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Charak Samhita - Sutrasthana - Chapter 13 (Snehadhyaya)


Oleation therapy is the first chapter of the tetrad on medical applications, Kalpana Chatushka. The source of the lipids, their different kinds, their qualities, the method and timing of administration, the dosage, and alternate methods of administering in the manner of preparation of a recipe (Vicharana) are all covered in detail in this chapter regarding oleation treatment. Additionally, it lists the benefits, risks, and signs of appropriate, insufficient, and excessive oleation. Fat-containing adipose tissue is a vital part of the body. Its unctuous nature gives lubrication to all interstitial spaces and viscera. Because lipids are an essential component of cell membranes, lipid-soluble chemicals, and medications can enter cells. The particular integrity of the gut, the severity of the illness, and the particular lipid indications all have significance in the choice of lipids for oleation therapy. The current chapter might be considered the first step of the purifying procedures mentioned. So in this section, we will discuss the Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana chapter thirteen Snehadhyaya in brief.

Chapter 13, Charaka Samhita, Snehadhyaya, Sutrasthana, Symptoms Of Snehadhyaya, Chapter 13 - Snehadhyaya, Acharya Charak


The first chapter of Kalpana Chatushka, a tetrad that describes the conception of purifying therapies, is titled Snehadhyaya. It comes after the Vatakalakaliya Adhyaya, which is the final chapter of the Tetralogy of Nirdesha Chatushka, which contains rules for clinical treatment. The tetrad's sequential arrangement provides a reasonable path for students of Ayurveda's clinical training: from a fundamental education in therapeutics to more specific treatments (Including purifying therapies). Oleation (Snehana) is the initial step before purifying therapies, such as therapeutic purgation (Virechana) and therapeutic emesis (Vamana), and is additionally the most appropriate treatment advised for vitiated vata - the primary pathogenic element responsible for numerous ailments.

Queries Asked By Agnivesha

Agnivesha put forth his doubts as queries, for the welfare of the world, to Punarvasu who was sitting with the well-informed scholars.

  • What are the sources of fats (Sneha)?
  • How many uncting substances are there?
  • What are the properties of these substances separately and also their time and vehicle?
  • How many and what are the unction media?
  • How many doses and in what measure are prescribed and for whom?
  • What uncting substance is suitable for whom?
  • What are the maximum and minimum durations of unction?
  • Who is indicated and contraindicated for oleation?
  • What are the symptoms of properly uncted, non-uncted, and excessively uncted?
  • What should a patient do before, during, and after unction therapy?
  • What type of individual has a soft (Mridu), medium (Madhyam), and hard or rough (Krura) koshtha?
  • What are the updrava (Complications) and their treatment?
  • What steps should be taken following acchapana (Drinking fats), whether for samshodhana (Purification) or other reasons?
  • Whom and how should receive vicharana (sneha in different forms or recipes)?

I want to learn every aspect of snehana (Oleation therapy) through these inquiries, esteemed Sir.

Lipids' Sources

To allay Agnivesha's concerns, Punarvasu answered, "Dear (Agnivesha), snehayoni (Sources of fats) consists of two types:

  1. Sthavara (Vegetable origin)
  2. Jangama (Animal origin)

Tila (Sesame), Bibhitaka (Terminalia bellirica), Priyala (Buchanania lanzan), Chitra (Baliospermum montanum), Eranda (Ricinus communis), Abhishuka (Pistacia vera Linn), Bilva (Aegle marmelos), Abhaya (Chebulic myrobalan), Sarshapa (Mustard), Mulaka (Raphanus sativus Linn), Madhuka (Madhuca indica), Kusumbha (Brassica nigra Koch), Akshoda (Aleurites moluccana), Karanja (Millettia pinnata), Aruka (Prunus persica Linn), Nikochaka (Pistachio), Atasi- Linseed (Linum usitatissimum Linn), Shigruka (Moringa oleifera Lam)-these are vegetable sources of uncting substance. As regards the animal source, quadruped animals, birds, and fish come under this group. Their milk, curd, ghee, muscle fat, bone marrow, and meat are used as uncting substances.


Sesame oil is regarded as the greatest among all types of oils and is excellent for supplying unctuousness and strength. The most effective purgative for virechana is castor oil. It has a hot potency (Ushna virya) and pungent flavor and is guru (Dense, thick, or heavy) in nature as well as pacifying aggravated kapha and vata dosha. When combined with bitter, astringent, and sweet medications, it also helps to reduce vitiated pitta.

