Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Nadi means Tube
Sweda refers to sweating treatment. It is also called sudation, steaming, fomentation.
Nadi Sweda is a form of sweating treatment in which the steam are sent through a tube. It is a form of Bashpa Sweda or providing sweating through the vapors. The vapors coming through the tube are made to reach the afflicted parts of the body after oil massage.
In Nadi Sweda, the vapors come in a narrow stream depending on the size of the lumen of the tube. Thus the vapors can be provided to a small part of body. Thus it is more beneficial for local fomentation rather than generalized full body steaming i.e. Sarvanga Sweda. Therefore Nadi Sweda can be preferred when pain or swelling or stiffness is limited to a small area of the body i.e. Sthanika Sweda.
Thus Nadi Sweda is tubular fomentation.
Nadi Sweda is one among the 13 types of Sagni Sweda. Since processing with fire is used in this process it is categorized as Sagni Sweda.
Nadi Sweda is a drava sweda (liquid steaming) and ardra sweda (wet sweating method).
Nadi Sweda is Ekanga Sweda i.e. more often used to provide steam to a small or limited part of the body like bony joints or sore muscles and soft tissues. Ekanga means one part or one organ. Therefore Nadi Sweda can be considered as local sudation.
Materials needed for conducting Nadi Sweda
- Decoction of the roots, fruits, leaves and buds of the herbs beneficial for sweating (swedana dravya) like drumstick, Punarnava (Boerhavia diffusa), horse gram, black gram, Varuna (Crataeva nurvala), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia) etc,
- Meat of the head, legs etc of animals like deer etc, which are hot in nature (vata pacifying or vata-kapha pacifying)
- Sour substances, kanji (sour fermented medicinal preparation),
- Lavana (various types of salt),
- Pitta sneha (the bile and fat) of animals,
- Sesame, tandula (rice and other grains),
- Cow urine, milk etc
The above said materials are used as materials for conducting Nadi Sweda.
All the above said substances are mixed together and heated in a big vessel. The steam or vapors coming out when these substances are boiled in a closed container is sent through a tube fit to the lid of the container. The vapors thus coming out of the tube are directed to the part of the body afflicted with pain, swelling etc.
Equipment for Nadi Sweda and method of conducting the Nadi Sweda
The equipment needed for Nadi Sweda comprises of Kumbhi (a vessel with lid) and Nadi (a tube). The whole apparatus comprising of both Kumbhi and Nadi is called Nadi Swedana Yantra (Tube sudation or steaming apparatus).
- Swedana Kumbhi (pitcher, vessel, earthen pot) –
A big earthen pot is selected for the procedure. The vessel should be devoid of cracks and perforations and should be stable. It should have a lid which exactly fits on its opening. The lid should have a slit (orifice) in which a tube can be fit. Alternatively the tube can be fit into the orifice on the side of the neck of the vessel.
- Swedana Nadi (the tube) –
Materials with which the nadi used for swedana is made – The tube shall be made using the
- Shareshika (Sarkanda = Saccharum bengalense / Saccharum munja, Munj Sweetcane) or
- Leaves of bamboo,
- Leaves of Karanja (Pongamia pinnata),
- Leaves of Arka (Calotropis gigantean) etc.
Shape of the Nadi
The tube should resemble the shape of the trunk of an elephant. This means to tell that the tube should not be straight; it should be curved at many places with ups and downs as seen in elephants trunk.
Dimensions of Nadi
The length of the nadi shall be 1 vyama or half vyama. (Vyama is equal to the distance between the tips of right and left middle fingers when both upper limbs are extended on either side of the body, i.e. approximately 6 feet in length or 182.88 cm, ½ vyama = 91.44 cm). The circumference of the Nadi at the proximal end i.e. where it fits into the orifice of the pot should be ¼ vyama i.e. 1.5 feet (45.72 cm) and at the distal end i.e. the distal opening of the tube from where the steam comes out should be 1/8 vyama in circumference i.e. 0.75 feet (11.43 cm).
Alternate explanation – We can find another explanation regarding the dimensions of nadi in Nadi Sweda Yantra. The Nadi shall be of different lengths so that they can be used as per convenience. The Nadi shall be of 1 vyama (6 feet), ½ vyama (3 feet), ¼ vyama (1.5 feet) or 1/8 vyama (0.75 feet). The vessels too shall be taken of various capacities. The permutations and combinations of vessel and tube shall be made as per need. Example, when swedana is to be done for a larger area of the body, a large vessel to prepare the swedana drava (liquid for steaming) and the tube of 1 vyama length should be taken. Likewise to foment a very small part of body, a small vessel with tube of 1/8 vyama length should be chosen.
Wrapping the Nadi with vatahara leaves – If there are any orifices through the length of the nadi from the root (where it is fixed to the vessel) to the tip (from where the vapors come out), they are wrapped up with 2-3 layers of vata-alleviating leaves like leaf of castor plant (Eranda patra) etc and tied. The leaves are wrapped so that the steam doesn’t escape from these orifices before it reaches the body of the patient.
