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Vata is a very active principle in pathogenesis. If we can control vata through the use of basti, we have gone a long way in going to the root cause of the vast majority of diseases.
Vata is the main etiological factor in the manifestation of diseases. It is the motive force behind the elimination and retention of feces, urine, bile and other excreta. Vata is mainly located in the large intestine, but bone tissue (asthi dhatu) is also a site for vata. Hence the medication administered rectally effects asthi dhatu. The mucus membrane of the colon is related to the outer covering of the bones (periosteum), which nourishes the bones. Therefore, any medication given rectally goes into the deeper tissues, like bones, and corrects vata disorders.
There are eight main types of basti, according to traditional texts, each with their own indications and contra-indications as listed below.
1. Anuvasana (oil enema)
Used in pure vata disorders and when a person is having excess hunger or dryness related to vata imbalances.
2.Niruha-Asthapana (decoction enema)
Used, among other conditions, for evacuation of vata, nervous diseases, gastro-intestinal vata conditions, gout, certain fever conditions, unconsciousness, certain urinary conditions, appetite, pain, hyperacidity and heart diseases.
3. Uttara Basti (through the urethra with men or vagina with women)
Used for selected semen and ovulation disorders and for some problems involving painful urination or bladder infections. This is not to be used for someone with diabetes.
4. Matra Basti (daily oil enema)
Used by someone emaciated by overwork or too much exercise, too much heavy lifting, walking too long of a distance, too much sexual activity or someone with chronic vata disorders. It does not need to be accompanied by any strict dietary restriction or daily routine and can be administered, in the appropriate cases, in all seasons. It gives strength, promotes weight and helps elimination of waste products.
5. Karma Basti (schedule of 30 bastis),
6. Kala Basti (schedule of 15 bastis; 10 oil + 5 decoction)
7. Yoga Basti (schedule of 8 bastis; 5 oil + 3 decoction).
In karma, kala and yoga bastis, it is better to give both types of basti in combination and not the oil and decoction separately. The conditions under which these are recommended are too detailed to be able to list in this article. In general, the indications and contra-indications that apply to basti also apply here.
8. Bruhana Basti (nutritional enema)
Used for providing deep nutrition in select conditions. Traditionally, highly nutritive substances have been used, such as warm milk, meat broth, bone marrow soup and herbs like shatavari or ashwagandha.
Indications for Basti:
Contra-Indications for Basti (include but are not limited to the
For oil enemas: diabetes, obesity, indigestion, low agni, enlarged liver or spleen, unconsciousness, tuberculosis and cough.
for decoction enemas: debility, hiccough, hemorrhoids, inflammation of anus, piles, diarrhea, pregnancy, ascites, diabetes and some conditions involving painful or difficult breathing.
for nutritional enemas: diabetes, obesity, lymphatic obstruction, ascites.
for urethra or vaginal enemas: diabetes
Panchakarma is a very special Ayurvedic operation requiring proper guidance from a highly trained and skillful Ayurvedic practitioner. This should not be undertaken just from information in this article. One should consult with an Ayurvedic physician, not just someone with a modest amount of training. Panchakarma is done individually for each person with their specific constitution and specific disorder in mind, thus it requires close observation and supervision.
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