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.

Herb-Water Connection in Medicines

Water and plant interaction to form herbal medicines 
Dr JV Hebbar
Plants contain more water than animals. A study indicates that 90% of the plant body is made up of water. Water plays a major role in nutrition supply, transportation of chemicals, growth, etc. of plants. 
Hence, most of the useful chemicals in a plant are water soluble. 
This is the reason Ayurveda has many medicine forms prepared with water. 
Swarasa – Juice extract: 
The extract of fresh parts of the plant in water medium. 
Eg: Tulsi swarasa in cold and cough 
Swarasa – Fresh Juice Extracts of Herbs

Cold infusion – Hima 
1 part herb + 6 parts of water, kept overnight, filtered consumed = cold infusion = Hima. 
Eg: Dhanyaka Hima (coriander cold infusion) for burning sensation.
Hot infusion – Phanta 
1 part herb + 4 parts of hot water – kept for some time -> filtered -> hot infusion = Phanta 
Eg: Panchakola Phanta with ginger, pepper, long pepper, long pepper root, Piper Cubeba, Leadwort – digestive, carminative 

Herbal tea or decoction or Kashaya 
1 part of herb + 16 parts of water -> boil and reduce to ¼ or 1/8 part -> Kashaya 
Eg: Triphala Kashaya – for obesity, eyecare, wound washing, etc. 
Kashaya forms the base for preparing herbal oils, ghee, avaleha, arishta asava etc. 
How To Prepare Triphala Kwath From Triphala Churna

Herbal drink – Paneeya 
This is a weaker form of decoction, meant to be consumed multiple times in a day, to keep repetitive symptoms like asthma attacks, vomiting under check. 
1 part of herb +  64 parts of water  -> boil and reduce to ½ part -> Filter -> Paneeya
Eg: Shadanga Paneeya for Fever. 
Musta – Nut grass (root) – Cyperus rotundus 
Parpataka – Hedyotis corymbosa / Fumaria indica 
Usheera – Khas Khas  – Vetiveria zizanioides 
Udeechya – Pavonia odorata 
Nagara – ginger

Water distillate: Arka 
herbs are added with 10 times water and subjected to the distillation process. 
Eg: Rose water acts as a coolant and is used in preparing special calcium supplement pastes called Pishti. 
Pravala Pishti made of coral 
Mukta Pishti made of pearl 
Take up Dr. Hebbar’s Video Course on
5 Basic Medicine Forms of Ayurveda

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.

Qualities of non potable water

It is called Varjya Jala. 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

Drinking 2 liters of water per day would augment energy expenditure by approximately 400 kJ –[‘’ Water Induced thermogenecity ‘’ Michael Boschmann , Jochen Steiniger,- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019]

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

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,- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 88, Issue 12, 1 December 2003, Pages 6015–6019].

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, Case Rep Nephrol Urol 2013;3:147-152 ]

Source of water vs season

Some people living “off-the-grid” use a water catchment system. Should they expose this water to sun, moon, and wind before drinking year-round?
Dr JV Hebbar
This rule is not compulsory. Only during Sharath season (post raining season), when the Sun is hot and nights are very cool, only in this season, such a procedure is recommended.

Source of water Vs seasons
Reference: Sushruta Sutrasthana 45

Water from well – is fit to drink during Spring and summer
Rain water
– Fit to drink during the rainy season.
Unseasonal rain water should not be consumed.

Test for quality of rainwater:
Only that rain water which makes the boiled rice kept in a clean silver plate neither too moist nor change its color is considered as good for drinking.
No taste, abnormal color or suspended particles.  

During Autumn (Sharath) – water from all sources is good, due to exposure to bright sunlight and cooling moonlight and Agastya Nakshatra
Read: Healthy Autumn Regimen

During winter: water from ponds and lakes is good to consume.  

Seasonal raining water – Gangambu
(Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana 5th chapter)
Gangambu –

  • Rain water is which has come into contact with Sunlight, Moon light and wind is
  • Jeevaneeya – Enlivening, improves quality of life
  • Tarpana – satiating, thirst relieving
  • Hrudya – good for heart
  • Hladi – calming and soothing to the mind and stomach
  • Buddhi praboodhanam – Stimulates intellect
  • Tanu – thin
  • Avyaktarasa – imperceptible taste
  • Sheeta – cold
  • Laghu (light to digest)
  • Amrutopama – similar to nectar

Drinking water before food causes weakness & weight loss. But sometimes hunger and thirst occur at the same time. How to handle such a situation?
Then, just start with 1 – 2 bolus or tablespoon of food and then start sipping water slowly.

15 comments on “Benefits And Usage of Water As per Ayurveda: Complete Compilation

  • Archana

    18/02/2013 - 12:44 pm

    Also I heard that we should never stand and drink water. We should always sit and drink water. Is it true?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      18/02/2013 - 9:38 pm

      I agree that water should not be drunk in a hurry. This holds good for any drink or food. But I have not read in any Ayurveda text books like we can not drink while standing. I do not think, it makes any difference.

      Reply to comment
  • cindrella vincent

    18/02/2013 - 6:15 pm

    I have a habbit of drinking around 2 litres of water a day, will this lead to obesity…

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      18/02/2013 - 9:35 pm

      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 to comment
  • Monique

    30/05/2015 - 9:30 pm

    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 to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      03/06/2015 - 6:08 pm

      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 to comment
      • Monique

        04/06/2015 - 4:29 am

        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 to comment
  • Panna Bhatt

    07/07/2017 - 11:49 am

    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 to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      07/07/2017 - 7:45 pm

      Hi, cold water means room temperature water. Thanks for your kind appreciation. 🙂

      Reply to comment
  • JM

    16/01/2021 - 12:44 am

    Could you please clarify the water intake rules in regards to taking ayurvedic meds (in tablet form) that are required to be taken with water, after a meal? (1) How long after a meal one should wait before drinking water with meds in a tablet form and (2) how much water to take with ayurvedic tablets?
    Thank you!

    I used to wait 10-15min and take a full glass of warm water with tablets, thinking it will help the body to dissolve them better (especially if the tablets have a high percentage of guggul in them)… But now it seems it was a wrong approach, the one actually reducing the body’s digestive power… Should I just make several gulps of water instead, just enough to flush down the tablets?

    Reply to comment
    • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

      25/05/2021 - 9:52 pm

      (1) How long after a meal one should wait before drinking water with meds in a tablet form

      20-30 minutes
      (2) how much water to take with ayurvedic tablets?
      Sufficient to gulp the tablets completely

      make several gulps of water instead, just enough to flush down the tablets

      Reply to comment

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