The word snehana simply refers to imparting greasiness. The therapeutic procedure by which greasiness is imparted to the body using different kinds of fat is called as snehana. Certain forms of fats like oil, ghee or animal body fat are administered internally or applied externally to add oiliness to the body. Internal administration means oral, rectal or other roots of administration where the fat is given to inside of the body. External administration refers to the application of fat on to the skin and may be followed by massage. Snehana is one among the shadupakrama, and is advocated as unique therapeutic procedures in a variety of diseases. Snehana is also performed as preparation of the client prior to the administration of shodhana procedures. In such situations, where the snehana is carried out as a part of shodhana procedure it is referred by the name purvakarma.
EFFECT OF SNEHANA ON THE BODY
By virtue of its unctuous quality, snehana or administration of the fat substances exhibits four distinct effects or functions in the body.
They are named as:
The wet and lustrous appearance of the body parts when treated with oil is known as snehana effect. The substances impregnated with oil like its solid nature and show a tendency to liquefy and is known as vishyandana effect. The softness imparted to the body parts when treated with oil refers to mardava effect. The wetness that increases in the body by the administration of the oil refers to kledana or moistening. These effects of the snehana in the body are used for the therapeutic benefit, both for the maintenance of healthy life in normal persons and for the cure of the illness in the diseased. In spite of this, the drugs used in the preparation of the medicated oil have got their own therapeutic effect and helps in the speedy recovery of the patient. Added to this the massage that follows the oil application gives non sexual pleasurable sensation, increases the blood circulation, improves the process of clearing the toxic substances from the tissues, also releases the stiffness in the muscles and cures pain.
CHARACTER OF FAT SUBSTANCES
The overall effect of administration of fat on the body depends upon the inherent qualities of the fat substances used. Among the different qualities, the Snigdha i.e. greasy quality is the most important one, and its effect mostly desired in the treatment. For the same reason all the procedures carried out using the fat substances is called by the name snehana therapy. Different qualities of the fat substances used for the therapeutic purpose are listed below:
- Snigdha guna :- This is the greasy quality of the fat substances, imparts oiliness as well as softness to the body parts when administered. Added to this it also improves physical strength and body complexion. In general, this quality alleviates the vata dosha, and tends to increase kapha dosha.
- Guru guna :- This quality refers to the heaviness. The fat substances are comparatively heavier for the digestion and therefore tend to suppress the digestion. Further, during oral administration of snehana procedure much emphasis is laid on the dosage of fat substances and time of its administration so that there won’t be any untoward symptoms of indigestion. Apart from this, guru guna enhances the body weight as well as strength. It may even increase the amount of body waste and hence excretion. Among the dosha this quality of the fat substances tends to increase the kapha dosha.
- Shita guna :- This quality of fat substances refers to the cold. By viritue of this quality, fat substances when administered increases a sense of happiness, alleviates the thirst, reduce the burning sensation if any, minimizes the sweating and cures the transient loss of consciousness when present. This quality also tends to constrict and contract the body parts there by improving the stability of the body.
- Mridu guna :- Softness, as well as looseness of the body parts, is imparted by the mridu quality of the fat substances when administered. Softness imparted to the body channels is significant as it eases the passage and mobilizes the vitiated dosha. Thus the elimination of the dosha is made easy.
- Drava guna :- In general fat substances have liquid physical property. By virtue of this quality, it brings about moistening in the body parts. By nature the liquid quality has a tendency to dissolve the substances, it has an ability to flow and spread easily. Accordingly, when administered, fat substances easily and quickly spread within the body, dissolve the deranged dosha, and mobilize so that it can be easily eliminated by the shodhana procedures.
- Pichchhila guna :- Pichchhila refers to slimness and by this quality, the fat substances tend to form a coat when administered. Consequently, the fat substances help in the integrity of the body parts, improves the excellence of body tissues, increases the body weight and hence longevity. Kapha dosha may increase by this inherent quality of the fat substances.
- Sara guma :- Tendency of the fat substances to flow is explained by the sara guna. This quality helps in the mobilization of the dosha from its location of imbalance to the site of its elimination.
