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Snehana or Oleation Therapy in Ayurveda

Abstract

To eliminate the diseases fully and to increase nonspecific immunity against all the diseases or vyadhi the purificatory procedures play an important role. Panchakarma therapy is the only way of purification of the vitiated doshas (Vata, pitta and kapha) from the body and these are of five types. Before these therapies Snehana (Oleation) and swedana (Sudation) therapy were postoperative managements applied for all the purificatory procedures. But these procedures are described as main therapy for vata and kapha diseases. Hence these are independent therapies and said to be main treatment procedures for so many diseases described by Acharya Charaka.  So today we will read about Snehana therapy in brief in this article.

Snehana or Oleation Therapy in Ayurveda

Introduction

स्नेहनं स्नेह विष्यंदम मार्दव कलेदकारम। (C.Su.22/10)

Snehana is that which produces unction, oozing, softness and moistening. Snehana is defined as that which causes unctuousness (Snigdhata), softness (Mriduta), liquidity (Dravatva) and slimy (Picchilata) in the body, is named as snehana or oleation therapy. The administration of snehana substance is an important treatment for vata disorders. It has been described as one of the shadupakramas (Six main treatment procedures of kayachikitsa) mentioned in Ayurveda. It is one of the important methods of poorva karma (Pre-operative procedure) hence snehapana and abhyanga (Massage) must be done before administering the vamana drugs (Emetics), virechana drugs (Purgatives) and external application of snehana (Abhyanga) must be done before administering the basti (Enema) and nasya (Medication through nose) treatments.

Properties Of Snehana Drugs

  • Snigdha (Unctuous)
  • Guru (Heavy)
  • Sheeta (Cold)
  • Mrudu (Soft)
  • Drava (Liquid)
  • Picchila (Slimy)
  • Manda (Sluggish)
  • Sookshma (Subtile)

Types

Snehana dravyas are divided into four varieties according to their origin:-

  1. Ghrita (Ghee)
  2. Tail (Oil)
  3. Vasa (Muscle fat)
  4. Majja (Bone marrow)

Ghrita is par-excellence because of its power to assimilate effectively the properties of other substances.

Properties Of Ghrita

It is indicated for vata and pitta prakruti persons and also the diseases of vata pitta doshas. Ghrita can be administered to get following benefits:-

     
  • Good eye site
  • Longevity
  • Strength
  • Good complexion
  • Voice
  • Nourishment
  • Luster
  • Ojas (Immunity)
  • Memory
  • Intelligence
  • Power of digestion
  • Proper functioning of sense organs

Ghrita has a remarkable property to assimilate the properties of other substances without losing its own quality. It has the capacity to transform it so as to imbibe all the qualities of the substances added to it. Ghrita imbibes the properties like roughness and hotness of chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica) added to it and also maintains its own qualities like unctuousness and coldness. When quite opposite qualities of chitraka processed with ghrita won’t lose its own properties and also possesses the qualities of chitraka. It is very difficult to explain scientifically because opposite properties cannot stay at one place, on the contrary they try to destroy each other. But ghrita may possess quite opposite qualities without destroying the chitrak properties.

Properties Of Tail (Oil)

Oil alleviates vata, does not aggravate kapha dosha. It promotes bodily strength and is beneficial for skin. It is hot and stabilizer and it controls the morbidity of the female genital organs. Oil is useful for those who are having kapha, whose throat and abdomen are loose but plumpy. It is prescribed in all diseases of vata and vata prakruti persons, those desirous of strength, slimness, lightness, sturdiness, tenderness and smoothness of the skin. It is very useful in the diseases of worms, constipation and hard stools.

Properties Of Vasa (Fat)

Vasa is prescribed for the management of injury, fracture, trauma, prolapse of uterus, headache. It enhances the virility of a person and helps in oleation. It is very useful for the muscles and those who practiced physical exercises daily. Vasa (fat) is useful for those whose channels of circulation are affected by strong vata and those whose power of digestion is super and who are accustomed to the intake of fats.

Properties Of Majja (Bone Marrow)

It enhances strength, semen, blood, kapha, fat and bone marrow. It improves the physical strength especially of the bones. It is prescribed for those who have digestive power, those who can withstand stress and strain.

