taken off. The
head, neck, shoulders, and back then are rubbed
gently. Afterwards, persons take a lukewarm bath. A
wholesome diet according to one’s constitution is
then taken. £hiro basti is repeated daily for three,
five, or seven days.
Post £hiro Basti:
1. Gently rub head, neck shoulders, back 2.
Lukewarm Bath
£hiro Basti:
Taken daily for 3, 5, or 7 days
Head Oil
Múrdha Taila
The Benefits of head-oil therapies include
preventing and healing hair loss, graying, and hair
matting, cracking of the scalp, Váyu head disorders;
producing sharpness of the senses, improving the
strength of the voice, lower jaw, and the head. Two
other methods of applying oil to the head are worth
1. Pouring oil in a continuous stream
(pariäheka) removes scalp ulceration and boils,
burning sensations, and wounds.
2. Wrapping a cloth over the head and soaking in
oil (picu) prevents hair loss, cracking of the scalp,
and burning sensations.
(Karna Púrana)
This procedure involves placing oil into the ears.
Some authorities suggest 1 to 2 drops. Others suggest
filling the entire ear cavity with oil. Ear oil heals
disorders of the sense organs such as earaches or pain,
deafness, ringing in the ear, all ear diseases and
headaches; lockjaw, giddiness, twisted (wry neck),
and diseases of the gums and teeth. Certain nerves
connect the eyes and ears with the feet. Thus, this
treatment also relieves burning sensations in the feet.
Karna púrana is done during the day, before meals.
Karna Púrana
is done before meals
Method: Lukewarm sesame oil or medicated oil is
poured in the ear canals, filling them up. Oil remains
in the ears for 10 to 20 minutes. For preventive care,
oil remains in the ear for about 17 minutes. For ear
pain, the root of ears can be massaged until the pain
Ear (and eye) therapies always begin with the right
side. A tissue is kept nearby to wipe up any dripping
oil. Clients first lie on their left side while the oil is
poured into their right ear.
Disease Time
Váyu about 2.45 hours
Pitta/Blood about 2.3 hours
Kapha just over 1.3 hours
Healthy 17 minutes

After the process is complete, a small bowl or cup
is placed behind the ear to catch the oil as it comes
out. The client slowly turns their head to the right
and the oil pours out of the ear and into the cup. They
may then roll onto their back in order for the
remaining oil to be released. A tissue is placed on the
ear to prevent any excess oil from dripping. The
process is then performed on the left ear.
Eye Therapy
(Áßhcotana - Anjana Vidhi)
(Also discussed in Chapter 19)
Áyurveda employs eye drops and eye salves for
prevention and healing diseases of the eyes, like
bleeding, itching, tearing, burning sensation and
Eye drops: (Áßhcotana) are warm for Váyu
diseases, lukewarm for Kapha disorders, and cold for
Pitta ailments. The person lies on a bed in a draftless
room. Their eyes are opened with the practitioner’s
left hand, while the liquid is dropped in the eye with
the right hand. Ten to 12 drops are placed in the eye
from a distance of 2 finger widths from the inner angle
of the eye.
A soft, clean cloth is placed over the eyes for a
few minutes (a warm cloth is used for Váyu and
Kapha disorders).
Eye salve: (Anjana) is used after a person has
undergone pañcha karma, and the illness is localized
only in the eyes, when diseases are matured, such as
in edema, severe itching, sliminess, and thick
Three types of anjana exist:
1. Scraping (lekhana) using astringent, sour,
salty, and pungent tastes
2. Healing (ropana) with bitter tastes
3. Vision clearing (prasádana) using sweet
Time: The recommended time for salves is
morning or evening. Application is not recommended
before evening sleep, at noon, and when the sun
irritates the eyes—because it increases the illness and
spreads it elsewhere. For Kapha diseases that require
scraping eye salve, daytime application is acceptable
if it is not too hot a day. During very cold weather,
night application will further aggravate the illness.
Precautions: Anjana is not used on those suffering
from fear, after emesis and purgation, when hungry,
when having the urge to urinate or defecate; when
angry, when feverish, or when the eyes are tired. It is
also not used with a headache, when experiencing
grief and insomnia; when cloudy, after smoking, when
drinking alcohol, or just after washing hair. Anjana
is not suggested with indigestion, when tired due to
excess exposure to fire or sun, just after day naps, or
when thirsty. This therapy may bring up strong
emotional issues.
Post-Application: Eyeballs are gently and briefly
rubbed and slowly rotated up. The eyelids are also
gently massaged. This is to spread the salve
throughout the eye. It is not recommended to open,
close, squeeze, or wash eyelids. When the salve no
longer has an effect, the eyes are washed (water
temperature is according to the disease, doßha and
season). This removes the disease cleansed from the
salve. The left eyelid is lifted and held with a piece of
clean cloth in the fingers of the practitioner’s right
hand, and vice versa. If there is itching or a lack of
results from the salve, a stronger salve or strong smoke
inhalation is used. Persons are strongly advised to
rest in a darkened room for at least one hour before
exposure to light and activity.
Eye-Bath (Netra Basti)