- Manda guna :- Slowness of the activity is represented by the manda guna of the fatty substances. The slow but steady activity of the fat within the body that persists for a considerable long period is because of this inherent quality. Virulence of the vitiated dosha is said to reduce by this quality of the fat when taken internally.
- Sukshma guna :- Fineness is also a quality of the fatty substances. When administered fat tends to penetrate the minute body channels, and thus gets distributed ubiquitously.
Thus the fat substances when administered penetrates the minute and deep structures in the body, renders moistening of the vitiated dosha, facilitates its dissolution and thus mobilizes from the site of imbalance to the gastrointestinal tract, where from the vitiated dosha is eliminated by advocating the shodhana procedure.
TYPES OF FAT USED FOR THE THERAPEUTIC PURPOSE
Different fat is used for the therapeutic purpose. Each fat is said to have some distinct qualities, and accordingly, they have specific therapeutic utility. Basically, the fats are said to be of two types as per their origin. They are named as Sthavara sneha and jangama sneha. This classification of the fat is known by the name yonibedha, where yoni refers to the origin and the bedha refers to the types.
- STHAVARA SNEHA
The fat derived from the plant substances is called as sthavara sneha. The examples include sesame oil, castor oil, mustard oil, karanja oil (pongamia pinnata) etc. Even though the word taila refers to the oil extracted from the sesame, different oils extracted from the different plants are generally referred by the name taila. Oil extracted from the seeds of eranda (Ricinus communis), danti (Baliospermum montanum), dravanti (Croton tiglium), kampilla (Mallotus philippinensis) etc are useful in inducing diarrhea. The oil from the madanaphala (Randia spinosa), dhamargava (Lufa cylindrical) etc are helpful to induce vomiting. For nasal administration oils extracted from vidanga (Embelia ribes), shigru (Moringa oleifera), sarshapa (Brassica campestris) etc are used. In patients suffering from the infected wounds the oils derived from the plants like karanja (Pongamiapinnata), jyotishmati (Celastrus panniculatus) etc is beneficial. Retention of the urine is treated by the administration of the oils taken out from the trapusa (Cucumis sativus) and kushmanda (Benincasa hispida). Oils from bramhi (Bacopa monnieri), bakuchi (Psoralia corylifolia) and haritaki (Terminalia chebula) are efficacious in clearing urolithiasis. In patients suffering from excessive urination the oils extracted from sarshapa (Brassica campestris) is beneficial. Oils derived from vibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), bhallataka (semecarpus anacardium) etc are helpful in imparting black color. Oil of priyangu (Callicarpa macrophylla), shyonaka (Oroxylum indicum) etc are used to clear the blackish discoloration. Oils from the devadaru (Cedrus deodara), agaru (Aquilaria agallocha) etc are used to treat skin diseases. Like wise oils from different plant sources are prescribed in a variety of disorders depending upon the therapeutic utility.
Following are the benefits of ghee in general.
- Vata-pitta-kaphahara :- Alleviates the vitiation of vata, pitta dosha in general and kapha dosha when processed with herbs that pacify the kapha dosha.
- Na shleshma vivardhanam :- Does not aggravate the kapha dosha
- Vata-pitta prakriti :- Ideal fat for persons of vata and pitta constitution
- Dahashamak :- Cures the burning sensation.
- Kshata-kshina :- Beneficial in patients Suffering from the respiratory disorder kshata-kshina characterized haemoptysis and emaciation.
- Vriddha-balastathabala :- Best type of fat for administration even in children elderly as well as debilitated persons.
- Rasa shukra ojasam hitam :- Improves the body tissues like Rasa, shukra and ojas.
- Agnidipti :- Augments the digestion power
- Varna-prasadanam :- Betters the body complexion
- Swara-prasadanam :- Improves the voice
- Balavardhanam :- Enhances the physical strength
- Dhi-smriti-medha– :- Mental abilities like memory,
- Kankshinam :- intelligence and stability is improved
- Ayushya :- Prolongs the life span
- Chakshushya :- Clears the eye sight
- Prajakama :- Effectively improves the fertility rate
- Soukumaryarthinah :- Renders the body soft and tender