Article by Prof. MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu)., PhD.
Oedema is explained as Shotha or Shopha in Ayurveda. We come across the oedema conditions in different local areas such as face, feet etc or throughout the body or half of the body. Even though it usually appears as a symptom, in so many diseases related to vital organs like kidney, liver, heart, lungs, brain, uterus etc,
it may appear as individual disease itself due to imbalanced Dosha. Ayurvedic understanding and treatment options for oedema are explained below.
Causative factors for Shotha (oedema) :
Improper evacuation of doshas from the body by Panchakarma procedures like like Vamana (emesis), Virechana(purgation) etc
Due to fever
Due to anaemia
Long term fasting
Excess intake of alkaline or acidic food
Warm ,spicy,and heavy food intake
Intake of curd , lussy ,vitiated food etc
Sedentary life etc
Onset of Shopha
Due to the causative factors, the Vata Dosha, , rakta [blood], Pitta and Kapha are vitiated and they are lodged in the veins which circulate in the body and extremities. Due to defect in the circulation, the mamsa (muscle) and twak (skin) are also badly affected and ultimately hard and elevated oedema is resulted.
General features of Shotha (oedema)
Heaviness of the body
Oedema over any of the body surface
Debility in the veins
Vataja shopha features
Features of Vatika Shoptha – oedema due to Vata Dosha:
Thinning of the affected skin surface
Red or black discoloration
Oedema during day time etc
Pittaja shopha features
Features of Pittaja Shotha – Due to Pitta Dosha imbalance
Soft oedematous lesions
Oedematous lesions appearing with smell
Black or yellow coloured lesions
Conjunctivitis /redness of the eyes
Instant ulceration etc
Kaphaja shopha features
Features of Kaphaja oedema :
Stable and thick oedema
Anaemia / pallor
Non pitting oedema
Oedema worsening during night time etc
Shopha due to Abhigata
Oedema caused due to injury (abhighata)
Due to injury caused by sharp instruments, frost, chilling wind, contact of Bhallataka [marking nut ] , Kapikacchu [cowhage ] etc also oedema is caused. These exhibit the qualities of Paittic oedema.
Shopha affected by poison
Features of Poison affected oedema:
Due to the contact or bite of various poisonous insects ,birds, animals or snakes these are caused .These are associated with severe burning sensation and ulceration. They are of instant spreading nature.
Breathlessness , thirst, vomiting, debility, fever, hiccup, diarrhoea, tastelessness are the complications of oedema.
According to the doshic dominance, dosha pacifying measures are undertaken. In case of severe mal digestion, fasting (langhana) and digestive medicines (pachana) are advised. All measures are undertaken to reduce the swelling by application, tub bath and oral medication.
Single drug recommended in Shotha(Oedema)
Ginger – Shunthi- Zingiber officinale Rose.
Castor root – Eranda- Ricinus communis Linn.
Punarnava- Boerhavia diffusa Linn.
Tribulus – Gokshura- Tibulus terrestris Linn.
Guggulu- Commiphora mukul (Hook. Ex. Stocks.) Engl.
Aragwadha- Cassia fistula Linn.
Cumin seeds – Jeeraka- Cuminum cyminum Linn.
Turmeric – Haridra- Curcuma longa Linn.
Shilajit -Asphaltum punjabinum
Devadaru- Cedrus deodara (Roxb.) Loud.
Haritaki- Terminalia chebula Retz.
Shallaki- Boswellia serrata Roxb.
Ayurvedic home remedies
Simple home remedies for oedema:
Regular consumption of a mixture of one pinch of turmeric along with half a teaspoon of ginger along with honey relieves oedema.
The herbs – one teaspoon of Punarnava, ginger and turmeric are taken in a vessel. Added with two cups of water, boiled and reduced to half a cup filtered. This in a dose of 20 ml, two times a day before food along with a small piece of jaggery is useful to relieve oedema.
Erandamoola, Gokshura and Jeeraka are taken in equal quantity and a decoction is prepared .This is capable of pacifying oedema.
Wholesome diet and habits
Purana shali [old rice]
Kulattha [horse gram]
Mudga [green gram]
Tamr chooda rasa [chicken soup]
Koorma [ flesh of tortoise]
Purana ghrita [old ghee ]
Takra [butter milk]
Bala moolaka [tender raddish]
Amalaki [goose berry] etc
Unwholesome diet and habits
Lavana [salty diet]
Shushka shaka [dry vegetables]
Amla rasa [sour substances]
Shimbi dhanya [pulses]
Guru ahara [heavy food]
Vidahi ahara [spicy food]
Adhwa [long walk]
Dadhi [curd] etc
Swelling is a simple health complaint if it is a localised one or if it is of recent origin; whereas the generalised oedema or oedema with chronic history surely denotes serious underlying pathology. So, one should be careful and take immediate action towards such problems.