Types Of Administration Of Snehana

Administration of snehana is of two types:-

  1. Bahya snehana (External oleation)
  2. Abhyantara snehana (Internal oleation)

Bahya Snehana (External Oleation)

  • Abhyanga
  • Lepa
  • Samvahana
  • Udvartana
  • Unmardana
  • Padaghata
  • Murdha Taila
  • Kati Basti
  • Greeva Basti
  • Janu Basti
  • Akshi Tarpana
  • Karna Poorana
  • Parisheka
  • Gandusha
  • Nasatarpana
  • Masthiskya
  • Sneha Avagahana

Abhyanga (Massage)

It is a process by which the person’s body is pleated with medicated oil with specific pressures and movements. Considering the patient’s condition the abhyanga may differ according to pressure. While doing massage special care should be taken to the affected region. Rotation type of massage with the help of the palm should be done to the joints, up and down movements with the help of fingers should be done to the other parts.

Indications

  • Lean and thin person
  • Vata diseases and nervous disorders
  • Heavy exercise and physical workout
  • Intake of alcohol
  • Intercourse regularly
  • Mental strain and stress
  • Aged persons and children
  • Insomnia

Contraindications

  • Acute fever
  • Kapha disorders
  • Indigestion
  • Ascites
  • Diarrhea
  • In poison

Properties

  • Enhances age
  • Relieves the weakness
  • Relieves the vata in the body
  • Strengthens the body vigour
  • Induces sleep
  • Increased immunity

Lepa

Application of medicated paste on the body is known as alepa. It should be applied without any pressure. It is of three varieties:-

  1. Pralepa:- It is cold and thin and it may be dry and wet.
  2. Pradeha:- It is wet and it may be hot or cold.
  3. Alepa:- Its properties like pralepa and pradeha.

Samvahana

The massage which gives pleasure to the body and it should be done with the help of fingers. It induces sleep and acts as an aphrodisiac.

Udvartana

Massage in the opposite direction with twisting the body like a creeper. This massage is done in the opposite direction of hair follicles with high pressure. It improves the skin complexion. It is of 3 types:-

  1. Udwartana:- It creates pravilapana (Fat reducing) and vimlapana (Gentle pressing).
  2. Udgarshana:- Dry and rough drugs are used for massage.
  3. Utsadana:- Paste with snehana is used for massage.

Unmardana

Massage with certain pressure and stroke on the body is known as unmardana.

Padaghata

Applying the pressure with the help of the feet is known as padaghata.

Murdha Taila

Application of medicated or non-medicated oil to the head for a specific period is known as murdha tail. It is of great importance in Ayurveda and is mentioned by all Ayurvedic Acharyas. Murdha taila is classified into four types and they are:-

  1. Shiro-abhyanga
  2. Shiro-seka (Shirodhara)
  3. Shiro-pichu
  4. Shiro-basti

1. Shiro-Abhyanga

Application of medicated or non-medicated oil to the head is said to be shiro- abhyanga. Head is one of the important vital organs and has all sense organs in it and hence one should protect it from stress and strain by doing shiro- abhyanga (Massage to head). It is useful in all diseases of the head and keeps the sense organs healthy. It also gives nutrition to the brain and senses organs. It removes the dryness of scalp, itching, head-ache etc. Hair becomes soft and blackish and protects from baldness. It induces sleep.

2. Shirodhara

Pouring of fluids like decoction, medicated oil, medicated milk, medicated butter milk, water etc over head continuously for a specific period is known as shirodhara. Selection of fluids or oils depends upon the disease and condition of the patient.

Benefits:-

  • Headache
  • Baldness
  • Graying of hairs
  • Induces sleep
  • All types of nervous system disorders
  • Hypertension
  • Paralysis
  • Polio
  • Depression
  • Urinary disorders
  • Ear and eye diseases

3. Shiro-pichu

It is an application of a piece of a cotton cloth or swab after dipping in medicated oils or fluids on the head or brahmarandhra. It is beneficial in hair falling, facial paralysis, burning sensation in eyes, stiffness in eyes etc. In summer many people keep the pulp of the onion on the head to avoid sunstroke or burning micturation. In high fever to control temperature one should apply ice or cold water pichu over the head.

