Langhana Therapy – A Unique Ayurvedic Treatment Principle

Ayurveda explains about six basic principles of Treatment, called as Shat Upakrama. Among them, first one is Langhana therapy. The word Langhana is derived from the word Laghu, which means light (opposite of heavy). The purpose of Langhana treatment is to make the body light by relieving heaviness.

lighten up your body

Langhana definition

Definition of Langan Treatment:
यत् किञ्चिल्लाघवकरं देहे तल्लङ्घनं स्मृतम्||९||
yat kiñcillāghavakaraṃ dehe tallaṅghanaṃ smṛtam || – Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana 22/9
Whichever Panchakarma therapies / medicines  / lifestyle changes that bring about lightness and thinness to the body is called Langhana – Deprivation treatment. It is also called as DE-nourishing treatment.

Effect on Tridosha

Usually lightness is a quality of Vata Dosha. Heaviness is due to Kapha Dosha. So, whenever there is Kapha dosha increase, or whenever there is blocking of body channels by Kapha dosha, whenever Kapha is associated with Pitta Dosha, Langhana treatment principle is adopted.

Characteristic features of medicines

Characteristic Features of medicines / treatments –
लघु उष्ण तीक्ष्ण विशदं रूक्षं सूक्षं खरं सरम्।
कठिणं च एव यत् द्रव्यं प्रायः तत् लङ्घनं स्मृतम्॥(च.सू.२२/१२)
Light (Laghu) – The herbs, medicines, diet prescribed to achieve Langhana in patient is having lightness as predominant quality.
hot (Ushna) – usually substances having hot quality are light in nature, hence they are used.
Sharp (Teekshna) – The purpose of Langhana treatment is to open up channels, to let out morbid matter out of the body, hence the remedies with sharpness quality are chosen, which makes the medicines to enter the minutest body channels.
Non-slimy (Vishada) – This quality helps to bring about clarity to the body channels. It takes away the stickiness.
Dry (rooksha) –  Dryness is opposite to oiliness. Oiliness usually implies heavy. Dryness brings about lightness.
Minute (sookshma) – This, like sharpness helps to enter minute body channels.
Rough (khara), hardness (Katina) mobility (Sara) – Usually in body channels (such as gastro intestinal system, blood circulation system etc), whenever there is obstruction (as in constipation, cholesterol deposition in blood pipes etc), Langhana treatment is adopted. These three qualities helps to relieve the obstruction and ease out the morbid matter from the channels. It helps to clear the channel, ensuring movement of body fluids in normal direction.

Langhana indications

Common disorders where Langana treatment is advised: 
1. In diseases with heaviness as the striking quality, as in case of diabetes, sinusitis (heaviness of head), indigestion (heaviness of stomach), obesity, fever (heaviness of body) etc.
2. In diseases where there is obstruction to path – as in asthma (obstruction to breathing), high cholesterol (obstructing the path of blood vessels), constipation, etc.

10 types of Langhana

10 Types of Langhana Therapy (depriving / De-nourishing therapy):
चतुष्प्रकारा संशुद्धिः पिपासा मारुतातपौ|
पाचनान्युपवासश्च व्यायामश्चेति लङ्घनम्||१८||
catuṣprakārā saṃśuddhiḥ pipāsā mārutātapau|
pācanānyupavāsaśca vyāyāmaśceti laṅghanam||18|| – Charaka Sutrasthana 22

The four types of Panchakarma purifying therapies –
Vamana treatment – vomiting therapy
Virechana Panchakarma treatment – purgation therapy
Niruha basti  – decoction enema
Nasya  – nasal drops having cleansing nature,
Pipasa – controlling thirst
Maruta – Exposure to wind
Atapa – Exposure to sun
Pachana – Administration of foods and medicine – that are hot in nature, which helps in digestion.
Upavasa – fasting
Vyayama – physical exercise

1-4 Where Panchakarma treatment is useful for relieving heaviness:
Panchakarma therapy is used to expel out increased Doshas out of the body. It is recommended when the disease and the strength of the patient – both are strong.
Panchakarma therapies as deprivation treatment is useful in
Prabhuta Shleshma, Pitta Asra – person having Kapha Pitta imbalance and blood vitiation
Prabhuta mala – when there is high build up of morbid matter in the body,
Samsrushta Maruta – in person where Vata is obstructed.
Brihat shareera – in obesity
Balina – and in strong person, Panchakarma treatment is adopted.

