Abhyanga – An external Oilation therapy SCIENTIFIC APPROACH OF ABHYANGA (MASSAGE) IN AYURVEDA Dr.K. Siva Rama Prasad Vedas are expe- life, veda means knowledge, together riences of individuals, Ayurveda deals with knowledge of life. LIFE, recorded and trans- when it is elaborated it can be “ Living In Fine formed one generation Ecstasy “ or living with happiness in coordi- to another generation. It nation with nature. Charaka explains the life is not necessary to as unification of body (Shareera), sensory check whether Sun organs (Indriya), mind (Manas) and soul rises only from East or (Atma). West. If the regularly ris- The main motto of Ayurveda is to keeping Sun changes his position and rises from an individual hail healthy with regimens ex-West, it becomes News. Various facts of life plained within the texts. The Ayurveda caresare recorded in the form of Hymns and doc- about not only physical health but also psy-trines in Vedas. Such doctrines speak about chological. The health can be physical orhappy and healthy living in accordance with psychological.nature. The Upaveda (sub-veda) of Adharva Healthy person (Swastha) is definedveda, Ayurveda explains ways of perfect liv- by the Susruta as whoever maintains theing in purified form as regimens of day, night three body humors (Tridosha), equilibrate di-and seasons. Regularity in practice of purity gestive fire (includes other panchaleads to the destination of mankind. It may Bhootagnis, Dhatwagnis - tissue fires andbe materialistic or philosophical. If a person Jatharagni or the main digestive fire), propermear wish to have materialistic benefits by evacuation of urine and stools (Mala), with fairfollowing the rules of purity, certainly it offers. soul, sensory organs and mind. To maintainBut such purity is lacking holistic approach, health Ayurveda dictated regimens accordingwhere mind body co-ordination is not seen. to the day, night and season. The normalThis non co-ordination leads ones to suffer- functions in human are always maintenanceing. Co-ordination benefits to attain eternity, of Doshas in accordance with diets. All theas a process of holistic approach in associa- food materials may be of animal or plant ori-tion with materialistic benefits. gin leads to either aggravation or subsidizingFew assumptions about the purity are - of the three humors, which may even have1. The physical body is constricted by only its effect over the mind. Not only the food habitselements and they are subjected for impurity but also other exogenous factors such asall the time. seasons also responsible for the alteration of2. Multiple cells in a regular pattern constrict the body humors. The other factors are en-the physical body, which are going to be ex- dogenous which always alters the state ofpressed is offspring’s too. humors in the body there by no time all the3. There is no involvement of mind purity, only Tridosha are in the state of perfect equilibra-physical purity is sufficient to have a healthy tion. Thus the state of perfect health is notbody. possible at any time in the body. For the al-4. Ego and states of personality doesn’t have tered state of Doshas to maintain in equili-any influence on construction of purified body. bration we need a specific elimination proce-5. Impurity development in the body is nec- dures when they are subjected to aggrava-essary and natural. tion. Usually palliative or Shamana therapy is Root of Ayurveda developed from two being prescribed with out elimination espe-individual words Ayu and Veda. Ayu means cially when the patient is not fit for the cleans-
ing procedure. Who ever seek the perfect ness but it is not perceived by eye. Sneha ishealth by rooting out the Disease State pre- explained as perceived by eye, which is afers the elimination therapy under the condi- quality of Agni mahabhoota. According totions of fitness. Susruta it consists of Pridhvi (Earth) and Ap Massage is not a new concept. It is (water) elements in it, there by it also can bethe earliest known form of healing developed perceived by the skin also. Because of theover years of constant observation. Almost earthy element, it should and must have evenevery culture has employed massage, includ- a common smell but it is not observed suching Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Japanese, and they have their own smells of different.Chinese, Swedish and the Ayurvedic man- The Abhyanga is said to be an exter-age by Indians. What are described additional nal Oleation (Bahya sneha) therapy describedtechniques here comes under Naturopathy in dinacharya, ritu charya and also in Snehasystem of healing is a muscular manipula- Vicharana i.e. roots of administration of unc-tive Swedish oriental technique. tuousness. Massage is a