Vicharana And Achcha Snehapana: Utility, Practical aspects

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
Sneha is a lipid or fatty substance. Ayurveda tells that the whole ‘human body’ is made up of sneha. This sneha should be nourished on regular basis, the major part of which comes from the food we consume. 

Qualitative and quantitatively monitored good fats will guard our health and provide immunity against diseases. On the other way, excess or less or in-discriminated use of unmonitored sneha will lead to various diseases. Therefore Sneha is needed for our health and healthy living.

Sneha comes in 4 forms. They are – Sarpi (ghee), Majja (bone marrow), Vasa (muscle fat) and Taila (oil). They can be combined individually or in combination. Using in two’s is called Yamaka, three’s is called Trivrit and using all mixed together. The can be used in their original forms or in medicated forms.
Charaka Samhita Sutrasthana – Sneha Adhyaya 13th chapter
Ashtanga Hrudaya Sutrasthana – Sneha Adyaya 16th Chapter

Sarpi is said to be a ‘Nitya Rasayana’ or an ‘immune-modulator’ or ‘anti-ageing’ or ‘health-promoter’ which can be used on daily basis, throughout the life.
Read related: Oleation – Snehakarma Dose, Benefits, Side Effects, Management

Other forms of Sneha –
Apart from the above said classification, the below mentioned are also important:
-Achcha Sneha or Achcha Peya – Plain ghee or oil (not medicated)
-Sadhya Sneha – Sneha which causes instant snehana
-Sneha Dhuma – In the form of fumes
-Sneha Vicharana or Pravicharana – Used admixed with foods (in small quantities) and in the form of Abhyanga (massage), Gandusha (gargle), Akshitarpana (pooling around eyes), Vasti (enema) etc forms.

Vicharana Sneha

Sneha Vicharana (Vicharana Sneha, Pravicharana Sneha)
Vicharana Sneha or Pravicharana Sneha is a special type of administering Sneha. This type of Sneha is planned so as to administer sneha to people who cannot take large quantities of sneha (as in shodhan or shaman sneha), are reluctant or show aversion towards sneha, to whom sneha is incompatible or intolerant. To these people, sneha is given in a disguised form, in small doses mixed with food.

प्रविचार्यते अवचार्यते अनुकल्पेन उपयुज्यते अनयेति प्रविचारणा (चक्रपणि)
Chakrapani says pravicharana is an application or administration (avacharana), which can be used as alternative to the snehana (anukalpana) i.e. classical oleation therapy.

Hence pravicharana sneha can be taken as an alternative method of administration of sneha, to the more acceptable model of Acchapeya / Snehapana or consumption of therapeutic doses of sneha (only sneha, in natural form or medicated form).

Vicharana or Pravicharana Sneha is administered in 2 forms –
Abhyantara Vicharana – One section of vicharana sneha deals with sneha mixed with food or foods prepared with sneha. Our foods are seasoned, prepared, fried, processed or added with little quantities of fat, on daily basis. This compensates the body’s needs of fat; this objective is achieved by Vicharana Sneha. Example, Odana, Vilepi, Mamsa Rasa etc. The objective is to add sneha with an easily consumable or palatable material or dietary supplement, mainly food products. This makes Vicharana patient friendly.

Bahya Vicharana – Another section of vicharana sneha deals with the administration of sneha on the outside of the body (external use). Example, Abhyanga, Karnapurana, Netratarpana, Vasti etc.

Sanskrit verse


Indications of Vicharana Sneha –
Vicharana = Thoughtful, Sneha = fats or medicated fats
Vicharana Sneha means thoughtful or skilful administration of Sneha.

  • Sneha Dweshaha – Person who shows reluctance or aversion or hatredness or intolerance towards Sneha
  • Sneha Nityaha – One who has been addicted or habituated to taking sneha on daily basis
  • Mrudu koshta – To those who are having easy bowel movements, in whom sneha quickly brings about purgation, those who have a gut which is very sensitive and causes quick purging
  • Klesha asaha – Those who do not tolerate the large doses of sneha or hardships (discomfort) produced on taking sneha in large quantities
  • Madhya Nityaaha – Those who are used to consume alcohol regularly, addiction to alcohol

In these people, sneha will not be tolerated or produce adverse reactions. Therefore, sneha should be intellectually administered by admixing it with foods.


Vicharana Sneha is of 24 types.