The Four Main Lipids

Clarified butter (Ghee), Tail (Oil of sesame), Muscle fat (Vasa), and Bone marrow (Majja)-these are regarded as the best ones among all the uncting substances. Amon them too, ghee is the best one because it contains the characteristics of the Samskara which means combining with other substances with different attributes without sacrificing its own characteristics.

Advantages Of Lipids

  • Ghee pacifies vata and pitta dosha, which is very useful for semen (Sperm), ojas (Immunity), and rasa (Plasma), softening, cooling, and improving complexion and voice.
  • Oil pacifies vata dosha but, at the same time, Kapha dosha does not vitiate or aggravate. It promotes strength and is very effective for hot potency, and skin, provides firmness, and cleans female genital passage.
  • Muscle fat is used in fractures, uterus prolapse, perforation, injury, headache, and earache. It is also useful for enhancing unction, and virility, and for those who practice physical exercise.
  • Bone marrow promotes semen, plasma, fat, strength, kapha, and marrow. It is particularly strength-giving to bones and is useful for unction.

Administration Period

Ghee should be taken in autumn (Sharada ritu), marrow and fat in spring (Madhava), and oil in early rains (Pravrita). One should not take the uncting substance whether it is too cold or too hot. A person having increased pitta and vata dosha and also in summer season should take unction at night. With aggravated kapha dosha and in the winter season should take it on the day when the sun is clear. If a person has aggravation vata and pitta dosha or in a very hot season, takes unction in a day, he becomes afflicted with thirst, jaundice, fainting, and insanity. Similarly, if the person has dominant kapha or is in the cold season and takes it at night, he gets a loss of appetite, colic pain, flatulence, or anemia.

Carrier For Lipids

After taking ghee one should drink hot water. Similarly, he should take soup (Yusha) after oil, manda (Boiled rice water) after fat and marrow, or in all cases hot water.

Various Lipids Recipes

Boiled rice (Odana), vilepi (Thick gruel from rice), meat soup (Mamsa rasa), milk (Paya), curd (Dadhi), gruel (Yavagu), soup of green leafy vegetables (Soup shaka), pulses soup (Yusha), preparations of sesame with oil, curd, salt, etc. (Kambalika), cooked buttermilk (khada), roasted grain flour (Saktu), the paste of sesamum, wine, lickable or confections, hard eatables, massage, enema, vaginal and urethral enema, gargle, ear oil, nasal drops, saturating preparation to ear and eyes are the twenty-four media of administration of lipids.

Preferred Lipid Form

The uncting substance which is taken singly is not considered as one of the media. That is regarded by physicians as the first form. The uncting substance, though single, having combined with six rasas in different proportions becomes sixty-three types. Thus the total number of media comes to sixty-four. These should be used keeping in view the habit, season, disease, and personal constitution.

Lipid Dosages And Their Uses

Sneha dosage: Based on how long it takes for it to be digested, the dose is split into maximal, moderate, and minimal levels as follows:

  • Maximum (Pradhana):- A dose that is metabolized in a single day and night (24 hours).
  • Moderate (Madhyama):- A dosage that takes a day (12 hours) to metabolize.
  • Minimum (Hrasva):- A dose that will take six hours (Half a day) to digest.

Because of their capacity to be digested, these three Sneha dosages are administered according to the size or quantity of the dose. I'll go into more detail on how they are used based on the needs of each patient.

Individuals Applicable For The Highest Dose And Its Uses

Those people who are in the habit of taking plenty of unction daily, tolerate thirst and hunger and have excellent digestive power and physical strength, are afflicted with gaseous tumors, snake poisoning, erysipelas, dysuria, insanity, and hardness of feces should take the maximum dose which produces the following effects. If used properly it pacifies the disorders quickly, draws out the doshas, spreads in all the passages, promotes strength, and refreshes the body, mind, and sense organs.

Individuals Applicable For The Medium Dose And Its Uses

Those people who are suffering from boils, eruptions, itching, leprosy, pimples, eczema, gout, and urinary disorders, do not take too much food, have soft bowels, and have average strength should take the medium dose. This dose is hardly liable to complications and does not cause too much weakness, or oleation with ease. This is used for evacuation.

Individuals Applicable For The Lowest Dose And Its Uses

The old, the delicate, the children, the ease-living, those for which the empty bowels are not beneficial, have low digestion and are suffering from chronic fever, diarrhea, and cough, have poor strength, should take the low dose of unction. This is easy in precautions, is unctuous and nourishing, promotes virility and strength, is free from complication, and continues for a long time.

