1) Vaman: therapeutic vomiting or emesis
2) Virechan: purgation
3) Basti: enema
4) Nasya: elimination of toxins through the nose
5) Raktalmoksha: detoxification of the blood
Vaman: Emesis Therapy
When there is congestion in the lungs causing repeated attacks of bronchitis, colds, cough
or asthma, the Ayurvedic treatment is therapeutic vomiting, vaman, to eliminate the kapha
causing the excess mucus. First, after the snehan and swedan, three to four glasses of
licorice or salt water is administered, then vomiting is stimulated by rubbing the tongue
which triggers the vomiting center through the gag reflex. Often times this also releases
repressed emotions which have been held in the kapha areas of the lungs and stomach along
with the accumulated dosha. One may alternatively take two to three glasses of salt water
which will also aggravate kapha and then rub the tongue to induce vomiting. Once the mucus
is released the patient will feel instantly relieved. It is likely that congestion,
wheezing and breathlessness will disappear and that the sinuses will become clear.
Therapeutic vomiting is also indicated in chronic asthma, diabetes, chronic cold,
lymphatic congestion, chronic indigestion and edema.
Before vaman is administered, oil massage and fomentation are recommended on the night
before the day of vaman. One to three days prior to vaman, the person should drink one cup
of recommended oil two to three times a day until the stool becomes oily, or until he or
she feels nauseated. The person should also eat a kaphagenic diet to aggravate kapha in
the system. Vaman should be given early in the morning (kapha time). The person should eat
basmati rice and yogurt with much salt early in the morning, which will further aggravate
kapha in the stomach. The application of heat to the chest and back will liquify the
kapha. The person should sit calmly on a knee-high chair and drink the concoction of
licorice and honey, or salt water. This emesis preparation is measured and recorded before
being drunk, so that at a later time the amount of vomitus from the decoction can be
determined. After drinking the decoction the person should feel nauseated. He should then
rub the tongue to induce vomiting, continuing until bile comes out in the vomitus. The
degree of success in this treatment is determined by: 1) the number of vomitings (8 is
maximum, 6 medium, 4 minimum), and 2) the quantity of vomitus (1 quart maximum, 1 1/2
pints medium, 1 pint minimum).
Emetic Substances: madan-emetic nut, madhuka-yastimadhu-licorice, neem-bitter
leaf, bimbi, kutaj-kurchi- conessi bark, murva-clematis, triloba-devdaru-deodar, Cedrus
deodara, Salt, NaCl, ela-cardamom, nux vomica.
After vaman, resting, fasting, smoking certain herbal cigarettes, and not suppressing
natural urges (i.e. urination, defecation, gas, sneezing, coughing) is recommended. If
vaman is administered properly, the person should feel relaxation in the lungs, will be
able to breathe freely, will have lightness in the chest, clear thinking, clear voice, a
good appetite, and all symptoms of congestion disappear.
After practicing vaman in the morning, the person should fast until 5 pm, then eat
kitchari with ghee. He or she can drink cumin, coriander, ginger, fennel tea (equal
portions). Steep in hot water and drink with one tsp. honey. Or he can drink honey lime
tea, using one tsp. honey and one tsp. lime juice to one cup of hot water.
Indications for Vaman:
used for all kapha type disorders good for pitta headache, dizziness, and nausea will help
to release blocked emotions respiratory congestion bronchitis chronic cold sinus
congestion kaphagenic asthma
Contra-Indications for Vaman:
below the age of 12 or over age 65 menstruation pre-menstrual period (one week prior)
pregnancy emaciation delicate or sensitive person with too much fear, grief or anxiety
hypoglycemia vata prakruti vata diseases heart diseases during vata season acute fever
Virechan: Purgation Therapy
When excess bile, pitta, is secreted and accumulated in the gall bladder, liver and small
intestine, it tends to result in rashes, skin inflammation, acne, chronic attacks of
fever, biliary vomiting, nausea and jaundice. Ayurvedic literature suggests in these
conditions the administration of therapeutic purgation or a therapeutic laxative. Virechan
is facilitated with senna leaves, flax seeds, psyllium husks or triphala in a combination
that is appropriate for the individual person.
