By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Oil, ghee and honey are said to be best medicinal substances which can be used to keep doshas in balance. They are considered as natural substances having medicinal properties to combat three doshas.
These can be considered as substances because even when not used as medicines, they are used for cooking, edible and other purposes in day to day life. All three substances are not meant to be used for all doshas. There is specificity in their usage.
Oil is best remedy for vata Ghee for pitta and Honey for kapha All these materials work on these dosha owing to their antagonistic properties as those of doshas.
Oil for Vata
Oil is best substance to keep vata in balance. It also combats kapha but not as much as it does with vata. When processed with pitta alleviating herbs, oil may be a good remedy for high pitta conditions too. But it is invaluable and highly praised as an anti-vata substance. Read – 15 Ayurvedic Massage Oil Choices Based On Your Dosha
Oil controls systemic symptoms of vata on oral intake and also local symptoms when applied externally.
Oil is administered in form of oleation therapy wherein patient is made to drink oil in metered doses for certain period of time until body becomes saturated with properties of oil, until proper symptoms of oleation are obtained. This form is given for preparing patient before administration of therapeutic emesis or purgation. Generally in practice, physicians use ghee for this purpose or oil or mix of both for better results. Internal consumption of oil is also advised in form of small metered daily doses, this form is palliative in form. Oil in different forms is used for cooking purposes. All these forms are meant for vata suppression. When not specified, one should take sesame oil. For therapeutic purposes, medicated oil is used.
Externally medicated oils are used to relieve pain, dryness, stiffness and other symptoms caused by vata. It is also used before sudation therapy because external application of oil followed by sudation forms ideal combination for relieving vata symptoms. Read – How To Know If An Ayurvedic Oil Can Be Taken Orally Or Not?
Oil is not only curative of vata, it is also preventive in nature. If taken in proper and calculated amounts as per one’s constitution, oil helps in keeping vata in a state of balance and prevents its vitiation.
External application of oil
External application of oil is done in many forms –
Abhyanga – massage with oil done daily is said to mitigate vata. Massage is mentioned as one of activities to be done as a part of daily regimen, dinacharya. It is also a part of seasonal remedies, ritucharya, especially in vata predominant seasons.
Samvahana – gentle application or massage.
Dhara – stream pouring of medicated oils over body. When done on head, it is called shirodhara.
Murdni Taila – application of oils on head in form of oil dipped swab application, pouring of oil over head, oil pooling over head and head massage.
Avagaha – tub immersion in medicated oil is one of best remedies for vata disorders.
Sthanika sneha – local pooling of medicated oil helps in relieving vata symptoms like pain etc. Example – Janu Vasti i.e. oil pooling over knee joints in arthritis helps in relieving pain and associated symptoms. Kati Vasti i.e. oil pooling over low back region and sacro-iliac region helps in relieving pain and related symptoms of diseases like spondylosis, sciatica, sacro-iliac pain etc.
Oil is also administered as
Vasti – Medicated enemas through anal, vaginal and uterine routes. It is given in form of medicated decoctions, oil or ghee. Vata is controller of all activities in body. Pitta, kapha, all tissues and excreta and all functions related to them occur due to motivation by vata. Everything in body is under control and supervision of vata. Colon is said to be control station and chief seat of vata. It is said that when oil is instilled into colon through anal route, it controls vata and hence all functions of body. Vasti is also said to be ‘ardha chikitsa’ i.e. half of all effective treatments in universe. Thus, vasti is most praised treatment among all treatments.
Nasal instillation of medicated oils will balance doshas in head and sense organs. A type of nasal medication i.e. pratimarsha nasya in which small quantities of oil is instilled into the nose is mentioned as a part of daily regimen.
Qualities of oil
Sesame oil – All oils alleviate and destroy vata. Sesame oil is best in mitigating vata. When prepared with many kinds of medicines and when processed in various types, oil will cure all diseases. It is conducive and wholesome and diet-like in high vata conditions. Other benefits of sesame oil are –
- Has sweet, bitter and astringent taste
- Hot and intense
- Provides strength to body and beneficial for hairs
- Alleviates vata and kapha, destroys microorganisms
- Cures wounds, itching,
- Provides complexion
- Conducive for children and old aged people
Sesame oil alleviates vata due to its sweet and hot properties which are antagonistic to properties of vata. Due to bitter and astringent tastes and hot quality, it destroys kapha.
Castor oil – It is one of the best in alleviating and expelling vata. Owing to its sweet taste, heavy and hot nature, this oil mitigates vata. It increases pitta. This oil also expels morbid vata since it has laxative property. It is also praised as a rejuvenator and strength provider.
If pain is an elephant, castor oil is said to be a lion which has capacity to kill that elephant. Thus, castor oil is praised as best analgesic. Most pains are caused by vata and castor oil is best in combating various intensities of oil. Read – Ayurvedic Herbal Oil Making: Principles, Method, Examples, Demo
Ghee for Pitta
Ghee is best and most praised substance used in Ayurveda for balancing pitta. It is also good for balancing vata. Ghee, as such is beneficial for vata conditions. But when processed with vata alleviating herbs its vata-mitigating property will be enhanced. But ghee is invaluable and highly praised as an anti-pitta substance.