systematic rubbing andmanipulation of the body to prevent stiffness,promoting circulation and positive health.Massage is one of the most valuable of re-medial measures. When combined with wa-ter treatment accomplishes wonderful results.Basis of massage is touch, and there is aincreasing medical evidence to show thegreat value of touch.OILATION: The Abhyanga or system of massagein Ayurveda gives its message to achieve abetter perfect health in normal and diseasedstate. This massage even though practicedwith out unctuous material it is preferred todo with unctuous materials under differentexplained methods, as it produces lubrica-tion. The unctuous quality is in Sneha Dravyaand its use is said as snehana or Oleation.Oleation is made for the externally to createsoftness. Snehapana is a special internal Initially when human are developing,Oleation therapy meant as pre Panchakarma they were learned about the importance ofprocedure. This procedure is specially to get pressure and its effect. They realized that thethe Doshas, which are in Sakha (tissues) to pressure can give relief from pain and it canKosta (Alimentary canal). Here Sneha be used as a therapeutic technique. As ex-Dravyas (either Ghee, Oil, Tallow, Bone mar- ternally to purify the body they were taking bathrow or a combination of above) are given in- with water. In that process they observed theternally in specific dose for a prescribed pe- unctuousness of water and searched for ariod or externally used for Abhyanga for the better unctuous medicinal effective sub-said effect. stance. The Oil i.e. Til oil was said to be the Sneha derived from “Sniha” which best unctuous and have the effect of nullify-means adhesion, sticky, wettish, unctuous, ing or pacifying the Doshas which are in theoily and bending or an unctuous liquid. Sneha vitiated condition.is defined as affection, oily, oil, and softness, Cross-references and usage of mas-which runs, which flows, liquidy and soft. Out sage is witnessed in Bible and practiced byof five maha bhootas or basic elements, only Hypocrites, Galen, Pare and most famousAp (water) maha bhoota having unctuous- physicians of western medicine.
MENTION OF ABHYANGA IN SEASONAL b) by using non metallic objects - Four variet-REGIMEN: ies of unctuous substance In almost all seasons except B. Yukti vyapashraya AbhyangaGreeshma (only lepa) in all other seasons a) by using hands massage - lepa, abhyanga,Abhyanga is recommended as Abhyanga, etc.Utsadana or Pragharshana. b) by using legs – PadaghataQUALITIES OF SNEHA (ABHYANGA) 2. According to the site of operation: Sec-DRAVYAThere are nine qualities explained by ond classification defined according to the siteCharaka. They are – of operation of massaging. It is divided into 1. Drava - liquid two sub groups as regional or local and gen- 2. Sookshama - minuteness eral. In local it can be further divided in to or- 3. Sara - flowing gan based and site based. Siro abhyanga, 4. Snigdha - unctuous padabhyanga are explained in this context. In 5. Pichila - gelatinous Ayurveda no reference of organ based mas- 6. Guru - heavy sage but with interpretation to marma therapy 7. Seeta - cold we can adopt organ massage as being done 8. Manda - slow in some areas of the world. For the general 9. Mrudu - soft or sarvadaihika abhyanga the seven standardOut of the above said qualities some are not postures are used for 35 minits. When everseen in many of the Sneha Dravyas. local abhyanga is indicated only 15 minuts orCONTRA INDICATIONS FOR ABHYANGA: according to the requirement one can opt the Ajeerna time schedule. Ama Peedita A. General Abhyanga - sarvadaihika Taruna jwara B. Local or Regional Abhyanga People suffer from Kapha predominant a) Organ massage - kidney massage disorders b) Site wise massage - padabhyanga All Kapha personalities 3. According to the pressure applied the Santarpana janya diseases division is as follows. After Vasti 1. lepa - application of oil over the body2. After Vamana Abhyanga - application of unctuous sub- After Virechana stances along with necessiate pressureCLASSIFICATION OF ABHYANGA: 3. Udvartana or shareera parimarjana - re-1. According to materials used verse application of pressure2. According to region 4. Udghrshana - rubbing with ununctuous3. According to pressure exerted substances (Rookshana vidhi)4. According to Guna of dravya 5. Utsadana - rubbing of unctuous pasts1. Based on the materials used: First clas- 6. Mardana - application of more pressuresification of Abhyanga is based on the direct towards midline of bodyor indirect methods based on the materials 7. Unmardana - holding and pulling of theused. In tradition people use it as Daiva musclesvyapashraya Chikitsa especially for inflamma-tory conditions offered massage with metalrods apart from a standard medicinal oil mas-sage. These metal substances are not unc-tuous but soft. Pressure is exerted with themgive rise reasonable results. This group con-sists of medicinal oil massage in associationwith manual pressure. This can be dividedinto two once again, either by using hands orlegs.A. Daiva vyapashraya Abhyangaa) by using metallic objects - Iron rods