Senna leaf tea is a mild laxative, but in people of vata constitution, this tea might
create griping pain, since its action aggravates peristaltic movement in the large
An effective laxative for vata or pitta constitutions is a glass of hot milk to which
two teaspoons of ghee have been added. This laxative, taken at bedtime will help to
relieve the excess pitta causing the bile disturbance in the body. In fact, purgatives can
completely cure the problem of excess pitta.
When purgatives are used, it is important to check the diet. The patient should not eat
foods that will aggravate the predominant humor or cause the three humors to become
Virechan Substances: Senna, prune, bran, flaxseed husk, dandelion root, psyllium
seed, cow's milk, salt, castor oil, raisins, mango juice, triphala.
Indications for Virechan:
allergic rash skin inflammation acne, dermatitis, eczema chronic fever ascites biliary
vomiting jaundice urinary disorder enlargement of the spleen internal worms burning
sensation in the eyes inflammation of the eyes conjunctivitis gout
Contra-Indications for Virechan:
low agni acute fever diarrhea severe constipation bleeding from rectum or lung cavities
foreign body in the stomach after enema emaciation or weakness prolapsed rectum alcoholism
dehydration childhood old age ulcerative colitis
Basti: Enema Therapy
Vata's predominant site is the colon. Ayurvedic basti involves the introduction into the
rectum of herbal concoctions of sesame oil, and certain herbal preparations in a liquid
medium. Basti, is the most effective treatment of vata disorders, although many enemas
over a prescribed period of time are usually required. It relieves constipation,
distention, chronic fever, cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, backache,
sciatica and other pains in the joints. Many other vata disorders such as arthritis,
rheumatism, gout, muscle spasms and headaches may also be treated with basti.
Vata is a very active principle in pathogenesis. If we can control vata through the use
of basti, we have gone a long way in going to the root cause of the vast majority of
Vata is the main etiological factor in the manifestation of diseases. It is the motive
force behind the elimination and retention of feces, urine, bile and other excreta. Vata
is mainly located in the large intestine, but bone tissue (asthi dhatu) is also a site for
vata. Hence the medication administered rectally effects asthi dhatu. The mucus membrane
of the colon is related to the outer covering of the bones (periosteum), which nourishes
the bones. Therefore, any medication given rectally goes into the deeper tissues, like
bones, and corrects vata disorders.
There are eight main types of basti, according to traditional texts, each with their
own indications and contra-indications as listed below.
1. Anuvasana (oil enema) is used in pure vata disorders and when a person is having
excess hunger or dryness related to vata imbalances.
2. Niruha-Asthapana (decoction enema) is used, among other conditions, for evacuation
of vata, nervous diseases, gastro-intestinal vata conditions, gout, certain fever
conditions, unconsciousness, certain urinary conditions, appetite, pain, hyperacidity and
3. Uttara Basti (through the urethra with men or vagina with women) is used for
selected semen and ovulation disorders and for some problems involving painful urination
or bladder infections. This is not to be used for someone with diabetes.
4. Matra Basti (daily oil enema) is used by someone emaciated by overwork or too much
exercise, too much heavy lifting, walking too long of a distance, too much sexual activity
or someone with chronic vata disorders. It does not need to be accompanied by any strict
dietary restriction or daily routine and can be administered, in the appropriate cases, in
all seasons. It gives strength, promotes weight and helps elimination of waste products.
5. Karma Basti (schedule of 30 bastis),
6. Kala Basti (schedule of 15 bastis; 10 oil + 5 decoction)
7. Yoga Basti (schedule of 8 bastis; 5 oil + 3 decoction).
In karma, kala and yoga bastis, it is better to give both types of basti in combination
and not the oil and decoction separately. The conditions under which these are recommended
are too detailed to be able to list in this article. In general, the indications and
contra-indications that apply to basti also apply here.
8. Bruhana Basti (nutritional enema) is used for providing deep nutrition in select
conditions. Traditionally, highly nutritive substances have been used, such as warm milk,
meat broth, bone marrow soup and herbs like shatavari or ashwagandha.