Ghee and medicinal ghee is generally given for oral usage. Few doctors have used ghee alone or in combination with oil for external application wherever combined symptoms of vata and pitta were found.
Read – Principles Of Making Herbal Ghee – Ghritham
Like oil, ghee is administered for oleation. Here patient is made to take metered doses of ghee or medicated ghee for certain period, 3-7 days, until body becomes saturated with properties of ghee or until symptoms of proper oleation are found.
This form of ghee intake is given for preparing patient before administration of therapeutic emesis or purgation therapies. This is called snehapana. Physicians, in clinical practice, use ghee frequently to provide oleation when it is given as pre-treatment procedure for emesis or purgation.
This is because ghee needs to be used in large quantities for this purpose and ghee in large doses is comparably tolerated well in comparison to oil. Therefore, ghee is preferred in vata and kapha disorders also.
Internal consumption of ghee is also advised in form of small metered daily doses; this form is palliative in form and has been specified in high vata, pitta and vata-pitta conditions.
Read – How To Consume Ghee Based on Tridosha Imbalance?
Ghee is also used for cooking purposes. Lot of dishes are prepared with ghee or in ghee base. All these forms of ghee are used as remedies for pitta.
Ghee is not only curative of pitta, it is also preventive in nature. If taken in proper and calculated amounts as per one’s constitution, ghee helps in keeping pitta in a state of balance and prevents its vitiation.
When not specified, one should take cow ghee. For therapeutic purposes, medicated ghee is used.
Ghee – parenteral administration
Apart from oral consumption, ghee is also administered in form of –
Vasti – medicated enemas in form of medicated ghee prepared with pitta mitigating herbs is given to combat high pitta conditions. It is administered either individually or in combination with oil through anal, vaginal and uterine routes. Milk based herbal decoctions are also effective to mitigate and expel pitta. Virechana i.e. therapeutic purgation is master key to deal with all pitta disorders.
Nasya – nasal instillation of medicated ghee will balance doshas in head and sense organs. It combats pitta predominant doshas in these places. A type of nasal medication i.e. pratimarsha nasya in which little quantity of ghee or oil is to be instilled into the nose is mentioned as a part of daily regimen. Read – Vicharana And Achcha Snehapana: Utility, Practical aspects
Qualities of Ghee
Cow’s ghee – It is said to be the best among all ghee. Cow’s ghee is adorned with below mentioned qualities.
- Enhances intellect, strength, complexion and memory
- Destroys vitiated vata and pitta, balances these doshas, has sweet after digestion conversion,
- Removes exhaustion, improves voice, nutritional
- Improves digestive fire, good for digestion
- Stabilises body, destroys body toxins
- Good for vision, health promoter,
- Rejuvenator, good for body channels
- Best among all unctuous substances and fats
Ghee combats pitta and vata by its sweet taste and post-digestion conversion properties. Properties of ghee are antagonistic to those of pitta and vata.
Buffalo’s ghee –
- Mitigates morbid vata and kapha
- Provides strength
- Provides color and complexion
- Cures piles, bowel disorders, loss of appetite, indigestion, eye diseases
Honey for Kapha
Honey is best praised substance used for mitigating and balancing kapha. Honey is used as a vehicle for mixing many medicines and formulations while treating kapha disorders. Honey is said to destroy aggravation of all three doshas. But it is highly praised in mitigating kapha.
Other qualities and benefits of honey –
- Honey mitigates vitiation of all three doshas and cures diseases caused by all doshas
- Has sweet taste, astringent sub-taste, is dry, coolant, scrapes excessive tissues from body, destroys kapha, pitta and fat
- It cures swelling, fever, dyspnea, cough, urinary disorders, diabetes
- It cleanses and purifies wounds
- It cures thirst, infections, colic, skin disorders, chest wounds, abdominal disorders, diarrhoea, colon disorders and disorders of blood.
Honey mitigates kapha by virtue of its astringent sub-taste, dry and scraping quality, destroys morbidity of pitta and blood by virtue of its sweet taste and coolant properties.
Oil, ghee and honey are most praised substances for combating and balancing vata, pitta and kapha respectively. They are not ultimate remedies for these doshas but medicines given for vitiation of doshas will be in these forms or these substances form vehicles for medicines used to combat vata, pitta and kapha respectively.
Read – Anupan – Co Drinks, After Drinks, Adjuvants For Ayurveda Products
Oil, ghee and honey which are not processed with dosha-alleviating medicines or mixed with same may be used by healthy people regularly. In healthy people they help in balancing doshas and will not allow vitiation of doshas.
They may also be used in form of food or combined with foods. All these three substances also have nutritive properties. Ghee is said to be a nitya rasayana i.e. a rejuvenator which may be consumed by all people daily. All three are good for health of tissues and channels of body and in larger doses expel morbid doshas. Read – 13 Important Benefits Of Rasayana Treatment
They need to be used according to one’s constitution in terms of quantity. In case of dosha increase, one should know and identify dosha which has increased and also its relative increase or decrease with respect to other doshas.
In case of dosha imbalance of small proportions or during seasonal imbalances of doshas, these three substances may be skilfully used to keep doshas in balance so as to not allow them to gain abnormal increase.