Swedana: Detoxifying Steam Therapy

Ayurveda, the ancient Indian practice of holistic treatments and beliefs promotes wellness of the mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda incorporates several forms of therapeutic practices to improve the welfare of living beings. Swedana, an ancient Ayurvedic practice is a form of certain techniques which induce sweating. The Sanskrit word ‘Swedana’ or ‘Svedana’ means to perspire. 

How Swedana Can Help Reduce Body Stiffness

Ancient Ayurvedic texts have described Swedana as a form of steam therapy to reduce or relieve the body of any kind of stiffness or heaviness and help detoxify it. 

There are several forms of Swedana:

  1. Niragini – (Thermal fomentation) In this form of Swedana, the body is warmed without direct heat. This is done through several practices such as exercise, wearing excessive clothing, exposure to sunlight, etc.
  2. Saagini – (Non-thermal fomentation) This form of Swedana utilises the application of direct heat on the body. In order to warm the body several methods of dry or moist heat are applied directly to the body.
  3. Bashpa – In this form of Swedana, a person is made to sit in a chamber where steam is generated by boiling herbal concoctions.

When a person sits in a Bashpa Sweda, their heart rate increases, and blood vessels widen. This increases circulation, in a similar way to how moderate exercise does depending on the duration of use. Various herbal oils are applied on the body to further improve blood circulation and promote healing. These herbal oils are selected exclusively to match the dosha of the person. The person is then given a massage treatment to provide relaxation and remove stiff joints. After treatment, the person is made to take a hot shower to cleanse off any surface toxins. After this, the person may consume warm and light food after an hour.

Benefits Of This Detoxifying Steam Therapy

  • Swedana is believed to balance the Vata and Kapha doshas in the body.
  • Swedana opens up the capillaries of the body and through perspiration, surface toxins are released. 
  • Swedana helps in pain relief by increasing circulation. This may help reduce muscle soreness, improve joint movement, and ease arthritis pain.
  • As the heat generated by Swedana techniques improves circulation, it may also promote relaxation. This can improve feelings of well-being.
  • The reduction in stress levels after using Swedana techniques may be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular risks.
  • Sweating has known to be beneficial for the skin. Swedana practices revitalize and rejuvenate the skin.
  • Swedana reduces numbness in the body and increases mobility.
  • Swedana is believed to increase energy levels.

The Takeaway

Swedana can have several favourable effects on the body. This ancient Ayurvedic remedy is a form of therapeutic sweating which has been used for thousands of years to promote vitality and wellness. However, precautions should also be taken. Switching between the heat of a steam Swedana therapy and cold water in a swimming pool is not advisable, as it can raise blood pressure. 

Swedana techniques may also cause blood pressure to fall, so people with low blood pressure should talk to their doctor to make sure practicing Swedana is safe. Dehydration can result from fluid loss while sweating. People with certain conditions, such as kidney disease, may be at a higher risk of dehydration. The increased temperatures can also lead to dizziness and nausea in some people.

Precautions

  • Limit time spent in steam therapy: Do not spend more than 20 minutes at a time in a steam Swedana therapy. First-time users should spend a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes. As they get used to the heat, they can slowly increase the time to about 20 minutes.
  • Drink plenty of water: Whatever type of Swedana a person practices, it is important to replace the fluids lost from sweating. People should drink about two to four glasses of water after Swedana practices.
  • Avoid Swedana if ill: People who are ill should also wait until they recover before practicing Swedana. Women who are pregnant or those with certain medical conditions, such as low blood pressure, should ask their doctor before opting for Swedana. 

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