General Indications for Basti:
constipation low back ache gout rheumatism sciatica arthritis nervous disorders vata
headache emaciation muscular atrophy
General Contra-Indications for Basti (include but are not limited to the following):
Enema therapy should not be used if the patient is suffering from diarrhea, bleeding of
the rectum, chronic indigestion, breathlessness, diabetes, fever, emaciation, severe
anaemia, pulmonary tuberculosis, old age or for children below the age of seven years.
For oil enemas: diabetes, obesity, indigestion, low agni, enlarged liver or spleen,
unconsciousness, tuberculosis and cough. for decoction enemas: debility, hiccough,
hemorrhoids, inflammation of anus, piles, diarrhea, pregnancy, ascites, diabetes and some
conditions involving painful or difficult breathing. for nutritional enemas: diabetes,
obesity, lymphatic obstruction, ascites. for urethra or vaginal enemas: diabetes
Nasya: Nasal Administration
The nose is the doorway to the brain and it is also the doorway to consciousness. The
nasal administration of medication is called nasya. An excess of bodily humors accumulated
in the sinus, throat, nose or head areas is eliminated by means of the nearest possible
opening, the nose.
Prana, life force as nerve energy, enters the body through the breath taken in through
the nose. Prana is in the brain and maintains sensory and motor functions. Prana also
governs mental activities, memory, concentration and intellectual activities. Deranged
prana creates defective functioning of all these activities and produces headaches,
convulsions, loss of memory and reduced sensory perception. Thus nasal administration,
nasya is indicated for prana disorders, sinus congestion, migraine headaches, convulsions
and certain eye and ear problems.
Breathing also can be improved through nasal massage. For this treatment, the little
finger is dipped into ghee and inserted into the nose. The inner walls of the nose are
slowly massaged, going as deeply as possible. This treatment will help to open the
emotions. (Nose tissue is tender and for this application the fingernail must be kept
short to avoid injuring the delicate mucus membranes.) Since most people have deviated
nasal septums, one side of the nose will be easier to penetrate and massage than the
other. The finger should not be inserted forcibly. The massage should proceed by slow
penetration, the finger moving first in a clockwise, then counter-clockwise direction. By
this means, the emotions that are blocked in the respiratory tract will be released. One
may use this treatment each morning and evening. In this way breathing patterns will
change as the emotions are released and the eyesight also will improve.
There are six main types of nasya, as listed below.
1. Pradhamana (virechan) Nasya (cleansing nasya) uses dry powders (rather than oils)
that are blown into the nose with a tube. Pradhamana nasya is mainly used for kapha types
of diseases involving headaches, heaviness in the head, cold, nasal congestion, sticky
eyes, hoarseness of voice due to sticky kapha, sinusitis, cervical lymph adenitis, tumors,
worms, some skin diseases, epilepsy, drowsiness, Parkinsonism, inflammation of the nasal
mucosa, attachment, greed and lust. Traditionally, powders such as brahmi are used.
2. Bruhana Nasya (nutrition nasya) uses ghee, oils, salt, shatavari ghee, ashwagandha
ghee and medicated milk and is used mainly for vata disorders. It is said to benefit
conditions resulting from vata imbalances such as vata-type headaches, migraine headache,
dryness of voice, dry nose, nervousness, anxiety, fear, dizziness, emptiness, negativity,
heaviness of eyelids, bursitis, stiffness in the neck, dry sinuses and loss of sense of
3. Shaman Nasya (sedative nasya) is used according to which dosha is aggravated but
mainly for pitta-type disorders such as thinning of hair, conjunctivitis and ringing in
the ears. Generally certain herbal medicated decoctions, teas and medicated oils are used.
4. Navana Nasya (decoction nasya) is used in vata-pitta or kapha-pitta disorders and is
made from decoctions and oils together.
5. Marshya Nasya (ghee or oil nasya)
6. Prati Marshya (daily oil nasya) is performed by dipping the clean little finger in
the ghee or oil and inserting into each nostril, lubricating the nasal passage with gentle
massage as described above. This helps to open deep tissues and can be done every day and
at any time to release stress.
Substances Used in Nasya: brahmi, ginger, ghee oils, decoctions, onion, garlic,
Piper longum, black pepper, curry pepper, rose, jasmine, mogra flowers and henna.
