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Saptadhatu Concept Of Ayurveda - 7 Essential Body Tissues

Abstract

The human body is mostly composed of dosha, dhatu, mala and these outline the physical machineries of the body associated with chetana which is consciousness energy and activity via Atma (soul). Provide this physical component with chetana (consciousness energy) and activity. Prana (life) and jivana (living) are possible with the union of the Atma (soul) then only activities of the body starts. The doshas, dhatus and malas function normally when the body is alive. The study of the changes occurring at the level of doshas, dushays, dhatu, malas along with the other factors which are essential to understand the diseases. So today we will read about the saptadhatu concept of ayurveda in brief in this article.

Saptadhatu, Saptadhatu Concept, Sapta Dhatu, Ayurveda, 7 Essential Body Tissues, Rasa Dhatu, Rakta Dhatu, Mamsa Dhatu, Meda Dhatu, Asthi Dhatu, Majja Dhatu, Sukra Dhatu, Ojas, Immunity, Upadhatu, Sub Tissues Of The Body, Importance Of Dhatu In Management Of Disease

Introduction

समदोष: समाग्निश्च समधातुमलक्रिय:। 
प्रसन्नात्मेन्द्रियमना: स्वस्थ इत्यभिघीयते।।(S.Su 15/48)

The equilibrium state of the dosha dhatu and mala associated with proper functions of Agni accompanied by a sense of well being of Atma (soul), Mana (mind) and Indriyas (sense organs). Any variation in these definitely causes diseases.

Sapta that is seven and dhatu means dharan that is something which supports or holds the body tissues. They all provide structure, growth, and nourishment to the whole body. They reside as a skin from the external side and mucus membrane from the internal side. Each and every dhatu has seven upadhatu which provide strength, structure and support to the body.

Dhatus Are Seven In Number Namely

  1. Rasa (plasma, white blood cells, lymph)
  2. Rakta (red blood cells, platelet)
  3. Mamsa (muscle tissues)
  4. Medas (fat/adipose tissues)
  5. Asthi (bone)
  6. Majja (bone marrow) 
  7. Sukra (semen, reproductive tissue)

These are responsible for prime functions of the body. After the food is digested, the tissue building commences. The first dhatu gets nourished, that is Rasa (plasma) and then step by step gets nutrition to the other dhatus or tissues. If vitiation takes place within any dhatu (tissue) it will affect all the next dhatus.

Upadhatu (Sub-Tissues Of The Body)

The seven upadhatu are produced by the dhatu during metabolism are as follows:-

  1. Rasa Dhatu- Stanya (breast milk), rajas (menstrual fluid)
  2. Rakta Dhatu- Kandara (tendons) and sira (blood vessels)
  3. Mamsa Dhatu- Vasa (fatty material), sattvacha (six layers of skin)
  4. Meda Dhatu- Snayu (ligaments) and sandhi (joints), sweda (sweating)
  5. Asthi Dhatu- Danta (teeth)
  6. Majja Dhatu- Kesa (hairs)
  7. Sukra Dhatu- Ojas (immunity)

Formation And Nourishment Of Dhatu

The dhatu (tissue) are made from ahara-rasa that is the first transformed form of food into food essence (nutrient liquid). This food essence nourishes the whole body via sequence form. The firstly nourished the Rasa (plasma) dhatu, then Rakta (blood) dhatu, then mamsa (muscle tissues) dhatu, then medas (fat) dhatu, then asthi (bone) dhatu etc. During the metabolism process, dhatus undergo a certain process in which their digestive enzymes are named as dhatavagni. During the process every dhatu gets transformed into two parts that is:-

Which nourishes by itself (poshya) and which nourishes others (poshaka). The poshya component is the main factor responsible for own nourishment and well functioning of dhatus. The poshaka component nourishes the other tissues. Upadhatu (further products of dhatu) and mala (waste) are obtained from this metabolic process. This is the process of formation and nourishment of each dhatu in sequential form. The main functions of these seven dhatus are vitalizing, supporting, reproduction, covering, filling, moistening, nourishment, etc.