4. According to Guna of Dravya He did not specify how much time It is clear that we use unctuous ma- Abhyanga to be done in case of Sukra gataterial for the Abhyanga. Out of such materi- Vyadhi. But we can consider with above ma-als Ayurveda offers four best unctuous ma- terial, further Abhyanga can lead to Sukra. Ifterials viz. Taila, Ghrita, Vasa and Majja (Oil, we follow above schedule it takes approxi-Ghee, Tallow and Marrow). Based on the mately 5 minutes for each posture Abhyangaqualities of the material used it gives effect and totally 35 minutes. When it is to be doneover the doshic triad. A qualified and experi- for only one part then 15 minutes massage isenced physician selects the materials ac- recommended.cording to the necessity in association to the BEFORE THE START OF MASSAGEspecified Dravya or Dravya vargas which are (1) Massage should be done in a comfort-capable of pacifying the Doshas and dis-eases. a. Oil b. Ghee c. Tallow d. MarrowPOSTURES OF ABHYANGA: There areseven postures for proper Abhyanga. 1. Sitting 2. Supine (lay on back) Sitting 3. Left lateral 4. Dorsal (lay on abdo- men) Supine able environment. Choose a warm, peaceful room with dim lights, with light music at the 5. Right lateral background. 6. Supine (lay on (2) Person who takes massage to be made back) to lie down on a table with height does not 7. Sitting strain the back of the massager RULES FOR MASSAGER Left Right 1. One who gives massage should be abso- lateral Lateral lutely relaxed. 2. Massager should keep the back straight throughout massage. 3. Massager should never stay in one posi-TIMING OF ABHYANGA: tion for long to avoid gravitational pull.According to Dalhana, commentator of 4. Should wear loose fitting, washable clothes,Susruta Samhita has given elaborated sci- flat shoes, or go barefoot.entific explanation about Abhyanga. Daily 5. Massager should use the weight of the bodymassage of - to give rhythm and depth of massage.300 matras = 95 sec. Enters into Hair fol- 6. Hands and wrists of the massager shouldlicles be flexible and warm.400 matras = 133 sec. enters into Skin TIPS FOR A GOOD MASSAGE500 matras = 160 sec. enters into Rakta 1. Most important element of massage is600 matras = 190 sec. enters into Mamsa rhythm.700 matras = 228 sec. enters into Medas 2. Massage should be pleasurable constantly800 matras = 245 sec. enters into Asti keep inquiring to find out any of the move-900 matras = 285 sec. enters into Majja ments that is painful or unpleasant.
3. Mould your hands to the cantor of the body. 6. Massage the entire right leg and do right4. One hand should be always in contact with knee and hip joint movementsthe body of the person who takes massage 7. Massage the entire left hand, followed bythroughout. wrist, allow, and shoulder joints movements.5. Vary the pressure as per the need of the 8. Massage the entire right hand followed byperson. wrist, elbow, shoulder joint movements.6. Concentration on massage is important 9. Massage the abdomen,should not talk unnecessarily while massag- 10. Massage the chest.ing. 11. Massage the entire back7. A massager should be totally relaxed while 12. Massage head, neck, and face followedmassaging. neck movements.8. One should not worry if movements seen DURATIONchimsy with continuation the rhythm develops. Form 30 to 45 minutes.PRECAUTIONS BASIC TECHNIQUES A) STROKING: Flowing movements of strok- ing form the basic of a massage and it is most frequently used one. It is a smooth upward movement is done in 4 ways.1. Massage should not be given if one is suf-fering infection, contagious skin disease orhigh fever.2. Massager should not massage if he has a) UP WORD STROKING: place one handfever or infections disease. on the part to be massaged move the other3. Massage should not be given incase of hand in upward direction keep making con-acute pains of the muscles and joints. tinuous movements with one hand at a time4. Never massage a burse, skin infection or with both hands.abscess, or inflammatory conditions of lowerlimbs such as thrombophlebitis, vericoseveins.5. Stomach of pregnant women would not bemassaged.MASSAGE SEQUENCEMassage sequence should always follow thisorder:1. Lubricate the part to be massaged.2. Massage the left foot, do left ankle jointmovements3. Massage the leg4. Do knee joint and hip joint movements5. Massage the right foot, do right ankle jointmovements.