Indications for Nasya:
stress emotional imbalances stiffness in the neck & shoulders dryness of the nose
sinus congestion hoarseness migraine headache convulsions
Contra-Indications for Nasya:
sinus infections pregnancy menstruation after sex, bathing, eating or drinking of alcohol
should not be used below 7 years or over 80 years of age
Raktamoksha: Traditional Ayurvedic Method for Purification and
Cleansing of the Blood
Toxins present in the gastro-intestinal tract are absorbed into the blood and circulated
throughout the body. This condition is called toxemia, which is the basic cause of
repeated infections, hypertension and certain other circulatory conditions. This includes
repeated attacks of skin disorders such as urticaria, rashes, herpes, eczema, acne,
scabies, leukoderma, chronic itching or hives. In such conditions, along with internal
medication, elimination of the toxins and purification of the blood is necessary.
Raktamoksha is also indicated for cases of enlarged liver, spleen and gout.
Pitta is produced from the disintegrated red blood cells in the liver. So pitta and
blood have a very close relationship. An increase in pitta may go into the blood causing
toxicity, and thus many pittagenic disorders.
Extracting a small amount of blood from a vein relieves the tension created by the
pittagenic toxins in the blood. Bloodletting also stimulates the spleen to produce
antitoxic substances which helps to stimulate the immune system. Toxins are neutralized
enabling radical cures in many blood born disorders.
Bloodletting is contraindicated in cases of anaemia, edema, extreme weakness, diabetes
and in children and elderly persons. It is also an illegal procedure within the United
Certain substances such as sugar, salt, yogurt, sour tasting foods and alcohol are
toxic to the blood. In certain blood disorders these substances should be avoided to keep
the blood pure. Burdock root tea, sandalwood, saffron, manjista, guduchi, rose and lotus
are herbs that help to purify the blood. Turmeric, goldenseal, pomegranate juice, neem,
oranges, beets and raisins can also be beneficial for blood disorders.
For raktamoksha treatment other than blood-letting, there are blood-purifying practices
involving herbs, gem therapy or color water therapy.
For blood purifying therapy look for substances that are bitter and astringent and have
blood thinning properties. Burdock root tea is the best blood purifier. For blood carried
disorders such as allergy, rash or acne the patient should take a milk laxative and the
next evening begin burdock root tea therapy. The tea is made from one teaspoon of powder
in one cup of hot water. If taken every night, the action of the herb will begin to purify
Beneficial gems and crystals are pearl, coral, amethyst, rose quartz and jade.
In the practice of colored water therapy, red should be used in vata disorders, blue
for pitta and purple for kapha.
For any raktamoksha treatment or related alternative treatment it is beneficial to
refrain from yogurt, salt, sugar, alcohol, marijuana, sour and fermented foods.
Indications for Raktamoksha:
urticaria rash acne eczema scabies leukoderma chronic itching hives enlarged liver or
Contra-Indications for Raktamoksha:
anemia edema weakness young children old age during pregnancy during menstruation
During any step of panchakarma therapy traditional Ayurveda recommends certain
lifestyle and diet guidelines.
It is advised to get plenty of rest during the panchakarma experience and to avoid
strenuous exercise, sexual activity, late nights, loud music, television and other such
stimulating experiences. It is also advised to take particular care to keep warm and away
from the wind and to observe one's thoughts and experiences during this time.
A mono-diet of kitchari and ghee is recommended, as well as essential restrictions on
cold drinks, cold food, caffeine, white sugar, recreational drugs or alcohol and dairy
products--all substances which should not be resumed (if at all) until some time after
panchakarma is completed. The reason for this diet is that during the cleansing process
the digestive fire (agni) takes a rest. Also, as toxins move back into the
gastrointestinal tract the power of digestion is further slowed. Kitchari will provide
adequate nourishment, nourishes all the tissues of the body, is very easy to digest, is
excellent for de-aging of cells and assists in the detoxification and cleansing process.
Kitchari is a seasoned mixture of rice and mung dal, and is basic to the Ayurvedic way of
life. Basmati rice and mung dal both have the qualities of being sweet and cooling with a
sweet aftertaste. Together they create a balanced food, that is an excellent protein
combination and is tridoshic.