Individuals Who Are Able To Consume Ghee

Those people have a constitution predominant in vata and pitta dosha, afflicted with disorders of vata and pitta, desirous of good vision, injured, wasted, the old, the children, women, desiring long life, strength, complexion, voice, nourishment, progeny, delicacy, immunity, brilliance, memory, appetite, intellect, and strong sense organs, and injured with burns, weapons, poisons, and fire should take ghee.

Individuals Who Are Able To Consume Oil

Those people have increased kapha and fat, with moving and plumpy necks and abdomen, are afflicted with vatika disorders, have vatika constitution, desirous of strength, lightness, sliminess, firmness, stability of body parts and unctuous, thin and smooth skin, afflicted with worms and sinuses, having hard bowels and habituated to oil should take oil in the cold season.

Individuals Who Are Able To Consume Muscle Fat

Those people who are tolerant of winds and the sun, are rough, and emaciated due to weight carrying and travelling on foot, one having semen and blood dried up, and kapha and fat absorbed, are afflicted with severe disorders of bone joints, veins, ligaments, vital parts, and belly, have strong vata having covered all the passages, with excellent power of digestion and are accustomed to muscle fat should take it when they require unction.

Individuals Who Are Able To Consume Bone Marrow

When the persons to be oleated are those having a good appetite, tolerance, and gluttony, using unction habitually, afflicted with vata, with hard bowels should take marrow. Thus the uncting substances have been described according to their suitability in different cases.

Duration Of Unction

The maximum and minimum time limit for unction is seven and three nights respectively.

Individuals Eligible For Oleation (Snehana)

Those to be fomented and evacuated, who are rough, having vatika disorders, indulge in physical exercise, wine and sexual activity and also engaged in mental work are the persons to be oleated.

Contraindications Of Snehana

Unction is not recommended for those who require roughening measures except in case of evacuation, have excess of kapha and meda, with mouth and anus having excessive secretions, have slow digestion, are afflicted with thirst and fainting, are pregnant, have dry palate, aversion to food, vomiting, one afflicted with abdominal enlargement, ama (Toxins) and poison, are weak in body and mind, depressed with unction, are under narcosis, should not be oleated and also during administration of nasal drops and enema because by taking unction, they become victims of severe disorders.

Signs Of Improper, Sufficient, And Excessive Oleation

Signs Of Improper Oleation

  • Dry feces
  • Hard feces
  • Mild digestive power
  • Dryness and roughness in the body parts
  • Flatus easily not movable

Signs Of Sufficient Oleation

  • Lubricated and unformed stool
  • Softness and unctuousness in the body parts
  • Stimulated digestion
  • Carminative

Signs Of Excessive Oleation

  • Heaviness in the body
  • Paleness
  • Drowsiness
  • Undigested stool
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Feeling of cold

Regimen Before Consuming Sneha

One the previous day, the person to be uncted should take in proper quantity liquid, warm, non-secretory, not too unctuous and simple food. The pacifying unction should be taken at the time of food when hungry while the evacuative one should be taken after the nocturnal meal is digested.

Regimen During Consuming Sneha

A person, after and during the unction, should use hot water, observe celibacy, sleep during night and should not suppress the urges of feces, urine, belching and flatus. He should sleep and sit in a place without too much wind. One should be very careful in proper management because due to improper management of unction, severe diseases may arise.

Characteristics Based On Bowel Habits

A person having soft bowels is uncted by the use of a single uncting substance in three nights while that having hard bowels is uncted in seven nights. A person with soft bowels gets purgation after taking jaggery, curd water, butter, cane juice, milk, curd, rice cooked with milk (Payasa), a dietary preparation having pulse and rice (Krisara), juice of gambhari (Gmelina arborea), ghee, triphala (Mixture of Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica, and Emblica officinalis), grapes, and pilu (Salvadora persica Linn.). He gets purgation after drinking fresh wine and hot water. But these do not have a purgative effect in those having hard bowels because in them the intestines contain aggravated vata. The intestines of those with soft bowels have excessive pitta, scanty kapha and slow vayu and as such he is purgatory easily.

