Vasti Therapy (Urovasti & Shirovasti) treatments in Ayurveda

Vasti is a major procedure among the Panchakarmas. The term vasti is derived from the fact that the apparatus used for introducing medicated materials is made of vasti (animal’s urinary bladder). The vasti procedure helps restore the balance of doshas. Apart from increasing weight in emaciated people, it decreases weight in the obese, prevents ageing process, improves vision, brings in strength, lustre and a healthy longevity. It is specifically used in treating vatic disorders.

Ayurveda has classified vast as two basic types – ‘Niruha vasti’, which makes use of decoction of appropriate drugs, and ‘annuvasana vasti’, which makes use of oily substances. In majority of cases, a combination of these two types of vasti is given.

A person with an adequate vasti will have proper passage of wind and urine, proper balance of doshas, feeling of lightness in the body, increased strength and appetite and a pleasant feeling in general.

The diet following vasti should be very light, and activities like sitting or standing for long duration, excessive talking, travelling, sleeping during the day, coitus, anxiety, anger, untimely meals, and an incompatible diet should be avoided.

vasti treatment in ayurveda

Urovasti

Urosvasti is a part of Panchakarma treatment in Ayurveda, involving introduction of herbal oils and decoctions into the colon. Urovasti is particularly recommended for pains affecting the sternum in the chest area. In the term Urovasti, Uro stands for chest and vasti stands for retaining something. Hence, this is a chest oil bath treatment. In this procedure, specially prepared warm medicated oil/ghee is placed on chest for a specific period of time. This procedure is also referred to as Hrid Vasti, with the term Hrid referring to heart. The heart is one of the the three major vital points in the body by Ayurveda, and hence it needs to be protected.

Urovasti is particularly recommended to people suffering from bronchitis, asthma, and respiratory issues, mild angina, Ischemic heart disease, cardiomyopathy and muscular chest pain.

Procedure: The Physician choses the type of medicated or herbal oil or ghee required, depending on the individual body constitution and doshic imbalance of the patient. The patient is made to lie down flat on back. A gentle oil massage is first given all over the body. A dough made of black gram flour or whole wheat flour is prepared and rolled into a small ring of four to five inches in diameter and placed over the chest region. The edges of the dough are glued to the skin using a little water. The Urovasti treatment is performed by filling in medicated oil/ghee into this ring by pouring or squeezing in the medicine with cotton gauze. When the oil cools down, it is squeezed out and replaced with more warm ones. The whole process takes about 30 to 45 minutes.

The benefits of this procedure is that it corrects the imbalance of vata dosha, reduces sadness, frustration, improves circulation, boosts neuromuscular system and connective tissues nourishes and strengthens and balances heart functions, and makes the muscles and connective tissues stronger.

Shirovasti

Shirovasti is the head therapy, which is one of the major external oil therapy procedures in Ayurvedic treatment. The term ‘Shiro’ means head and ‘vasti’ means container holding liquids. Th medicated oil prescribed, is warmed and poured into a hollow cap placed on the head, and is allowed to stand for some time. The treatment takes about an hour.

The treatment is usually recommended for conditions like cataract, deafness, paralysis, earache and disorders of cranial nerves, dryness of scalp and itching, headache, certain skin conditions, insanity and other mental disorders.

Procedure: Shirovasti requires massage oil based on requirement, ‘Rasnadi choornam’ and medicated oil (1.5 litres). The list of medicated oils used generally in Kerala are Chandanadi tailam, bala tailam, Dhanwantara tailam, karpasashyadi tailam, ksheerabala tailam and narayana tailam. Before beginning the procedure, the head is massaged with medicated massage oil. Cotton swaps are placed in both the ears to prevent oil from moving into the ears.

Make a poultice of black gram flour, adding warm water in the flour. Dip a cotton ribbon into this and tie around the head above the eyebrows, so that the oil does not leak out, and the patient does not feel any discomfort due to tightness of the strip. Fix a leather cloth or cap on its lower part, and seal both junctions of the strap with black gram poultice. It is made to look like a hollow vessel, fit enough to pour in oil.

The oil is warmed more than your body temperature, and is poured into the cap, upto to 2 to 3 cm above the hair roots. The temperature of the oil is checked thoroughly. If the oil cools down, again reheat the oil taken from the cap, and reuse it to warming the oil repeatedly.

Rub ‘Rasnadi choornam’ over the head and ask the person to rest for about an hour. Thereafter, the patient can take bath in warm water.