Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, BAMS
Lord Brahma is said to be the creator of the world as per Indian mythology. But even this creator is said to be born out of a lotus emerging from the navel of Lord Vishnu, the operator of the world. Indirectly, the secret of creation of the world emerged from ‘Vishnu Nabhi’ or the ‘Navel of Lord Vishnu’.
Each one of us take origin from the connection between our navel with the mother’s heart (circulation) while in her womb. The fetal circulation or the supply of blood and nutrients to the miniature child in the mother’s womb passes through ones umbilicus or navel. The channels of nutrition coming from the mother pass through the child’s navel and maintain the intra-uterine (within womb) life until the child is born. Once the child is born, the connection between the child and mother is cut off by cutting the umbilical cord which connects them. Thus navel or umbilicus is an important part of our body and defines our origin and existence.
Table of Contents
Nabhi = Umbilicus or Navel
Chikitsa = Treatment
Nabhi Chikitsa is a specialized treatment of Ayurveda wherein some medicines are applied or pooled in the navel to combat certain disorders. This form of treatment though not abundantly mentioned in the treatises of Ayurveda, has been practiced with traditional skills which have been passed on through generations. Some forms of the treatment are practiced in Kerala state of South India.
Importance of Nabhi
Anatomical classification –
Anatomically, Nabhi or umbilicus is classified and included in –
Koshtanga – Sushruta has mentioned Nabhi as one among the 15 Koshtangas or visceral organs.
Pratyanga – According to Charaka Nabhi is a pratyanga (sub-organ), a structure or organ located in telation to the main part or organ of the body. In this context Nabhi is said to be related to the below mentioned angas or main organs:
नाभि स्तनान्तरं जन्तोः आमाशय उदाहृतः।(शा.प्र.५)
Amashaya or stomach is said to be located in the proximity and closely related to nabhi (navel). Amashaya is said to be located in between nabhi and stana (breasts). Amashaya is a term which covers stomach and the upper part of the small intestine i.e. duodenum. Both these organs are related with major part of digestion of food.
ऊर्ध्वं अग्न्याशयो नाभेः वाम भागे व्यवस्थितः॥(शारंगधर)
Agni Ashaya or Pancreas is said to be located towards the upper left part of the nabhi.
Sira Marma – Nabhi is a Sira Marma (vital part of the body which is predominantly made up of Siras i.e. blood vessels, mainly veins). It is said to be a Sadhyo Pranahara Marma i.e. Nabhi Marma when injured causes immediate death. Therefore, Nabhi is a sensitive and delicate area of the body.
Read related: Nabhi Marma: Components, Location, Effect Of Injury
Sira Mula – Nabhi is called as Sira Mula or root of veins or blood vessels in the body. Anatomically we do not see any veins or arteries being connected or getting originated from the Nabhi. But the connectivity to the siras is explained on the basis of fetal circulation. During fetal circulation, the blood vessels which connect the child and mother, carrying nutrients to the child pass through the umbilicus of the child. Thus Navel has been a root of circulation in the earlier days of the child and is thus considered responsible for our existence and survival. If fetal circulation is hampered due to any defects of circulation system or blocks or inadequate nutrients from mother, we can find the child to be born with deformities and birth defects, stunted growth or intra-uterine death. Thus Nabhi is sira mula and moola for our existence.
Nabhi is Pitta Sthana – Nabhi or navel is one of the sites of Pitta. It may be due to the proximity of the digestive organs with Nabhi that it is considered as Pitta Sthana. The digestive tract, mainly the stomach and small intestine (with liver and pancreas) mainly function with the help of Pitta, the fire element. The fire element or Agni Tatwa is said to be represented in the body in the form of pitta. Therefore Nabhi is also an agni sthana.
How is Nabhi Chikitsa done?
Treatments over Nabhi are done in one of the below mentioned methods –
Nabhi Poorana – Filling of naval depression with medicated oils.
Read related: Nabhi Purana Treatment Method: Procedure, Benefits
Nabhi Basti – building a mini compound of black gram paste around umbilicus and retaining medicated oil in it for certain period.
Read related: Nabhi Basti Treatment Procedure, Benefits
Read related: Nabhi Lepa Treatment Method Procedure, benefits
Applying Oil on Umbilicus
Is applying oil on navel region beneficial?
Umbilicus is explained as a Marma point. It is explained as Sadhyo Pranahara Marma. Injury to umbilicus leads to sudden death. This is how Ravana was killed after being shot by arrows of God Shri Rama.
It is called Nabhi Marma. Charaka samhita shaareera sthaana 8/24 mentions that when there is bleeding during pregnancy, the umbilicus and the lower abdomen region should be applied with 100 times washed ghee – Shata Dhauta Ghrita.
Umbilicus is the right level in which the duodenum – the first part of intestine is situated.
This clearly indicates that the oil or any ointment applied on the navel region has its effect on the inner organs.
Hence, to strengthen, stimulate or to calm down the functions of organs of lower abdomen – colon, urinary system, reproductive system, applying oil on the navel region is beneficial.
Applying oil to naval region is very beneficial for Vata and Pitta imbalance disorders such as bloating, constipation, hyperacidity etc.
For Vata people, sesame oil is good for applying. It is hot and unctuous, whereas Vata is cold and dry.
For pitta people, coconut oil or ghee is good. For kapha people, mustard oil serves well.
Besides applying oil over navel region, there are many Ayurveda treatments explained which involve umbilicus.