Nasya in Ayurveda
If you want to repair anything inside a house, you must be able to get inside it. As we saw earlier, according to Ayurveda, the nose is the door to the head region. The nasal passage is the most critical route of medicine intake in migraine treatment. Therefore nasal drops are the fundamental treatment for all kinds of migraines in Ayurveda.
By this week, you might already be taking Ayurvedic nasal drops like Anu tailam, Shat-Bindu Tailam, etc. for emergency migraine relief. In this blog, I will tell you some details about how to use these nasal drops systematically to get the best benefit.
Anatomy of Nasya
The term Nasya comes from “nasa” or the nose.
Nasya or nasal drops work on the nervous system more than any other part of the nasal passage. The primary focus of nasya is Shrigataka marma. Shrigataka marma is a vital point at the end of the nasal passage, which controls activity in the facial region. It is similar to a physical entity in the nose called Pterygopalatine ganglion.
The pterygopalatine ganglion is connected to almost all the parts of the head. It is the largest parasympathetic ganglion in the head. Pterygopalatine ganglion controls the secretions of lacrimal glands, nasal mucous glands, paranasal sinuses, palate, and pharynx. On the other side, it is connected to facial and maxillary nerves as well. It is also connected to the sympathetic system through internal carotid plexus. Pterygopalatine ganglion controls the sensation and motor response of the entire face region.
For anatomical details of Pterygopalatine ganglion, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2261IPz3W8
Physiology of Nasya
The nerves are covered with a thin sheath that protects the nerve signals and prevents rapid nerve deterioration. However, in some people, the protective covering of the nerves becomes fragile and ineffective. Unprotected and dry nerves are prone to irritation and pain. In the long run, the unlaminated nerves lose their signals on the way to their destination. This condition results in memory loss and dementia. Therefore, Migraine is sometimes also associated with dementia. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326303.php
Looking from an Ayurveda perspective, The primary feature of vata dosha is dryness. For more information, please visit dosha qualities. Because of reasons mentioned in an earlier blog, dryness increases in the body, and vata dosha gets vitiated. The deterioration process of tissue cells and nerves results in migraine pain.
As the nerves in the cranium get irritated or hyperactive, they cause pain. Their irritation is transferred to Pterygopalatine ganglion. That’s why Migraine also results in visual impairment, pain in eyes, ears, loss of sense of smell, etc. Migraine in Ayurveda
The higher nerves shed their hyperactivity to the Pterygopalatine ganglion. What if we can turn Pterygopalatine ganglion into a sink for all nervous hyperactivity? It will be able to absorb all irritation and pain and relieve us from migraines. In people, who do not suffer from migraines, the nerves are better lubricated and do not get hyperactive, thus no pain.
However, we can reverse the above process by transferring medicated moisture via Pterygopalatine ganglion to the deeper cranium nerves. And this result can be effectively achieved by nasya or Ayurvedic nasal drops.
General Procedure for Nasya
There are many types of nasya in Ayurveda. It is a complete branch of body cleansing in itself. However, here, I will describe Snehana (moisturizing) nasya that is safe for everyday use by everyone. However, try not to use this nasya in children below 15 years. All kinds of nasya require a certain amount of control over breathing and willingness to tolerate a possible pain.
For all children below 15 years, use small amount of cow’s ghee, drop by drop, enough to moisturize the inner lining of the nose. Usually, the use of cow’s ghee as a nasal moisturizer is enough to solve all major problems like stuffy nose, congestion, body ache, etc. in children. Oral intake of cow’s ghee along with food is best tolerated and most effective in small children.
Back to nasya treatment – The following procedure suits people of all prakrati (body types).
Choose your Nasya oil
There are several options for Nasya. You can use edible quality of almond oil, cow’s ghee, olive, or sesame oil for nasya treatment. For faster and better relief, you must use Anu tailam or Shat Bindu Tailam. However, these oils might create a little painful experience. Probably, you can start with cow’s ghee, the mildest option, and gradually become more comfortable with other options.
Nasal Drops according to their effects
- Shad Bindu Taila
- Anu Taila
- Cow’s Ghee
- Almond Oil
- Sesame Oil
- Olive oil
Shad Bindu tailam is highly recommended not only for migraines but for all kinds of head region disorders right from headache to facial paralysis.
Anu thailam is another excellent remedy for migraines. Also recommended for everyday use by Acharya Charak even for a healthy person. It is a complete health supplement for all the organs in the head region.
In the beginning, you can start using two to three drops of these oils as nasal drops. You can increase up to 8 to 10 drops per nostril.
It might pain to use all the classical ayurvedic oils as nasal drops. But if you are successful in consistent use of these Ayurvedic oils, you will never face migraines again.
