Introduction to Ayurvedic Blood Purification
Ayurveda, often referred to as the “science of life,” is an ancient holistic healing system that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. Rooted in the intricate balance of mind, body, and spirit, it emphasizes prevention, wellness, and the harmonization of the individual’s constitution with the rhythms of the natural world. Among the vast treasury of Ayurvedic knowledge lies the concept of “blood purification,” a therapeutic approach designed to cleanse and rejuvenate the circulatory system.
Blood purification in Ayurveda is not merely about detoxifying the physical component of blood. It intertwines with the notion of eliminating ‘ama’ (toxic byproducts) and balancing the three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – which are fundamental energies that govern physiological and psychological processes in the body. An imbalance in these doshas, combined with external environmental factors and dietary habits, can lead to the accumulation of toxins, manifesting in various ailments and a general feeling of malaise.
The Ayurvedic approach to blood purification incorporates a combination of dietary guidelines, herbal remedies, and detoxification treatments, tailored to an individual’s unique constitution. By enhancing the body’s natural detoxification processes, Ayurveda aims to restore optimal health, boost immunity, and ensure the smooth functioning of all physiological processes.
This journey into Ayurvedic blood purification will unfold the age-old wisdom of sages and provide insights into techniques that have been practiced and refined over millennia. Whether you’re a seeker of holistic wellness or simply curious about alternative medicinal practices, understanding the Ayurvedic perspective on blood purification promises to be both enlightening and transformative.
What is Blood Purification?
The Conventional View
In the medical world, blood purification often refers to procedures like dialysis or chelation therapy. These treatments aim to remove waste products and toxins from the blood.
The Ayurvedic Perspective
But Ayurveda takes a different angle. In Ayurveda, the idea is to cleanse the blood naturally through diet, herbs, and treatments to promote overall well-being. Intriguing, isn’t it? Acharya Sushruta explains in detail how blood can get vitiated and produce diseases. Blood or rakta dhatu has the ability to get vitiated by its own causes and can cause rakta dushti.
Why blood purification is important in Ayurveda?
When other ayurvedic treatments fail or if the patient is not responding then one must do purification of blood. In general, diseases caused by the vitation of blood do not respond to conventional ayurvedic treatments. Blood purification is a must to treat the diseases that are caused by blood vitaiation.
Understanding Rakta in Ayurvedic Way
The word Raktha is derived from the ‘Ranj dhatu’ that imparts the color. Raktha dhatu (blood and its components) is one of the seven dhatu told in Ayurvedic science. It is formed from the previous rasa dhatu.
Rasa dhatu comes in contact with Ranjaka pitta (one of the five types of pitta) in yakrut (liver) and pleeha (spleen) and attains the color to form raktha dhatu. Thus, the essence of rasa dhatu is the raktha dhatu.
Shonitha (red color), rudhira (to withhold), lohitha (that which heals), asruk (which gushes in the vessels), kshtataja (born out of trauma) are various synonyms of raktha dhatu. Raktha sustains life, provides strength, and complexion, and nourishes the subsequent mamsa dhatu. Some Acharyas consider raktha as a dosha also.
Diseases caused by vitiated/impure blood(Raktha pradoshaja vikara or dosha of raktha)
Raktha dosha here refers to raktha pradoshaja vikara (raktha becomes extremely vitiated by dosha). Raktha pradoshaja vikara are explained by various Acharya and vary from each other and the names are mentioned below:
- Bleeding disorders (raktapitta)
- Disease due to vata and rakta (vatarakta)
- Herpes (visarpa)
- Intoxication(made), Syncope (moorcha), coma (sanyasa)
- Skin diseases(kushtha)
- Obstinate urinary disorders including diabetes(prameha)
- Obstinate urinary disorders (raktameha)
- Micro-organisms originating in blood (shonitajaKrimi)
- Abdominal lump due to blood (raktagulma)
- Diarrhoea with blood (raktatisara)
- Abscess with blood (raktavidradhi)
What causes blood vitiation?
The etiology mentioned for raktha pradoshaja vikara are – excess intake of katu (pungent), amla (sour)food, lavana (salt), kulattha (horse gram), dadhi (curds), masha (black gram), tila taila (sesame oil), madya (alcohol), anupa mamsa (meat of aquatic animals), viruddha aahara (incompatible foods), adhyashana (excess eating), ajeernashana (having food without digestion of the previous food), divaswapna (day time sleeping), vegavarodha (suppression of natural urges), krodha (anger), atapasevana (excess exposure to sunlight), abhighata (trauma).
How purification of blood is done?
Rakthamokshana is the procedure in Ayurveda to purify the blood. The word Rakthamokshana has two words – Raktha is blood and mokshana is to leave, so, to let the blood out is rakthamokshana. Sushrutha mentions this procedure as one among five purificatory procedures. The therapy is done to expel the vitiated blood and reduce the toxic substances preventing various raktha pradosha vikara (blood-borne diseases).
Rakthamokshana is divided into three types:
- Shastra vidhi
- Anu shastra vidhi
- Ashastra vidhi
Shastra vidhi karma: The instruments used are sharp. Prachchanna and Siravyadhana are the shastra vidhi karma.
Anu shastra vidhi: The instruments are blunt. Shringa and Alabu are the anu shastra vidhi karma.
Ashastra vidhi: Jalauka or leech therapy.
Prachchanna karma: A sharp instrument is used to do bloodletting therapy.
- This is done if the raktha is ekadoshitha and pinditha (involving one dosha and is clotted).
