Dhoopana (Fumigation) Blends, Benefits, Procedure, Mode of Action

Dr JV Hebbar BAMS, MD (Ayu), PGDPSM
Dhoopana is an Ayurvedic therapy used for preventive and treatment purposes. Various herbal blends are advised based on the disease and patient condition.

Main purpose

To reach the deep seated organs such as organs of head and neck,
Where there is a clear areal path and access is available to the internal organs – such as nasal cavity, ear cavity, sinuses, deep, infested wounds, fistula etc.
Where, Kapha Dosha, fluids, phlegm, wound secretions, natural body secretions are to be dried up,
In case of air borne infections, pandemic, as a measure of disinfection,
in these conditions, fumigation is a preferred therapy.
In wounds with hardened tissues, fumigation with fats like ghee is advised to soften them to heal faster.
In psychiatric disorders, fumigation is done to get rid of negative energy out of the home and mind of the patient.

Procedure

Burn a bunch of herbs and expose the organ or an equipment or the entire house with the fumes generated.

The coarse powder of the herbs is mixed with honey, ghee etc., liquids, as mentioned in the traditional textbooks. it is put on fire and the fumes are increased by fanning. The fumes are then directed with the help of a cone or a cylinder made of metals or mud.
The particular part of the body is exposed for sufficient amounts of time, till
the discharging stops, secretions are dried,
Organ becomes soft,
Pain and itching sensation is relieved,
Bad odor is decreased.
Usually it is done for 5-10 minutes, depending on the disease.

The room fumigation is usually done with the help of an open vessel, in which herbal powders, mixed with ghee are burned.

Daily recipe for everyone

Guggulu, Tulsi (holy basil), Neem, mustard, asafoetida, Jatamansi – among these, as many as you can get, can be taken in coarse powder form, mixed with ghee and a wick or a stick can be prepared. This can be burnt and the whole house is exposed to fumes.

A few drops of Essential oils – Lavender oil, Ylang Ylang Oil, Chamomile Oil, Peppermint Oil, Bergamot Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Cedarwood Oil, Marjoram Oil etc – any one among these can be used.
Fumigation of the entire house can be done once or twice a day.
Disease-specific fumigations and the different blends are explained below. If all the herbs are not available, fumigation can be done with whatever the herbs that you can get. The timing can be just before or after your prayer time, early in the morning and evening at around 6 pm.

Skin diseases

Use of Vidanga and Khadira:
पानाहार विधाने प्रसेचने धूपने प्रदेहे च|
कृमिनाशनं विडङ्गं विशिष्यते कुष्ठहा खदिरः||१५९||
pānāhāra vidhāne prasecane dhūpane pradehe ca|
kṛmināśanaṃ viḍaṅgaṃ viśiṣyate kuṣṭhahā khadiraḥ||159|| Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 7th Chapter
Vidanga (False black pepper) which is effective in microbial infections and worm infestations.
Khadira which cures Kustha (skin diseases) are useful for the patient of skin diseases. These are used in the form of food, drinks, for sprinkling, fumigation and local application.
Vidanga
Fumigation with these two are useful especially when the skin disease is wide-spread, when the skin lesions are situated deep, as in case of osteomyelitis, deep sinuses, diabetic carbuncle etc.

Psychiatric disorders

Dhoopan is one among the many therapies suitable for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Charaka Unmada Nidana 7th Chapter, Verse 8

Mustard, Kakajangha (Peristrophe bicalyculata), Vacha (sweet flag) and body hairs of animals like cow is used for fumigation in a psychiatric disorder of children, called Skandagraha – Sushruta Uttara Tantra, 28/6
Mustard, Vacha, asafoetida, Kushta, marking nut, Ajamoda – fumigation is explained for another type of psychiatric disorder. Sushruta Samhita uttara Tantra 36

Fever

Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana 3rd chapter, Verse 307
In case of recurrent fevers (Vishama jwara), Guggulu, neem leaves, acorus, Saussurea lappa, Haritaki, mustard, barley are mixed with ghee, a wick is prepared, burned and used for fumigation. This is especially useful to relieve the symptoms of sinusitis, phlegm collection in throat, and upper respiratory tract.

dhūpana añjanayogaiśca yānti jīrṇa jvarāḥ śamam||176||
Charaka Samhita, Chikitsa Sthana 3rd chapter, verse 176
Fumigation and collyrium are advised in Jeerna Jwara – later stages of fever where the indigestion, Ama etc. has been relieved. In this condition, the Doshas are milder and can be mitigated by the exposure of herbal fumes. Due to the medical fumes, the Doshas dry up and symptoms are relieved.
Dhupan is also mentioned in fever that occurs again.