Check your sensitivity for the chosen nasal drops
Step 1: First, apply them on your toes and leave overnight.
Step 2: If there is a reaction in the form of rashes, itching, etc. on the toes, repeat the same check with other oil options.
Step 3: If there is no reaction, then put one drop of the chosen nasal drop in the evening on day 1
Step 4: Gradually increase up to 3 drops per nose. If you don’t face any problem, the nasal drops will work well for you. You can do this checking for 4-5 days.
Avoid mixing any essential oil in Nasya drops.
Avoid using castor oil, mustard oil, flaxseed oil, and coconut oil without medical supervision.
Please read the full procedure before starting nasya treatment. You will need prior preparations in many places.
Vata dosha is the fundamental cause of migraines. According to Acharya Sushrut and Vagbhatta, one should use nasya in the evening time. The evening is the time vata dosha is dominant, and therefore, medicine will have its best effect. Besides, the prana vayu (vata subtype that controls respiration and brain activity) is predominant during the evening time. The approximate time is 4 – 8 pm with maximum vata dominance. It is considered proper to avoid nasya right at the time of sunset (range of 20-30 min time window).
Pre Nasya Procedure
Shir Swedana (head sweating)
For best absorption of nasya and eradication of kapha(mucus) based obstructions, all the blood vessels in the head region must be well dilated. Mild head fomentation or Ayurvedic head spa can achieve this state. Head fomentation with gentle head massage also helps to improve blood circulation and eliminate dryness.
However, if you are not able to follow the first step of head fomentation due to any reason, skip to the next.
Step 1: Check your sensitivity for massage oil(mustard/sesame/olive/castor oil/almond oil) by applying a small amount of it on your toes. Let the oil sit overnight. If you have no itching, rashes, etc. on the toes in the morning, the respective massage oil is appropriate for your head massage.
You can use any other massage oil as well according to suitability. Coconut oil has a cooling temperament and is not the first choice of coldish vata dosha. Almond oil and castor oil are the best choices.
Day 5: If you are planning to do nasya at 5 pm, plan to start the below procedure at 4 pm. Avoid eating or drinking during the process.
Step 1: Do a mild head massage with the chosen oil (5-30 min.), more time better benefit. A circular motion massage is a good option.
Step 2: Cover your head with a towel soaked with warm water (at a comfortable temperature).
Take care to avoid exposure to wind, cold air, high-speed fans, or any extreme temperature fluctuations. (drinking chilled water, scalding tea, etc.) during the process.
Re-soak the towel with warm water and warm the head for a total duration of 5-15 minutes, depending on your comfort, season, and local climate. If you feel uncomfortable or heated, stop the fomentation and lie down for some time.
Avoid exposure of wet hair to wind, sunlight, or air conditioner.
Step 3: After swedana, rest in a lying position for 5-10 min. Practicing Shavasana in this duration is a great idea.
This procedure starts after 5-10 minutes after the pre-nasya process.
Step 1: Lie down on a comfortable surface without a pillow.
Step 5: Ready the Ayurvedic nasal drops (Anu Taila/Shat Bindu Taila/Cow’s ghee/Almond oil) in a dropper or cotton swab.
Step 6: Put the thumb of your left hand below the nose tip and push backward. This step will ensure that nasal drops have a larger nasal opening for percolation.
Step 7: Take the dropper/cotton swab in your right hand and put 5-7 nasal drops in your right nose.
Step 8: Inhale deeply to ensure better percolation of Put the nasal drops in the left nose in the same amount.
This procedure assumes that you are doing everything alone. In case you have a helper, let him do the massage, fomentation, and nasal drops for you.
Dhomrapaan or herbal smoking increases the heat and dilates the blood vessels in the head region. After Nasya treatment, herbal smoke helps the nasal drops to spread along with accelerated circulation in the head region and melt the mucous-formed obstructions in head channels.
Day 1: Prepare the herbal smoke
Step 1: Take a mixture of the following herb in the dried powdered form. All the herbs should be in equal quantity. If you are not able to get all the herbs, start with as many as you can get, there is no need to wait. Even if you start with any 5 of the below-mentioned herbs, you will see an immediate benefit.
- Black cardamom
- Green cardamom
- Peepal Bark
- Banyan Bark
- Indian Fig Tree Bark
- Lodh Tree Bark
- Bay leaf
Step 2: Mix all the ingredients, add some water to make a thick paste.
Step 3: Use a wire/thin pen/pencil and make a thick layer of this paste over it. This layer should be as thick as your thumb and approximately 7-8 inches in length. Step 4: Let the preparation dry.
