Prastara, Ashmaghana And Bhu Sweda – Differences, Similarities

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Prastara Sweda (stone slab sudation), Ashmaghana Sweda (stone bed sudatin) and Bhu Sweda (ground bed sudatin) are the types of Saagni Swedas. Since fire or contact with fire is common among all these three swedas, they are considered to be saagni swedas. 

On the outlook all three types of swedana therapies look alike. But there are some similarities and differences between these three types of swedas. In this article we will try to understand the similarities and subtle (small) differences between these 3 procedures.
Related Reading – Prastara Sweda

Similarities

Similarities between Prastara, Ashmaghana and Bhu Sweda
All three types of swedana i.e. Prastara, Ashmaghana and Bhu Sweda are forms of Saagni (sudation with the help of contact of fire) sweda and Sarvanga Sweda (full body sudation).

In both Prastara (which means stone or rock) and Ashmaghana sweda large stones are used as bed for the patient to sleep so as to undergo sudation.

In Ashmaghana and Bhu Swedas, dry wood or roots of the medicinal poants (vata alleviating plants) like Devadaru (Cedrus deodara), Dashamula (10 roots) etc are burnt.
Related Reading – Ashmaghana Sweda

Differences

Differences between Prastara, Ashmaghana and Bhu Sweda
Difference in stone slab used and the pattern – Prastara Sweda can be conducted on a stone slab placed on a platform or a stone platform or a stone slab or a rock formation which has been leveled but Ashmaghana Sweda needs to be done only on the stone slab.

Similar procedure but absence of stone slab arrangement in Bhu Sweda – In Ashmaghana Sweda and Bhu Sweda, stone slab (and platform) and stone slab will be used respectively for sudation but in Bhu Sweda, though the procedure seems to be the same, stone slab is not used (the medicines are directly burnt on the ground instead of stone). In both Ashmaghana Sweda and Bhu Sweda, the dried wood of vata alleviating herbs will be burnt. In ashmaghana sweda they will be burnt on the stone slab but in Bhu Sweda they will be burnt on the ground directly.

Difference in the form and nature of fuel used – In Ashmaghana Sweda dry pieces of woods of vata alleviating plants (or medicinal plants) are burnt on the stone slab directly to make the stone slab hot for sudation. Thus Ashmaghana is predominantly a dry form of sudation (since dried wood is used and the heat provided is also dry in nature). Since water will be used over the slab before the patient is made to sleep on it, the sweating will occur through vapors coming from the stone slab (thus it is also wet form of sudation). Therefore, ashmaghana is a mixture of both dry (on the basis of dried fuel used) and wet (water being used in later part) types of sweda. On the other hand, in prastara sweda rice, wheat, barley, green, black and horse grams, etc are boiled and poured on the stone slab to make the slab hot for sudation. Thus Prastara is predominantly an ardra sweda or wet form of sudation (since wet grains etc which are boiled and are wet are poured on the slab and the heat provided is also wet in nature).
Related Reading – Bhu Sweda

Tabular representation

Similarities and Differences between Prastara, Ashmaghana and Bhu Sweda, a quick-check

Prastara SwedaAshmaghana SwedaBhu Sweda
Sarvanga Sweda (full body sudation)Sarvanga SwedaSarvanga Sweda
Predominantly ardra (wet) sudationPredominantly ruksha (dry) fomentation, partially ardra (wet)Predominantly ruksha (dry) fomentation, partially ardra (wet)
Done on stone slabDone on stone slabdone directly on the ground.
Wet fuel used – boiled rice, wheat, barley, green, black and horse grams, etcDry fuel used in the form of dried wood of vata alleviating plants or other medicinal plants.Same as Ashmaghana Sweda

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