  • Odana – cooked rice
  • Vilepi – gruel prepared using rice and water in 1:4 proportions, such that it has more of solid (rice) and less of liquid (water)
  • Rasa – meat soup
  • Mamsa – meat
  • Paya – milk
  • Dadhi – curds
  • Yavagu – gruel
  • Soopa – soup
  • Shaka – processed vegetables
  • Yusha – soup prepared using green gram, water, buttermilk, decoction and medicinal herbs
  • Kambalika – sour milk mixed with vinegar
  • Khada – buttermilk processed with vegetables, spices
  • Saktu – roasted flour
  • Tila pishta – sesame paste
  • Madhya – liquor, fermented alcoholic drinks
  • Leha – Linctus
  • Bhakshya anna – high caloric foods
  • Abhyanga – massage
  • Gandusha – gargles
  • Karna purana (tarpana) – ear filling
  • Nasa tarpana – nasal instillation
  • Akshi tarpana – oil pooling around eyes
  • Vasti – enema
  • Uttara vasti – vaginal or urethral enema

Among the above said –
Odana to Bhakshya Anna are Abhyantara Pravicharana Sneha wherein the sneha is administered internally mixed with food.

Abhyanga to Uttara Vasti are Bahya Pravicharana Snehas. It is not clearly understood why these are mentioned in the context of Vicharana Sneha but it can be inferred that these forms should be preferred when there is an intolerance or rejection of Abhyantara Pravicharanas also.


Is ‘Pravicharana Sneha’ – Shodana (cleansing) or Shamana (palliative) in nature?
I feel Pravicharana is not Shodananga (shodananga = given with a purpose of administering shodhana or cleansing treatments like vamana, virechana etc) i.e. not given for preparing the patient for Shodhana. This means to tell that, Vicharana Sneha is not essentially given with a purpose of causing Shodhana (as Shodananga Snehapana is given in Purvakarma of Shodhana / Panchkarma procedures).

For Shodhana, Sneha (only Sneha) should be given in high doses on empty stomach, while it’s not a rule in Pravicharana. Pravicharana, on the other hand is given mixed with food.

On the other hand ‘Pravicharana might cause mild to moderate cleansing’, depending on Prakriti (physical constitution), Vikriti (nature of morbidity) and Koshta (gut reactivity) of patient

To be considered as Shodhana Sneha, all Pravicharanas should abide to a common rule or principle, which is missing here (given in large doses on empty stomach and some pravicharanas are administered externally which is not a case in shodananga sneha).

Pravicharana Sneha is also ‘not totally Shamana in nature’ (not essentially given with a purpose of causing Shamana), but can hv Shamana effect. It can pacify the morbid doshas and cause regression of pathology, to an extent.

For Shamana, the Sneha (Shamananga Sneha = sneha given with a purpose of inducing shaman or palliation of morbid doshas) should be given before food in presence of hunger, when Agni is getting manifested.

But some form of Pravicharana snehas are food by themselves. Example, Odana, Vilepi, Yavagu, Mamsa Rasa, Paya, Dadhi etc. Therefore the question of administration of snehana before food in pravicharana sneha doesn’t arise, since it is mixed with food or is in the form of food.

To be considered as Shamana Sneha, all Pravicharanas should abide to a common rule or principle, which is missing here (not given before food and some pravicharanas are administered externally which is not a case in Shamananga sneha).

Therefore, Pravicharana Sneha, is an ‘intellectual way of combining Sneha with food’ as in abhyantara vicharana or given in some other pathway (other than oral) as in bahya vicharana, for patients who are reluctant to take Sneha in large doses, through oral route (Sneha dweshi, Sneha klanta, Sneha asatmya, Sneha ayogya) but bringing about Snehana in him or her, gradually, is intended without causing aversion or rejection.

Note – Sneha dweshi – aversion to sneha, Sneha klanta – discomfort after taking sneha, Sneha asatmya – incompatibility of sneha, Sneha ayogya – conditions not suitable for administration of snehana.
Pravicharana is thus a ‘disguised form of Sneha’ administration.

If we observe, many forms of vicharana sneha are ‘Snehatulya’ (act similarly as sneha), rather than being Sneha themselves.
Pravicharana being combined with food in some instances can be ‘Brimhana’ (bulk promoting) in nature.
They can act like ‘Balyas (strength promoters) and Rasayanas (rejuvenators, disease modifiers, longevity enhancers, anti-ageing, and immune-modulators)’ in nature, if taken regularly for long periods.

Should we look for Samyak Snigdha lakshanas (signs of proper oleation) in case of Pravicharana Sneha?
Since Pravicharana Sneha is Sneha, it produces snehana (unctuousness or oleation), obviously.
But they need not satisfy the Samyak Snigdha lakshanas (signs of proper oleation or unctuousness) mentioned in our classics.

I feel we need not wait for ‘shastrokta Samyak Snigdha lakshanas’ in case if Pravicharana Sneha.

Acharyas have mentioned Samyak Snigdha Lakshanas only for Shodhana Sneha because the dose of Sneha in this procedure is large. Therefore these signs of proper snehana are not seen (should not be sought for) in Pravicharana sneha, because the dose of sneha is less and it is admixed with food.


