Dryness Quality – Ruksha Meaning, Action On Doshas, Therapeutic Uses

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa B.A.M.S

Ruksha Guna means ‘dryness’ quality. The substance in which this quality is present are said to be dry in nature.
Read – Qualities Of Vata, Pitta and Kapha Dosha – Easy Explanation


Inclusion Dryness is one of the 20 gurvadi qualities. It is opposite to unctuousness quality. Foods and medicines consisting dryness quality are administered to counteract the effect of excessive unctuousness in the body caused by increased kapha.

Kapha is basically unctuous in nature and when kapha increases unctuousness and oiliness also will increase in the body. Consequently many diseases like diabetes, urinary diseases, lethargy, ama, breathlessness, obesity, high cholesterol etc are formed. To treat this condition, dry quality which is antagonistic to unctuousness quality should be administered in the form of dry foods and medicines having dry qualities.
Read – Lifestyle, Food And Factors That Cause Increase Of Kapha Dosha

Natural dryness is the quality of vata dosha in the body. Vata is antagonistic to kapha, fat and unctuousness. Vata and kapha are mutually balancing in nature. If kapha increases in the body, the unctuousness too increases. Unctuousness is one of the qualities of pitta also. Therefore all those foods, activities, medicines and seasons which increase vata also increase dryness in the body.
Read – Understand Vata Dosha By Its Functions

The increased vata and dryness will combat excess unctuousness in the body and put it into balance. Excessive dryness will totally deplete the unctuousness of the tissues and make the body dry and susceptible to many diseases. In these conditions unctuous foods, medicines and comforts are administered in the form of remedy.
Read – How To Balance Vata Dosha? Line Of Treatment And Reasoning

Hot and dry weathers also increases dryness in the body. Dryness is also increased due to consumption of excessive dry foods, foods having pungent, astringent and bitter tastes. They are also used to balance increased unctuousness.
Read – Normal Vitiation of Doshas As Per Seasonal Variation

Salient features

Salient features of dryness, non-unctuousness quality

Dryness in terms of substances –

Dryness is opposite of unctuousness. Dryness is perceived by touch sensation. Vata constitution people will have natural dryness in the body. This can be observed by seeing their dry skin. Dry piece of wood, dried leaves, sand, paper etc are example of perceivable dryness.

यस्य शोषणे शक्तिः स रूक्षः।हेमाद्रि।

That which has capacity to cause dryness is called ruksha guna.

That which causes dryness, coarseness, hardness and non-unctuousness in the body is called ruksha guna i.e. dry quality.
Read – Prabhava: Special Effect of Herb

Dryness in terms of medicinal herbs and food substances –
When one takes these foods which are dry by nature, they are going to increase dryness in the body. Dryness, being opposite to the wetness and unctuousness of the body depletes these qualities in the body. All cells and tissues are held together by the unctuous and wet qualities. When these qualities are depleted by excessive dryness, the integrity of the body is lost. Excess dryness causes destruction of tissues leading to lowering of strength and immunity.

Dryness as a quality is also used for therapeutic purposes. It is used to counteract excessive unctuousness in the body.

Rukshana or dryness inducing therapies are also part of 6 types of treatments mentioned in Ayurveda. Any food or medicines which induce dryness, hardness and coarseness in the body is called ruksha dravya i.e. dryness inducing substances. The dryness produced by these substances is called rukshana.
Read – Dravya: Meaning, Ayurvedic Explanation

Dry foods and medicines induce dryness in the body tissues, diminish and destroy excess kapha, fluid accumulation, wetness, fat and unctuousness. The quality helps in destroying diseases caused due to increased kapha, fat and ama and diseases caused due to excessive nutrition. It dries up the secretions and accumulations causing blocks in the channels of the body and cause channel cleansing. This enables free flow of nutrients and essential materials in the body.
Read – Rookshana Therapy – Drying Principle For Excess Oiliness

Elemental relationship

Dryness is the special quality of air element. Therefore ruksha quality is defined on terms of its capacity to induce dryness in the tissues and body. Dryness is one of the qualities of vata dosha. When vata increases, the dryness of the body too increases. When there is vitiation of vata, there is excessive dryness in the body which is damaging to the tissues if it is not addressed.
Read – Panchamahabhuta: Application, Areas of Utility in Ayurveda treatment

The fire element is also said to have dryness quality in it. Fire and air always form lethal combination. When both of them are on surge, the dryness is all destroying in nature. Rasa vaisheshika also quotes earth element to have dryness but other treatises have not explained so.