5. Indication for Pachana (digestive) treatment – 
Madhya bala roga – in diseases with moderate strength – when Doshas are moderately vitiated (If they are highly vitiated, then Panchakarma is required).
Kapha Pitta Samutha – diseases with Kapha and Pitta imbalance,
vomiting (Chardi), diarrhea (Atisara), heart diseases (Hrit Roga), cholera (visuchika), severe type of digestive disorder (Alasaka), fever (Jwara), constipation (vibandha), heaviness of the body (gaurava), eructation (udgara), nausea (hrullasa) and anorexia (aruchi).

6,7 – Indication for control of thirst and fasting –
 If the same above diseases are of mild nature, they are to be treated by the control of thirst and hunger (fasting). Note that, under normal circumstances, hunger and thirst should not be suppressed. We should eat and drink whenever there is hunger and thirst. But during diseases, suppression of this is advocated, to balance the Doshas.

8-10 – Indication for exercise, sun and wind exposure: 
If strong individuals suffer from diseases of mild nature, such diseases can be cured by physical exercise and Exposure to Sun and Wind.

Langhana for Vata disorders

Indication for Langhan therapy even for Vata disorders:
Usually this is advised when there is increase of Kapha or Kapha-Pitta Dosha. But even in some Vata disorders –
affecting the skin,
affecting urinary tract
in those people, having excess oiliness, but still having Vata disorders,
in people with excessively nourishment and during winter, Langhana treatment is adopted.

Medicines which cause Langhana

Medicines that cause Langhana effect:
Some medicines when taken induce the effect of Langhana therapy and produce lightness in the body. The Langhana group of herbs also have the above said qualities of Langhana therapy. The best herbs which serve the purpose of Langhana are –

  • Guduchi – Tinospora cordifolia
  • Musta – Cyperus rotundus
  • Triphala – Fruits of Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica and Emblica officinalis
  • Takrarishta – fermented liquid prepared on buttermilk base
  • Madhu – honey
  • Vidanga – Embelia ribes
  • Shunti – Zingiber officinale
  • Kshara – Alkali
  • Lauha bhasma – calx or ash of iron
  • Yava churna – Barley powder
  • Aamalaka – Emblica officinalis
  • Brihat Panchamula – Roots of greater Panchamula group of drugs i.e. Roots of Aegle Marmalos, Clerodendrum phlomidis, Oroxylum indicum, Stereospermum suaveolens and Gmelina arborea (along with honey)
  • Shilajit – Asphaltum
  • Priyangu – Callicarpa macrophylla
  • Shyamaka – Echinochloa esculenta
  • Kodrava – Paspalum scrobiculatum
  • Mudga – Green grams
  • Kulattha – Horse gram
  • Chakramarda – Cassia tora
  • Aadhaki – Cajanus cajan
  • Patola – Trichosanthes dioica
  • Madhoodaka – Honey water etc

Proper Langhana signs

Signs and symptoms of successful Langhana therapy:
वात मूत्र पुरीषाणां विसर्गे गात्र लाघवे।
हृदय उद्गार कण्ठ आस्य शुद्धौ तन्द्रा क्लमे गते॥
स्वेदे जाते रुचौ चैव क्षुत् पिपास सह उदये।
कृतं लङ्गनं आदेश्यं निर्व्यथे च अन्तरात्मनि॥(च.सू.२२/३४,३५)
Vata Mutra Pureesha Visarga – Proper excretion of flatus, urine and feces,
Laghava – lightness of the body,
Hrudaya Shuddhi – feeling of purity in heart,
Udgara shuddhi – feeling purity in eructation,
Kanta Shuddhi – feeling clarity in throat,
Lack of Tandra (drowsiness) and Klama (excretion),
appearance of sweat and appreciation of taste for food,
hunger, thirst and contentment.

