Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Bhu Sweda is a type of swedana or sudation in which the heat is provided on the lines of Ashmaghana Sweda (another type of sudation). But it this procedure unlike ashmaghana sweda, a stone slab is not used. Instead sudation is given by making the patient to sleep directly on the ground which has been made hot by burning the dry pieces of medicinal woods on it.
Bhu Sveda is one of the 13 types of Saagni Sweda. Since fire is used to provide sudation, i.e. to burn the woods of medicinal plants and create heat on the ground which will be used for providing sudation, it is categorized under Saagni Sweda (Saa = with, Agni = fire).
Since the entire body is given sudation uniformly at a time in Bhu Sweda it is considered under sarvanga sweda i.e. full body sudation.
Bhu Sweda – Ground Bed Sudation
It is recommended to be done on the lines of Ashmaghana Sweda, but without the use of stone slab in this treatment. As the name indicated, Bhu Sweda is directly done on the ground which acts as a bed.
A leveled plain and uniform ground devoid of stones, gravel, thorns and weeds is selected for Ground-bed sudation. On this ground, a mark is made of rectangle shape of 6×2-2.5 feet in dimension. This area is sufficient enough to accommodate a person in lying position.
The dried roots and woods of vata alleviating or other medicinal plants are put on the ground which has been prepared for bhu sweda and burnt with fire. This is done in the area marked on the ground.
When the smoke has been totally stopped and when only the burning charcoal of the woods is left over, the coal is removed away from the marked ground. Water is poured on the hot ground. When the ground is tolerably hot the patient subjected to abhyanga (herbal oil massage) is made to sleep on the hot area. Before that a cloth is spread over the hot part of the ground prepared for bhu-sweda. The patient is covered with yet another blanket (though not mentioned in the texts, covering the blanket on the patient enables proper and comprehensive sweating, the patient may sleep without covering himself too) and given ground-bed sudation.
Materials needed for Bhu-Sweda
Selection of Bhu (ground needed for bhu sweda) – a previously selected piece of land which is clean, plain, uniformly leveled and devoid of stones, thorns and weeds is marked with dimension of 6 feet length and 2-2.5 feed width. This area is sufficient to accommodate the person in lying position. If the patient is taller or broader, the area of marking shall be changed accordingly.
Vatahara kashta – dried wood, sticks and roots of vata-alleviating herbs or disease specific herbs are collected beforehand. Example – woods of Devadaru (Cedrus deodara), Dashamula, Nirgundi (Vitex negundo) etc.
Blankets – to cover the hot ground and the patient
Man-Power – 2-3 helpers or paricharakas (masseurs, attendants) may be sufficient to carry on the treatment with ease.
Bhu Sweda Vidhi Vidhana (conducting bhu sweda)
Preparing the ground– The herbs selected (woods of vata alleviating plants) for the treatment is put within the marked area of the ground selected for bhu-sweda and burnt with fire. When the smoke is no longer emitted and only the burning coal of the wood has been left over, they are removed from the ground. Now the ground is hot. Water is poured on this hot ground. When the temperature comes down to tolerable levels a thick blanket is placed over that area.
Abhyanga – the patient who is to undergo ground-bed sudation is given a complete body massage with herbal oils.
Swasthi vachana – prayers and offerings are submitted to the God for the welfare of the patient and success of the treatment.
Positioning of the patient and providing bhu-sweda – The patient subjected to abhyanga is made to sleep on the hot ground-bed covered with the blanket. The patient is wearing a thin cloth. The patient is covered with another thick blanket. This will add to the effect of the treatment and will help in providing an effective sudation. Actually we do not find any reference in the Ayurvedic texts about covering the patient with blanket; therefore it even makes sense if the patient is made to sleep just like that on the hot bed. This is the method of giving effective sweating treatment through ground-bed sudation.
Duration of sudation – Bhu Sweda, like other swedana types should be given until the signs of proper sudation (samyak swinna lakshanas) are observed.
Paschat Kriyas (post-swedana measures) – After bhu sweda, the patient is taken away from the swedana site. His sweat is wiped off. The patient is allowed to relax for few minutes. Later he is given hot water bath followed by light digestible diet. Disease modifying medicines should be given pertaining to the disease for which swedana is being given. If the condition is demanding, nitya virechana (daily purgation) with vata alleviating oils in low dose is given to eliminate the toxins which were released into the system during the process of sudation therapy.
Health Benefits and Indications of Bhu Sweda
Specific health benefits and health benefits for Bhu Sweda or ground-bed sudation have not been mentioned in the treatises. Therefore all the conditions and diseases in which swedana can be given (swedana yogya) are also eligible for administering bhu sweda. Likewise, all conditions in which ashmaghana sweda is indicated are also eligible for bhu sweda. Conditions eligible for sarvanga sweda are also eligible for bhu sweda.
Some conditions wherein Bhu-Sweda can be done are as below mentioned –
- Vata, Kapha and Vata-Kapha disorders
- Ama janya diseases – diseases caused by ama (immature essence of digestion in circulation)
- Gurutva – heaviness of the body
- Stabdhata – stiffness in the body
- Mamsagata vata – muscle pains, myalgia, neuromuscular pains
- Back pain, low back pain, spondylosis, sciatica
- Pelvic and hip pain etc