The bends in the Nadi
As already said, the tube used for fomentation should not be straight. In fact it should be bent (curved) at one or two places. The intention of these bends is to control the elimination of steam. When the contents in the vessel start boiling and when the vapours (steam) starts coming out of the tube attached to the vessel the steam should be controlled. The steam will escape from the tube in such speed and intensity that if the tube is straight, the steam escapes uninterruptedly and come into the contact of the body part being subjected to steaming and will cause severe burns. On the other hand, if the tube is bent at couple of places, the steam exiting from the tube has to take crooked pathway instead of straight pathway. When the steam moves in crooked pathway in the bent tube the speed of steam gets slowed down at the bends and by the time the steam comes out of the tube it comes in less intensity and speed, just which is needed for proper steaming without causing any complications.
Assembling the Swedana Apparatus – The herbs and other materials which need to be boiled for providing swedana are put into the vessel selected for swedana. A lid is tightly closed over the vessel such that the steam doesn’t escape. The tube selected for swedana is fit into the orifice on the side of the vessel (lid). The vessels and tube are checked for orifices or leakage. If any orifices are found, they are blocked as mentioned above.
Preparation of the Patient
Deepana, Pachana, Snehana
Deepana (kindling the digestive fire through medications), Ama Pachana (dissolving ama or unprocessed digestive juices in circulation or accumulated cellular toxins) and Snehana (oleation) are important inclusions (many times mandatory too) in preparing the patient. One or all may be needed at different points of time and in different conditions. Having said that, Snehana, is a mandatory pre-swedana procedure.
Snehana may be administered in 2 ways, external (bahya snehana) or internal (abhyantara snehana). In some cases wherein Swedana is done as a preparation for Panchakarma procedures both internal and external oleation will be required. In some external treatments wherein snehana and swedana is needed, like in painful conditions like arthritis etc, only bahya snehana in the form of Abhyanga may be needed before doing Nadi Swedana.
Nadi Swedana is usually a local sudation, limited to a part of the body like a painful joint, back, shoulder or neck. Thus, when swedana is to be done for a limited part of the body, Nadi Sweda is preferred. But in some conditions (depending on the preference of the physician or when other types of swedana are not available to be administered), Nadi Sweda can be done for the whole body. But when it comes to the whole body fomentation there are many other better choices in comparison to Nadi Sweda when it comes to steaming the entire body uniformly.
Oil massage to the whole body or part of the afflicted body (as and when needed) is done with Vata (dosha) alleviating oil. As per requirement (and prescription) different range of oils including Ksheerabala Taila, Mahanarayana Taila, Mahamasha Taila, Balashwagandha Taila, etc either individually or mixed with other oils (and each other) shall be used for massaging.
After proper administration of Abhyanga, the patient (or person) should be made to rest in place devoid of breeze, facing east or north.
The afflicted part of the body subjected to Abhyanga should be wrapped with thin, clean cloth so that the part is not directly exposed to the steam.
Nadi Sweda Prakriya
Nadi Sweda Prakriya (Conducting Nadi Sweda)
After having administered Snehana or Abhyanga, the patient should be made to sit in a room devoid of breeze, facing North or East, the afflicted part to be applied with steaming covered with thin layer of cloth.
On the day of treatment the patient should be thoroughly examined to check if he has developed any complaints which could act as restraint for swedana.
Prayer should be conducted to the God for the success of the treatment.
Now the steam coming from the Nadi (of Nadi Yantra) should be let out on the floor so that the initial water droplets fall out. Later the Nadi is carefully directed towards the afflicted part of the body which has been prepared for administering sudation and the steaming is provided. The nadi shall not be kept constant at one point. Instead it should be moved across so that the entire region intended for sudation should be properly subjected to sweating therapy (steaming).
Care should be taken to see that the nadi is neither too close nor too far away from the afflicted part. If it is too close to the body part there will be chance of excessive heat being provided to the afflicted region and also over-burning. If it is too far it will cause deficit sudation.
Duration – Nadi Swedana should be provided for 30-60 minutes (or as needed). Sweda can be done continuously for 7-21 days or according to the condition. Or according to the general principle of swedana, the treatment should be done until proper sweating occurs.
Benefits of Nadi Sweda
Nadi Sweda is highly beneficial in many conditions as mentioned below:
- Vata Vyadi – In all diseases caused by vitiated vata
- Shula pradhana vata vyadhi – diseases caused by vitiated vata associated with pain
- Stambha / Sankocha pradhana vata vyadhi – diseases caused by vitiated vata associated with stiffness or contractures
- Sandhi shula – pain in bony joints (pain associated with arthritis etc)
- Kati shula – pain in low back (lumbar, lumbo-sacral region)
- Prishta shula – back pain
Just Before Finishing –
Nadi Sweda is not only highly effective in warding off vata vyadhis and painful conditions of back and joints, it is also cost-effective, simple and be effectively handled without much man power.
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