Summary of important aspects of Vicharana / Pravicharana Sneha –

  • Thus Pravicharana Snehas are modified forms of sneha administration. They should be preferred in people in whom snehana should be induced (snehana is needed, should be administered in any case) but they are unable to take large quantities of sneha (sneha dwesha).
  • Pravicharana can induce shodhana (cleansing effect) but not necessarily administered with an intention of administering shodhana.
  • Pravicharana can induce shaman (palliation) but not necessarily administered with an intention of administering shaman.
  • Pravicharana will have Brimhana, Balya and Rasayana effect on long use.
  • Pravicharana also has nutritive effect because many are in the form of food.
  • Pravicharana is easy to administer, since they carry little or negligible dose and are mixed with food.
  • Pravicharana is well tolerated.
  • Pravicharana sneha has been dealt as a different concept, though explained in the same context of Snehana. Thus it cannot be equated with Shodhana, Shamana, Brimhana Sneha etc and they cannot be used interchangeably.
  • Since Pravicharana is also a sneha, it will obviously produce snigdha lakshanas (signs of oleation or unctuousness). But we need not look for Samyak Snigdha Lakshanas (signs of properly administered sneha) which are sought for when Sneha, accha or snehapana is given for the purpose of Shodhana (as purvakarma in Panchakarma procedures like Vamana, Virechana etc). Similarly, Pravicharana will not induce Ati snigdha (signs of over-oleation) and Asamyak snigdha (under-oleation) signs as is seen in shodhana sneha.
  • Pravicharana Sneha has external measures like Abhyanga, Netra Tarpana, Gandusha etc but the Shodana, SHamana etc snehas doesn’t have these variants. Thus Pravicharana is kept as an individual and independent concept.
  • Pravicharana Sneha is given with food, Shamana and Shodhana snehas and achha sneha are given before food.
  • The dose in Pravicharana Sneha is less while it is more in Shodana sneha and achccha sneha (also in shaman sneha).
  • Pravicharan sneh carries the same procedure as that of Brimhana Sneha (given mixed with food) but Pravicharanam sneham is most of the times in the form of food itself (sneha is a part of food rather than being added).
  • Samyak snigdha lakshanas are obtained in 3, 5 or 7 days in case of Shodhananga sneha, while Pravicharana is devoid of this concept.
  • There is a fixed dose for Shodhananga Sneha (varies from person to person) and achha sneha, not for Pravicharan (varies from person to person).
  • Pravicharan is a modified version of accha sneha or snehapana, but not a substitute
  • Pravicharana Sneha doesn’t include ‘pana’ or drinkable part as is found in shodhananga sneha
  • For snehapana to be equated with Prabicharan, all or almost types of pravicharana should go under the hammer of ‘jatharagni’. Sneha should be subjected to action by Jataragni or metabolic fire before its action sets in. But in Pravicharana sneha, some types including Abhyanga etc are external methods; jataragni is not involved in these procedures.

Just before finishing –
Pravicharana is a good concept of administering sneha to people / patients who need sneha but can’t take it due to various causes including aversion or incompatibility. The concept shows that Ayurveda Acharyas were very scientific in tracking down alternative measures of administering a medicine or a treatment when the possibility of administering a ‘needed treatment’ is doubtful.

Pravicharana may bring effects of Shodhana and or Shamana and Brimhana, but are not administered with purpose of doing so!!

But there is a thin line of demarcation between achchasneha (consumption of fats in their natural form), snehapana (administration of fats in medicated forms) and Pravicharana (sneha mixed with foods).

Shodhana or Shamana (achcha) snehas are given with an intention of causing cleansing or palliation of morbid doshas respectively. On the other hand, Vicharana Sneha is not administered with an intention of causing shodhana or shamana, but it can bring about shodhana and or shaman effect on administration.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)

3 comments on “Vicharana And Achcha Snehapana: Utility, Practical aspects

  • Dr J V Hebbar MD(Ayu)

    09/06/2017 - 6:03 pm

    All the best!

    Reply to comment
  • Satyan Namdhari

    25/01/2018 - 5:54 am

    Saktu by itself is dry without any oil, fat, or fluid.

    How does Saktu — roasted flour provide snehana?

    Is it because when it passes through Amashaya – the seat of Kapha, it soaks in unmetabolized / improperly digested oil / fat (Shleshma/ products of modified metabolism) present there?

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

      09/02/2018 - 4:56 pm

      Saktu is one among the 24 types of Sneha Pravicharana – Here, Sneha – medicated oil or ghee or muscle fat or marrow is processed with one among these ways, to make it more tasty and consumable to the patient.

      Reply to comment

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