Step 5: Take out the herbal smoke cigarette from a wire/thin pen/pencil. It will have a hole inside it for a smooth smoking process.
Step 1: Put the herbal cigarette in a smoke pipe. Apply little ghee/cooking oil at the outer tip.
Step 2: Sit comfortably, keep the body straight and relaxed. Look straight in the front.
Step 3: Close the left nostril and inhale the smoke from the right nostril.
Step 4: Release the smoke from the mouth. This is a critical step, as smoke released from the nose can harm the eyes. Therefore, you must inhale the smoke from the nose and exhale ONLY from the mouth.
Step 5: Repeat this process three times.
Step 6: Close the right nostril and repeat the 3 clouds of smoke from the left nostril.
Step 7: Continue this process for a maximum of 8-10 minutes.
Ayurvedic herbal smoke can be used regularly, independent of the nasya treatment. In my future posts, I will describe the use of herbal smoke from instant migraine relief. I hope that your Migraine will be gone by then.
Avoid going to sleep, bathing, eating, drinking (cold water) immediately before or after the entire Nasya treatment.
Wait for a minimum of 30-45 min before starting your regular routine.
If you are using Nasya treatment before sleep, wait for 1 hour after the entire procedure and then go to sleep.
Try to have food 1 hour before you start the procedure or 1 hour after the process ends.
Complications of nasya
All good things have limits. If you use snehan (oil/fat) nasya in the following conditions, you might face kapha (mucus) related problems –
Indigestion is normally a result of excess kapha dosha or imbalance of the mucus element in the body. If you have excess kapha (oily, stable, cool etc.) link
When you add oily nasya to this condition, you are looking at a possible complication of excess kapha.
In this case, you must take some herbal digestive like Hinguvadi churna/Hinguashtaka churna or vati-(tablet) and relieve yourself from indigestion. Also, if you have practiced the initial detox, you should not face any kind of digestive problem during the nasya. For better advice, please get in touch with your physician.
Drinking water immediately after a meal
We need an optimal internal temperature and enzyme concentration to cook the food inside our stomach. However, imagine what will happen if you are trying to fry something and put cold water on it while cooking. You would need to heat it for a much longer time. Sadly, we don’t have that much time or resources inside the body (due to binge-eating) and therefore the undigested food rots inside the intestines as it passes (or gets stuck).
Nasya on a cloudy day
Our metabolic rythmns are deeply connected with the sun. And for this reason, our body as well as the mind gets affected by the presence or absence of the sun. Link
Since our metabolism and mood is on a low normally on a cloudy day, it is not a good idea to take nasya or any kind of panchkarma treatment. A faster rate of metabolism helps the body to absorb the effects of nasya and prevents kapha related complications.
A new infection of cold
Any new infection in the body, especially the nasal infection taxes the body. The body is focused on stablizing a fighting strategy and it is a very bad idea to give a new work to it, like to manage the nasya , esp the heavy dose of a oil nasya. Oil nasya, if unabsorbed, might lead to kapha imbalance and worsening of common cold or any other nasal/oral infection. So take to care to use a good thing in a good way.
Immediately after bath
Bath reduces the body temperature of the body drastically, epecially if it is a cold bath. Immediately, after a bath body is under the influence of coldish kapha dosha, And it is engaged in regaining the normal body heat. At this time a new work like managing nasya can be very straining.It can lead to nasal infections or make you suseptible towards them.
Immediately after drinking oil/fats (snehapaan)
Now fats/oils are the best way to balance vata dosha in the body. Snehapaan lubricates the alimentary canal, absorbs the toxins and removes dryness. But digesting the oils takes up a lot of time and energy. That’s why it is advised to drink only small amount of oils initially.And we don’t want an intrusion in this work by adding more work – nasya.
Immediately after Anuvasana Basti (oil enema)
Oil enema introduces enough moisture in the body. It helps to reduce vata dosha significantly. Besides, body needs time to manage the effects of enema. A nasya immediately after oil enema can encroach on the space of reduced vata dosha and aggravate kapha, thus causing slowing down of overall metabolism, reducing body heat and making you prone to kapha related disorders like cough, cold, indigestion etc.
Bottomline is that Ayurveda believes maintaining a complete homeostasis inside the body, in everything that you do. Because balance is the key to life, balance in body, in breathe and in the mind.
You can use this nasya treatment before Migraine, aura stage of Migraine, or during the migraine pain or post-migraine attack. However, it is better to use it before a migraine attack, if you are doing it for the first time.
Nasya treatment is the backbone of the entire Ayurvedic Migraine treatment. I hope that this post helps you to get permanent relief from Migraine. If you happen to find any relief through this series, please share your experience with me.
Thanks a lot for reading and best wishes!