अजाव्योश्चर्मरोमाणि वचा कुष्ठं पलङ्कषा | निम्बपत्रं मधुयुतं धूपनं तस्य दापयेत् ||२६२||
ajāvyoścarmaromāṇi vacā kuṣṭhaṃ palaṅkaṣā |
nimbapatraṃ madhuyutaṃ dhūpanaṃ tasya dāpayet ||262||
Sushruta Uttaratantra, 39/262

The body hairs of goat, sheep, Vacha (Acorus calamus), Kushta (saussurea lappa), Guggulu, neem, mixed with honey is used for fumigation as a therapy for fever.

Epilepsy

Palankashadi Yoga, containing ingredients like Guggulu, Vacha (Acorus), Haritaki, Mustard, Jatamansi, Asafoetida, Calotropis, garlic, Shatavari,
Vrischikali – Tragia involucrata
Golomi, Nakuli,
Coraka (Angelica glauca),
Chitra – Baliospermum montanum,
and Kustha – Sausserea lappa is advised as one of many therapies for Epilepsy. Charaka – Apasmara Chikitsa 10/34-36

Another recipe in the same chapter for fumigation –
Long pepper, rock salt, asafoetida, mustard, sandalwood,
Chitra – Baliospermum montanum (danti),
Hingusivatika (Vamsapatrika),
Kakoli – Fritillaria roylei
Kakanasa
Kaitarya – Myrica nagi
Made to a paste by triturating with goat’s urine in the constellation of Pusya (8th naksatra).
Use of this for Dhupana (fumigation) [cures epilepsy]. [37-38]

Hemorrhoids

Dhoopanam with
Tumburu—Xanthoxylum alatum,
Vidanga – Embelia ribes,
Devadaru – Cedrus deodara and
Aksata (Barley) mixed with ghee is advised.

Fumigation with
Brihati – Solanum indicum, Ashwagandha, long pepper and Tulsi, mixed with ghee is advised. This helps to relieve pain, and to disinfect. Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 14th Chapter, Arsha Chkitsa, Verse – 48-51

Wounds, Ulcers

Fumigation is one among 36 therapies for wound and ulcer care of Charaka (Charaka Chikitsa 25) and 60 therapies of Sushruta (Sushruta Chikitsa Sthana 1st chapter)

Dhupana (Fumigation Therapy):
When fumigated with aromatic drugs and the heartwood of aromatic plants, the ulcerated tissue gets hardened
Fumigation with the fume of ghee, bone- marrow and muscle fat softness the ulcerate tissues. Charaka Chikitsa Sthana 25th chapter, Verse 108-109

Sushruta Sutrasthana 37 / 21
Shriveshtaka – Sarala Niryasa – exudate and bark of Pinus roxburghii
Sarjarasa – exudate of Vateria indica
Devadaru – Cedrus deodara
are commonly used for fumigation.

Sushruta Sutrasthana 1/82
Linen cloth, barley, ghee, Sarala Niryasa – exudate of Pinus roxburghii is used for fumigation to relieve severe pain and secretions associated with wounds.

Ear disorders

Fumigation with Aragwadhadi gana and Surasadi group of herbs is advised. Sushruta Uttara Tantra, 21/41
In case of ear discharge with bad odor, guggulu is used for fumigating ears.

Commonly used herbs

Mustard, asafoetida, Guggulu, Tulsi (Holy Basil), Jatamansi, neem, Guduchi, Chitraka (leadwort), pointed gourd (Patola), Vidanga, Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Dronapushpi,
Aromatic herbs like Boswellia gum, Cedarwood, agarwood, Vateria indica, exudates of Sarala, and other herbs mentioned above.

Equipment

Cylindrical equipment called Dhoomanetra, with 8 finger breadth length (angula) with diameter of one green pea (Kalaya) or a tablet or a horsegram. Sushruta Chikitsa Sthana, 40th chapter.

Hindu Custom

In Hindu religious and spiritual practices, Dhoopa and Deepa have special significance.
Nowadays, incense sticks, Sambrani (Benzoin resin) are used, which are easily available online or in markets.
The spiritual significance is –
May the Bhakti (devotion and divine love) towards God help to get rid of bad thoughts, Karma and feelings of the mind, just like aromatic fumes fill up the room and ward off bad odor and germs.

Mode of action

Improves blood circulation
Relieves pain and inflammation
Softens wound tissues, scars
Reduces inflammation and itching
Relieves infection
Disinfection, sterilization
Soothes the mind, gives freshness

Synonyms

Dhoopana, Dhoopan, Dhoopanam, Dhupan, Dhupana, Dhupanam, Thupanam, Thoopanam.

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