Overview of Snehana therapy
Dr.Rajkala Panchakshari Patil
In Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine rooted in India, the term “Snehana” holds a central role, signifying a therapeutic practice focused on enhancing the “snigdha guna,” which translates to the unctuous or oily quality within the body. This essential concept of Ayurveda encompasses two distinct methods:
- External Snehana: Under this approach, known as “Snehana,” practitioners apply specific oily substances, collectively referred to as “Sneha,” to the external surfaces of the body. These Sneha substances encompass various oils, ghee (clarified butter), vasa (muscle fat), and majja (marrow). The primary objective of external Snehana is to nourish and lubricate the skin and underlying tissues, ultimately fostering suppleness and flexibility. This external Snehana often serves as a vital preliminary step to prepare the body for subsequent treatments such as massage or Panchakarma detoxification.
- Internal Snehana (Snehapana): The second facet of Snehana, known as “Snehapana,” involves the internal consumption of Sneha or oily substances. This method typically encompasses the intake of medicated oils or ghee. Internal Snehana aims to lubricate the digestive tract, offering a wide range of therapeutic benefits, including the improvement of digestion, facilitation of regular bowel movements, and prepping the body for detoxification therapies such as Virechana or Vamana.
The choice of specific Sneha substances and the manner of their application are determined by an individual’s unique constitution (Prakriti) and any prevailing imbalances (Vikriti). This individualized approach ensures that Snehana effectively balances the body’s doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) and supports overall health and well-being.
Definition of sneha
Snehana is the term used to describe the process by which the qualities of oiliness (snigdhata), liquefaction (visyandana), softness (mardavata), and moistness (kledana) are achieved.
स्नेहनं स्नेहविष्यन्दमार्दवक्लेदकारकम्  | Cha.Su.22/11
स्नेहसारोऽयं पुरुषः, प्राणाश्च स्नेहभूयिष्ठाः स्नेहसाध्याश्च भवन्ति |
स्नेहो हि पानानुवासनमस्तिष्कशिरोबस्त्युत्तरबस्तिनस्यकर्णपूरणगात्राभ्यङ्गभोजनेषूपयोज्यः ||३|| Su.Chi.31/3
“The person is the essence of sneha, and the vital forces within are also essence of sneha. They become capable of achieving affection through sneha.”
What Sneha does in the body?
स्नेहोऽनिलं हन्ति मृदूकरोति देहं मलानां विनिहन्ति सङ्गम्||७||
Properties of Snehana dravya
- Guru (Heavy)
- Sheeta (Cold)
- Sara (Fluid)
- Snigdha (Unctuous)
- Manda (Sluggish)
- Sukshma (Subtle)
- Mrudu (Soft)
- Drava (Liquid)
Qualities of person who take Sneha daily
Regular consumption of Sneha brings numerous advantages. It maintains robust metabolic energy, ensuring efficient digestion and tissue nourishment, promoting strength and a healthy complexion. Senses sharpen, aging slows, and one may even reach a century of life with the consistent use of nourishing oils or Sneha.
दीप्तान्तरग्निः परिशुद्धकोष्ठः प्रत्यग्रधातुर्बलवर्णयुक्तः |
दृढेन्द्रियो मन्दजरः शतायुः स्नेहोपसेवी पुरुषो भवेत्तु ||५६|| Su.Chi.
Classification of Snehana
Classification according to use
Uses as per Paka of Sneha
Variations of Bahya sneha as per style of administration
- Retaining type
- Shirobasti, Akshi Tarpana
- Gandusha, Karna Purana, Katibasti
- Pouring type
- Sneha Parisheka
- Applying type
- Massaging type
- Pizhini Tadwal
Dose of Sneha
- Hrisiyasi: Digestion Time: Within 3 hours
Significance: Hrisiyasi Sneha dose are the easiest to digest. They are light and gentle on the stomach. Consuming of Hrisiyasi sneha is recommended for those with weak digestion or if physician doesn’t know the type of Koshtha.
- Hrasva Matra:
– Digestion Time: Within 6 hours
– Significance: Hrasva matra sneha take a little longer to digest compared to Hrisiyasi. It’s suitable for those with moderate digestion capabilities.
- Madhyama Matra:
– Digestion Time: 12 hours
– Significance: Madhyama Matra have a moderate digestion time. This is suitable for people with good digestion.
- Uttama Matra:
– Digestion Time: 24 hours
– Significance: Uttama Matra sneha are the slowest to digest. This dose is generally recommended in moderation and should be consumed by individuals with robust digestion.
Certainly, here’s the information in a text-based format:
As per the Basis of Administration:
- Accha Sneha:
– Description: Accha Sneha involves the intake of pure Sneha, which refers to oily or fatty substances used in Ayurveda.