- If the raktha dushti is twachasthitha (just beneath the skin)
- Asukumara – patients who are tolerable to the procedure
Siravyadhana karma: A sharp needle is used to puncture the vein.
- Done if the raktha is sarvanga doshitha
- Asukumara – patients who are tolerable to the procedure
Shringa: Cow’s horn is used to do the rakthamokshana. Indicated in vataja disorders. Patients who are moderately sensitive to withstand the procedure
Alabu: dried gourd or long fruit of the Cucurbitaceae family. Indicated in kaphaja disorder. Patients who are moderately sensitive to withstand the procedure
Jalauka: leech therapy. Indicated in pittaja disorder. Parama sukumara – patients who are intolerable to the procedure. If the raktha dushti is deep-seated.
Pre-operative procedure of Rakthamokshana:
- The patients who are indicated for the procedure are given snehana (oleation therapy), swedana (sudation therapy), and liquid gruel to drink before the procedure.
- They are made to sit or lie down comfortably.
- Prachchanna karma – the scarification procedure.
- The area where the procedure has to be done is selected and a tourniquet or bandage is tied a little above the selected area
- The shallow pricks or scratches are made a little over the site
- The scratches should be straight, fine, and even
- Avoid the area of blood vessels, nerves, bones, joints, tendons, etc
- The pricks should not be closer to each other
- Neither deep nor superficial
- The amount of blood to be let in the procedure is about one angula pramana
- Siravyadhana karma: puncturing the vein with a sharp needle or scalp vein
- Tie a bandage or tourniquet a little above the site where puncturing has to be done
- In the mamsa pradesha (muscle tissue), the size of the puncturing should be yavamatra, and other than mamsa pradesha (muscle tissue) half yavamatra with a vrihimukha shastra as explained in classics
- In asthi pradesha, the size should be half yavamatra by kutharika shastra
- The procedure is done till the blood comes out in a stream and stops itself within one muhurtha (45 minutes)
- The procedure has to be done during cold weather in the summer season, mid-day time in the winter season, and in the rainy season when the sky is clear
- The amount of blood to be let in the procedure is about one prastha
- Shringa : The area is selected and small, shallow pricks are made
- Shringa (cow’s horn) is placed on the area and air is sucked from the other open end
- A vacuum is created and vitiated blood flows out
- The amount of blood to be let in the procedure is about ten angula pramana
- Alabu: The area is selected and small, shallow pricks are made
- The dried vegetable gourd or a long fruit of Cucurbitaceae family is placed on the area and a vacuum is created to let the blood out
- The amount of blood to be let in the procedure is about twelve angula pramana
- Jalauka: Leech therapy
- The area is selected and the leech is applied, in case it does not suck then small pricks are made near the area and then the leech is applied
- Once the leech starts sucking the blood, a wet cotton piece is placed over it
- The leech sucks enough blood till there is pricking pain or itching sensation and it leaves by itself
- If it does not leave then sprinkle some turmeric powder and remove it
- Leech is then made to vomit the sucked blood
- The amount of blood to be let in the procedure is about one hasta pramana
- After the procedure is completed, a gentle massage over the affected area with medicated oil or ghee is done
- If the bleeding does not stop, apply gentle pressure with a cotton piece or tie a bandage / sprinkle some cold water/cauterization/procedure of suppuration
- Give a diet that is easily digestible, improves the blood, provides strength
- Instructions to avoid excess talking, laughing, heavy exercise, and exposure to too much hot or cold weather
Symptoms of adequate bloodletting therapy are relief from the symptoms and a feeling of lightness in the body.
Symptoms of inadequate bloodletting therapy are headache, blurring of vision, burning sensation, hiccough, dyspnea, and cough, and may even lead to death.
Herbs that help in blood purification
Here are some Ayurvedic herbs believed to help in blood purification:
- Neem (Azadirachta indica): Neem is renowned for its detoxifying and blood-purifying properties. It’s often recommended for skin disorders due to its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
- Manjistha (Rubia cordifolia): Manjistha is a popular herb known for its ability to purify and detoxify the blood. It’s often used to treat skin conditions like acne and eczema.
- Triphala: A combination of three fruits – Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), and Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica) – Triphala is a powerful antioxidant and is considered an effective detoxifier.
- Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia): Guduchi is known for its rejuvenating properties and its ability to boost the immune system. It also helps in detoxifying the blood.
- Burdock Root (Arctium lappa): Although not originally from the Ayurvedic tradition, burdock root is sometimes incorporated due to its potent blood-purifying capabilities.
- Turmeric (Curcuma longa): Known for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and healing properties, turmeric is also considered beneficial for blood purification.
- Sariva (Hemidesmus indicus): Sariva is another herb known for its cooling and blood-purifying properties. It’s beneficial for skin-related issues.
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Like burdock root, dandelion isn’t traditionally Ayurvedic but is often used in Ayurvedic formulations for its liver-supporting and blood-cleansing properties.
- Aloe Vera: Consuming aloe vera juice is believed to cleanse the blood and remove toxins from the body.
- Kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa): This herb is beneficial for liver health and can help purify the blood.
While these herbs are traditionally believed to aid in blood purification, it’s essential to approach them with caution and consult with a healthcare professional or experienced Ayurvedic practitioner before incorporating them into a routine, especially if you have any existing health conditions or are taking medications.
Bloodletting therapy is one of the purificatory procedures and it helps in removing the impure blood from the body. Selection of the patient, time period, dosha involved, and type of procedure are to be considered during the therapy. Being a para-surgical therapy it can prevent many of the diseases. Hence, Rakthamokshana is both a preventive and curative therapy.
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