This therapy involves washing the eyes with
medicated oils or ghee. Benefits include relieving
tension in the eye sockets that may lead to loss of
vision, pain, fatigue, glaucoma, cross-eye,
conjunctivitis, night blindness, cornea inflammation,
sunken eyes, and other eye disorders. Further, it
nourishes the nervous system, brain, memory, and
develops one’s linguistic abilities. It makes the eyes
lustrous, removes wrinkles, improves complexion,
reduces physical tension.
Method: Dough is prepared using flour and water
(2:1). The dough is made into two rings to fit around
the eyes, 11/2 inches in height. One half cup of lukewarm
ghee is kept warm nearby. Oleation and fomentation
of the face are done in advance. The lights
are dimmed so as not to disturb the session. Next, the
temperature of the ghee is tested (several drops may
be placed on the wrist, or a finger is swirled in the
ghee). Ghee should be lukewarm. The dough dam is
placed around the eyes, the base pressed onto the face
to prevent oil from leaking. A little ghee is then poured
into the dough-dam (around the eyes) while eyes are
closed. If the temperature is comfortable, the remaining
oil is poured into the dam until it covers the eyelashes.
Eyes are then opened when comfortable (initially
it may take some time adjusting to the liquid).
The eyes may be slowly rotated clockwise, counterclockwise
or moved in the 8 compass directions.
Some authorities suggest that the ghee be kept in the
eye for 20 minutes. Others say that for Váyu disorders
it is kept in for 6 minutes. For Pitta disorders and
healthy persons oil remains in the eye for 31/2 minutes
and only for 2 minutes, 45 seconds for Kapha
diseases. Afterwards, persons need to rest for 1 to 2
hours in a dark room. When going outside, if it is
bright sunglasses should be worn.
If netra basti is overdone, one experiences itching
and Kapha disorders. This therapy can cause strong
emotional releases. It is not advised for those with
emotional disorders.
Lower Back Bath
(Katti Basti)
The main benefits of this therapy are for muscle
spasms and lower spin rigidity, and strengthening the
bone tissue of the lower back. The same method of
preparing dough as in the eye bath is used here. Placement
of the dough dam is however around the spine
of the lower back.
Chest/Heart Bath
(Uro Basti)
This therapy strengthens the heart and reduces
sternum pain. Again, the dough dam is prepared in
the same manner as the eye bath. The dam is placed
over the heart (left breast)
Body Powder-Rub
Herbal powders may be applied to the body to
promote healing. They heal itching, Váyu disor-
Dough Dam
Ghee in
dam &
Ghee dropped
into dam
Eye Condition Length of Eye Bath
eyelid disorders 30 seconds
eye joint circles 95 seconds
white circles 3 1/2 minutes
black circles 4 minutes
refractive disorders 4 1/2 minutes
glaucoma 5 minutes, 5 seconds
Váyu disorders done daily
Pitta disorders alternate days
Kapha /healthy eyes done every two days
ders, hives, and develop a stable, light body. Rubbing
the skin after water is sprinkled on the body
removes dirt, opens the sweat glands, and activates
the enzymes in the skin. Afterwards, water is again
sprinkled on the body and the skin rubbed to
remove the powder.
Áyurvedic Foot Massage
Abhyañga applied to the feet is a simple, enjoyable
and healthy thing to do. It prevents dryness,
cracks, and roughness of the skin; numbness, fatigue,
sciatica, cramps; and contraction of ligaments, vessels,
and muscles of the feet and legs. It removes Váyu
from the body, promotes sturdy limbs and feet,
strength for walking, and sound sleep. Further, nerves
from all the organs in the head and body terminate in
the feet (also in the hands, ears, and head). Thus, by
rubbing the feet, persons tone the whole body. A close
relationship exists between the feet, eyes, and ears.
Foot abhyañga helps heal and prevent disorders of
hearing and sight. Four important nerves in the soles
are connected to the head. Constant friction and pressure
on the nerves in the soles reduce eye sight.
Abhyañga on a daily basis, or at least several times a
week, restores health to these nerves. It is best done
before bedtime, rubbing the soles and tops of the feet
with some warm sesame oil. This also fosters sound
General Suggestions
After all abhyañgas, clients are advised to rest for
1 to 2 hours before returning home. It is best if another
person drives them home to avoid the stress of
driving. If this is not possible, then when reaching
home, they rest. Light meals and rest are advised for
the remainder of the day. An early bedtime that
evening is strongly suggested. Some people find
abhyañga so relaxing that they sleep through the next
day, releasing deep-seated stresses.
As discussed earlier in this section, persons with
emotional problems may find the abhyañgas too powerful.
Therefore, it is advised to achieve mental balance
slowly through herbs, foods, aromas, colors, and,
if needed, professional counseling.
Doßha Beauty Care
Facial Abhyañga
Depending upon one’s doßha different facial
oils are used.
For various skin disorders, essential oils may be
used, see the “Doßha Marma Oil” chart (page 232)
in this chapter, and Chapter 8 on Aromatherapy.
Face Care
Miscellaneous Skin Care
Doßha Oils
Váyu ghee, sesame, avocado
Pitta coconut, safflower,
Kapha canola, almond, olive
Tridoßhic sesame, jojoba, almond
Conditions Essential Oil Mixtures
Wrinkles fennel, lavender, rose,
frankincense, cypress
Acne bergamot, juniper, cypress, tea
tree, lavender
Conditions Therapy
Eye care triphalá, kajal
Stretch marks almond oil

