Karshu Sweda, Kumbhi Sweda and Kupa Sweda – Similarities, Difference

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Karshu Sweda (trench sudation), Kumbhi Sweda (pitcher-bed sudation) and Kupa Sweda (pit sudation) are the forms / types of Saagni Swedana (sudation in which there is use of fire, i.e. medicines processed or heated or burnt with the help of fire are used to provide sudation). They are 3 among the 13 types of Saagni Swedas. 

All these 3 types of swedana look alike but there is difference in the methodologies in which all the three forms of sudation are conducted. This is the reason that they carry different names.

In this article we will try to understand the similarities and differences between these three types of sudation, which is very important from clinical (treatment) point of view, especially for the physicians.
Related Reading – Karshu Sweda

Similarities

Similarities between Karshu Sweda, Kumbha Sweda and Kupa Sweda

  1. All the three forms of these sudation therapies are Saagni Swedas i.e. sudation therapies wherein fire or heat induced from the fire are used to provide sudation.
  2. All these three forms of sudation are Sarvanga Swedas i.e. sudation in which full body is given with steaming.
  3. In all these sudations i.e. karshu sweda, kumbha sweda and kupa sweda, pit is dug in the ground. In these pits the dried woods of medicinal plants or dung of animals like cow, camel, donkey, horse, elephant etc are burnt or the hot decoctions (as in kumbhi sweda) are placed. The heat eliminated from these materials through the pit will cause sudation of the patient who has been subjected to abhyanga (herbal oil massage) lying on a cot placed above the pit or trench. Therefore all these three types of swedanas are under-bed sudations.
  4. Related Reading – Kumbhi Sweda

Dissimilarities

Dissimilarities between Karshu Sweda, Kumbhi Sweda and Kupa Sweda

  1. The pit dug in Karshu Sweda is wide at the bottom and gradually tapers as it reaches the surface (least width is at its mouth on the surface of the ground). Some even tell that the trench should be of the shape of a pot (barrel shaped), broad below and tapering towards the opening. On the other hand, in Kumbhi Sweda, the pit is dug in such a way that the lower half or three fourths of the pitcher used in the treatment is buried in it. This shows that the pit in Kumbhi Sweda is smaller than the trench made in the karshu sweda. Meanwhile in Kupa Sweda, the pit is uniform and rectangular in shape (square according to other’s opinion). It is of the shape of the cot and its length and breadth being few centimeters less than those of the cot placed on its top. Its depth will be twice that of its length with its inner surface all around trimmed into smooth layers.
  2. In Karshu Sweda the roots and dried woods of vata alleviating plants or medicinal herbs are burnt so as to provide sudation. Alternatively the burning charcoal of these woods may be placed in the trench. In Kumbhi Sweda, kashaya or decoction of vata alleviating herbs is put in the pitcher buried in the pit. Red hot iron balls or stones are put into this pitcher. The liquid gets heated and provides sudation to the patient who is lying on the cot overlying the pitcher. In Kupa Sweda, the dried purisha or dung of the animals like cow, camel, horse, donkey, elephant etc is put into the rectangular (square) pit dug beneath the cot and burnt. The heat eliminated from these materials will provide sudation to the patient sleeping on the cot overlying the pit.
  3. Related Reading – Kupa Sweda

Tabular representation

Similarities and Differences between Karshu Sweda, Kumbhi Sweda and Kupa Sweda – a quick-check

Karshu SwedaKumbhi SwedaKupa Sweda
Saagni SwedaSaagni SwedaSaagni Sweda
Sarvanga SwedanaSarvanga SwedanaSarvanga Swedana
Under bed sudationUnder bed sudationUnder bed sudation
Big pit having the shape of a big pot or barrel with wide bottom which tapers towards its opening on the surface of the ground is constructed.Small or moderate sized pit which accommodates a pitcher to its lower half or three fourths part is dug in the ground.A big rectangular or square shaped pit, leveled and trimmed inside, is dug in the ground having depth twice that of its length.
The trench is pot or barrel shaped.The pit is of the shape of the pitcher.The pit is rectangular or square in shape.
Dried wood and roots of vata alleviating plants burnt in the trenchKashaya of vata alleviating herbs is filled in a pitcher; the pitcher is buried half or ¾ in the ground, red hot iron balls put into the pitcher so as to provide sudation.Dried dung of animals like cow, camel, elephant, donkey, horse etc are put into the pit and burnt so as to provide sudation.

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