Benefits And Usage of Water As per Ayurveda: Complete Compilation

Here is a full list of rules of water consumption as explained in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda differentiates properties of hot water and cold water and mentions its benefits separately. 

hot water benefits

Reference: Most of the points here are taken from Ashtanga Hridayam 5th chapter – which deals with liquid foods.

Source of water

In ancient times, there was no pollution. Hence cold water collected directly from rain, which was clean, unpolluted, and uncontaminated was used for consumption.
Such fresh and clean water is – enlivening, improves quality of life, satiating, good for heart, calming and soothing to the mind and stomach, stimulates intellect, thin, imperceptible taste, cold, light to digest and similar to nectar.

Only seasonal rain water is recommended. Once collected water should not be stored for more than a day. In the absence of rain water, river water is used.
Read related: Hot water bath or cold water bath?

Rain water, collected in clean vessel and which has not changed in color taste and odor, should be used for drinking always. In its absence, the water of the earth, which resembles rainwater in all its qualities, collected from clean vast place that has black or white soil, which is exposed to sunlight and breeze.
Read related: Hot water honey benefits

Restriction for drinking of water

Water should not be consumed /consumed in very little quantity, by those suffering from poor digestive function, tumors of the abdomen, anaemia, enlargement of the abdomen, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids, diseases of the duodenum, dropsy. In all these patients, there is lack of digestion strength, and drinking water in excess would worsen the disease.

Except in autumn and summer, even healthy persons should drink less quantity of water.

Related article: How much water should we actually drink?

Time of water drinking with respect to food

Drinking water in between meals – healthy habit. It helps to disintegrate food particles into tiny ones and hence aids in digestion.

Drinking water after meals – causes obesity. Soon after meals, at the initial stage of digestion, there is Kapha dominance. Hence, if water is consumed it would further increase Kapha. It leads to errant assimilation of food nutrients in the body, leading to obesity.

Drinking water before meals – causes emaciation, weakness. If you drink water before food, the digestive fire, appetite and strength gets depleted. Hence it is not ideal. 

Cold water Vs Hot water

Cold water relieves alcoholic intoxication, exhaustion, fainting, vomiting, debility (fatigue), dizziness, giddiness, thirst, heat (of the sun) burning sensation, bleeding conditions and Pitta dominant conditions and poison.

Hot water – we already have learnt about hot water benefits,
To sum it up,
Hot water stimulates hunger, helps digestion, good for the throat, easily to digest, cleanses the urinary bladder, relieves hiccup, flatulence, Vata imbalance, Kapha imbalance, it is ideal during the days of Panchakarma therapy, useful in fever, cold, cough, Ama condition, rhinitis, chronic respiratory conditions and pain in flanks.

Boiled and cooled water is very useful in Pitta conditions, but such water should not be stored for more than a day.

In people with Pitta body type, (who can not tolerate heat) and people with Vata body type, (who are lean) hot water at night may disturb their sleep. So, hot water at night is ideal only for people with kapha body type (who are obese, who suffer from respiratory diseases etc).
Read related: How to do water fasting to lose weight?

Different types of natural processing of drinking water

1. Use mud pot to store water. It makes the water very cool is much better than refrigerator. 
2. In ancient times, Clearing nut (Kataka) was added to the water to filter out all the dissolved / suspended waste particles from the water.
3. To make water helpful to relieve indigestion, Cumin seed powder is added to water. two pinch of cumin seed powder to five liters of water. It will aid in digestion, naturally. 
4. To make water useful in kidney diseases, few roots of Usheera (Vetiver) is added to water pot. This helps to cleanse kidney and bladder, and to purify / detoxify blood. 
In all these cases, water can not be stored for more than 12 hours. That means, fresh water should be used and fresh water treatment should be done everyday.