b) FAN STROKING: Done on wider area like These friction movements are best givenchest abdomen and back. Glide both hands around joints, shoulder blades, and soles of feet hands and legs. a) Rotary friction: Place both hands on theslightly in upward direction and slightly pullthe hands to sides’ fan out your hands andagain return to original place. Continue thismovement 3-4 timesc) CIRCULAR STROKING: Place bothhands on one side of the body with 15 cmapart, then stroke round and round in widecurves, making a circle, Arms cross as onehand completes the circle. One hand doeswhole circle while the other does only half acircle. Keep one hand over the other arm, andcontinue stroking with the other hand. Placeyour hand gently on the skin and repeat.d) THUMB STROKKING: On smaller areas,stroke with thumbs, either with one thumb or area to be massaged and roll gently in the upward direction b) Spiral friction: Place one hand around the area to be massaged and more in the direc- tion resembles a spring. C) PERCUSSION: Percussion movementsboth the thumbs.B) FRICTION: Friction bests done with thefour fingers, but can be done with just thethumbs or the palm of the hand. These arecircular movements that go deep into themuscle. There are rotary and spiral frictions.
are striking, slicing, backing, chopping move- d) Pummeling: Form hands into loose fistsments done in a rapid rhythmic motion. They and with relaxed wrist start beating with bonnyare brisk and bouncy, useful on fleshy, bulky, movements with softer side of fist.muscular areas. Never percussion move- D) POUNDING: With your fists loosely held,ments on bonny areas never percussion using hard, bonny movements start knockingmovements on bonny areas. Percussion on the fleshy part of the body with knucklesmovements are further divided into varieties. side of fist.a) Clapping: Hold both hands like a cup andkeep rhythmically tapping one hand at a timecontinuously and rhythmically, in upward di- E) KNUCKLING: Knuckling is small circling strokes employed on shoulders, chest, palms and feet for relief or treatment. Cure the hand into loose fists and with the knuckles of therection. fist move round in circular movements.b) Tapping: Hold both hands with soles of F) VIBRATIONS: Rapid shaking or tremblingthe hands facing each other and gently over movement on the skin’s surface without brak-one hand after other with finger tapping the ing the contact. Fingers or the palm of thearea gently and rhythmically with bonny move- hand is used there are few variations in thements. movement.c) Hacking: Holding both the hands firmly to- a) Static vibration: Keep the palm of thegether, loosening the wrist loosely start hit- hand on the bulky fleshy area and give a gentleting the area hard and movements be bonny shaky and trembling movement for some timein upward direction and then move to another area.
