Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Prastara Sweda is a type of sweating treatment, in which the person who is subjected to fomentation is made to lie on a long stone slab of the dimension of his or her body, on which grains which are made hot (after boiling them) are spread out.
Prastara Sweda is one of the 13 types of Sagni Sweda i.e. sweating treatment in which heat (contact of fire) is used. One needs to remember that the grains which are spread on the slab are processed on fire, thus it is a form of Sagni Sweda.
Acharya Vagbhata, author of Ashtanga Sangraha has explained Prastara Sweda in the name of Samstara Sweda. Both are same.
Prastara = Stone Slab
Sweda = Sweating treatment (fomentation, sudation, steaming)
Method of doing Prastara Sweda
A human sized stone slab is taken on which a person can lie down comfortably.
Ideal measurement of the stone slab is 6 feet width and 2.5 feet breadth, with 2 feet thickness. For this, a cement platform of similar dimensions is built to a height of 2 feet. Over this, the mentioned stone slab is placed. It automatically becomes a cot of stone.
The stone should have uniform and even surface, well polished.
Swedana Dravya (materials needed for providing swedana or steaming)
Rice, wheat, barley, green gram, black gram, horse gram, pea, toor dal, pulaka (type of grain), veshavara (meat), payasa (sweetened rice preparation with milk), Krshara (soup or semisolid preparation made using sesame, rice and black gram), utkarika (bread shaped preparation) etc are used as materials to provide sweating in Prastara Sweda.
Read related: Sweating Treatment – Swedana Types And Methods – Charaka Samhita 14th chapter
Method of providing sweating in Prastara Sweda
The above said materials are boiled with water.
A soft cloth of silk or wool is spread out over the stone slab mentioned above.
The boiled materials are poured over that cloth (on the slab) and spread out evenly.
Another cloth of same dimensions is spread out over the boiled materials.
Alternatively, the boiled materials are spread out directly over the stone slab. Over this, leaves of castor, calotropis etc are spread out (alternative to cloth). These leaves will add to the benefits because they too have medicinal properties, mainly vata and pain alleviating properties. When combined with the boiled materials, the fortified effect will be exemplary.
Now the person who has been subjected to Abhyanga (massage) with suitable herbal oils is made to lie down on the stone bed over which the boiled materials have been spread out.
Caution – Check the temperature of the boiled materials. The patient should be made to lie on it only when the temperature is tolerable. Or else it may produce boils and other complications which is not desirable.
The intention of Prastara Sweda is to provide fomentation uniformly and also to cause sweating in the whole body, at a time, simultaneously.
Samstara Sweda as said by Vagbhata
The swedana materials like herbs, grains are selected as per the disease. These are boiled in a closed vessel or pitcher. Now a days, the materials can be boiled in a cooker (closed boiling). While processing these substances, kanji (fermented sour medicinal preparation) or other sour liquids shall be used.
Read related: Sweating Therapy – Swedana Karma: Ashtanga Hrudayam Sutrasthana 17th chapter
When the materials are properly boiled, they are uniformly spread over a bed (layer) of grass of wheat etc prepared in a room devoid of breeze. Over this, another layer of leaves of castor plant etc are spread out. Once again over this, clean cloth of wool, silk etc are spread out. All these will help to filter the heat coming towards the body.
The patient who has taken oil massage is made to lie on this bed. The person should be wrapped with a blanket and sweating should be given in a comprehensive way, until the signs and symptoms of proper sweating are observed.
Benefits of Prasthara Sweda (Samsthara Sweda)
- Back pain, Lumbago
- Pain in flanks,
- Pelvic and hip pain
- Low back pain, spondylosis,
- Contractures in the region of (stiffness) low back, hip and pelvic areas
- Calcaneal spur etc