Additional information by Vd. Rangaprasad Bhat:

Quantity of water

As per thirteenth chapter of madanapAlanighaNTu named mishrakavarga, 
In persons dominant with the Kapha, vAta and pitta Doshas, at the period of dawn of the day, one, two and three palas of the water should be drunk respectively. One pala is equivalent to forty-eight grams of the metric system, which translates to 48 ml, 96 ml and 144 ml respectively for Kapha, vAta and pitta Doshas predominant persons.
Consuming water at the uSha: kAla (dawn / sunrise time) is beneficial in increasing one’s visual acuity by means of the rasAyana property exhibited by it.
The nighantu further states that persons who are affected with wrinkles, premature grey hairs, hoarseness of voice, rhinorrhea, dyspnea and consumption will get benefited when they develop the habit of drinking eight prasruti / 768 ml (1 prasruti = 96 ml) of water at the sun rising time of the day.

To allay the confusion related to, how much of water or liquids one should drink at the time of having one’s meals or food,  BhAvaprakAsha in pUrvakhaNDa-mishraprakaraNa over  13th chapter named  VArivarga clarifies as follows.

One should neither drink more water during the meals nor should make a habit of having meals without drinking any water or liquids in between. Either way, if followed one will end up with indigestion. The best way is to drink water or liquids in between the morsels of the food, little by little with a frequency of gap maintained in between. By doing so, one helps his digestive agni get augmented which in turn digests the partaken food with ease.

Varjya jala Qualities of non potable water

The DhanvantarinighaNTu  in suvarNAdivarga chapter illustrates the details regarding, when at the time of meals the water be partaken, the source of water not potable for drinking etc., in the following statement.

The water source like lake or ponds filled with a heap of grass or leaves over their surface is considered to be toxic in nature and hence not adviced as potable for drinking purpose. The water source used for bathing , the first fall of the rain water etc., too are not conducive for drinking purposes.

Medicated Water (medicated warm water) is the best remedy for indigestion. The water upon getting assimilated in human system provides physical strength. It bestows health like nectar when partaken during the bouts of the meals. But, when partaken soon after the finish of meals it is harmful to the health like a poison.

It is best adviced not to eat food when in thirst and not to drink water when in hunger. Instead if done, in former case (eating when thirsty) it becomes a cause for manifestation of gulma and in latter case for the manifestation of fistula in ano. In former case, the dryness of the oesophagus and throat caused by the existing over thirst becomes a reason for slower emptying of water from the oesophagus to the stomach and there by simulates a status similar to gasteroparesis causing symptoms like nausea, distension of abdomen, colic, early satiety etc. mimicking the clinical picture of gulma. Where as in latter case when a person is in excessive hunger, his agni will be progressively increased and erratic in its vega, waiting for the food to be digested and the peristaltic movements of the bowels will be hampered and altered due to irritation caused by the vagus nerve. So when one drinks water at this situation, the vishamAgni along with the vishama gati of the apAna vAyu becomes a causative factor for ajirna induced constipation. The chronic constipation being one of the pre disposable factor in the results in the manifestation of fistula in the long run.

Time for digestion of water

Interestingly in madanapAlanighaNTu , chapter named PAnIyAdivarga, the duration taken for digestion and assimilation of water of various physical properties have been mentioned along with the mention of precautionary  usage of water in certain group of diseases.

The unboiled and plain water (AmaM jalaM) gets digested and assimilated within 3 hours (1 yAmaM).
The cold water (shruta shIta vAri) gets digested and assimilated within 1 and ½ hours (ardha yAmaM).

The hot / warm water (jalaM uShNaM) gets digested and assimilated within 48 minutes (1 muhUrta).
Persons suffering from clinical conditions like indigestion, rhinorrhea, ptyalism, oedema, emaciation or cachexia, reduced digestive fire / functions, constipated bowel caused by conditions like intussusception like intestinal obstructive pathologies (baddha koShTa), acute fever, ophthalmic diseases, skin ulcers, diabetes insipidus etc., should not drink water in profound quantity, but should consume in little quantities with a wider frequency of gap

Indication and contraindication for cold and hot water

Indications for drinking water in cold state:– The cold water is indicated and beneficial in persons suffering from fainting, pittaja diseases, body heat, burning sensation, toxic in blood, alcoholic state, giddiness, exhaustion, Tamaka shvAsa, vomiting, and Epistaxis.

Contra-indications for drinking water in cold state:- The persons afflicted with pain in chest due to pleural effusion, rhinitis, vAta rogAs, sore throat, distension of abdomen, gastro paresis  [stimita koShTha], acute stages of fever and hiccough should avoid drinking  water in cold state. Equally in situations like immediately post the shodhana therapies and that of sneha pAna procedure of Panchakarma, too the cold water consumption is to be avoided to prevent aggravation of vAta and manifestation of complications related to the vAta.

