Practical Applications of Swedana Therapy  

Dr. Rajkala P. Patil
Head & Associate Professor,
Department of Panchakarma,
Faculty of Ayurveda, IMS, BHU, Varanasi


Swedana, a fundamental aspect of Ayurvedic therapy, is a method employed to induce perspiration or sweating in the body, and it holds a significant role in traditional healing practices. The act of intentionally generating sweat for therapeutic purposes is precisely what Swedana entails. In Ayurveda, this process is instrumental in alleviating stiffness, heaviness, and coldness in the body, effectively facilitating the induction of sweating, which is considered to be profoundly beneficial. Through the synergistic application of oil and sudation therapy, one can witness the transformation of rigidity into pliability and inflexibility into suppleness. This unique treatment is akin to how a rigid object can become more flexible and malleable, mirroring the capacity of Swedana to bring about a similar transformation in the human body. 

Properties of Swedana drugs 


 Classification of Swedana  

  1. Based on agni
  2. Based on properties of drug used
    Snigdha Sweda
    Ruksha sweda
  3. Based on site
  4. Trivrita Sweda
    Ruksha sweda
    Snigdha sweda
    Snigdha Ruksha sweda

 Sushruta types of Sweda   

  1. Tapa sweda
  2. Ushma sweda 
  3. Upanaha sweda 
  4. Drava sweda 

 Harita Samhita – types of Sweda   

  • Loshta 
  • Bashpa
  • Agnijwala
  • Ghati
  • Jala
  • Phala 
  • Valuka 

 Kashyapa types of Sweda   

  • Hasta 
  • Pradeha 
  • Nadi 
  • Prastara 
  • Sankara
  • Upanaha 
  • Avagaha 
  • Parisheka 

 Types of Anagni Sweda    

व्यायाम उष्णसदनं गुरुप्रावरणं क्षुधा|
बहुपानं भयक्रोधावुपनाहाहवातपाः||६४||

स्वेदयन्ति दशैतानि नरमग्निगुणादृते|६५|

  • Exercise 
  • Residing in warm chamber 
  • Covering body with heavy clothing 
  • Hunger 
  • Excess drinking 
  • Fear
  • Anger 
  • Wrestling 
  • Application of poultice 
  • Exposure to sun rays 

 Types of Sagni Sweda- Charaka    

सङ्करः प्रस्तरो नाडी परिषेकोऽवगाहनम्|
जेन्ताकोऽश्मघनः कर्षूः कुटी भूः कुम्भिकैव च||३९||

कूपो होलाक इत्येते स्वेदयन्ति त्रयोदश|
तान् यथावत् प्रवक्ष्यामि सर्वानेवानुपूर्वशः||४०

  • Sankara sweda 
  • Prastara sweda 
  • Nadi sweda 
  • Parisheka sweda 
  • Avagaha sweda
  • Jentaka sweda 
  • Asmaghana sweda
  • Karshu sweda 
  • Kuti sweda 
  • Bhu sweda 
  • Kumbhi sweda 
  • Kupa sweda 
  • Holak sweda 

 Inclusion of Charaka’s Sweda in Sushruta’s types     

Tapa Sweda- Jentaka, Karshu, Kuti, Kupa
Ushma Sweda- Sankara, Prastara, Nadi, Ashmaghana, Kumbha, Bhusweda
Drava Sweda– Parisheka, Avagaha
Upanaha- Upanaha 

 General Indications of Swedana  

प्रतिश्याये च कासे च हिक्काश्वासेष्वलाघवे|
कर्णमन्याशिरःशूले स्वरभेदे गलग्रहे||२०||

अर्दितैकाङ्गसर्वाङ्गपक्षाघाते विनामके|
कोष्ठानाहविबन्धेषु मूत्राघाते [३] विजृम्भके||२१||

पार्श्वपृष्ठकटीकुक्षिसङ्ग्रहे गृध्रसीषु च|
मूत्रकृच्छ्रे महत्त्वे च मुष्कयोरङ्गमर्दके||२२||

पादजानूरुजङ्घार्तिसङ्ग्रहे श्वयथावपि|
खल्लीष्वामेषु शीते च वेपथौ वातकण्टके||२३||

सङ्कोचायामशूलेषु स्तम्भगौरवसुप्तिषु [४] |
सर्वाङ्गेषु विकारेषु स्वेदनं हितमुच्यते||२४

  • Rhinitis
  • Dyspnoea
  • Heaviness in body
  • Pain in neck
  • Pain in foot, joint pain
  • Stiffness in joints
  • Paralysis
  • Sarvanga vata 
  • Tremors  

  Special indications- Swedana   

  Disease specific clinical indications    

 Clinical indications    

  Contra- indications   

कषायमद्यनित्यानां गर्भिण्या रक्तपित्तिनाम्|
पित्तिनां सातिसाराणां रूक्षाणां मधुमेहिनाम्||१६||

विदग्धभ्रष्टब्रध्नानां विषमद्यविकारिणाम्|
श्रान्तानां नष्टसञ्ज्ञानां स्थूलानां पित्तमेहिनाम्||१७||

