Nasya treatment means putting nasal drops. While you might be already knowing about usage of nasal drops to relieve nasal congestion, Ayurvedic nasya therapy is quite different from this usual practice. While putting the drops into nostrils remains the same, the purpose of this treatment varies in Ayurveda.
While there are many types of Nasya treatments, there is one type which can be done on a daily basis for the overall improvement of health and to prevent diseases.
Ayurvedic texts define nasya as-“Oushadham oushadha siddha sneham va nasikayaam deeyate inti nasyam”
It means, procedure where the medicated drugs or oils are administrated through the nostrils.
Note: There are many types of Nasya using powders, juice extracts, decoctions, herbal fumes etc. But they are used for therapeutic purposes. Here, I am only concentrating on the one that everyone can use on daily basis.
Nasal medication is especially described for the treatment of diseases of the parts above the shoulders;
Nose is considered as the gateway for the head, spreading through this, the nasal medication reaches all the parts of the head and neck and cures the diseases of respective region.
Procedure for Nasya treatment
This is if anyone is interested to do on a daily basis. Consult your doctor for the right advice.
This is the procedure –
If there is urge to urinate or defecate, finish that first.
It is better to brush the teeth first, if you are doing it in the morning.
Take plain sesame oil and do gentle massage over the entire face and neck.
For the purpose of massage, you can use
Maha Narayana oil, if you are targeting headache and sinusitis.
Nalpamaradi taila / Kumkumadi Taila – for good facial skin and complexion
Bala Ashwagandhadi Taila / Ksheerabala taila – to improve strength of sense organs.
While massaging, avoid eye lids and eyes.
After this, you need to give some sort of heat treatment.
It can be
– exposing to early morning sunlight,
– gentle exercise to warm up the face,
– washing face with lukewarm water
– gently heating a towel over a Dosa pan and patting over face, avoiding eyes.
Hot fomentation should be given to face and neck, avoiding eyes and eye lids.
Lie on a cot in a room devoid of breeze or excess sunlight.
For convenience, keep a thin pillow below neck.
Lie straight with his face upwards, extending arms and legs.
Take Anu Tailam – the best oil for Nasya procedure, available in any local Ayurveda store. The oil is slightly warmed in hot water bed, just before administration.
Two drops of the oil are instilled into each nostril.
This can be done by another person as self administration may be difficult.
After instilling, soles, neck, palms, ears etc. should be massaged mildly.
After about 30 minutes, sputum along with medicine may come out. You have to spit it all out.
If you feel excess of heat / burning sensation, then wash your face with cold water.
After this procedure, one should lie with the face upwards, for 2 minutes.
Then, ideally, smoke inhalation with medicated herbs and mouth gargling should be done, to cleanse the throat.
If you get any doubts, if you have any underlying disease, please consult your Ayurveda doctor before taking up this nasya procedure.
If you do Jala Neti, then better to maintain a gap of 30 minutes between that and Nasya.
This type of Nasya is applicable to all healthy people.
Specifically it is helpful in people suffering from
Stiffness of the head
Stiffness of the teeth
Stiffness of the neck
Obstruction of the throat
Stiffness of the jaw
Rhinitis – running nose
Hyper pigmentation, freckles
Stiffness of shoulder
Diseases of the oral cavity
Motor neuron disorders
Neuro muscular disorders
One who practices nasal therapy in time according to the prescribed method, his eyes, nose and ears are not affected by any morbidity.
His hair and head never become white or grey; he never experiences hair fall; those rather grow luxuriously.
Being nourished by inhalation, his veins, joints, ligaments and tendons of head and neck gain greater strength. His face becomes cheerful and plumpy; and his voice becomes sweet, stabilized and stertorous.
All the sense organs become clear and three is considerable strength.
Diseases relating to head and neck do not attack such a person. Even though, he might be growing old, old age does not affect his head (in the form of grey hair etc (reference: Charaka Sutrasthana 5th chapter)
How Nasya Therapy Acts?
It is said that, medicines administered through nasal route, passes via Shrigantaka marma and enters all the sense organs and strengthens them.
As per modern principles, medicines administered nasally can have an impact on eye, facial skin, ears, nose and oral cavity.
Persons unsuitable to nasal medication :-
Nasal medication should not be administered to persons who
have just then consumed water, wine, artificial poison (Garavisha – chronic poisoning) and fat (as part of Snehana therapy) or who wish to consume them, soon,
who is suffering from indigestion,
who have taken food just then,
who have just taken bath or who desire to take bath-soon. Ideally there should be a minimum gap of 30 minutes between bath and Nasya treatment.
who has just taken oil or fat
who is suffering from excessive thirst
who is suffering from excessive hunger
who is severely tired,
who have had blood letting therapy- or severe bleeding due to other causes,
who are having acute rhinitis,
who has consumed alcohol
who is suffering from acute fever,
who is suffering from acute cold,
who are getting natural urges of the body, like urge to urinate, defecate etc.
the woman who has recently delivered,
patients of dyspnoea, COPD, Asthma and cough,
those who have undergone purification (Panchakarma) therapies
who have been given Basti treatment – just then,
at unsuitable seasons and
on cloudy days except in emergency.
who has have consumed wine,
People with low ears- low hearing capacity
in whom, the Doshas are greatly imbalanced and moving from place to place;
Nasya should not be administered to those who are less than seven years and more than 80 years of age;
Right time for Nasya
Nasal medication should be administered in
morning – if Kapha is increased.
Mid day – if Pitta is increased
Evening – if Vata is increased.