Precaution for drinking excess amount of water at a stretch

Certain subjects are advised not to drink enormous quantity of water at a stretch, but can drink in moderate volumes with a wider frequency of gap, by MAdhava dravya guNa nighantu in twenty fifth chapter named “toyavarga”.
Aruchi – Dyspepsia (else may dilute the pepsin and other digestive enzymes, alter the consistency and pH value of the chyle and worsen the pathology).
PratishyAya – Rhinitis (else may further aggravate the vAta involved in the pathology of pratishyAya and increase the frequency of nasal discharge).
Shvayathu – edematous conditions (else the translocation of water into the existing fluid accumulation in intracellular compartment might add to the volume and increase the surface area of edema).
Kshaya – cachexic state (else may increase the pre-existing state of mandAgni and might cause further dhAthu kshaya thereby making the person further emaciated).
mandAgnAsu – persons with low digestive capacity (reason same as explained in dyspepsia).
Udare – Ascites (else might add to the existing accumulated fluid in the peritoneal cavity increasing the distension of the abdomen).
KuShTha – obstinate skin diseases
Jvare – in Pyrexic state (excess water intake increases the BMR and energy consumption and might add up to the pre-existing state of exhaustion caused by hyperthermia).
NetrAmaye – In ophthalmic conditions (increase in intra ocular pressure due to increase in volumes of the humours in aqueous chamber !).
VraNe – in ulcerated skin (the osmolality of the blood gets altered, translocation of water into the intracellular compartment takes place leading to edematous presentation, there paving way for stretching of the skin which in turns becomes responsible for delaying the healing of the skin ulcer, since the approximation of the edges of the ulcer gets delayed (due to widening of the skin surface caused by the edema).
Madhumehe – in Diabetes insipidus (In normal people, increased osmolality in the blood will stimulate secretion of antidiuretic hormone (ADH) this will result in increased water reabsorption, more concentrated urine and less concentrated blood plasma. Diabetes insipidus is a condition caused by hypo secretion of, or insensitivity to, the effects of ADH. Elevation may be associated with stroke mortality.

The kidney controls water excretion largely through ADH – a polypeptide secreted by the supraoptic and paraventricular hypothalamic cells with axons ending in the posterior pituitary gland. Its half-life is 5-20 minutes; this allows for rapid adaptation to fluctuations in plasma osmolality.

The body’s normal response to dehydration is to conserve water by concentrating the urine. Those with Diabetes Insipidus continue to urinate large amounts of dilute urine in spite of water deprivation.

Adults with untreated Diabetes Insipidus may remain healthy for decades as long as enough water is consumed to offset the urinary losses. However, there is a continuous risk of dehydration and loss of potassium that may lead to hypokalemia.

Hence water needs to be supplemented in moderate amounts at regular intervals. Care should be taken to increase the gap between the two frequencies of bouts of drinking, so as to balance the homeostasis of fluid level.

Ensure that, one avoids the occurrence of water intoxication caused by polydipsia with enormous quantity of water drunk at a single stretch or the occurrence of hypokalemia caused by dehydration by not taking adequate liquids at proper quantity and times.

Hence it would be wise enough to calculate the timing of water consumption based on the appearance of thirst and device the timing with a wider frequency of bouts of drinking with a moderate amount of water being sipped at each point of the frequency selected as said in pAnIyAdi chapter of madanapAlanighaNTu – “madhumehe ca pAnIyaM mandamAcaret.