तृष्यतां क्षुधितानां [२] च क्रुद्धानां शोचतामपि|
कामल्युदरिणां चैव क्षतानामाढ्यरोगिणाम्||१८||

दुर्बलातिविशुष्काणामुपक्षीणौजसां तथा|
भिषक् तैमिरिकाणां च न स्वेदमवतारयेत्||१९

  • Alcoholic 
  • Preganant
  • Bleeding disorders 
  • Diabetes mellitus 
  • Poisoning
  • Anal pathologies 
  • Obesity 
  • Vascular disorders
  • Refractive disorders 
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Having menses 
  • Skin diseases 

The procedure of Swedana in Ayurveda involves several stages, starting with Purvakarma (Sambhar sangraha) and considerations before the fomentation therapy. Let’s elaborate on each of these steps:

  1. Purvakarma (Sambhar Sangraha):
    Purvakarma refers to the preparatory measures taken before the actual Swedana therapy. It involves collecting and arranging all the necessary tools and equipment for the treatment.
  1. Consideration Before Fomentation Therapy:
  • Preparation of Patient: The patient’s physical and mental preparation is crucial. They should be ready for the therapy, both mentally and physically.
  • Dosha: Understanding the patient’s dosha constitution and any specific dosha imbalances is essential. This helps determine the type of Swedana therapy to be administered. For example, Vata, Pitta, or Vata-Pitta disorders have different Swedana requirements.
  • Ritu (Season): The choice of season is significant. Some types of Swedana are more suitable for specific seasons. For instance, in cold weather, it’s common to opt for fomentation therapy to maintain warmth and balance.
  • Rogi (Patient’s Condition): The overall health and specific ailments of the patient play a vital role in determining the Swedana method. Some therapies are more effective for certain conditions.
  • Desha (Region): The geographical location and environmental factors can affect the choice of Swedana. Different regions may require adjustments to the therapy.
  • Body Parts: Identifying the targeted body parts for Swedana is crucial. Depending on the ailment or the purpose, it can be applied to specific areas or the entire body.
  • Atura Siddhata (Patient’s Readiness): Ensuring the patient is prepared for Swedana, both mentally and physically, is vital for successful therapy.
  1. Pre-Operative Swedana:

This stage involves administering a pre-operative Swedana to the patient. It’s typically a mild, preliminary treatment to prepare the body for the therapeutic Swedana that follows. It helps open up the channels and primes the body for the main therapy.

  1. Therapeutic Swedana:

The main Swedana therapy is designed to induce sweating in the patient. There are various methods for this, including steam baths, herbal bolus fomentation, or warm oil application. The choice depends on the patient’s constitution and condition, as well as the specific purpose of the therapy. The therapeutic Swedana aims to alleviate symptoms, promote relaxation, and restore balance in the body.

 Observation of proper fomentation   

शीतशूलव्युपरमे स्तम्भगौरवनिग्रहे|
सञ्जाते मार्दवे स्वेदे स्वेदनाद्विरतिर्मता||१३

  • Relief of coldness 
  • Relief of pain 
  • Relief of stiffness 
  • Relief of heaviness 
  • Paschat karma of swedana 

 Post-Swedana regimen:    

  1. Cover Body with a Blanket: After the Swedana therapy, it is customary to cover the body with a warm blanket or sheet. This helps in retaining the heat generated during the treatment. The covering also prevents the patient from getting chilled as their body temperature adjusts post-treatment.
  2. Avoid Direct Exposure to Wind: It’s essential to shield the body from direct exposure to cold or windy conditions after Swedana. The body is more susceptible to external factors immediately after the therapy, and cold wind can disrupt the body’s equilibrium. It’s recommended to stay in a warm and protected environment to maintain the therapeutic benefits.
  3. Rest for 45 Minutes: After Swedana, a period of rest is crucial. The body needs time to stabilize, and rest allows for the deeper absorption of the therapeutic effects. A 45-minute rest is a common guideline, but the duration can vary based on the individual’s condition and the specific Swedana treatment.
  4. Take a Bath with Lukewarm Water:  Following the resting period, a lukewarm bath is typically recommended. Lukewarm water helps to gradually cool down the body without causing sudden temperature shocks. This step also helps remove excess oil, sweat, and toxins released during the Swedana therapy.
  5. Take Food Which is Snigdha, Ushna, Not Kaphakara: Post-Swedana, it’s advisable to consume a meal that aligns with Ayurvedic principles. The food should be snigdha (unctuous), ushna (warm), and not kaphakara (causing an increase in Kapha dosha). Snigdha and ushna qualities support the digestive process and help maintain the warmth generated during Swedana.