– Indications: Accha Sneha is administered when pure Sneha is required as a therapeutic measure. This method is often used in specific treatments for various health conditions.
- Vicharana Sneha:
– Description: Vicharana Sneha involves the administration of Sneha internally or externally along with various food articles or route of administration. It encompasses a range of methods to incorporate oils or fats into treatment.
– Methods of Administration: Vicharana Sneha can be administered through methods such as Odana (consumption with food), Vilepi (external application), Yavagu (soups), Yusha (gruels), as well as other methods like Gandusha (oil pulling), nasya (nasal application), uttarbasti (rectal enema), karnapurana (ear drops), etc.
– Indications: Vicharana Sneha is chosen when specific therapeutic formulations are needed along with Sneha. It is a versatile approach to address various health issues.
Indications for Vicharana Sneha:
- Aversion to Sneha:
– When a patient dislikes or cannot tolerate the taste or texture of pure Sneha, Vicharana Sneha methods may be employed.
- Daily Alcohol User:
– Individuals who consume alcohol regularly may have certain health imbalances, and Vicharana Sneha can be used for them.
- Mridu Koshtha (Mild Digestion):
– People with a delicate or weak digestive system (mridu koshtha) may benefit from Vicharana Sneha, as it can be customized to their digestive capacity.
- Who is Unable to Withstand Suffering or Unwelcome Challenges:
– Patients who are sensitive or have low tolerance for physical or emotional suffering may receive Vicharana Sneha to make the treatment more palatable and gentler.
– Children often require special formulations and administration methods. Vicharana Sneha can be adapted to suit their age and specific health needs.
- Old Age:
– The elderly may have unique health concerns, and Vicharana Sneha can be customized to address their age-related issues and preferences.
- Sukumara (Delicate Individuals):
– Sukumara individuals, who are inherently delicate, may find Vicharana Sneha more suitable as it can be adjusted to their constitution and requirements.
On the basis of relation with food
- Auttarabhaktika Sneha: when Sneha is administered after meal
Indicated in Urdhwajatugata roga- Talu shosha, Trishna
- Avapeedaka Sarpi: Sneha given at middle of meal
Hrasva matra- Before food
Uttama matra- After digestion of meal
Indicated in diseases of urinary system, Vatavyadhi, Arsha
मूत्रजेषु तु पाने च प्राग्भक्तं शस्यते घृतम्||६||
जीर्णान्तिकं चोत्तमया मात्रया योजनाद्वयम्|
अवपीडकमेतच्च संज्ञितं– A.H.Su.4/6
Four best Sneha: Ghee
तत्र धीस्मृतिमेधादिकाङ्क्षिणां शस्यते घृतम्||८||
Special quality of adoptability
It mitigates Vata and Pitta,
Enhances voice quality, strength, complexion, intelligence, memory
Those who desire for longevity
Ghee classification as per years
0-1 year: Nava
> 1 yr= Purana (this again classified further)
1-10 yrs= Purana Ghrita
11-100 yrs= Prapurana Ghrita
101-110 yrs= Kumbham
> 110 yrs = Maha Ghrita
तैलं लाघवदार्ढ्यार्थिक्रूरकोष्ठेषु देहिषु||९||
Pacify vata & kapha
Bhagna sandhankara, Nadivrana
Those who desire strength
–वसा तु सन्ध्यस्थिमर्मकोष्ठरुजासु च|
Those who are able to tolerate wind and sunlight
Emaciated by weight lifting and coitus or excessive walking
Decreased semen and blood
In Madhava( Vasant) rutu
Those who can tolerate trouble,
Those who are desire of bala sukra, mamsa, asthi vardhana
Shamana: administration of Sneha after getting appetite – moderate dose शमनः क्षुद्वतोऽनन्नो मध्यमात्रश्च शस्यते||१९||
Shodhana : uttam matra, empty stomach
ह्यस्तने जीर्ण एवान्ने स्नेहोऽच्छः शुद्धये बहुः|
Brimhana : small dose along with food
बृंहणो रसमद्याद्यैः सभक्तोऽल्पः
Relation of brimhana Sneha with food
– Prepares the body
– Strengthens the lower body.
– Helps with Vata balance.
Middle of Meal:
– Optimizes digestion (agni bala).
– Provides overall body stability.
– Eases abdominal discomfort.
– Focuses on the head and neck.
– Enhances sense organ stability.