Dhatu Vitiation Causative Factors

Enhancement of dhatu takes place by the use of foods and activities which are similar materially or which possess similar properties predominantly or decrease of dhatu results opposite to above theory. The dhatu which are heavy undergo increase by substances which possess the property of heaviness and those which cause union or compactness and decrease by those which cause separation. That’s why in spite of many other substances, Rakta undergoes increase especially by the use of blood as food, Mamsa by the consumption of meat (fatty foods), Asthi by the usage of cartilages as food, Majja by the use of marrow as food, Sukra by the use of seminal fluid, Garbha (fetus) by the use of egg as food.

The substances having similar qualities, which could be used as food or activities may not be present nearby or those which are present by may not be suitable to be used as food, being either antagonistic causing aversion, tastelessness or due to any other reason. In such circumstances, it is best to make use of substances of similar properties derived from different species possessing identical qualities predominantly. The bio-digestive power (kayagni) has its portion present in the dhatus. Their vitiation in the quantity, quality or functions gives rise to vitiation of dhatus. Thus the concerned dhatu is decreased or exacerbated.

Pathogenesis Of Vitiated Dhatu

Due to causative factors there is an increase in rasa dhatu could in turn also increase the raktadi dhatus. Both dosha and dhatus together vitiate the waste products (malas) that in turn, vitiate the channels of their elimination (that are two below, seven in the head) and the channels of sweat. The vitiation of the channels leads to development of many diseases.

Dhatuvriddhi Lakshana

Rasadhatu Vrddhi Lakshana

  • Salivation
  • Anorexia
  • Bad taste in mouth
  • Nausea
  • Obstruction in channels
  • Aversion towards sweet products
  • General malaise
  • Oppression in the heart
  • Other symptoms of increased kapha

Rasadhatu Kshaya Lakshana

  • Inability to withstand noise
  • Roughness
  • Exhaustion even without any work
  • Fatigue
  • Tachycardia
  • Tremors
  • Emaciation
  • Pain
  • Emptiness in organs especially heart
  • Throbbing pulsations
  • Friction
  • Exhaustion with little activity
  • Feeling of fear
  • Pain in chest
  • Thirst

Raktadhatu Vrddhi Lakshana

  • Dermatological disorders including leprosy
  • Herpes infections
  • Skin eruptions like boils, pustules etc. 
  • Menorrhagia
  • Burning sensation in eyes, mouth, urethra and rectum
  • Abdominal growths
  • Abscesses
  • Splenic disorders
  • Discolouration of skin
  • Jaundice
  • Loss of digestive fire
  • Darkness in front of eyes
  • Reddish discolouration in the skin, eyes and urine
  • Metabolic joint disorders
  • Symptoms of increased pitta dosha
  • Fullness of blood vessels 
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Disease of the teeth
  • Coma

Raktadhatu Kshaya Lakshana

  • Dryness in skin
  • Roughness in skin
  • Desire for sour and cold things
  • Looseness of veins or collapse of veins
  • Loss of complexion

Mamsadhatu Vrddhi Lakshana

  • Enlargement of glands in neck
  • Enlargement of glands in scrofula
  • Malignant tumors
  • Benign growths
  • Increase in the size of cheeks, thighs and stomach
  • Prominence in the muscles of the neck and other places 
  • Diseases of palate, tongue and throat
  • Produces heaviness and increase in size of the buttocks, neck, lips, arms, abdomen, chest and thighs
  • Heaviness in body

Mamsadhatu Kshaya Lakshana

  • Wasting of buttocks, cheeks and other parts
  • Pain
  • Dryness in eyes
  • Debility in sense organs
  • Cracking sound in the joints
  • Pain in the joints
  • Collapse of blood vessels

Medadhatu Vrddhi Lakshana

  • Premonitory symptoms of prameha
  • Obesity
  • Complications of obesity
  • Unctuousness of the body
  • Increase of the abdomen and flanks
  • Cough
  • Breathing disorders
  • Bad smell emits from the body
  • Fatigue
  • Breathlessness even after slight work
  • Drooping of the buttocks

