Nasya – Therapeutic Cleansing of the Head Region
Nasya and Shirovirechana are terms that are used interchangeably. This procedure is a part of Panchakarma main elimination procedures (see Panchakarma, Vamana, Virechana, Basti, Rakta mokshana) but can be applied separately if indicated.
Nasya introduces medicated oils and powders into the nose, the nearest access and outlet to the organs of the head. It removes toxins and ama from the nose, larynx, mouth, sinuses, ears and eyes (see Toxic ama – the root of all diseases).
Ayurveda describes the nose as the doorway to the brain. Nasya cleanses and opens the channels of the head and improves oxygenation which has highly beneficial influence on brain functioning. Proper preparation is crucial for nasya. First warm herbalized oil is vigorously massaged into the patient’s face, focusing on the sinus areas. Hot water bottle wrapped in a hot moist cloth or towel is then applied to the face and neck to dilate the passageways. Ayurveda generally prohibits applying heat to the head, but Nasya provides one of the few exceptions. After that the patient has his head tilted back and receives either herbalized drops in each nostril or powders forcefully blown in. He or she inhales deeply through the nose several times to bring the medications deeply into the passageways.
After a while, the dislodged ama (toxins) and kapha (mucus) begin to flow back into the hollow channels of the mouth, throat and nose. The patient then expels the mucus or blows his nose to remove these accumulated secretions. After Nasya the patient rests and avoids exposure to stress and strain. Generally treatment is performed for seven days in a row starting with one to four drops of medicated oil (or Ghee) in each nostril.
After completing Nasya the patient’s head will feel lighter and less congested; the mind clear and the senses more acute. She will also feel more comfortable and happy. However, if improper herbs or dosages are used, the patient may experience discomfort. Nasya works in the sensitive area of the body close to the brain, and it is vital that it is properly administrated.
TODAY’S TIP: The nose is the gateway to the brain supplying it with prana or life-force and filtering out dangerous airborne substances or allergens. That’s why it is so important to keep the nasal passages and sinuses clear and well lubricated. See also Jala neti – Nasal cleansing.