b) Running vibration: Keeping the palm b) Circular pressure:firmly placed on the body move the hands Press and then makecreating shaky and trembling movements. small penetrating, cir-G) KNEADING: This movement is like mix- cular and movements circling the skin against the underlying muscle. SOME SPECIAL LOCAL MASSAGES BACK MASSAGE: Back massage is useful in Relief of pain from muscle spasm. Relaxing the back muscle. Entire sympa- thetic, parasympathetic nervous system gets to need up. Relieving broncho-spasm in Asthma and Bronchitis ABDOMINAL MASSAGE: Often people find it uncomfortableing the wheat flour with water before making while taking ab-Chapathis. It is useful on fleshy parts of the dominal massagebody. due to the ticklinga) Light kneading: On less fleshy areas such sensation felt whileas shoulders and arms lift, squeeze and roll taking massage. It isthe flesh between thumb and fingers of one useful in -hand glide it towards the other hand, and - Relieving abdomi-squeeze the flesh with the second hand. nal pain and dis-H) PETRISSAGE: Method is as same as light comfortkneading but done with more pressure. - Relieving constipationI) PRESSURE: Deep, direct pressure to re- - Weight reductionlease tension and fatigue of muscles, on ei- - Stimulating liver and pancreas. Hence use-ther side of spire and around shoulders. ful in the treatment of diabetes mellitus, hy- pertension. HEAD MASSAGE: Head massage is highly invigorating and relaxing. useful in - - Relieving headaches, migraine - Dandruff - Hair growth by stimulation on scalp. FACE MASSAGE: -it is more of cosmetic importance. It is very use- ful in: - -Relieving tension, anxi- ety, headaches spe- cially frontal - Treatment of sinusitisa) Static pressure: Place the pads of thumbs -Clearing dark circleson the skin and gradually lean on to them. around eyes.Press for few seconds, then release and glide - Treatment of acneto the next point.
OVERALL BENEFITS OF MASSAGE tabolite found by researchers in depression 1. Overall well being and schizophrenia. Giving albumin bound of Individual protein tryptophan to the brain with proper diet 2. Relaxation of body and massage should theoretically increase and mind brain serotonin. In practise the abhyanga re- 3. Relief of pain from lieves systems like those caused by seroto- aching muscles nin depletion, anxiety, irritability, etc. 4. Relief from fatigue The fluids of internal environment sub- stiffness of the joints jected for movement because of osmotic 5. Increased blood pressure and hydrostatic pressure. Here circulation to skin abhyanga causes mechanical hydrostatic surface improving pressure in the extra cellular compartment i.e. skin function in the peripheral vascular area. A forceful ex- 6. Removal of im- pulsion from peripheral vessels causes pure verious blood splanchenic pooling of the blood. It helps fluid7. Removal of wastes through lymphatic to enter in to viscera and tissues and dilutesdrainage the toxins accumulated. When it refills the8. Relaxation of central, sympathetic, and peripheral vessels after the completion of pro-parasympathetic nervous systems cedure the diluted toxins are brought in to9. Improvement of overall functioning ability general circulation and in due course of elimi-of internal organs nation procedures such as Vamana and10. Improvement of functioning of the endo- Virechana they are oozed or pulled in to gutcrine glands. and expelled.11. Useful as an adjuvant for the weight re- 2. Physical pressure causing electricalduction charge to the body - phizoelectricity12. Useful in improving rest and sleep Phizo electricity is said as pressure13. Enhances bodies immunity. electricity. Today we witness different modesCOMPLICATIONS OF of generation of electricity, such as thermal, EXCESSIVE MASSAGE hydro, nuclear etc. The phizo electricity is1. Increases Kapha derived from friction and pressure. This theory2. Increases Medas was invented in 1880. Phizoelectricity devel-3. Decreases Agni i.e. digestive fire oped from Tormalin quartz is more used in4. Develops Ama in system Watch, Microphone and Phonographic indus-5. Develops Glani tries.6. Develops Jwara (fever) Here in Ayurveda we may not be us-DYNAMICS OF ABHYANGA: ing the term of phizo electricity, but the tech-1. Physical pressure moving the fluids in nique leads to the same effect. When utiliz-internal environment ing a medium of unctuous substance to re- The Abhyanga is acting over the skin, duce the friction, a good amount of rhythm ifwhich is a seat of Vata. The skin not only a uses a specific pressure developed and cre-seat of Vata but also for Lasika (lymph). Thus ates magnetic field and electricity in the body.the lymphatic drainage will be the prime ef- At present context we have to remember thatfect of Abhyanga. Lymph possesses a rela- human body is made of metallic and also non-tively large amount of the amino acid tryp- metallic compositions and subjected for mag-tophan, especially when