Nasya is the process or therapy in which medicated oil, ghee, powder or fresh juice is instilled through the nasal passage. It is one among the Panchakarma therapies (cleansing) mentioned in Ayurveda. Nasya is also known as Shirovirechana or Navana. It is recommended in diseases above the neck, i.e. diseases of eyes, ears, nose, throat and head. Nose is the gateway to the brain and any medicine when applied through the nasal passage will reach the brain and cleanses toxins, nourishes the nervous system and cures any diseases pertaining to head, eyes, ears, nose or throat.
According to its function, Nasya is of three types;
1. Virechana or Shodhana Nasya (Cleansing)
In this type of Nasya, oil or ghee processed with appropriate herbs in the form of a paste or decoction mixed with honey and rock salt. It is mainly indicated to treat Kapha type of diseases such as headaches, heaviness of head, swelling, tumour or worm infestation in the head, cold, nasal congestion, eye disease, diseases of the throat, swelling, enlargement of glands, cysts, tumours, skin disease, itching and stiffness. It is useful in conditions like sticky feeling of head, excess secretions, excess salivation, anorexia, loss of taste, epilepsy, loss of smell and rhinitis.
2. Brimhana or Snehana Nasya (Nourishing)
This type of Nasya utilizes oil or ghee which is capable of lubricating and nourishing the organs and tissues above shoulder. It is mainly given in Vata predominant diseases like migraine, hemicrania, diseases of the head due to worms, constriction or pulsation of the eyes, defects of the vision, toothache, earache, difficulty in getting up from sleep, loss of voice, sleep, dryness of the nose and mouth, difficulty in speaking, in opening of eyes, and in difficult movements of the arms and frozen shoulder.
3. Shamana Nasya (Pacifying)
In this type of Nasya medicated ghee, milk or decoction is used. It is indicated in diseases due to the vitiation of blood and Pitta- like premature wrinkles, premature greying of the hair, hair loss, dandruff, redness of the eyes, blackish discoloration on the face, bleeding from the nose and in discolored patches on face.
Based on the nature of medication administered Nasya is further classified into;
1. Marsha and Pratimarsha Nasya: medicated oil or ghee is instilled through the nose Marsha nasya: Medicated oil is administered in particular doses for best, moderate and least cleansing.
• Uttamamatra (Maximum dose); 10 drops
• Madhyamamatra (Medium dose): 8 drops
• Heena matra (Minimum dose): 6 drops
Pratimarsha Nasya:PratimarshaNasya can be given daily and even in all the seasons at morning and evening. Its dose is 2 drops.
2. Avapeedaka Nasya: Medicated paste is used for nasal application
3. Pradhamana Nasya: Medicated powder (churna) is instilled into nasal cavity.
• Stiffness or pain of head, neck, or jaw
• Headache and Migraine
• Heaviness of head
• Hoarseness of voice
• Twitching or drooping eyelids
• Tingling sensations on face
• Obstruction in throat
• Tonsillitis, Laryngitis, Pharyngitis
• Speech disorders and loss of speech
• Bell’s Palsy (facial paralysis)
• Unconsciousness (fainting)
• Pituitary or space-occupying tumours
• Depleted sexual energy
• Any disorders above clavicle
• Children below 7 years
• Aged people above 80 years
• Just before or after shower/bath
• Indigestion or full stomach
• Hunger or Hypoglycaemia
• Thirst or Dehydration
• Over exertion
• Physical exercise
• Acute fever
• Just having done purgation or enema
Nasya therapy comprises of three stages
1. Poorva karma (Pre operative measures)
Includes facial oil massage and application of steam to face, forehead, head, ears and neck. Special care is taken to prevent eyes from heat. This pre procedure helps to loosen the doshas which adhere to the channels (srotas).
2. Pradhana karma (Main procedure)
This is the main step of Nasya and includes instillation of lukewarm medication in both the nostrils, alternately, with the help of proper instrument like dropper. Then the patient is advised to inhale deeply so that the medicine goes to the channels in the brain and sinuses. The sole, shoulder, neck, ear and palm are gently massaged after the administration of the medicine.
3. Paschat karma (Post operative measures)
After the main procedure the patient is advised to gargle (Kavala) lukewarm water to cleanse his mouth followed by inhalation of medicated smoke (Dhoomapana).
Nasya: Mode of Action
The medicaments administered through the nostrils pervade into the nervous and venous system (Blood circulation) present in and around the nostrils. Then they evacuate the morbidity present or distributed in nearby area. Thus it relieves the blockage of the channels and the diseases are cured effectively. Medicated oils / juices / powders stimulate the vital centres of brain to overcome specific diseases. It is well explained in Ayurveda classics like Ashtanga Samgrahathat Nasa (nose) being the gate way to Shiras (head),the drug administrated through nostrils reaches Shringataka, a Siramarma by Nasa Srota and spreads in the Murdha (Brain), taking routes of Netra (Eyes), Shrotra (Ears), Kantha (Throat) and stretches the morbid Doshas from above the neck and expels them from Uttamanga(Head).
Commonly used Herbs and Formulations for Nasya
Common herbs used for Nasya include holy basil (Tulsi), long pepper (Pippali), Achyranthes aspera (Apamarga), Embeliaribes (Vidanga), black pepper (Maricha), garlic, ginger (Ardraka), turmeric (Haridra), Sweet Flag (Vacha), asafoetida (Hingu) and rock salt (Saindhava). Some common Nasya herbal preparations such as Anu Taila, Shadbindu Taila, Narayana Taila, Ksheerabala Taila Avarti, Dhanwantaram Taila Avarti and Marichyadi NasyaTaila are used for the treatment of various health problems.
Benefits of Nasya
• It enhances the activity of sense organs and protects the person from diseases pertaining to head
• Lubricates the nasal passage
• Keeps the eyes, nose and ear healthy.
• It prevents the early aging process
• Prevents premature greying of hair
• Relieves from headache, earache and clears the throat
• Releases stress and tension from shoulder and neck area
• Helps in curing sinusitis
• Relieves migraine and heaviness of head
• Improves mood and emotions thereby providing mental wellbeing
Nasya therapy opens and cleanses the channels of the head and helps to improve the flow of vital force of life (Prana), which has a direct influence on the functioning of the brain. It is a preventive, curative as well as rejuvenation therapy that helps in increasing the general wellbeing of an individual.