Complications Of Inappropriate Intake Of Sneha And Its Management

People with severely inflamed pitta in the duodenum have extra digestive power, which makes it simple for them to metabolize fat or digest. The fire fanned by unction and being powerful having consumed the dose of the unction, affects the ojas (Immunity) and gives rise to complicated thirst. Even much heavy food is not able to pacify the fire fuelled and intensified with unction. If the person does not get cold water, he is burnt like a serpent lying within a room by his own poison-fire. If there arises thirst on indigestion of the unction, the physician should induce vomiting. Again the patient should drink cold water and rough food and then vomit. Ghee alone should not be taken in (Excess) pitta particularly associated with ama because it produces colour (Jaundice) in the whole body and has death or even loss of consciousness. Nausea, fever, drowsiness, stiffness, hardness of bowels, loss of consciousness, paleness, skin disorders, piles, thirst, anorexia, edema, itching, abdominal enlargement, feeling of cold, colic pain, obstruction in voice, disorders of intestines, and disorders of ama-these arise due to improper unction.

There, frequent vomiting, fomentation, watching for a while and purging are recommended according to severity of disease. The use of buttermilk, takra arista (Fermented preparation), rough food and drinks, urines and triphala is the remedy for complications due to unction. Sneha creates complications when it is administered improperly, to the unsuitable people, without sufficient consideration for dosage, against recommended practice.

Instructions For Therapeutic Emesis And Purgation After Oleation

Purgative should be administered three days after unction-during this interval, the patient should take unctuous liquid and hot cooked rice with meat soup. Emetic should be administered after one day's interval with similar food. The management in case of non-evacuative unction should be like that in purgative.

Alternative Dishes For People Who Are Lipid-Sensitive

Vicharana (treatment including administration of fats mixed with other food items or preparations) is appropriate for people who despise sneha, use fats regularly, possess soft bowels, are able to endure strain, and frequently drink alcohol. The oleation process is aided by soups made from the meat of black partridge (Taittira), common quail (Lava ), chicken, peacock, boar, swan, cow, fish, goat, and wild sheep (Urabhra).

The following foods should be consumed by someone with excessive body dryness: barley (Yava), jujube, bengal gram (kola), horse gram (Kulattha) mixed with fats, sugar and jaggery, pomegranate, curd mixed with vyosha (Long pepper, ginger, and black pepper)-these are combined with the above soup. The sesame seeds are taken along with the uncting substance and phanita (A sort of jaggery) before meals produce good unction. Similar is the effect of krisara (Dietary preparation of pulse and rice) with plenty of fats and of tila kambalika (Buttermilk cooked with more of tila).

The following foods should be consumed by someone with excessive body dryness: barley (Yava), jujube, bengal gram (kola), horse gram (Kulattha) mixed with fats, sugar and jaggery, pomegranate, curd mixed with vyosha (Long pepper, ginger, and black pepper)-these are combined with the above soup. The sesame seeds are taken along with the uncting substance and phanita (A sort of jaggery) before meals produce good unction. Similar is the effect of krisara (Dietary preparation of pulse and rice) with plenty of fats and of tila kambalika (Buttermilk cooked with more of tila).

Specific Safety Measures For Skin Conditions, Urinary Conditions, And Swellings

A person suffering from edema, leprosy, and diabetes should not use meat of marshy, aquatic and domestic animals, curd, jaggery, sesame seeds and milk. According to their condition, they should be uncted with the innocuous uncting substances cooked with long pepper, haritaki (Terminalia chebula), or triphala or with soup of grapes and sour curd and amalaki (Emblica officinalis). The uncting substance cooked with the vyosha may also be administered as intake for unction. Decoction of kulattha, barley, jujube, curd, alkali, ghee extracted from milk, wine-all these cooked together make an excellent uncting ghee.

Specific Safety Measures For Ailments Of The Reproductive System

In disorders of female genital tract and semen: marrow, oil, fat, ghee cooked along with the decoction of triphala and jujube may be used.

Agni's (Digestive Power) Role In Oleation

As a cloth absorbs water and releases the excess, the uncting substance is assimilated according to digested power and the excess is thrown out. But when the uncting substance is taken at once without sufficient interval it goes out entirely without affecting the body like water poured over an earthen mass quickly flows out without moistening it.

Application Of Salt For Faster Oleation

The sneha is added with salt snehana the person rapidly because the salt is fluid absorbing, non-rough, piercing, hot and is quickly absorbed.

Order Of Oleation And Sudation

First of all unction and then fomentation should be used. After having passed through both these measures, one should be given either of the evacuatives-purgative or emetic.


In this chapter we read about the oleation including uncting substances, method of unction, management of its complications along with medicament-these are explained in this section. Snehana is the best treatment for vata disorders.

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Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan


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Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan


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