Effect on doshas

रूक्षं समीरणकरं परं कफहरं मतम्।भा.प्र।

Dryness quality increases vata and mitigates kapha. The quality is beneficial in handling high kapha conditions.

Unctuousness is the basic quality of kapha. When kapha increases, unctuousness and wetness will naturally increase beyond limits in the body. Increased unctuousness and wetness will naturally cause sluggish metabolism. Decreased digestive and tissue fire will lead to formation of ama, the intermediate products of food digestion. When ama is put into circulation, it causes multiple blocks in many channels and ducts of the body. This will cause accumulation of wastes and toxins in the body which will make the body susceptible for many systemic and dreadful ailments.
Read – Ama Chikitsa: Treatment For Ama And Saama Conditions

Dry quality is antagonistic to unctuousness. Therefore any food or medicine which has dryness quality will mitigate kapha, reduce accumulation of wastes and fluids in the body, removes congestion, drains the fluidity and ama, clears the pathways, reduces fat accumulation and treats various pathological manifestations caused by increased kapha and unctuousness.

Effect on Tissues

Dryness quality is responsible for depletion of tissues. When dryness increases, it dries up the tissues and leads to their destruction. This quality immensely decreases the strength and immunity of an individual because these virtues depend on the qualitative and quantitative balance of tissues of the body.
Read – Dhatu – 7 Body Tissues As Explained In Ayurveda

Dryness also depletes and diminishes the color and complexion of the body. These virtues are dependent on the quality and quantity of nutritional juices in circulation, the rasa tissue and also the balance of tissues.

Our strength, immunity and colour also depends on the qualitative and quantitative balance of essence of all tissues i.e. ojas. Since dryness destroys the tissues, the ojas which determines all good features in us also is not formed properly making us susceptible to various diseases. Ojus, rasa tissue and most tissues are rich in wetness and unctuousness.
Read – Vata Increase Caused Due to Tissue Depletion: Dhatu kshaya

Effect on Excreta

Dryness quality drains the excreta. It absorbs liquidity of excreta and makes it dry. This is mainly related to faeces. Since faeces lose excessive moistness and liquidity, it becomes dry. Dry faeces are expelled with difficult. Over a period of time it results in constipation.

This principle is also applicable for other excreta i.e. urine and sweat. When there is more dryness in the body, the urination and sweating is also in less proportion. This further leads to increase of waste products and toxins in the body.

Effect on systemic functions

Dryness quality depletes all tissues. This also includes semen. The quality and quantity of semen determines the sexual drive and libido of the person. When the semen tissue becomes less there is less interest in sex. The fertility and potency of an individual also becomes less.
Read – Rasa Panchaka – 5 Qualities Of Substance (Dravya)

The below mentioned are also unctuous in nature and quality –

  • Foods predominantly having pungent, bitter and astringent tastes are dry in nature. Among the three, astringent has maximum dryness quality, pungent has medium dryness and bitter has least dryness in comparison to each other.
  • Katu vipaka – pungent post-digestion effect, is also dry in nature. It produces dryness in the body and also increases vata.
  • Ruksha veerya – dryness potency

Effect of excessive consumption

If dryness quality is consumed in excess, it causes fainting, depletion and destruction of tissues and many vata diseases, including degenerative diseases, musculoskeletal and neuromuscular diseases.

If diseases are caused due to excessive consumption of dryness quality, unctuous treatments i.e. interventions including medicines and food substances which induce oiliness, wetness and unctuousness in the body should be administered.


Examples of foods and medicines having unctuousness quality

  • Yava – barley
  • Lotus stalk and flower
  • Trivrth -Operculina turpethum
  • Vamsha – Bamboo
  • Laja – fried paddy

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