Vashpa Sweda – Herbal Steam Bath

Vashpa Swedana or Sudation therapy is one among the Shada Upkramas (six treatment modalities) mentioned in Ayurveda. It is also one of the important and mandatory preparatory procedures after Snehana (Oleation therapy) for Panchakarma treatments. In addition, it is an independent therapeutic measure for the management of many diseases, particularly of Vata and Kapha dominance. The properties attributed to Svedana are Ushna (hot), Tikshna (sharp), Sara (mobile), Drava (fluidity), Snigdha (soothing or oleating), Ruksha (dry), Sukshma (minute), Sthira (immobile), and Guru (heavy).

Swedana therapy is prescribed as a preparatory measure for Shodhana as well as an independent therapy for many disorders where it is indicated.

Vashpa Swedana
Vashpa Sweda is one of the most common types of Swedana being practiced. It means a steam bath of the whole body. It is a type of fomentation (swedana) in which the client is exposed (whole body except head and neck) to steam. For this purpose, a special wooden cabin of 7 feet X 2 feet x 2 feet size is prepared to lie in the supine position or for sitting position 5 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet cabin is needed. It is covered from all the sides except one window, which is kept on one side for keeping the heating stove. The wooden top of this cabin for the supine position must have small holes of about one square inch, so that the vapor may pass through it. At the one end of the table, a protrusion is made so that the patient may keep his head on it comfortably. It is covered with a cotton bed sheet.

Through the side window, a hot plate is kept on which a vessel of about 10 liters capacity is placed in which the coarse powder of the herbs with water is put. Then it is heated and when steam starts coming out, the patient who has already taken oil massage is asked to lie down on the table. The body should be covered by a cotton bed sheet. The patient’s head is kept on the protruded part of the table so that it may be saved from the heat.

The sweating of the patient occurs by the steam coming through the holes in the top of the table. The patient remains on the top of the cabin till he gets the symptoms of proper Svedana. This type of Sudation is very suitable where the whole-body sweating is indicated or as Purvakarma (preparatory procedure) in Panchakarma.

Benefits of Vashpa sweda
• Excretes out the metabolic waste and harmful substances (Mala) situated in the subtle channels by dissolving them in the sweat.
• Improves appetite and digestion
• Helps in softening of skin, improvement in complexion as well as functions of the skin.
• Aids in opening and cleansing of the microchannels.
• Helps in disorders like excessive sleep, laziness, drowsiness, stiffness of the joints, heaviness and cold.
• Restores the normal function of the joints and excretes out the harmful toxins (Ama) and metabolites along with sweat reducing the heaviness, body ache and fatigue
• Provides lightness in the body by opening all microchannels
• Normalizes the aggravated Vata and Kapha dosha in the body
• Stimulates sense organs
• Provides relaxation to body and mind and rejuvenates the body.

Indications of Vashpa Swedana
• This procedure is indicated where full-body Swedana or sweating is needed.
• In all types of Vata disorders
• In all cases where massage is done
• Before all Shodhana (Panchakarma) procedures
• Multiple joint Arthritis
• Sciatica
• Hemiplegia
• Insomnia
• Skin diseases

Contraindications of Vashpa Sweda
• Immediately after meal
• Open wounds
• Persons suffering from indigestion, fever, and diarrhea
• Persons suffering from Pitta diseases like bleeding disorders (Raktapitta)

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