Principles and practice of Ayurveda is extraordinary due to its unexplored facts and unimaginable deep insights of ancient seers. Blood, being the essential life giving liquid tissue, is understood in many ways in modern medicine. Its structural and functional entities are dealt in great depth in thousands of pages in the text books of Physiology and Anatomy of modern science. Still, we should understand that much can be evolved if Ayurvedic understanding of blood is analyzed in scientific platform. Here are few such hidden and unexplored facts of blood-‘Jeeva Rakta’.
Functions of blood
Functions of Blood – Rakta, as per Ayurveda:
The term Rakta implies the liquid that gets nourished by essence part of food, which is cause for skin complexion, strength and immunity in the body. Ayurveda opines that blood originates from liver and spleen. Hence, blood, Pitta, liver disorders and skin conditions are inter-related.
Following seasonal and daily regimens of wholesome foods and activities is a basic pre-requisite for healthy blood tissue.
Blood as per Ayurveda Video
Normal blood features
Features of people having normal blood:
Clarity and uniformity in skin complexion,
Normal functioning of sense organs
unobstructed digestion and bowel evaculation,
happiness, contentment, nourishment and strength.
Blood is responsible for strength and immunity, skin complexion, happiness, comfort and longevity of the individual. It plays very vital role in the sustenance of Vital force of life.
Features of pure blood
Tapaneeya – Pure blood can be likened to gold, which is purified by fire,
Indragopaabha – The color can be compared with fire fly,
Padmalaktaka – like red lotus, lac,
Like fruit of Gunja ( Abrus precatorius Linn) in color (Reference: Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 24/22)
Vitiation of blood
Rakta Pradooshana (Vitiation of blood):
In Ayurveda, Rakta Pradooshana – blood vitiation means its affliction with the imbalanced Vata, Pitta and Kapha Doshas.
Ayurvedic physicians very often explain to the patients that the blood is vitiated and hence the specific condition is resulted. Especially in cases of bleeding disorders, skin diseases, High Pitta conditions etc, they use the term blood vitiation. Immediately the patients ask how they are affected. Also many will be confused about the terms blood vitiation and blood infection.
The way Ayurvedic physicians explain about blood vitiation is not always satisfactory to patients. This is because, the patients are not aware of basic understanding of ‘Rakta Dhatu’- blood as per Ayurveda. Because, in Ayurveda, the term Rakta encompasses blood tissue along with its functional entities.
Foods that vitiate blood
Foods that cause Rakta Pradooshana – blood impurity /vitiation:
Pitta Dosha and blood are directly connected. Hence, whichever qualities that causes blood vitiation, also causes Rakta vitiation. Usually, increased / decreased vitiation of Pitta causes the same in Rakta.
According to Ayurvedic classics, the blood is vitiated due to following factors-
1. Unwholesome, hot and spicy food.
2. Strong alcoholic beverages
3. Food intake in large quantity
4. Excessive salty, alkaline, acidic and pungent foods
5. Excessive intake of horse gram, black gram, flat bean and mustard oil.
6. Intake of Water yam (Pindalu – Dioscorea alata Linn), radish, tamarind
7. Meat of Jalaja (aquatic animals), Anoopa (marshy animals) and Prasaha (living beings which catch food by teeth, tear and eat) and Bileshaya animals (living in holes)
8. sour curd (Dadhi), sour whey (Amla mastu), acidic fermented preparations (Sukta), wine (Sura), and liquor (souveera)
9. Rotten (Upaklinna), putrefied/foetid (Pooti) food and bad food combinations etc
Activities that vitiate blood
Activities that cause vitiation of blood are-
1. Sleeping during day time after taking liquid, oily and heavy food
2. Excessive anger, excessive exposure to the sun and fire
3. Suppression of vomiting
d. Improper blood-letting (in the autumn – Sharat Ritu)
e. Exertion, injury, heat, taking food before the previous meal is digested
f. By the nature of the autumn season – Sharat Rutu etc
Rakta Pradoshaja Vikara
Diseases caused due to vitiation of blood – Rakta Pradoshaja Vikara:
rhinitis, bad breath,
abdominal tumor, spreading type of skin disorders ,
bleeding disorders, bleeding through ear, nose, oral cavity, anus and urethra
Menorrhagia – heavy periods
Excessive drowsiness, abscess,
hematuria/ blood in urine,
Palor/discoloration of the body, indigestion,
Excessive thirst, heaviness of the body, burning sensation,
excessive weakness, anorexia, ring worm, headache,
bitter or sour eructation, tiredness,
inflammation and suppuration
excessive anger, bewilderment,
Oral ulcers, saline taste in mouth, excessive sweating,
foul smell of the body, intoxication,
Disease of the spleen, Splenomegaly
Neelika – blue moles, freckles, leucoderma,
shivering, lack / depletion of speech,
drowsiness, excessive sleep,
frequent attack of fainting,
severe itching, skin eruptions, urticaria, pimples, scaling etc.