– Addresses related disorders.Indications of snehapana
Indicated for Shodhana
Elderly, child, Those who do more exercise, Who think more, Addicted to alcohol intake
Vata vyadhi, Oligospermia, Anaemia
Indigestion, Vomiting, Diarrhoea, Akala prasuta (delivered at improper time)
Rukshanarha (Fit for Rukshana), Sthula (obese), Udara Roga (ascites), Datta shodhana (Nasya, basti, virechana)
Season and sneha
- Sharad (Autumn)– Ghee
- Pravrita (Varsha)- Taila
- Madhava (March)- Vasa, Majja
- Vata Pitta vitiated, summer- in night
- Kapha vitiated, winter, – in day time
Dose of Sneha – Sushruta
Dose of Sneha (Charaka)
Practice of snehapana of Vardhaman krama or Arohana krama is described by Vangasena (12th AD).
Time taken for stool, frequency per day, consistency of stool, history of diarrhoea
Mridu -Pitta Predominance
Madhyama- Kapha Predominance
Assessemnt by clinical history or Sneha prakarsha kala
Type of koshtha and duration
- Mridu tama -1 day
- Mridu tara 2 days
- Mridu- 3 days
- Madhyama tama – 4 dyas
- Madhyama tara- 5 days
- Madhyama – 6 days
- Krura- 7 days
- Krura tara- 8 days
- Krura tama- 9 days
Acchapana is the oral intake of medicated or non medicated sneha in required quantities for a limited time period without mixing food articles other than prakshepadravyas.It can be samana or sodhana. In this, sneha alone should be given in the early morning; after the digestion of sneha, dravapradhana ahara should be given.
Water boiled with Shunti-Q.S.
- Sambhar sangraha (Collection of necessary materials)
- Examination of patient
- Fixation of dose
- Preparation of patient
Comprehensive evaluation is essential for Athura pareeksha, examining Agni (digestive fire); Matra pareeksha, assessing the strength of digestion; and Vyadhi-Bala pareeksha, gauging resistance to diseases. Adequate rookshana, a process of drying and detoxification, is carried out through methods such as thakrapana (application of medicated buttermilk) and udwarthana (dry powder massage), alongside the use of deepana-pachana medications. A moderate Hraseeyasi matra is typically administered for Agni assessment, while koshtapareeksha (intestinal examination) is conducted, and an allergic test is performed, generally involving a quantity of 20-60 ml.
On the preceding day, the patient should be provided with food (vilepi) that is neither excessively heavy nor excessively nourishing. It’s important for the patient to obtain restful sleep during the night. The following morning, an evaluation of their digestion is conducted, considering factors like lightness, purity of belching, and normal bowel movements. After adhering to their usual daily regimen, the patient is readied for snehapana, an Ayurvedic oleation therapy.
- Investigations required prior to accha snehapana:-
Blood:-Routine Examination RE,
- Liver Function Test,
- Sugar levels,
- Renal Function Test,
- Lipid profiles.
- Urine: -RE.
- Stool: – RE.
Mode of administration of Sneha
Obnservation of jiryamana, Jirna Lakshana
Observation of snigdha, asnigdha, atisnigdha lakshana
Sneha vyapada and their management
वातानुलोम्यं दीप्तोऽग्निर्वर्चः स्निग्धमसंहतम्||३०||
स्नेहोद्वेगः क्लमः सम्यक्स्निग्धे,
जानीयाद् भेषजं जीर्यत्…………………||२७||
The dosage of the sneha, or therapeutic oil, should be determined based on various factors such as age, overall health, individual constitution (prakriti), current imbalances (vikriti), dosha (constitutional factors), and digestive strength (agnibala). Typically, for ghee (grita), the initial dosage should fall in the range of 50-75 ml, and for oil (taila), it should be between 30-60 ml on the first day. The subsequent day’s dose should be established after considering the time taken for digestion. For vasa and majja, a maximum of 50 ml can be administered.
The process commences within half an hour of sunrise, where the patient is seated comfortably on an empty stomach. The sneha is then administered, and afterward, the eye bandage is removed. Warm water is given as an anupana (accompanying drink), often incorporating Shunti jala as a traditional practice. Subsequently, the patient washes their face and mouth with hot water to eliminate the taste of the sneha. When thirst arises, warm water can be provided, and this sequence is followed on the subsequent days as well.
Snehapana can be extended until the desired signs of proper oleation, such as the correction of Vata imbalances, improved digestive vigor (agnideepti), the presence of unctuous and unformed stools, the alleviation of any discomfort related to the intake of the oil (snehodvega), and the overall softness and suppleness of body parts are observed. Typically, this period spans from 3 to 7 days. However, if these signs are not evident even after 7 days, the Snehapana should be discontinued. Following a brief period of 1 to 3 days for rookshana (drying and detoxification), Snehapana can be resumed. In cases where Snehapana is aimed at balancing Samana dosha (one of the functional aspects of digestion), it should be continued until the symptoms subside.
