Pinda Sweda – Sankara Sweda Meaning, Method, Types, Variations, Uses

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S


Sankara Sweda or Pinda Sweda is a type of fomentation (sweating) treatment wherein

  • the medicines either tied in a cloth in the form of a bolus or the bolus of the medicines taken directly (without tying them in a cloth)
  • are heated to tolerable temperatures or dipped in hot or warm liquids and
  • later the bolus is applied (or rubbed or patted) to the part / parts of the body to which swedana is to be given (painful, swollen, sore parts of the body)

Sankara = Bolus (medicines tied in a cloth and made into a bolus)
Pinda = Bolus (medicines or things like cow etc made into a bolus or medicinal pastes, leaves, sand etc tied in a cloth and tied into a bolus)
Sweda = Sweating treatment (sudation, steaming, fomentation)

Type – In Sankara or Pinda Sveda, the medicines are heated directly or indirectly or dipped in hot solutions (liquids) before applying or rubbing against the afflicted body parts. Since the medicines are heated or brought in contact with fire, this type of sweating treatment is included under Sagni Sweda in which the fire is used.

Materials used

Many herbs, grains etc are used. Sesame, black gram, horse gram etc are boiled in meat soup or any other suitable liquids. When they become semisolid, they are put in a sterile cloth and tied into a bolus.

These boluses are dipped in hot milk, oil, meat soup, sweet liquid dish prepared in milk base (payasa) etc repeatedly and svedana is given.

Similarly the dung of animals like cow, donkey, camel, pig, horse etc are made into bolus. These boluses are repeatedly heated. This is not tied in a cloth. The hot bolus prepared from the dung of the mentioned animals is directly brought into contact of the painful or swollen part of the body.

Also the sand, stones, dried dung of animals, iron balls etc are made hot, tied in a bolus of cloth and used to give sweating to the afflicted body parts.
Read related: Sweating Treatment – Swedana Types And Methods – Charaka Samhita 14th chapter

Types of Sankara Sweda

1. Based on the method of preparation of Sankara or Pinda
Vastrantarita Pinda Sweda
Heated medicines are tired into a pack and applied over the body.

Avastrantarita Pinda Sweda – The In this the heated bolus of medicine is directly applied over the affected body parts. Here the cloth is not used to prepare pack.
Read related: Why You Should Sweat – To Treat Disease, For Better Health

2. Based on the content and texture of the Sankara or Pinda
Snigdha Pinda Sveda – In this, oily, unctuous things or medicines having oily content are used. Sesame, black gram, rice etc are processed with sweet preparation with milk base (payasa), meat soup, group of sour herbs etc and tied in a sterile cloth to form a bolus. This is used for treating Vata diseases.

Ruksha Pinda Sveda – In this, dry things or medicines devoid of oily content are used. Dried excreta of animals are made hot and tied in a sterile cloth to form a bolus. This is used for treating Kapha diseases, Ama (diseases caused due to immature or improperly processed nutritive juices in circulation), Meda (fat tissue related disorders), Amavata (Rheumatoid Arthritis) etc
Read related: Sweating Therapy – Swedana Karma: Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana 17th chapter


Procedure of Sankara Sweda as explained by Acharya Vagbhata
Acharya Vagbhata,  in Ashtanga Sangraha has clearly said that Sankara Sweda and Pinda Sweda are not entirely different from each other.

Earthen pieces or plates of small size, stones, gravel, sand, iron balls, etc should be heated red hot repeatedly and put into water or any medicated liquid like herbal decoction etc. They should be removed immediately, tied in a clean cloth and a bolus prepared. This bolus is used to give fomentation. (This is considered Ruksha Sweda or dry fomentation). This is used to treat diseases caused by morbid or excessively accumulated fat, diseases caused by vitiated kapha, to treat cysts and swellings and pain.

Gravel, sand, dried dung of the above mentioned animals, grains, husk, etc should be boiled (processed) in Kanji (sour fermented liquid) and other sour liquids and tied in cloth. These boluses should be used for fomentation. Alternatively, the fresh dung of the above mentioned animals should be made into bolus, made hot and fomentation given to the afflicted areas of the body.

In Vata diseases, poultices should be prepared from the herbs which alleviate Vata, like mustard, krushara (soups), mamsarasa (meat soup) etc and applied hot over the afflicted areas of the body (painful or swollen areas).

All these are considered to be Sankara Sweda or Pinda Sweda.


Variants of Sankara Sweda or Pinda Sweda
There are many variants of Pinda Sweda or Sankara Sweda. They are as mentioned below –

Shashtika Shali Pinda Sweda or Navarakizhi – Bolus fomentation given by using the paddy or rice grown in 60 days, processed in medicated milk and after dipping the boluses in the same medicated milk repeatedly until the entire duration of sweating treatment is completed.

This type of sweating treatment is used in effectively treating Vata disorders, dyspnea (breathing disorders, shortness of breath), lameness, limp, frozen shoulder, arm and forearm pain, debilitating disorders, emaciation, phthisis etc

Anna Lepana – As the name indicates, in this sweating treatment, paddy or rice which is prepared (processed) is directly applied or rubbed over the body. Actually it also fits into Pradeha (anointment) or Upanaha (poultice). It is a variant of Shashtika Shali Pinda Sweda wherein the prepared rice, instead of tying in a cloth to prepare a bolus, is applied directly to the afflicted parts.

Anna Lepa is used to treat disorders of vata and rakta (blood) vitiation, Rheumatoid Arthritis (Amavata), diseases wherein burning sensation (due to inflammation) is predominantly present.

Valuka Sweda – In this type of bolus fomentation, sand is heated, put into cloth and made into bolus and this bolus is used for providing fomentation.

Valuka Sweda is used to effectively treat the diseases caused by ama and vitiated kapha, in painful conditions associated with swelling and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Patra Pinda Sweda / Ela Kizhi – In this type of bolus fomentation, leaves of medicinal herbs having analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties are tied in a cloth, made into bolus, dipped in warm oils and used for providing sweating to the parts of body having pain, stiffness and swelling.

This type of sweating treatment is used to treat low back pain, sciatica, neck pain, arthritis and many other painful conditions.

Churna Pinda Sweda / Podikizhi – In this type of bolus fomentation, powder of medicinal herbs having medicinal properties and property of removing pain, stiffness and swelling are tied in a cloth, made into bolus, either dipped or not dipped in warm oils and used for providing sweating to the parts of body having pain, stiffness and swelling.

This type of sweating treatment is used to treat ama and vata disorders, painful conditions with swelling and stiffness like back pain, musculoskeletal pains and joint pains etc.

Jambira Pinda Sweda / Naranga Kizhi – In this type of bolus fomentation, pieces of wild lemon (Citrus medica) are tied in a cloth, made into bolus, heated on a pan and used to provide fomentation.
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