Research studies

RESEARCH BASED STUDIES RELATED TO WATER DRINKING:
In 14 healthy, normal-weight subjects (seven men and seven women), we assessed the effect of drinking 500 ml of water on energy expenditure and substrate oxidation rates by using whole-room indirect calorimetry. The effect of water drinking on adipose tissue metabolism was assessed using microdialysis technique. Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%. The increase occurred within 10 min and reached a maximum after 30–40 min. The total thermogenic response was about 100 kJ. About 40% of the thermogenic effect originated from warming the water from 22 to 37 C. In men, lipids mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate. In contrast, in women carbohydrates were mainly used as the energy source. The increase in energy expenditure with water was diminished with systemic β-adrenoreceptor blockade. Thus, drinking 2 liters of water per day would augment energy expenditure by approximately 400 kJ –[‘’ Water Induced thermogenecity ‘’ Michael Boschmann , Jochen Steiniger et.al.,- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019]

In healthy young subjects there is direct evidence for sympathetic vasoconstrictor activation after drinking water, but this is not accompanied by an increase in arterial blood pressure. A marked pressor response to water ingestion has, however, been observed in elderly subjects and in patients with autonomic failure. We examined the effect of water ingestion on haemodynamic variables and heart rate variability (HRV) markers of cardiac vagal control in ten healthy young subjects and four cardiac transplant recipients with confirmed persistent cardiac vagal denervation. In a random order crossover protocol, changes in heart rate, blood pressure and measures of high frequency (HF) HRV were compared over time following the ingestion of 500ml and 20ml (control) of tap water. In healthy subjects, after drinking 500ml of water the heart rate fell from 67.6±2.0 (mean±S.E.M.) to 60.7±2.4 beats/min (P<0.01), and the bradycardic response peaked between 20 and 25 min. There were no significant changes in arterial blood pressure. Over the same time course, water ingestion caused increases in measurements of HF HRV: root-mean-square of successive RR interval differences (RMSSD) increased by 13±2.7ms after 500ml versus 2±3.1ms after 20ml (P<0.05); HF power increased by 686±400 versus -63±322 (P<0.01). In transplant recipients water ingestion was followed by a pressor response (range 13 to 29 mm Hg). These results provide evidence that water ingestion in normal subjects is followed by an increase in cardiac vagal control that may counteract the pressor effects of sympathetic activation. We suggest that in the elderly, in transplant recipients and in autonomic failure, loss of this buffering mechanism explains the pressor response to drinking water.

[ Vagal response to water ingestion in normal human subjects – Helen C. ROUTLEDGE, Saqib CHOWDHARY et.al., -Science Aug 01, 2002, 103 (2) 157-162;]

In another subset of volunteers (n = 4), the influence of water temperature on the water-induced increase in energy expenditure was tested. The water-induced change in energy expenditure was about 70 kJ at 22 C and about 40 kJ at 37 C, a difference of about 30 kJ between the two temperatures. (Fig. 3). Water drinking elicited a consistent decrease in venous osmolarity. Plasma osmolarity was 296 ± 1 mosmol/liter before water drinking and 289 ± 1 mosmol/liter after water drinking (P < 0.01) –[‘’ Water Induced thermogenecity ‘’ Michael Boschmann , Jochen Steiniger et.al.,- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019].

The novel finding in this study is that drinking 500 ml of water increases metabolic rate by 30% in both men and in women. The increase in metabolic rate was observed within 10 min after completion and reached a maximum 30–40 min after water drinking. The effect was sustained for more than an hour. The cardiovascular changes after water drinking that we described earlier exhibited a similar time course (Scott EM et.al., – 2001; ‘’Water ingestion increases sympathetic vasoconstrictor discharge in normal human subjects’’; Clin Sci Colch 100:335–342). Based on our measurements, we estimate that increasing water ingestion by 1.5 liters would augment daily energy expenditure by approximately 200 kJ. Over 1 yr, energy expenditure would increase by 73,000 kJ (17,400 kcal), the energy content of 2.4 kg adipose tissue. By comparison, ingestion of 50 mg of ephedrine thrice daily increases energy expenditure by approximately 320 kJ/d (13). The substrates that fueled the increase in metabolic rate differed between men and women. In men, water drinking led to a marked increase in lipid oxidation. Carbohydrate oxidation did not change after water drinking. In contrast, in women, carbohydrates mainly fueled the increase in metabolic rate after water drinking. –[‘’ Water Induced thermogenecity ‘’ Michael Boschmann , Jochen Steiniger et.al.,- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019].