compared with the netic meridian. From physics, we learned thatdietary intake. It likewise has a large amount any object is being rubbed towards one-di-of albumin (protein), glucose and histaminase rection get electricity charged. The same is(breaks down histamine). Hypothetically, going to happen in the body surface area andblood aminoacids like tryptophan increase the charged molecules will attract the mol-after massage. An increase in plasma tryp- ecules of susceptive and drag them fromtophan subsequently causes a parallel in- sakha to kosta, by interrupting thecrease in the neurotransmitter (chemical be- doshadooshya sammurchana.tween nerve endings) at motor end plates, Secondly by such charging, the con-and serotonin, which is made from tryptophan. ductivity of nerves will be increased. The nor-Serotonin has been implicated in several mal velocity of electric conductivity in a nervephychiatric diseases with low levels of me- fiber is said as 0.5 meter per second which
may go up to 100 meters per second. In nerve synthesized from tryptophan is a neurofiber electricity is discharged in regular inter- chemical causes pleasantness and calmingvals and moves in circular pattern. Interrup- effects in the process of massage. Apart fromtion to the momentum or hyper electrical dis- the effect said the toxins that are settled incharges results in to the state of disease. the nerve fiber or myelinated sheet and inter-Treatment is said as rectification of the state rupting the conductivity of the nerve impulseof disturbance. Thus the method of Abhyanga are drained out by the exertion of physicalthat depolarizes the excessive electrical pressure on peripheral nerve endings, espe-charge in exited state of nerves and also in- cially motor and also sensory.duces perfect charged phizo electricity to 6. Physical pressure acting over Hor-bring into normalcy. monal controls3. Physical pressure acting as counter ir- Melitonin, a newly discovered brainritant hormone is rhythmically secreted in the pi- While doing Abhyanga pressure is neal gland of the brain. Radioactive tryptophanapplied. That pressure acts as an irritant to has been found to accumulate in pineal, sothe surface and the effect of irritation produced we can assume the pineal uses it to formas the effect of inflammation and color - rise serotonin and melatonin. The pineal gland hasof local temperature and dolor - mild pain is a diurnal rhythm and is sensitive to light. Dur-produced. And robor -rising the peripheral ing the day the pineal produces high levels ofvascularisation is witnessed at the end of pro- serotonin, and at night produces high levelscedure, which fill the splanchenum during the of melatonin. Melatonin has been found toprocedure. This shuffling of extra cellular com- decrease thyroid activity, adrenal and gonadalpartment fluid makes the sedentary or accu- activity as well as diminish growth hormonemulated impurities at the level of tissues to and melanocyte stimulating hormone levels.move, said in Ayurveda as movement of In all melatonin decreases protein synthesisDoshas from sakha to kosta. In various con- in the hypothalmus and pituitary resulting in aditions of Vata disorders where pain is a decrease in six of the seven anterior pituitarysymptom, the counter irritation produced by hormones (three of six confirmed in man).massage cures by its classical color and Melatonin turns down the body’s hormonalrobor actions, by which phagocytosis occurs. activity. Giving melaronin to human results in4. Physical pressure acting over skin sleep or sedation (depending upon the dose The main objective of Abhyanga is and way of administration), vivid dreams, EEGcreating softness in the external skin and changes, which resemble those of a medita-smoothing of internal viscera and tissues. tive state, and a feeling of well being and mod-When softness is induced in skin, the skin erate elation.becomes lustrous, attains complexion and Ayurveda explains the action ofcolour. More over an oily or unctuous skin is Abhyanga as Brimhana, Sodhana andgoing to prevent the body from exposure of Shamana. The further processional analysisheat and dust. The depositions of dust and has to be elucidated by scientific methodol-tidy particles are going to cleansed and ogy under the shade of scientific knowledge.cleaned physically by applying the pressure,especially procedures such as udgharshana.5. Physical pressure acting over Neuralcontrols At motor end plates acetylcholine actsas transmitter in the presence of Calcium ionand facilitates synaptic action potential. Thenerve fibers have a myelinated sheet wherelipids are the chief ingredients. Na (sodium)and K (potassium) ions are responsible forrepolarisation in the nerve fiber. Out of elec-trolytes, calcium, Hydrogen, sodium and po-tassium produce depolarization and chlorineand potassium are responsible for hyperpolarisation. This action with the associationof melatonin a byproduct of serotonin also