Snail (Nakha) – Benefits, Qualities, Types, Indications

By Dr Renita D’Souza
Nakha belongs to the species of land snail. In Sanskrit the literal meaning of nakha is nail. The name Nakha is given to this variety of snail because its shell resembles finger nail.

Types, qualities

Varieties of Nakha
Bhavapraksha Nighantu has mentioned two types of nakha.
1. Nakha/ Vyagranakha – Larger variety of snail
2. Nakhi – Small variety of snail

Medicinal Qualities of Nakha
Rasa (taste) – Katu (pungent)
Vipaka (post digestive taste) – Katu (pungent)
Virya (potency) – ushna (hot)
Guna (quality) – Laghu (light to digest)
Karma (action)
Sukrala – improves sperm quality and quantity
Varnya – improves complexion

Effect on Doshas
It balances Kapha and Vata Dosha.

Uses, Sanskrit verse

Indications of Nakha
Graha – Seizures or any psychosomatic disorders caused by evil spirits
Vataraktha – Gout
Jwara – fever
Kushta – skin diseases
Vrana – heals wound
Visha – toxic conditions, poisoning

Remedies, purification

Usage of Nakha
Nakha when heated with oil it gives good fragrance hence it is mentioned under fragrant substances in Bhavaprakasha Nighantu.

It is purified before its usage as medicine. Because of its fragrance emitting quality it is used as an ingredient for herbal smoking therapy.

Master Charaka has used it in preparing wick for dhumapana (dhumapana varthi). Reference – Charaka Sutrasthana 5/20.

In Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 16th chapter he has explained Shaileyakaadi Taila used for treating Shotha (inflammation).

In Chikitsa sthana 23rd chapter (treatments of poison) snail is used as ingredient in product called Mahasugandhasthi.

In Vatharaktha chapter of Charaka snail is used as the ingredient in Shathapushpadi Taila and Amruthadi Taila

Purification method
Dung of buffalo is dissolved in water and filtered. This water or decoction of tinthidika or mud water is taken snail is done swedana (tied in a cloth and kept suspended in boiling liquid). Then it is taken out washed in hot water and mixed with gudaharithaki (combination of jaggery and harithaki).

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Category, vernacular names

Classical Categorisation of Nakha
Bhavaprakasha – Karpuradi Varga
Kaiyadeva Nighantu – Dhatu Varga
Dhanvantari Nighatu – Chandanadi Varga
Raja Nighantu – Chandanadi Varga
Shodala Nighantu – Chandanadi Varga

Vernacular Names
Hindi Name – Nakh, Nakhi
Marathi Name – Bhag nakh
Gujrathi Name – Nakhala
English Name – Garden snail

Garden Snail
Latin Name – Helix aspersa
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Superfamily: Helicoidea
Family: Helicidae

Sanskrit Synonyms of Nakha
Nakha – its shell resembles the nail
Vyagra nakham
Chakrakaraka – shells are coiled resembling wheel

Sanskrit Synonyms of Nakhi
Hanu – small

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