The health of the upper respiratory tract comprising the nostrils, the nasal cavity, the paranasal sinuses, the throat, the pharynx and larynx play an important role in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Apart from facilitating the vital entry of the life-sustaining oxygen into the body, the upper respiratory tract also helps in reducing the weight of the skull, helps in adding humidity to the air inhaled and helps in the resonance of the voice.
The distal part of this tract is lined with fine, slimy mucosa which help trap pathogens and other unwanted substances inhaled during respiration. 24-36 specialized nerves called olfactory nerves and which help perceive smell are located here. The fine microscopic hairs located further into the upper respiratory tract and called cilia remove the various debris and excess mucous (phlegm) on a regular basis. However due to exposure to unhealthy environment and inclement weather conditions an undue amount of detrimental substances and pathogens happen to be inhaled. Excess mucus is generated to deal with these and an accumulation of such mucous, over a period of time, happen to clog the upper respiratory passage and the para nasal sinuses. Cleansing of this tract on a daily or periodical basis is vital for optimal physical and mental health.
Nasya is a treatment procedure mentioned in Ayurvedic texts for such cleansing of this vital passage. The name ‘nasya’ is evident that it is related to the nose (Nasika in Sanskrit). It is a process by which substances ranging from medicated oils and ghee, powders, juices of raw herbs such as Brahmi, to honey, salt, milk, water, blood and meat soup are administered in prescribed doses through the nostrils. Nasya is one of the panchakarma procedures to help detox and rejuvenate the body. There are different types of nasya depending on the imbalances identified in each patient. The material for Nasya is chosen by the physician evaluating the body constitution, the state of balance of the doshas and the prevailing phase of a pathology. Two of the most preferred therapeutic oils of Ayurvedic physicians for most infections of the paranasal sinuses and for most diseases related to the head, including migraine, is Anu Tailam and Ksheerabala (101).
Nasya is a procedure that has to be done with utmost care and diligence. The quality and quantity of the material to be infused has to be specific. It should not be done in overcast and rainy weather conditions; it is contra-indicated in ages below 8 years and above 80 years. The administration of the material has to be done by a trained professional.
Method – The neck, face, shoulders, and chest are gently massaged with a suitable herbal oil; heat fomenting is applied to help induce perspiration (sudation); the prescribed dose of herbal extracts/oil/powder is gently dropped or blown into the nostrils - one at a time - while inhaling. After this process, the area around the nose, chest, palms, and foot are massaged gently but vigorously. Nasya therapy is done on an empty stomach. The ideal time to do the procedure varies based on the seasons and on the pathologies.
Benefits – Nasya can prove to be an effective remedy for nasal congestion, allergies, sinusitis, headaches, migraine, rhinitis, and other nasal infections; to help cure musculo-skeletal pathologies of the neck, shoulders, diseases of the eyes, ears, gums, teeth, and diseases of the brain itself - such as progressive degeneration or lesions of the cranial nerves, epilepsy, etc.. This therapy will cleanse, purify, and strengthen the nasal passages. It helps stimulate specific centres of the central nervous system by its effect on the nerve roots in the para-nasal sinuses.
Other benefits of Nasya treatment include treating disorders like:
1. Hoarse voice and other speech disorders.
2. Tonsillitis, pharyngitis, and related problems.
3. Twitching of the eyelids; Bell’s Palsy; Trigeminal Neuralgia;
Duration – 30 minutes
More info – Nasya should not be administered after bath, food, during pregnancy or those who have undergone nasal surgery. It is not advised for children below 7 years or people above 80 years. Some of the common types of Nasya include:
Virechana Nasya: This involves the use of powders or herbs blown into the nose. This is helpful to manage Kapha disorders.
Brumhana Nasya: It is useful for Vata disorders and uses ghee, oil, salt, milk, and other nourishing substances.
Shamana Nasya: Uses medicated oils with Tikta ghee for Vata or Pitta disorders, Brahmi ghee for Pitta disorders, and Vacha oil for Kapha or Vata disorders.
Marshya Nasya: Ghee is administered into the nostrils and massaged to provide relief from stress.
Navana Nasya: This involves the use of oils, juices, and decoctions that are used together for cleansing. The combination used depends on the dosha that is identified as imbalanced.
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