Gastric Emptying (GE) studies are usually ordered to confirm or exclude whether gastroparesis (delayed GE) is a cause of a patient’s symptoms. Gastroparesis is usually associated with upper gastrointestinal symptoms, which include nausea (92% of patients), vomiting (84%), abdominal fullness or distension (75%), or early satiety (60%) (21). Etiologies for gastroparesis include diabetes; infections; neuromuscular, autoimmune, and connective tissue diseases; cancer; and post-surgical effects or may be idiopathic. Diabetic gastroparesis is usually associated with retinopathy, neuropathy, and nephropathy (9).

How much quantity of water intake might cause water intoxication in an individual?
Case Report : [A Case of Water Intoxication with Prolonged Hyponatremia Caused by Excessive Water Drinking and Secondary SIADH – Yamashiro M et.al., Case Rep Nephrol Urol 2013;3:147-152 ]

A 22-year-old man who was an inmate in a detention facility joined a game of ‘rock/paper/scissors’ with his roommates at 8:00 p.m. They made a rule that the loser of each game must drink a cup of water as a penalty by using a plastic cup with a capacity of 300 ml. That night, he lost the game again and again, and had to drink 20-22 cups of water during 25-28 games in total for the 3-hour game, indicating that he must have drunk at least 6 liters of water in 3 h. At 11:30 p.m., 3.5 h after beginning the penalty drinking, he showed restlessness and peculiar behavior, including speaking meaningless words. He also started vomiting and had convulsions soon after.

Urine osmolality can reach 40-100 mosm/kg H2O in the maximum water-diuretic condition [Gillum DM et.al.,- Water intoxication in a psychotic patient with normal renal water excretion. Am J Med 1984;77:773-774.], and the maximum excretion of free water by an adult human is approximately 18 liters/day [Bricker NS et.al.,- Observations on the concentrating and diluting mechanisms of the diseased kidney. J Clin Invest 1959;38:516-523]. Hence, a maximal water intake of 2.6 liters over a 3.5-hour span is theoretically considered to be excreted without changing the plasma osmolality. However, our patient reportedly drank 6 liters of water over a 3.5-hour period, which was a far greater volume than the safety range, indicating that at least 3.4 liters of water would have accumulated in his body even if the free water was excreted normally. Assuming that approximately 2.3 liters of water would move to the intracellular space, the remaining 1.1 liters of water in the extracellular space would be sufficient to lower the sodium concentration to 125 mmol/l, and the translocation of water into the intracellular space would be sufficient to cause cellular edema by an approximately 12% increment in intracellular volume. If our patient’s free water had been excreted adequately, his plasma osmolality and sodium concentration would have been restored to the normal range within 6-9 h. However, his hyponatremia was prolonged until 15 h after the discontinuation of the drinking, suggesting that his hyponatremia was conserved by an additional disease causing impaired free water excretion, such as SIADH. The patient’s recurrent emesis might have been involved in the development of the secondary SIADH, although emetic stress is generally believed to have a limited effect on ADH secretion. [Berl T et.al., Arginine vasopressin synthesis and secretion; in Brenner BM, (ed): Brenner & Rector’s The Kidney, ed 7. Philadelphia, WB Saunders, 2004, pp 860-868.]
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13 thoughts on “Benefits And Usage of Water As per Ayurveda: Complete Compilation”

    • It may not lead to obesity.
      If you are really feeling thirsty and if you are drinking to quench the thirst, then no issues.
      But if you are drinking as a target to reach the said water quantity, then as per Ayurveda, it is better to re-adjust the habit.
      Hope I answered.

      Reply
  1. Could you please explain what you mean by poor digestive function. ALSO, I drink a lot of tea, which contains water of course. Is that the same advice for just water alone? Is hot tea at night the same as hot water at night? One more thing regarding water. In all restaurants they always give you a large glass of cold water. Not good idea?

    Reply
    • Low digestion function is simply low hunger and less power to digest foods. Tea and water are different qualities, hence can be considered differently. In high temperatures, cold water is good.

      Reply
      • Thank you kindly for your answers. I am always interested in information that you give. I am constantly reading about ayurveda. And am always learning new things. All I need now is something for my vata brain to retain what I have learned.

        Reply
  2. By cold water do you mean room temperature or fridge water.
    Reading all your articles I have learnt a lot of healthy things and I am able to apply some in my daily life also.
    Thank you for being so generous in imparting such valuable information in easy understandable format and adaptable style.

    Reply

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