Dosha vitiation of blood
Changes in blood due to vitiation of different Doshas:
Blood, vitiated by Vata becomes reddish (Arunabha), non-slimy (Vishada), foamy (Phenila) and thin (Tanu):
Blood vitiated by Pitta is yellow (Peeta) and black (Asita), and it takes a longer time to coagulate because of the inherent heat (of Pitta);
Blood vitiated by Kapha is slightly Pale (Pandu) in color, slimy (Picchila), sticky and thick (ghana),
Blood due to vitiation by more than one Dosha shares the characteristics of the respective symptoms of all the vitiated Doshas.
Line of treatment
Line of treatment for the diseases caused due to vitiation of blood:
Raktamokshana – blood letting therapy
Purgation – Virechana Panchakarma treatment
Langhana treatment – Fasting or such other treatments which brings about lightness of the body.
Raktashodhana (Purification of Blood):
Blood is purified by two methods-
1. Local purification and
2. Systemic purification.
Local blood purification is sufficient in cases where the blood borne diseases are found in localized areas like hand, leg, foot, thigh, forearm etc. Usually such problems are minor in nature and are not spreading to other parts of the body.
Raktamokshana – blood letting treatment for local blood purification:
It is achieved by means of blood letting using Shringa (horns), Jaloukavacharana (leech therapy), Pracchana (multiple punctures/pricking), Alabu (gourds) etc. In few of the cases local application of medicaments will also serve the above purpose.
Systemic purification is essential in cases where the whole body or major parts of the body are involved. Also in the diseases, where the vital organs like liver, spleen, heart, lungs etc are involved.
Apart from Raktamokshana by Siravyadha (venesection/venepunctre),
Panchakarma purification therapies like Vamana (emesis) and Virechana (purgation) also are employed for systemic blood purification.
Internal medication with blood purifying formulations is very essential in this respect.
Single herbs possessing Tikta-Kashaya-Katu rasa (bitter-astringent and pungent tastes) are beneficial to avail the blood purifying benefits. Usually such herbs possess the qualities like -lightness, minuteness, liquidity. They are usually neither too cold and nor too hot.
Single herbs used
Single herbs used as Blood purifiers (Raktashodhaka):
1. Khadira-Kattha – Acacia catechu
4. Patola – Pointed gourd
5. Daruharidra- Tree turmeric
7. Mahanimba- Melia Azadirach
8. Hareetaki-Chebulic myrobalan
9. Ashwattha – Sacred Fig – Ficus religiosa
10. Plasksha- Ficus lacor
11. Pareesha –
12. Bilva-Bael tree
13. Manjishta – Indian madder
14. Bakuchi-Psoralea corylifolia
15. Chakramarda – Cassia tora etc
Ayurvedic Formulations used as Blood purifiers:
1. Panchatiktaka kashaya – used in treatment of fever and burning sensation
2. Mahatiktaka kashaya – used in treatment of skin diseases of Pitta origin
3. Patolakaturinyadi kashaya – used in treating jaundice, anorexia, it is used for liver detox
4. Nimbamrutadi kashaya
5. Panchanimba choorna – used in treating eczema, psoriasis, sinus wounds, fistula etc.
6. Maha Manjishtadi kashaya – used in treating skin diseases due to blood impurities, fever.
7. Parpatakadi kashaya(Paripathadi khada)
8. Panchapallava kashaya
9. Mahanimba kashaya
10. Nimbadi guggulu
11. Swayambhuva guggulu
12. Guggulu tiktaka kashaya- used in skin and muscle tissue infections, abscess.
13. Gandhaka rasayana– widely used in skin disorders, allergic conditions
14. Arogyavardhini rasa – used in treating liver coditions
15. Patoladi ganakashaya
16. Patolamooladi kashaya – used in treating hemorrhoids, liver disorders, fever.
Overall, blood is considered as a tissue with multiple functions as per Ayurveda. It is directly related to Pitta Dosha and its impurities / vitiation, caused by Doshas leads to mainly skin disorders.
Getting pus filled pimples means it is flushing out blood toxins?
In most of the blood detox procedures, usually the pimples heal by themselves over a period of 2 – 5 days time. But in some occasion, in the initial face of detox, within 1 or 2 days, patient may get pimples may accumulate and exude pus.
If this happens, the patient has to consult doctor for prescription of suitable anti acne cream with herbs like neem, turmeric, aloe vera etc to heal the pus acne faster.
Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD(Ayu), PhD (Ayu) and Dr Hebbar