Post operative procedure:
The patient is advised to rest during the Snehapana period, with an important note not to nap during the daytime. In case of nausea, the patient can be offered the aroma of lemon to alleviate discomfort. Following the complete digestion of the Snehapana, when a healthy appetite is experienced, warm vilepi can be provided as nourishment.
Before initiating and throughout the procedure, the patient should adhere to a disciplined routine. This involves the consumption of warm and liquid diets that are low in fat, and it’s advisable to avoid a wide array of recipes. The timing and season for administration should ideally be neither excessively hot nor cold, and the sky should be clear rather than cloudy.
- Ghee- hot water
- Taila- Yusha
- Vasa – Majja- Manda
- Tuvaraka taila- normal water
Bahya Sneha refers to external oleation methods in Ayurveda. These techniques include:
- Abhyanga: Full body oil massage.
- Lepa: Application of herbal pastes or clay on specific areas.
- Udwartana: Dry powder massage.
- Padaghata: Foot massage.
- Samvahana: Massaging with oil in a synchronized manner.
- Sneha Avagaha: Oil bath or immersion.
- Gandusha: Holding oil or liquid in the mouth.
- Kavala: Swishing oil in the mouth.
- Akshi Tarpana: Eye treatment.
- Karnapurana: Ear oiling.
- Mastishkya: Applying oil on the head.
- Talapodichill: Foot oiling.
- Murdhni taila: Scalp oil application.
- Shirodhara: Oil poured on the forehead.
- Kati basti: Waist oil treatment.
- Griva basti: Neck oil treatment.
- Janu basti: Knee oil treatment.
- Hrid basti: Heart region oil treatment.
10 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) related to Snehana:
- What is the primary objective of external Snehana in Ayurveda?
- To balance the doshas
- To improve digestion
- To nourish and lubricate the skin and tissues
- To promote mental clarity
- What is the term used to describe the internal consumption of Sneha or oily substances in Ayurveda?
- Which of the following is NOT considered one of the properties of Snehana dravya (oily substances) in Ayurveda?
- Guru (Heavy)
- Snigdha (Unctuous)
- Ruksha (Dry)
- Mrudu (Soft)
- What qualities does Sneha aim to achieve within the body according to Ayurvedic principles?
- Dryness and roughness
- Moistness and softness
- Sweet and sour tastes
- Lightness and roughness
- Which factor determines the choice of specific Sneha substances and their application in Ayurveda?
- Age of the individual
- The season of the year
- An individual’s constitution (Prakriti) and imbalances (Vikriti)
- The availability of oils in the region
- What are the qualities of Sneha substances used for Bahya Sneha in Ayurveda?
- They are usually cooling and drying.
- They are mainly pungent and bitter in taste.
- They should be heavy, unctuous, and liquid.
- They are primarily light and sharp in quality.
- What is the recommended timing for the administration of Ghee (grita) in Snehapana in relation to a meal?
- Before the meal
- During the meal
- After the meal
- It can be administered at any time of the day
- How is the dosage of Sneha determined for Snehapana in Ayurveda?
- It is based solely on the patient’s age.
- It is consistent for all individuals.
- It depends on factors such as the patient’s constitution, digestion, and age.
- It is fixed and does not vary.
- What type of Sneha is recommended for the elderly and children in Ayurveda?
- Hrasva Matra
- Madhyama Matra
- Madhyama-Tara Matra
- Uttama Matra
- In Ayurveda, what does “Vicharana Sneha” involve?
- Application of oil to the body’s exterior
- Internal consumption of pure Sneha
- Combining Sneha with various food articles
- Both A and B
- c. To nourish and lubricate the skin and tissues
- a. Snehapana
- c. Ruksha (Dry)
- b. Moistness and softness
- c. An individual’s constitution (Prakriti) and imbalances (Vikriti)
- c. They should be heavy, unctuous, and liquid.
- a. Before the meal
- c. It depends on factors such as the patient’s constitution, digestion, and age.
- a. Hrasva Matra
- d. Both A and B
1.Agnivesha, Charaka, Charaka Samhita with commentary of Chakrapani Datta, edited by Vaidya Yadavaji Trikamji Acharya, published by Chaukhamba Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi, Reprint 2010
2.Sushruta, Sushruta Samhita with commentary of Sri Dalhanacharya edited by Aryan Ram Acharya “Kavyatirtha”, published by Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, Reprint 2009
3.Vagbhata, Ashtanga Hridya with the commentaries Sarvangasundara of Arundatta and Ayurveda Rasayana of Hemadri, edited by Pandit Hari Sadasiva Sastri Paradakara Bhisagacarya; Chaukhamba rientalia,Varanasi, Reprint -2011.
4.Dravyaguna Vijnana by Dr. J. L. N Shastri, Vol. 2, 3rd Edition, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi, 2008