4. Shiro-basti

It is a process by which the oil is kept over the head for a certain period with the help of a leather cap. It is useful in insomnia, facial paralysis, loss of sensation of the skin, dryness in the nose, diseases of the head and eruptions on the head.

Duration:- Vata disease - 50 minutes, Pitta disease - 40 minutes, Kapha disease - 30 minutes

Kati Basti

Kati basti is one of the varieties of bahya snehana. It is safe and gives quick relief to the patient. Being an external therapy it has no side effects and complications. It gives immediate results because it acts at the site of lesion and pacifies the vata dosha by producing snehana (Lubrication). It can also be called as kati (Lumbar) tarpana.

Indications

  • Backache
  • Sciatica
  • Protrusion of interval disc
  • Spondylitis
  • Sacralization of the vertebrae
  • Spondylolisthesis

Greeva Basti

It is one of the varieties of bahya snehana and administered to the patients who are suffering with cervical spondylitis. It gives immediate results because acts at the site of the lesion enhances the lubrication to the cervical vertebrae, gives soothing effect and nutrition to cartilage bones and improves the cushion action in between two vertebral bodies.

Indications

  • Cervical pains
  • Cervical spondylitis
  • Intervertebral space reduction
  • Loss of lordosis in cervical vertebrae

Contraindications

  • Fractures in cervical vertebrae

Janu Basti

Patients must be asked to bring an X-ray of the knee joint to confirm the diagnosis to assess the extent of damage done to the joint before the treatment. In this procedure the knee is lubricated with medicated oil.

Akshi Tarpana

It is a process of keeping the snehana (Oil and ghee) in the eye with the help of masha pisti (Black grain).

Indications

  • Burning of vision
  • Roughness in the eye
  • Stiffness in the eye
  • Eye diseases caused by vata and pitta doshas
  • Squint
  • Difficulty in opening the eyes
  • Sub-conjuctival hemorrhage
  • Inflammatory lesion of the eye
  • Ulcer
  • Pain in eyes
  • Loss of secretion of lacrimal fluid

Karna Poorana

It is a procedure by which warm medicated oil or ghee should be poured into the ears.

Uses

  • It prevents the occurrence of vata disorders.
  • It prevents the contractions of the neck and jaw.
  • It relieves the pain in the ear.
  • It relieves the sounds of the ears.
  • It alleviates neck pain.

Gandusha And Kavala Graha

It is a process by which the medicated oil or medicated decoction should be held in the mouth for a certain period is known as gandusha. Acharya Vagbhatta has mentioned 4 types of gandusha:-

  1. Snigdha gandusha (In vata dosha)
  2. Shamana gandusha (Alleviating in pitta dosha)
  3. Shodhan gandusha (Eliminating in kapha dosha)
  4. Ropana gandusha (Healing for wounds)

Kavala graha is a process by which the medicated decoction or medicated oil can be easily and comfortably gargled in the mouth.

Uses

  • Improves the voice and beneficial for strength of the jaws
  • Improves the taste of the food
  • Relieves dryness of the throat
  • Strengthen the gums and teeth
  • Relieves toothache
  • Teeth will not get carries
  • Useful in sub-mucous fibrosis

Abhyantara Snehana (Internal Oleation)

Snehapana is one of the important therapies in Ayurveda to treat various vata diseases as well as pitta and kapha diseases. It is a process by which the patient is administered the snehana (Oil, ghee, vasa and majja) orally.

According to the dose of the snehana it has been divided into three varieties:-

  1. Brimhana
  2. Shamana
  3. Shodhana

1. Brimhana Snehapana

Snehana which is in small doses taken along with diet is said to be brimhana sneha. It gives strength to the body and can be continued for many days. Regularly we are using this type of snehana with diets by way of milk, ghee, oil etc. Sneha pravicharana is also comes under this variety. Practically this snehana has been adopted according to the region.

2. Shamana Snehana

The sneha which won’t provoke the doshas and pacifies the provocated doshas is said to be the shamana sneha. This type of sneha has been indicated in all skin diseases and prameha.

