Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Kupa Sweda is a form of swedana or sudation therapy in which the dried dung of elephant, horse etc animals is burnt in a large pit made in the ground (as in karshu sweda) and the patient sleeping on a cot placed over the pit is provided sudation through the heat emitted out of the pit.
Kupa = Pit, well, big sized pit or trench
Sweda (Swedana) = Sudation, sweating treatment, steaming treatment, fomentation
Kupa Sweda is one among the 13 types of Saagni Sweda. Saagni Swedas are those types of sudation wherein there is use of fire or heat derived by heating or boiling or burning the materials for providing swedana. Even in case of Kupa Sweda, the dried dung of animals is burnt with the help of fire in a pit and sudation is given from the heat eliminated from them. Since fire is used in this treatment, it is categorized under Saagni Sweda (Sa = with, Agni = fire).
Since the entire body is given with sudation at a time in this type of swedana, it is categorized under sarvanga sweda (full body sudation).
Since dried dung is used in providing the sudation in kupa sweda, the heat provided will also be dry in nature. Therefore Kupa Sweda can be categorized as a type of Rukshs Sweda (dry sudation).
A large pit of the dimension of a cot is dug in the ground. In the pit dried dung of animals like elephant, horse, cow, donkey, camel etc is filled and lit with fire. When the elimination of smoke from the pit has stopped, a cot is placed over the pit. The patient who is to be given sudation should be made to sleep on the cot after having given a full body herbal oil massage. The heat coming from the pit will provide sudation to the patient sleeping on the cot.
Materials and preparation
Materials and preparations needed for conducting Kupa Sweda
Koopa – A large pit made in the ground is the most essential thing needed to carry out the kupa sweda. For this an ideal piece of ground fit for preparing the pit is selected. This piece of ground should be clean, plain and leveled, devoid of dust, dirt, gravel, stones, weeds and thorns. On such a land a big pit is dug. This pit should be of the dimension of a cot i.e. little less than the length and breadth of the cot.
The upper opening of the pit at the surface of the ground should be such that its length and width should be equal to the size of a cot i.e. the 4 limbs of a cot should fit on the outer brim of each angle of the opening of the kupa i.e. exactly placed outside the angle of the rectangular opening of the kupa. To be precise, the upper rectangular opening of the kupa should be exactly placed beneath the cot. Some are also of the opinion that the kupa should be square shaped rather than rectangular one. The depth of the kupa should be twice that of its length. After digging the kupa, the inner surfaces should be trimmed and made smooth.
Purisha – dried dung of animals like cow, elephant, horse, donkey, camel etc should be collected beforehand.
Cot – A cot is placed over the pit for the patient to sleep. The cot is covered with a thick blanket.
Herbal oils – herbal oils which are vata alleviating are collected beforehand which could be used to give abhyanga (herbal oil massage) to the patient before swedana. Oils like Ksheerabala Taila, Mahanarayana Taila, Tila taila (plain sesame oil), Sahacharadi Taila, Dashamula Taila etc should help.
Blankets – couple of blankets are needed for the treatment. One of them will be used to cover over the cot and the other to cover the patient during the process of sudation.
Koopa Sweda Vidhi Vidhana (method of conducting pit sudation)
Selecting the land for digging kupa – firstly, a piece of land which is fit to dig a pit or kupa is selected. The land should be devoid of dust, dirt, thorns, stones, gravel and weeds.
Digging the Koopa – The pit is dug in the piece of land selected for it. The kupa, as said above should have the dimensions of a cot which is due to be placed over it (along the margins of the kupa). It is built in a rectangular (or square) shape. The depth of the kupa is kept twice that of its length. The inner surfaces of the kupa should be trimmed and made smooth.
Filling the kupa with dung – The kupa is filled with dried dung of the animals including cow, camel, horse, donkey, elephant etc.
Burning the dung – after filling the pit with the dung, it is burnt with fire until only the coal is left out and all the smoke has been eliminated.
Placing the cot – after the dung in the pit has been burnt and all smoke has been eliminated, the cot is placed over the kupa in such a way that the kupa is exactly beneath the cot. The cot is covered with a blanket.
Abhyanga – herbal oil massage is given to the patient who is due to undergo kupa sweda.
Swasthi Vachana – Prayers to God are offered for the success of the treatment and also for the welfare of the patient.
Positioning the patient and providing kupa sweda – the patient who has been subjected with abhyanga is made to sleep on the cot. He should have worn a thin cloth. A blanket is covered over the patient’s body excluding his face. We do not have a classic reference in treatises indicating that the body of the patient shall be covered with a blanket. Therefore it is also wise to let the patient without covering. On the other hand, covering the patient with blanket will add to the effect of sudation and will provide comprehensive sweating. The heat coming from the pit will enable proper sudation of the patient. This form of giving sudation is called pit sudation.
Duration of swedana – kupa sweda, like other forms of saagni sweda shall be given until signs of proper sudation (samyak swinna lakshanas) are observed and documented.
Paschat Kriya (post-swedana measures) – After the completion of Swedana, the following measures shall be followed.
- Rest for while
- Swabbing of sweat from the body of the patient
- Hot refreshing shower
- Light digestible diet
- Disease modifying medicines (on the discretion of the physician)
- Nitya Virechana (daily purge) to expel the toxins liberated during the sudation therapy (on the discretion of the physician)
Indications and Health Benefits of Kupa Sweda
The indications and health benefits specific for kupa sweda have not been mentioned in Ayurvedic texts. Therefore most of the conditions in which swedana is indicated (swedana yogya) can be considered as eligible to undergo kupa sweda also.
On the other hand all those conditions in which sarvanga sweda could be done are eligible for kupa sweda. Example, Sarvanga Vata, – Mamsagata Vata (muscular pain, neuromuscular diseases), Vata disorders, Kapha disorders, Vata-Kapha disorders, Ama disorders (diseases caused due to circulating ama or cellular ama i.e. immature essence of digestive juices) etc.
Just Before Finishing –
In this article, we have covered about the kupa sweda or pit sudation, one of the swedana types and an important one too, including the method of doing the sudation and its health benefits.
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