Excessive Langhana effects

Adverse effects of excess Langhana treatment:
Parva bheda – Cracking of the skin, crackling sound in small joints
Angamarda – Malaise, bodyache,
Kasa – cough,
Mukha Shosha – dryness of mouth,
Kshut pranasa – loss of appetite,
Aruchi – anorexia,
Trishna – thirst,
Weakness of the ears and eyes (impairment of the power of hearing and sight),
Sambhrama – loss of memory, dizziness,
frequent upward movement of Vatu, bloating
Tamo hrudi – bradycardia, lowered functioning of heart,
emaciation of body, loss of the power of digestion and body strength.
Treatment: Brimhana treatment

Benefits of Langhana

–  Kindling the digestive fire,
– Rectifies metabolism,
– Controls ama,
– Removes stagnation and blocks in tissues and channels,
– Brings lightness and sense of healthiness in the body,
– Regresses the initial pathological processes,
– Strengthens the digestive system,
– Cleanses the tissues of the blocks and helps in their recovery and halts the progression of the diseases. These should be taken under medical advice and supervision.

Overall, Langhana treatment principle is adopted whenever there is heaviness. The purpose is to bring about lightness to the body, to clear body channels, to improve circulation and to get rid of morbidity.
Langhana also serves the purposes of deepana and pachana.

9 comments on “Langhana Therapy – A Unique Ayurvedic Treatment Principle

  • mb

    17/10/2014 - 12:16 pm

    Should one continue treatment if there is adverse affects, or stop?

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

      26/10/2014 - 6:56 pm

      If there are adverse effects then one has to stop Langhana treatment right away and principles of Brimhana (nourishing) therapy should be adopted till the adverse symptoms are brought under control.

      Reply to comment

    12/12/2016 - 9:02 am

    Thank you for outlining an important therapy in the present day indulgences and over-eating. But your write-up does not mention, how to follow up “langanam”. My grandmother used to say” langanam parama aushadham”. But gone are those days.

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

      13/12/2016 - 6:36 pm

      There are 10 methods to follow Langhana, as mentioned in the above article.
      Vamana treatment – vomiting therapy
      Virechana Panchakarma treatment – purgation therapy
      Niruha basti – decoction enema
      Nasya – nasal drops having cleansing nature,
      Pipasa – controlling thirst
      Maruta – Exposure to wind
      Atapa – Exposure to sun
      Pachana – Administration of foods and medicine – that are hot in nature, which helps in digestion.
      Upavasa – fasting
      Vyayama – physical exercise

      Out of the above, fasting and exercise are the ones that are suited to most of us.

      Reply to comment
  • Venkat

    19/04/2017 - 6:44 am

    Hello Doctor,
    What is the meaning of upavasa roopi langana?

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

      19/04/2017 - 9:34 am

      Langhana therapy by means of fasting.

      Reply to comment
  • Joe

    22/07/2017 - 11:35 pm

    I’m surprised Green grams and Amalaki are listed here. I’m 5’10 145lbs (V-P) and want to gain weight so I have been taking these both. Can you recommend a pulse/grain that is heavy with cooling effect to aid in weight gain?

    Reply to comment
  • Joe

    23/07/2017 - 10:43 pm

    Thank you Doc, I will try that. I eat green grams almost daily, should I stop, if so what’s a better alternative?

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

      24/07/2017 - 10:17 am

      Hi, you can have small amounts of green gram everday. You can replace some amount of it with rice or wheat.

      Reply to comment

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