  Varieties of Sweda (Sweating Therapies):    

  1. Sankara Sweda: A traditional method where the entire body or a specific part is induced to perspire using a medicinal pudding in the form of a bolus wrapped in cloth.
    Type: Brimhana (nourishing).
    Indications: Effective for nervous system disorders, spinal cord degeneration, chronic rheumatism, cerebral palsy, poliomyelitis, muscular diseases, and degenerative conditions.
  1. Jambira Pinda Sweda: Involves applying heated bolus bags filled with fried Jambira (lemon) and other medicinal substances.
    Indications: Beneficial for Amavata (rheumatoid arthritis), osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis, and stiffness at specific points.
  1. Ela Kizhi / PPS (Leaf Bolus Sweda): Fomentation performed with heated bolus bags containing leaves of medicinal plants such as Eranda, Arka, Dhattura, Nirgundi, Shigru, Varuna, Vasa, Karanja, Tamarind leaves, and coconut scraping.
    Indications: Effective for backache, joint pain, Amavata, and Sandhivata.
  1. Anda Sweda (Mutta Kizhi – Egg Bolus Sweda): Uses eggs as bolus swedana with additional ingredients.
    Indications: Suitable for post-polio residual paralysis, neurological weakness in small muscles, facial paralysis, and traumatic conditions.
  1. Dhanya Potali Sweda (Cereal Bolus Sweda): Fomentation performed with heated bolus bags containing seeds of cereals and pulses.
    Indications: Effective for muscle pathologies, painful muscle contractions, and arthritis.
  1. Choorna Pinda Sweda (Medicated Powder Bolus Sweda): Fomentation with medicated powders made into bolus form using cotton cloth.
    Indications: Useful for arthritis in the amavastha (toxic stage), sciatica, neurological disorders, weight loss, and fat reduction.
  1. Valuka Sweda (Sand Sweda): Involves the use of sand for sweating therapy.
    Indications: Suitable for sama roga (diseases caused by toxins), Amavata (rheumatoid arthritis), urusthambha (stiffness of thighs), medo roga (fat-related disorders), and Kapha Medovritta Vata (Vata vitiated by excess fat).
  1. Kayaseka / Pizhichil: A special swedana therapy highly effective for neurological disorders. It’s done using various liquids like oil, kashaya (decoction), milk, dhanyamla, and buttermilk.
    Indications: Used for conditions such as hemiplegia, paralysis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, spinal injuries, and fractures.
  1. Bashpa Sweda (Steam Therapy): Involves inducing sweat by exposing the body to steam.
    Types: Can be Snigdha (unctuous) when performed after Abhyanga (oil massage) or Ruksha (dry) when done without Abhyanga.
    Indications: Beneficial for osteoarthritis (OA), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), avascular necrosis (AVN), and ankylosing spondylitis.
  1. Upanaha Sweda: This involves the application of a warm paste made from medicinal substances mixed with sour liquid, salt, and oil.
    Indications: Effective for arthritis, bursitis, frozen shoulder, and ankylosing spondylitis.


 10 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) related to Swedana.   

  1. What is the primary purpose of Swedana in Ayurveda?
    – A. To induce relaxation
    – B. To generate perspiration for therapeutic purposes
    – C. To enhance mental clarity
    – D. To improve digestion
      Answer: B. To generate perspiration for therapeutic purposes
  1. Which of the following qualities is NOT associated with Swedana drugs?
    – A. Snigdha (unctuous)
    – B. Ruksha (dry)
    – C. Drava (liquid)
    – D. Shita (cold)
       Answer: D. Shita (cold)
  1. Swedana can be classified based on which of the following criteria?
    – A. Dosha constitution
    – B. Type of oil used
    – C. Season of the year
    – D. All of the above
      Answer: A. Dosha constitution
  1. What is the primary indication for Sankara Sweda in Ayurveda?
    – A. Skin diseases
    – B. Gastrointestinal diseases
    – C. Nervous system disorders
    – D. Psychological diseases
       Answer: C. Nervous system disorders
  1. Which type of Sweda involves applying heated bolus bags filled with fried Jambira (lemon) and other medicinal substances?
    – A. Anda Sweda
    – B. Valuka Sweda
    – C. Jambira Pinda sweda
    – D. Sankara Sweda
       Answer: C. Jambira Pinda sweda 
  1. Which type of Swedana uses eggs as bolus swedana with additional ingredients?
    – A. Dhanya Potali Sweda
    – B. Jambira Pinda Sweda
    – C. Ela Kizhi
    – D. Anda Sweda
    Answer: D. Anda Sweda
  1. After Swedana therapy, it is recommended to cover the body with a blanket to:
    – A. Prevent sweating
    – B. Retain the heat generated during treatment
    – C. Promote dehydration
    – D. Increase exposure to cold air
     Answer: B. Retain the heat generated during treatment
  1. Which type of Sweda therapy is highly effective for neurological disorders and often uses oil, rock salt, powders, and buttermilk?
    – A. Upanaha Sweda
    – B. Valuka Sweda
    – C. Sankara Sweda
    – D. Bashpa Sweda
    Answer: A. Upanaha Sweda
  1. What is the general indication for Swedana in Ayurveda?
    – A. Pregnancy
    – B. Pakshaghata
    – C. Vomiting
    – D. Ajirna
    Answer: B. Pakshaghata
  1. Which of the following is a contraindication for Swedana therapy?
    – A. Ardita
    – B. Tamaka Shwasa
    – C. Diabetes mellitus
    – D. Pakshaghata
      Answer: C. Diabetes mellitus 


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4. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Dr. J. L. N Shastri, Vol. 2, 3rd Edition, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2008



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