3. Shodhana Snehana

This snehana is administered before vamana and virechana therapy in huge quantities after complete digestion of previous night’s dinner and in early morning hours.

Duration Of Snehana:-

This snehana should be administered for 3 to 7 days. If it exceeds more than 7 days it will become satmya (Habitual) in the body.

  • Vata disease/ krura koshta - 7 days
  • Pitta disease/ madhyama kostha - 5 days
  • Kapha disease/ mrudu kostha - 3 days

Indications:-

  • Old aged people
  • Children
  • Poor appetite
  • Chronic fever
  • Cough and diarrhea

Uses:-

  • It nourishes all the tissues of the body.
  • It produces vigor and strength to the body.
  • There are no complications and side effects.

Administration Of Abhyantara Snehana

Poorva Karma (Pre-Operative Procedure):-

Examination Of Patient:-

General examination should be done properly. Investigations like blood sugar, serum cholesterol, SGOT, SGPT, lipid profile, stool, and urine examination should be done before the day.

Koshta Examination:-

To fix the dose of snehana, one should decide the koshta by giving the jaggery, sugarcane juice, milk, ghee, grape juice etc. If a patient gets purgation it should be considered as mrudu koshta, if it doesn't produce any effect it is krura koshta whereas mild laxative effect is considered as madhyama koshta.

Preparation Of The Patient:-

Patients should be asked to take light and hot diets before night.

Selection Of The Snehana:-

  1. Pure ghee with milk
  2. Tila oil
  3. Medicated ghee

Pradhana Karma

After passing natural urges, the patient should be administered the snehana in the morning hours before 9 am.

Paschat Karma

Every day after snehapana the below mentioned instructions should be followed.

  • Observe improper, proper symptoms of snehapana.
  • Advice the patient not to take anything till he gets hungry.
  • Fresh green gram (Moong dal) khichdi should be given whenever he gets a good appetite.
  • At night, a light and hot diet should be advised.
  • Use only warm water for drinking and bathing.

Signs And Symptoms Of Proper Oleation

  • Improved digestive fire
  • Intolerance to fat
  • Loose, oily stools with fatty substances inside
  • Lightness in the body
  • Tenderness in the body
  • Smoothness internally and externally in the body
  • Shinny, oily skin
  • Some flatulence
  • Lethargy

Signs And Symptoms Of Excessive Oleation

  • Paleness
  • Heaviness in the body
  • Stiffness
  • Indigestive stool
  • Drowsiness
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Excessive oozing from the mouth
  • Excessive oozing from the anus
  • Excessive oozing from the nose
  • Burning sensation in anus

Signs And Symptoms Of Improper Oleation

  • Hard stools
  • Dry stools
  • Loss of digestive power
  • Upward movement of air
  • Dryness in the body
  • Roughness in the body
  • Burning sensations in the chest
  • Debility
  • Discoloration of skin

Time For The Administrative Snehapana

  • Greeshma ritu (Summer) - Evening time for vata and pitta predominant persons.
  • Sheeta ritu (Winter) - Day time for kapha predominant persons in un-cloudy weather.

Sneha Pravicharana

The persons who are sensitive to the smell of the oils and ghee and who dislike the taste of the snehana dravyas for them the sneha pravicharana have been advised such as meat soup, meat, curd, pulse, milk, curry, vegetable soup, etc. Snehapanam which were described in Ayurveda are used in today's diets and we are consuming every day without our notice and preventing various vata diseases. Nowadays due to western culture, many people are avoiding oil, ghee and other oily substances in their food. Avoiding these oily substances may aggravate the vata dosha, hence various persons are getting vata diseases.

Conclusion

In this article we read about the oleation therapy. Oleation therapy plays an important role in alleviating vata dosha. There are two types of oleation therapy that is external oleation and internal oleation. This therapy is used in various types of diseases like insomnia, dryness in body, diseases of head, sciatica, pain in ear, pain in eyes, conjunctivitis, back ache, protrusion of inter-vertebral disc, etc. It provides shiny and healthy skin. It is a healer of wounds.

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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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