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Dry Log, Oil Analogy For Benefits Of Snehana, Swedana

By Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Snehana and Swedana are the most important therapies explained in Ayurveda. They are not only important and result oriented therapies individually, they also form a very good combination of therapies. When administered together they provide good relaxation to the body, joints and muscles, they clear off the tensions in the tissues and rejuvenate. They are also preventive and curative therapies. Apart from being used as therapies of priorities they are mandatory measures to be followed before Panchakarma therapies. Therefore oleation and sudation are both – main therapies and preparatory therapies.
Snehana = oleation, unctuous therapy, lubricating therapy
Swedana = sweating therapy


Oleation can be internal consumption of medicated fats (ghee, oil, bone marrow, muscle fat) or external application of oils (medicated or otherwise). Oleation also includes pouring of medicated oils, immersion of body or body parts in the medicated oils or a soothing herbal oil massage.
Read – Oleation – Snehakarma Dose, Benefits, Side Effects, Management

Massage with oils has been mentioned amongst the dinacharya measures i.e. procedures included in the daily regimen. When administered daily it has preventive to curative benefits. Applying herbal oils to the body and taking a hot water shower is a traditional practice in many families. In many families it is practiced as a part of ritual during festivals and special occasions.

Are these really beneficial to such greater extent?
Yes, Master Charaka explains the benefits of combined oleation and sudation therapies, as a treatment procedure or as part of daily regimen with the help of a beautiful analogy. This analogy describes the core importance of these therapies in preventive and curative practices.

Dry log and oil analogy

Dry log and oil analogy to explain importance of combined oleation and sudation therapies
Context – This analogy has been explained in Charaka Sutra Sthana Chapter 14, Swedadhyaya, verses – 4 and 5.


The diseases and blocks caused by imbalanced vata can be comprehensively cured with sudation therapies done following the oleation therapies. As a result of this the feces, urine and semen will not be obstructed in the body. This means that there will be proper and timely defecation, urination and ejaculation.
Master Charaka tells ‘when a dry log of wood is kept in oil for some days and later when steam (wet heat) is given to this log, it can be bent to the point of our convenience’.
Later Master Charaka asks – ‘if a dry log / stick can be bent and twisted after treating it with oil and steam, why cannot the body and body parts of a living person be bent and twisted as per one’s convenience after having subjected the body to oleation and sudation therapies?’.
Read – Snehakarma – Preparation For Panchakarma- Charak Samhita Sutrasthan 13

Master Charaka wants to tell that the body of human beings can be made smooth, healthy and flexible so that the body parts can be twisted, turned and bent to one’s convenience after oleation therapy and sudation therapy done in combination or daily practice of the same therapies in the form of daily regimen.

These two therapies can be used in conditions wherein the body parts cannot be flexibly bent, twisted and moved to one’s capacity and convenience caused by many diseases or due to ongoing ageing process. They can be used for body and mind rejuvenation. Also to prevent many ailments. 
When used in combination will facilitate the movement of doshas from the periphery (tissues) to the center (gut). This is the most essential step in the process of treatment through cleansing therapies (panchakarma) in Ayurveda. The doshas thus brought to the gut can be cleansed by administration of therapeutic emesis or purgation. Thus, snehana and swedana are very important and mandatory therapies in the preparation for cleansing therapies.
Read – Ayurvedic Panchakarma Treatment: Introduction, Benefits, Dosha Relation

Dry wood analogy – If our body is considered as a big framework of wood or wooden building or a tree, this frame would become dry and non-flexible with ageing process. This is caused due to depletion of watery contents of the body (which is contributing to flexibility and lubrication of body parts and tissues) and the fatty portions of the body. People who work out with their body indiscriminately and mercilessly moving towards a ‘zero fit’ size trend will also suffer from this problem. Total avoidance of good fats from the foods will also have a bad effect on the body and its flexibility, decreasing the balanced lubrication needed to carry on day to day activities with precision. Oleation and sudation are the best therapies which come in handy in such situations which will not only preserve the needed lubrication and flexibility of the body but will also ward off the effects of dryness and non-flexibility caused by vata aggravation in the body.
Read – Symptoms Of Vata Dosha Increase And Imbalance – Vata Vruddhi Lakshana

Some things like ‘ageing process’ which is normal, cannot be prevented but the problems which are likely to visit with ageing process can be prevented by regular practice of oiling and steaming the body. All benefits mentioned in the process of snehana, abhyanga and swedana can be combined while mentioning the benefits of these therapies.
This concept has been brought into light actually to highlight the benefits and importance of sudation since it has been explained in the chapter of sudation therapies. But we need to see that the verse for explaining the analogy has begun with ‘sneha purvam’ which means ‘sudation done after oleation’. This shows that the sudation would give optimum health benefits when it is used after oleation and in combo with oil application therapies which also includes massage.
Read – 4 Types Of Swedana As Per Sushruta And Vagbhata

So in a way, this analogy describes the combined benefits of oil therapy and sweating therapies, though it has been explained in the context of ‘swedana adhyaya’ chapter. We also need to observe that the chapter preceding this chapter i.e. 13th chapter of Charaka Sutra Sthana, i.e. snehana adhyaya – deals with ‘oleation therapies’. So even in chronology of chapters sudation comes after oleation. The physician who knows the art of administration of oleation and sudation therapies comprehensively in various diseases, as a part of preventive and curative strategy and also to suggest them as part of daily regimens to the healthy people will immensely succeed in clinical practice.
These two therapies, the combination is so popular that we can see many people walk into the Ayurveda clinics voluntarily asking for a massage and sudation, especially at weekends. This would keep it rejuvenated. People feel that it is necessary for manipulating and pampering the body and mind so as to be fit and healthy, especially in this ‘rush and push era’. Many ask for it even without consulting the doctor for the same. I would suggest that one needs to come through the doctor’s table for experiencing the optimum benefits of these therapies.
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