Cosmetic Plasters
(Varòya Lepa)
To improve complexion and color, medicated
herbal pastes are applied to the skin. The applied paste
is 1/2 a´guli (1/2 one’s finger width).
Complexion, pigmented patches on face: Red
sandalwood, mañjißhóhá. kußhóa.
Acne: Coriander, vachá, black pepper
Dandruff: Kußhóa, licorice, rock salt, mixed
into a paste with honey.
Facial Hair: Excess Pitta unbalances the hormones.
A mixture of a¤hok, fennel, ¤hatávarí, cardamom,
triphalá, rock candy are taken internally, and
sandalwood and multani methi clay are mixed with
water to form a lepa for the face. The lepa is left on
from 4 hours to overnight (2 times weekly). Hot spices
and steroids aggravate this condition.
Properties of Paste Liquids
Ghee: PV- K (neutral). Unctuous/Cool
Uses: It promotes taste, semen, and ojas, alleviates
burning, develops a soft body, voice, and complexion;
and strengthens the metabolism and digestion. Ghee
improves the voice and complexion, and has a special
property of transporting herbal properties to all the
dhátus (tissues).
Uses: Oils promote strength, health, and a stable body.
They improve the skin and cleanse the urogenital tract
(especially for females).
Sesame Oil V- KP+ in excess
It gives strength, intelligence, digestive power, helps
the skin, and has antioxidant properties. When taken
with the appropriate herbs, it heals all disorders.
Castor Oil: Sweet, astringent-hot P+
Castor is a digestive stimulant and a purgative. It helps
with obstructed abdominal diseases, gas, tumors, stiff
lumbar region, colic pain, ulcers, edema, áma,
abscesses, clears vagina and semen.
Coconut Oil: Sweet-cold-sweet VP- K+
This oil is best for Pitta doähas, nourishing and softening
the skin. It is useful for inflammatory skin conditions,
psoriasis, eczema, sunburn, burns, rosacea.
[Sample skin oil: coconut oil 100 ml.; almond oil 50
ml.; sandalwood oil 5 ml.]
Milk (Dugdha): VP- K+ Sweet/Cold; unctuous Uses:
(Cow’s) Milk is best when it is organic and raw (if
possible). It gives rejuvenation, strength, intelligence,
and ojas. Milk heals semen and blood diseases, difficult
or painful breathing; consumption, hemorrhoids,
complexion, and giddiness. It is considered
holy (sattwic).
Goat Milk: Light
This form of milk is better for Kapha doßhas. It is
a digestive stimulant, heals hemorrhoids, diarrhea,
menorrhagia, toxic blood, giddiness, and fever. Some
say it heals all diseases.
Yogurt/Curd (Dadhi): V- PK, Blood+ Astringent/Hot/
Pungent unctuous. Again, organic yogurt is advised.
Uses: This is a digestive stimulant and gives strength.
It heals dysuria, coryza, diarrhea, anorexia,
emaciation, and coldness in the body.
Sweet yogurt reduces Váyu and Pitta. Sour yogurt
increases Pitta, Kapha, and blood toxins. Very sour
yogurt causes bleeding disorders. Sweet and sour
yogurt has mixed effects.
Water: P- Cold
Uses: It is a cardiac tonic, heals poisoning, giddiness,
burning, indigestion, exhaustion, vomiting (cold),
intoxication, fainting, and alcoholism.
Liquid, Paste and Oil Preparation
The general formula for mixing these three
ingredients is,
1 part paste (herb powder)
4 part oil
16 parts liquid (e.g., milk, decoction, herb
juice, water)
For decoctions, paste is 1/6 its quantity.
For plant juice, paste is 1/8 its quantity.
When a recipe calls for 4 or fewer liquids, the
amount of each is 4 times that of the oil.
When there are more than 4 liquids in a recipe,
then each is in equal proportion to the oil.

Preparation: The herbal paste and liquid are mixed
together; then oil is added and the entire mixture is
boiled. As it is cooked, the mixture is constantly stirred
to prevent paste from sticking to the bottom of the

You May Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...