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A Beginner’s Guide to the Asthi Dhatu

The fifth dhatu in the sequence gets nourished by the poshaka amsha of the medha dhatu. Asthi is a component of the body that stays for a longer time and is also responsible for the movements along with the muscles taking place in the body. It does not get destroyed even after the body gets destroyed. It provides the stability to the body. The word ‘Asthi’ is formed from two words in Sanskrit, “as” and “kthin” which means ‘stability’. In contemporary science, it is correlated with the bones.

Synonyms

  • KulyamAsthi is a canal-like structure.
  • Kikasam– circular or round-shaped structures
  • Karkaram – It is rough in texture.
  • Sara – The entity that does not get destroyed even after the death. 
  • Medasteja – the essence of Meda dhatu
  • Majjakrit – that produces the Majja dhatu.
  • Dehadharakam – supports the skeleton and the weight of the body.
  • Svadayitwam – Dogs or animals like to eat it. 

Bhautika composition and its Guna (qualities)

Prithvi and Vayu Mahabhuta are the main Mahabhuta constituting the Asthi Dhatu.

Khara (roughness), Kathina (hardness), Sthira (stability), Sthula (bulkiness), and Guru (heaviness).

Formation of asthi dhatu

The poshaka component of the Meda dhatu with the help of Asthi dhatwagni form andnourish the Asthi dhatu. Agni and Prithvi Mahabhuta cause the roughness and the solidification of the Asthi dhatu. The porosity of the Asthi dhatu is because of the Vayu and Akash Mahabhuta. Other than the formation and nourishment of Asthi dhatu, the upadhatu (byproducts) and mala (waste products) are also formed.

Asthisara purusha lakshana (Characteristics of an individual who has ideal asthi)

  • The person has prominent Parshni (heels), Gulfa (ankles), Janu (knees), Aratni (elbows), Jatru (clavicles), Chibuka (chin), Shira (head), Parshwa (flanks), joints, bones, and teeth.
  • Have a strong and firm body, well-built.
  • The people possessing Asthisara are enthusiastic and active.

Seat of asthi dhatu

Asthi dhatu has its origin in the Meda dhatu and Jaghana (hips). The transport system called Asthivaha srotas is connected to the above two structures.

Duration taken to form asthi dhatu

It is said that 6th day after the production of Aahara rasa, the asthi dhatu is formed. Some other references say it takes twenty days to produce asthi dhatu.

Quantity of asthi in our body

As per a few references in Ayurveda, there are 360 asthi (bones). Sushrutha mentions as 300 in number.

Considering the reference of Sushrutha Samhitha, 120 bones are in the shakha (extremities), Madhya sharira (central part of the body) has 117 bones and in the head and neck part there are 63 bones.

Types of bones

There are five types of asthi (bones) explained in the classics of Ayurveda.

  1. Kapala asthi – These are the flat bones present in the Janu (Knees), Jaghana (pelvic), Amsa (Shoulders), Ganda (Cheeks), Talu (Palate), Shankha (temporal bones), Shira (skull).
  2. Ruchaka – These are the teeth
  3. Taruna – These are the cartilaginous bones seen in Ghrana (nose), Karna (ears), Griva (neck), Akshikosha (orbit of the eye)
  4. Valaya – The curved bones of Parshuka (ribs), Prushtakasheruka (vertebrae)
  5. Nalaka – The long bones 

Confluences of bones

When many bones are present in a point that is called a confluence of bones. In Ayurveda, it is termed as Asthi Sanghata. These are fourteen in number. One each in gulpha (ankle), janu (knee), and vankshana (groin) of the lower extremities. One each in the manibandha (wrist), Kurpara (elbow), and Kaksha (axilla) of the upper extremities. One in the trika (lower back) and one in the shira (skull).

Byproducts and the waste metabolites

Nakha (nails) and Danta (teeth) are the upadhatu (byproducts). Kesha (scalp hair) and Loma (hair all over the body) are the mala (waste products).

Asthi marma

Asthi marma are the eight vital points in the body made up of asthi (bones).

  1. Two vital points are present on either side of the vertebral column, one above the pelvic crest and one near the pelvic crest. These are called as katikataruna marma
  2. Two are the vital points called Nitamba marma present above the two pelvic bones where the flanks meet.
  3. Two vital points called Amsaphalaka marma are located in the scapular region one each on either side of the vertebral column.
  4. Two vital points on the temporal regions are located at the midpoint between the outer end of the eyebrows and the ears. These are known as Shankha marma.

Functions of asthi dhatu

  • Deha dharana – it provides support to the body.
  • Provides nourishment to Majja dhatu.
  • Provides support to the mamsa (muscles), sira (blood vessels), snayu (tendons).

Relation with Vata dosha

If there is a decrease in Vata dosha, the asthi dhatu increases and vice versa.

Causes of asthi dhatu vitiation

The food that causes vitiation of Vata dosha, excessive exercise, trauma, and excessive stretching of the body can cause vitiation of asthi dhatu.

Asthi vriddhi lakshana (increased asthi dhatu symptoms)

  • Adhyasthi (growth of extra bone)
  • Adhidanta (growth of extra tooth)

Asthi kshaya lakshana (decreased asthi dhatu symptoms)

  • Asthishoola – pain in the bones
  • Nakhabhanga – brittle nails
  • Dantabhanga – loosening of teeth
  • Kesha-loma-shmashru patana – fall of hair on the scalp, body, beard
  • Dwija patana – falling of teeth
  • Sandhishaithilya – weakness in the joints
  • Shrama – fatigue

Diseases caused due to vitiation of asthi dhatu

  • Asthishoola – pain of the bones
  • Asthibheda – cracks or fractures of the bones
  • Adhyasthi – extra growth of the bones
  • Dantashoola – toothache
  • Dantabheda – broken teeth
  • Adhi danta – extra growth of the teeth
  • Vivarnata of kesha, loma, nakha, shmashru – discoloration of the scalp hair, body hair, nails, and teeth
  • Sadana of kesha, loma, nakha, shmashru – falling of the scalp hair, body hair. nails, and teeth

Treatment for vitiation of asthi dhatu

Asthi dhatu related diseases can be treated depending on the pathology. A diet rich in calcium like milk, ragi, etc., calcium supplements are beneficial. In case of any foreign body invasion in the bones, fractures, etc. surgical treatment called ‘bhagna chikitsa’ is advised. 

Conclusion

Asthi dhatu can be correlated with the bones in modern science. It gets nourished by meda dhatu and nourishes the majja dhatu. It supports the body and the inner structures like muscles, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, etc. as well. There are five types of bones. Eight asthi marma are in the body, and fourteen confluences of bones are present. According to Sushrutha, there are 300 bones, and some others mention 360 in number. Extra growth of the bones and teeth are the features of increased asthi dhatu while pain in the bones and teeth, weakness in the joints, hairfall, brittle nails, etc. are the characteristics of reduced asthi dhtatu. Calcium-rich diet and supplements meet the deficiency of asthi dhatu. Surgical intervention is done if there are any fractures.

References
  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/363210090_PHYSIOLOGICAL_AND_PATHOLOGICAL_ASPECTS_OF_ASTHI_DHATU
  2. https://www.ijcrt.org/papers/IJCRT1893059.pdf
  3. https://ijmhsjournal.in/Jully%202021/ijmhsvolviiissueii/IJMHS%20VOL%20VII%20ISSUE%20II%203.%20%E2%80%9CASTHI%20DHATU%E2%80%93%20A%20LITERARY%20REVIEW%E2%80%9D-converted.pdf

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