During Sharath (Autumn) and Vasantha (Spring), it should be given in forenoon.
During winter, it should be given in midday.
Evenings in summer,
when there is sunlight during Varsha- rainy season.
The below mentioned type of Nasya is called Pratimarsha Nasya.
It can be applied
After head massage
After Gandusha (gargling)
After Anjana – collyrium,
After brushing teeth,
After bouts of laughing ;
Symptoms of good Nasya
Breathing without difficulty
Improved strength of sense organs
Symptoms of inadequate Nasya
Emaciation, dryness of nose and mouth
Feeling of emptiness in head
If you feel these symptoms, then repeat the procedure of Nasya.
Symptoms of excess Sneha nasya
Feeling of heaviness of the head,
are signs of excess of Nasya.
Pratimarsha cleanses, clears the channels, relieves fatigue, improves eye sight, bestows sturdiness to the teeth and mitigates the Vata. 29
Benefits of Nasya treatment
The skin, shoulders, neck face and chest become thick, well developed and bright;
The body parts and the sense organs become strong
disappearance of grey hairs will be obtained by persons who becomes habituated to nasal medication.
How it works
The medicaments administered through the nostrils pervade into the nervous and venous system present in and around the nostrils. Then they evacuate the morbidity present or distributed in nearby area. Thus it relieves the blockage of the channels and the diseases are cured effectively.
Rationality of nasya therapy
It is a well-known factor that the olfactory center is located in the temporal lobe of the brain. The filaments of first cranial nerve, Olfactory nerve arise from the upper parts of the nasal mucosa, from where the minute fibrils pass to meet with the fibres from olfactory bulb. This nerve passes the cribriform plate present over here and joins the olfactory center in the temporal lobe of the brain.
As mentioned earlier, the numerous capillaries embedded in the nasal mucosa absorb the medicinal principles administered through nasya and produce various kinds of local and systemic effects by mechanical and chemical reactions.
The discharge secreted contain the blocking materials and are evacuated through nasal route.
Thus the pathological condition is reversed and the disease is relieved.
Remedy for throat irritation after Nasya
Q: I feel throat irritation after Nasya with Anu taila. Remedies?
A: After nasya treatment, gargle with hot water and spit out for 2 minutes time.
Take half a teaspoon of turmeric powder. Add just a small pinch of black pepper powder, mix it with ghee, burn and inhale fumes. This will dry up the remnant Kapha, leftover after nasya.
If you are okay with spices, taking 1 gram of Trikatu powder with honey should also be useful. Or ginger juice – 1 teapsoon with a little honey is also fine to take.
Excessive sneezing after nasya
This can occur in people with allergy or hyper-sensitivity. For them, before doing Nasya, gentle face massage with a few drops of sesame oil, gentle fomentation with lukewarm water face wash is recommended before taking up Nasya.
If the oil quality is very low, this can also cause sneezing and local irritation.
Dose and duration of usage
For healthy people, the regular dose of Nasya with oils such as Anu taila is, 2 drops to each nostrils, after gentle massage on face, on empty stomach. This can be continued throughout the day.
If your doctor has advised any other dose, please follow the same.
If you have allergy, cold, cough etc, illnesses, consult your doctor before doing Nasya.
Choice of liquids for Nasya
For Vata Dosha, pain, nerve strength etc, ksheerabala taila, anu taila, sesame oil
For Pitta Dosha – burning sensation etc symptoms, Ksheerabala taila, anu taila, ghee
For Kapha Dosha – Anu taila, Shad Bindu taila.
For Vata – Pitta Dosha- ghee
To improve skin complexion, Kumkumadi taila
Modern Steam inhalation vs Nasya
In modern steam therapy for nasal congestion, an essential oil mix such as Camphor, Chlorothymol, Eucalyptol, Terpinol, and Menthol are used. The essential oils are sold in capsule form. It is cut open and put into hot water and steam is inhaled. Here the goal is to undo the chest congestion and help in breathing.
But this is not same as nasya therapy. Here, the goal is to not only detoxify and strengthen the respiratory tract. All organs in head and neck region are targeted with Nasya. Even thyroid hormone complications, migraine, neuralgia etc are treated with nasya therapy.
Gentle face and neck massage with oil and sweating treatment is advised ahead of nasya therapy to loosen the toxins. Nasal drops administered after massage and sweating help in easy evacuation of loosened toxins.
Modern steam therapy with essential oils is not recommended on a daily basis for healthy people. Whereas, Nasya therapy with minimal dose, is recommended as a healthy daily routine.
Is it a good idea to use essential oil steam therapy, ahead of Nasya treatment?
After oil massage, before nasya treatment, sweating therapy is advised as per Ayurveda. The sweating treatment on face can be given with a towel dipped in hot water. Not only this, even herbal teas are also used for sweating treatment. Hence, it is fine to use essential oil sweating treatment ahead of Nasya therapy, with the following conditions
The essential oil should be very mild.
Only one drop of it can be used.
It should not cause eye irritation.
Do not use it everyday. Use it only once a week.
Ghee As Nasal Drops
Can ghee be used as nasal drops?
Ghee is frequently used as nasal drops – Nasya therapy.
Ghee balances Vata and Pitta Dosha. Hence for many Vata and Pitta related complaints, such as –
lack of sleep etc. issues, ghee nasya is suitable.
For nasya, cow ghee can be used directly or herbal ghees can also be used.
Maha Kalyanaka, brahmi ghrita are useful to improve brain functions, in psychiatric disorders.
Saraswata ghrita is speech improvement.
Read more about cow ghee benefits here