Enema Therapy: Basti

Basti: Enema Therapy

Vata's predominant site is the colon. Ayurvedic basti involves the introduction into the rectum of herbal concoctions of sesame oil, and certain herbal preparations in a liquid medium. Basti, is the most effective treatment of vata disorders, although many enemas over a prescribed period of time are usually required. It relieves constipation, distention, chronic fever, cold, sexual disorders, kidney stones, heart pain, backache, sciatica and other pains in the joints. Many other vata disorders such as arthritis, rheumatismgout, muscle spasms and headaches may also be treated with basti.

Vata is a very active principle in pathogenesis. If we can control vata through the use of basti, we have gone a long way in going to the rootcause of the vast majority of diseases.

Vata is the main etiological factor in the manifestation of diseases. It is the motive force behind the elimination and retention of faeces, urine, bile and other excreta.

There are eight main types of basti, according to traditional texts, each with their own indications and contra-indications as listed below.

  • Anuvasana (oil enema) is used in pure vata disorders and when a person is having excess hunger or dryness related to vata imbalances.
  • Niruha-Asthapana (decoction enema) is used, among other conditions, for evacuation of vata, nervous diseases, gastro-intestinal vata conditions, gout, certain fever conditions, unconsciousness, certain urinary conditions, appetite, pain, hyperacidity and heart diseases.
  • Uttara Basti (through the urethra with men or vagina with women) is used for selected semen and ovulation disorders and for some problems involving painful urination or bladder infections. This is not to be used for someone with diabetes.
  • Matra Basti (daily oil enema) is used by someone emaciated by overwork or too much exercise, too much heavy lifting, walking too long of a distance, too much sexual activity or someone with chronic vata disorders. It does not need to be accompanied by any strict dietary restriction or daily routine and can be administered, in the appropriate cases, in all seasons. It gives strength, promotes weight and helps elimination of waste products.
  • Karma Basti (schedule of 30 bastis),
  • Kala Basti (schedule of 15 bastis; 10 oil+ 5 decoction)
  • Yoga Basti (schedule of 8 bastis; 5 oil + 3 decoction).
  • Bruhana Basti (nutritional enema) is used for providing deep nutrition in select conditions. Traditionally, highly nutritive substances have been used, such as warm milk, meat broth, bone marrow soup and herbs like shatavari or ashwagandha.

General Indications for Basti:

Constipation low back ache gout rheumatism sciatica arthritis nervous disorders vata headache emaciation muscular atrophy

General Contra-Indications for Basti (include but are not limited to the following):

Enema therapy should not be used if the patient is suffering from diarrhoea, bleeding of the rectum, chronic indigestion, breathlessness, diabetes, fever, emaciation, severe anaemia, pulmonary tuberculosis, old age or for children below the age of seven years.

For oil enemas: diabetesobesity, indigestion, low agni, enlarged liver or spleen, unconsciousness, tuberculosis and cough. 

For decoction enemas: debility, hiccough, hemorrhoids, inflammation of anus, piles, diarrhea, pregnancy, ascites, diabetes and some conditions involving painful or difficult breathing. 

For nutritional enemas: diabetes, obesity, lymphatic obstruction, ascites. 

For urethra or vaginal enemas: diabetes

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