Details matter. They create depth, and depth creates authenticity. Rules of Nasya.
There is no real way to share the depth and vastness of knowledge that is within Ayurveda to an average general person. People/western practitioners really do not like it when I say things like… that knowledge is nowhere to be found in Western Ayurveda, but it is true. It is hard to be found in India as well, that’s the truth of it.
To share just a tiny piece of the detail that makes real Ayurveda the wonderous and daily humbling experience that it is, as well as the very reasons why it has no context in the modern world, here is just an example.
In Western Ayurveda, Nasya is a part of the daily regime that is given to everyone. It is considered to be putting a few drops of oil (mainly sesame oil but there is even Western Ayurveda Vata oils, Pitta oils, and Kapha oils to use based on your prakriti for nasya) in each nostril in the AM after cleaning your mouth. In Ayurveda this is actually a langhana (treatment.
The truth is that Nasya does not mean nasal drops. It means ‘having to do with the nose’ and the treatment of the nose is vast. It is the entryway to the head and diseases of the head, brain, and senses (as well as anything above the collarbones) are treated in this way. It can be liquid, oil, smoke, or powder. Depending upon the details of the diagnosis of why it is being done. That means that there are obvious indications for it to be done which means that there is a list of contraindicated conditions where it is not to be done because it will either complicate a disease into a deeper and more serious disease.
It is never done:
after a meal, this will lead to diseases of the head
when one has indigestion causes diseases of the head like cough, asthma, vomiting
after taking snehapan
after drinking alcohol
after drinking water or when there is a desire to drink water
after bath, that means after shower too (for those daily regime teachers/follower)
when hungry, will cause vata vitiation
when thirsty, will cause emaciation of the mouth
when tired, will cause pain
when semi conscious or unconscious, will cause complete unconsciousness
when there is Injury, will cause severe pain
after sex, will cause pain in chest, head and eyes
if one is weak, will cause ”
after exercise, will cause pain in the limbs
in fever, will cause pain
when there is fear, will cause fever
after virrechana, will cause vata vitiation and trauma to the senses
after basti, will cause kapha vitiation, anemia, heaviness, and worms or parasites
when pregnant, will cause harm to fetus
after pregnancy, will cause depletion of tissues
when head congestion/head cold, will cause complications of head cold
when one has a weak personality, will cause depletion of the tissues
in children, will cause depletion
in aged, will cause depletion
in shwassa, kasa, raktapitta, will cause debility and depletion
when there is Suppression of natural urges
(there are some specific nasya that can be given in certain contraindications as a specific treatment like raktapitta above)
There are various kinds of Nasya. It is generally classified into two categories that one of those categories has 5 different types (one of the 5 types is the daily use) and the other category has 2 types. Then Charaka Samhita also has another classification of Nasya by what the part of the herb that is being used such as the leaves, the roots, the bark, etc.
Nasya is used for elimination of the doshas in the head. It is also used in various vata diseases.
There are different dosages given in the different types of nasya. There are different times of day that it is given for the dosha treatment. There are different times of the day it is also given in the different seasons.
When herbal extracts and juices are used for nasya it is known as Avpedana Nasya, when instilling milk, oils are used it is known as Navana nasya, when smoke of various herbs is used it is Dhuma nasya. Dhuma Nasya is given for mental diseases, epilepsy, parasites in the head, and in poisoning cases. When medicinal powder which are strong and applied with special apparatus they are known as Virechana nasya. Also there are two types of nasya depending upon the quantity of medicines or dose that is used when only 2 drops of medicines are used in each nostril for nasya it is known as pratimarsha nasya which is slow to act and less potent and when 8-32 drops are used it is known as marsha nasya which has its age, seasonal restrictions as well as has possible complication possibly vitiating doshas and is used in high vitiated cases.
Pratimashana or the daily use that is popularized in Western Ayurveda has its own timings that it is done for various reasons, like doing it in the AM is to reduce the kapha that is accumulated at night. Hmmm.
After waking reduces kapha accumulated in the night, after brushing teeth strengthens the teeth and cleanses the mouth, while leaving the house prevents dust and allergy, after exercise sex and being tired after waking removes debility and tiredness, after doing the treatment of holding herbs or oil in the mouth and after applying anjana to the eyes improves the vision, after meals cleanses the channels, after vamana cleanses kapha and improves taste, during the day time it rids heaviness and tiredness and promotes mental peace, in the evening gives good sleep, after urination or defecation it improves the vision, and other timings as well.
This is not a list for you to see what you want and then start to do nasya at this time irrespective of having the proper knowledge. Please do not do that. No self diagnosis and treatment okay?
There are details of age limits, times of it to be done in the different seasons, the strength of the individual is to be gauged for the dosage, the strength of the disease will indicate the preparation being used. There are even things that are to be followed as to what not to be done like being exposed to cold, dust and smoke, heat, drinking alcohol, anger, sleeping, travelling and other usage of oils.
There are signs of when the treatment is done correctly as well as when it is done incorrectly that then need to be corrected. If excessive is given, like in the amount of dosage or even the strength of what is being given, at the least it will give a headache, worse is that it will cause disease that they can be very difficult to treat. Just think of it, we are dealing with the head and the senses. Delerium and fainting would not be unusual in excessive treatment. This is why the dosage and the substance being used is very important.
The beautiful details require that beautiful knowledge and make up all of why it is so deep and why it works. All of this needs to be known. ‘Do no harm’ or ‘primum non nocere’ is the first part of the Hippocratic Oath. Everyone should take this verse to heart. Not just any practitioner of a modality. One should keep this in mind always, even for the idea of treating themselves or sharing ‘information’. Superficial information is the vast majority of what we live with today. Consumerism thrives on it.
There is also, in popular sales of Western Ayurveda detoxing under a very popular name in Western Ayurveda and the top selling herb company, a detox package to buy that has you do jala neti (neti pot) then do drops of oil in the nostrils. Oiliness + coldness is not useful in many conditions. In nasya, we are making the nasal passage oily. Along with it, if jalaneti is done, it will make the area cold. This can lead to worsening of cold, cough, sinusitis etc. anyone that has done the neti pot knows how the water left in the sinuses will drip out hours later if not dried properly. Again, when the details are not followed properly, harm can be done. This is only a warning and proof that you can create disease by not knowing those details of proper treatment.