Medadhatu Kshaya Lakshana

  • Enlargement of spleen
  • Loss of sensation in waist
  • Emptiness in joints
  • Roughness in body
  • Emaciation
  • Exhaustion
  • Fatigue
  • Thinness of abdomen
  • Tuberculosis 
  • Desire for fatty meat
  • Cracking noise in joints
  • Lassitude in the eyes

Asthidhatu Vrddhi Lakshana

  • Extra bones
  • Extra teeth

Asthidhatu Kshaya Lakshana

  • Breaking of teeth and nails
  • Falling of teeth, nails and body hairs
  • Roughness
  • Dryness
  • Looseness in joints
  • Pain in bones
  • Craving for meat attached to bones for consumption

Majjadhatu Vrddhi Lakshana

  • Heaviness in eyes, body and blood
  • Swelling in joints
  • Appearance of small ulcers over skin
  • Ulcers that are difficult to cure

Majjadhatu Kshaya Lakshana

  • Hollowness in bones
  • Pain in bodies
  • Debility
  • Giddiness
  • Feeling of darkness in front of eyes
  • Less quantity of semen
  • Pain in joints
  • Thinness of bones
  • Weakness and lightness in bones

Sukradhatu Vrddhi Lakshana

  • Great desire for sexual intercourse
  • Development of stone in the seminal tract
  • Excess production of sukra (semen)

Sukradhatu Kshaya Lakshana

  • Exhaustion
  • Debility
  • Dryness in mouth
  • Feeling of darkness in front of the eyes
  • Body Aches
  • Pallor or anemia
  • Poor digestion
  • Impotency
  • Pain in the scrotum
  • Feeling as if hot fumes emitted from the path of urethra
  • Delayed ejaculation
  • Ejaculation mixed with blood
  • Pain in penis and testes
  • Unable to perform intercourse

Upadhatu Pradoshaj Vikara

The abnormal doshas enters upadhatu that is stanya (breast milk), artava (menstruation), sira (veins), kandara (tendons), vasa (muscle fat), tvak (skin), snayu (ligaments) manifest stiffness, contraction, neuralgia of the extremities, new growths, throbbing sensation and numbness.

Importance Of Dhatu In Management Of Disease

Dhatu assessment is very important in the management of diseases. While managing the situation of dhatu vriddhi or dhatu kshaya, the rules of samanya and vishesha are applied. For example the muscle tissue (mamsa) are increased due to consumption of meat, rakta (blood) get increased by consuming rakta (blood), meda (fat) increase by consuming fat etc. Dosha get sthiratwa (stability) and mahatwa (severity) when they occupy successive dhatu. Then it is very difficult to treat them, due to penetration in deeper dhatu. When we are managing this kind of disease it is always important to know the stage of disease in terms of dhatu involvement. And the essence of saptadhatu is ojas which is called immunity that protects our body from diseases. There is a direct relation between saptadhatu and oja. When there is vitiation of saptadhatu then there is vitiation of ojas (immunity). Dhatu Kshaya is the main factor of decreasing the ojas (immunity) and leads to development of many diseases or infections or even death. Vata dosha has an intimate relationship with all dhatus. The cause of vata prakopa (vitiation of vata) may be either in the form of dhatu kshaya or margavarodha that is obstruction in dhatus. The method of treatment of these two categories is not only different but also contradictory.

Conclusion

In this article we read about saptadhatu and updhatu and the link between ojas (immunity). The decreasing and increasing amount of seven dhatu leads to many diseases. That’s why we should know about which dhatu is involved so that we can find out the stage of disease to manage the condition. When each dhatu gets well nourished then all the tissues are healthy and well functioning and a good immunity established in the body. A good physician should understand the exact nature of vikrti (destruction) in dosha, dhatu and mala from the study of symptoms or through investigations.

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Author Bio:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor - Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

Dr. Meenakshi Chauhan

MD (ALT. MEDICINE)

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Reviewed By:

Best Ayurvedic Doctor in Mohali - Dr. Vikram Chauhan

Dr. Vikram Chauhan

MD (AYURVEDA)

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