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Massage and Fomentation Therapies

As essential part of Panchakarma therapy and also independently various types of massage therapies and various types of fomentations have come a long way in the treatment of various diseases especially in the management of joint disorders, orthopedic, neurological, neuromuscular and psychological disorders. These procedures are used either locally to a particular part of the body or are done on the whole body. In the fomentation techniques heat is either applied in the form of vapors or dry fomentation is done with specially designed equipments. The procedures that are performed at the Special Panchakarma Center at Podar Hospital are as under: -

1) Sarvang Abhayang

Here trained masseurs apply medicated oils all over the body in a specific manner. Swedan (Fomentation) usually follows all types of massages. This abhayang is indicated in various diseases of the muscles and the nerves and as a process of making the body physically strong and healthy.

2) Pizichil

This a special type of Abhyanga procedure where the massage is performed with medicated oil by pouring the oils continuously on the whole body with the help of cloth pieces dipped in the oil. This method is used in the treatment of many generalized neuromuscular diseases, hemiplegia and paraplegia.

3) Sarvang Thaila Dhara

This is type of massage where the lukewarm medicated oil is poured over the body freely with the help of a bowl or specially designed pots and the masseurs keep massaging the individual. The indications remain almost the same as Pizichil, the only difference being the quantity of oil that is used. Dhara is effective in mental disturbances, hysteria, hallucinations, Rheumatism, cervical spondylosis, Arthralgias, hemiplegia and paraplegia and chronic headache.

4) Avagaha Sweda

The patient is made to sit in a specially designed bathtub which stores decoctions of related herbs. The contents of the tub are kept hot for continuous fomentation at desired temperatures with the help of whirlpool system. The patient has to first undergo Abhayang before entering the Tub. Generalized diseases like arthritis and generalized weakness, fatigue, muscular problems, myopathies are the indications for Avgah Sweda.

5) Pinda Sweda

This is a highly specialized procedure, which is known as Navarakizhi in Kerala. In this process swedan is done with the help of specially made bundled warm medicinal puddings made up of shali type of rice (Navara). Before the swedan medicated oil is applied to the whole body. At the end a bath with warm water or medicated water is given. Pinda sweda is highly beneficial in restoring the strength of the lost muscles due to diseases like lower motor neuron disease, paralysis, GB syndrome, muscular dystrophy and a number of other neuro-muscular diseases.

6) Patra Pottali sweda

In this procedure the whole body or a selected region is made to sweat by application of heat by heated bundle of specific fresh leaves of a few herbs like castor plant, Adhatoda plant, Arka patra warmed with medicated oil accompanied by massage. Similarly when the powders of herbs like Ashwagandha, Bala moola, Shatavari etc. are used to make pottali, it is termed as Churna Pottali Sweda(Navarki)

7) Nadi sweda

This type of fomentation is usually done for localized conditions like Osteoarthritis, sprain, or to relieve some localized pain as in Cervical spondylitis. Here fomentation is done with the vapors generated out of medicated decoction that is then applied to the affected area with the help of a rubber tube. Proper oleation of the affected part is done prior to Nadi Sweda.

8) Sarvanga Vashpa sweda(Peti sweda)

After proper application of oil and a good whole body massage of any of the above types, the individual is asked to enter in a specially devised chamber (Peti). In case of Peti sweda fomentation is done with the help of vapours generated out of decoctions. These procedures are applied for the generalized fomentation of the body.

9) Kuti sweda

Kuti Sweda is a dry type of Fomentation where steam is not at all applied. Dry heat is applied in this type. Here a specific temperature is attained electrically with the help of high voltage heaters in a chamber and the patient is made to sit in the chamber till adequate perspiration is achieved.

10) Valuka sweda/Pottali sweda

In this method heat is applied to the affected part by with the help of a pudding filled with heated sand or medicine. Valuka sweda is used to relieve localized pain especially in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.

11) Shiro dhara

In this procedure medicated oils or decoction are poured slowly from a distance over the forehead with specially designed Shiro-Dhara Yantra. The oil is kept in a special vessel called shirodhara vessel (Shiro dhara patra). The procedure is highly useful in several psychosomatic disorders, in mental disturbances, hysteria, hallucinations and chronic headache. Shiro dhara is also effective in the management of Epilepsy, to improve concentration, in stress-induced conditions and to improve the intellect. This is also highly useful for mental retardation and in case of poor performers at school.

12) Shiro Basti

This procedure is widely used these days for the purpose of de-addiction of alcohol as also to treat various psychological disorders. The indications also include Vata disorders, facial paralysis, Insomnias, Cataract, Chronic headaches and Spondylitis. . Highly indicative in trigiminal neuralgia, hemicrania, optic atrophy, otalgia, deafness and all disorders affecting cranial nerves.

Here bearably hot oil is retained on the clean shaved head up to around one inch above the hair root. A leather belt tied around the head and is sealed from within with black gram paste to retain oil. This is normally carried out for around 30 minutes. This is followed by gentle massage over back, shoulder, neck, head and mandible. Shiro Basti is normally given for 7days and can be repeated if required


Udvartan means massage with the help of powders. External application of medicinal fine powders are accompanied by massage, on the whole body. Various medicinal powders are used according to the body constitution of the individual. The procedure is generally carried out for reducing the excess fat and for improving the complexion of the skin.
Along with the above-mentioned procedures there are other specialized methods of treatment meant for specific organs. Netra tarpan, Kati Basti, Hridaya Basti are the procedures where medicated oils are kept on the respective organs by constructing a special platform around the surface location of that organ. They are applied to offer strength to the organs and to treat related disorders.

Rates of different procedures