Details about Basti by Vaidya Pardeep Sharma BAMS, MD (Ayurved)

“Basti is half of the medicinal therapy, or even the complete treatment.”

Charak- Sid. Ch. 1 verse 39

Third out of five karmas is – Basti. Basti is something, which is most important in today’s context of clinical conditions. Because lifestyle diseases are on the peak of their own. Basti is an important panchakarma procedure in numerous unresponsive diseases. The degenerative conditions, which are doesn’t respond to any medicines and no surgery can work on these. And other than these basti is also helpful in musculoskeletal, locomotor and neurological nature with promising results.

Basti alone is capable of curing many disorders. This prevents recurrence of disease and have immunomodulatory effects.

In simple manner- basti is for Vata. This is a general perception. And most of the indications for this wonderful Ayurveda procedure belong to Vata dosha. But basti has widest spectrum of Panchakarma therapies.

The basti therapy is primarily used for Vata Dosha’s excesses, either alone, or as the predominant Dosha deranged. Let’s know more about Basti-

Basti: Anal Route Administration of Medicines

BASTI is the Sanskrit name for urinary bladder. In ancient times there were no plastic bags or syringes were available. So Ayurveda scholars (the rishis) used urinary bladder of goat/buffalo to administer the medicines through Anal route. Therefore the word, BASTI was coined from the word BAST.

Basti is unlike Western enemas or colonics. Enemas only cleanse the rectum and sigmoid colon (only the lower eight to ten inches of the colon) causing an evacuating effect. Colonics remove feces blocks but may weaken the mucus membranes and dry the colon. This further balances Vayu’s normal elimination process. Basti, however, treats the entire length of the colon from the ileocecal valve to the anus.

Basti is not about removing the fecal materials from the last part of intestines. The role of Basti is much more deeper and important than anything else.

So what does, basti means from a clinician’s view?

How does Basti Work?

There are many theories about the question- how does basti work? But there cannot be one paradigm to explain the pharmacokinetics of Basti (Action of basti to the body). Here are different approaches for actions of basti-

  • Nourishment of the Microflora in the Gut
  • Second brain/Gut Brain theory
  • Anal Absorption of the medicines
  • Absorption of Primary metabolites

These are four dimensions. Basti work according to these four. These all compliment each others.

Human body is complex system. And it cannot work on one approach in any condition.

Types of Basti:

Three types of Basti are told in our ancient classical text.

अनुवासनं निरूहश्चोत्तरबस्तिश्च स त्रिविधः||८||

Basti is of three types-

  • Anuvasana
  • Niruha and
  • Uttar Basti

Anuvasana (unctuous)

In this type of Basti, herbal medicated ghee and oils are used. Here are some details about this type of Basti.

  • This basti retains in the body for longer time, without any complication.
  • It helps in nourishment of the body.
  • This basti moistens dry tissues and organs, reduces hyperactive digestion, and Váyu disorders, including nervous conditions.

Niruha or Asthapana (non-unctuous)

This basti is primarily made up of decoction of different herbs along with milk, oils etc.

  • The selection of herbs for decoction is most important part of this basti.
  • This basti expels immediately from the body.
  • This basti retains in the body for longer time, without any complication.
  • It helps the tissues which are week.

Uttara Basti

Administration of this basti is through- Urinal Route both in males and females.

  • It helps in condition like- urethral strictures in males.
  • In case of infertility, it helps a lot.
  • In gynecological conditions uttar basti is beneficial.

Benefits of Basti

While describing benefits of Basti, Charak Samhita quotes the following verse.

स्तब्धाश्च ये सङ्कुचिताश्च येऽपि ये पङ्गवो येऽपि च भग्नरुग्णाः|
येषां च शाखासु चरन्ति वाताः शस्तो विशेषेण हि तेषु बस्तिः||३२||
आध्मापने विग्रथिते पुरीषे शूले च भक्तानभिनन्दने च|

एवम्प्रकाराश्च भवन्ति कुक्षौ ये चामयास्तेषु च बस्तिरिष्टः||३३||
याश्च स्त्रियो वातकृतोपसर्गा गर्भं न गृह्णन्ति नृभिः समेताः|

क्षीणेन्द्रिया ये च नराः कृशाश्च बस्तिः प्रशस्तः परमं च तेषु||३४||

Medicated enema in general is indicated in following cases,

  • Whose limbs have become stiff with contractures
  • Patients who suffer from lameness
  • For patients with fractures and dislocations of bones and joints.
  • In case of patients with movement disorders.
  • It is also effective in
    • Distension of abdomen,
    • hardness stool,
    • Pain in abdomen,
    • For ailments affecting pelvic region.
  • Basti is an excellent therapy for women with complications of vata. This works well for -who are unable to conceive despite their mating with male partner.
  • It is also extremely useful for men having seminal debility and emaciation of the body.

Benefits of Niruha Basti

This clearly talks about the impact of the Niruha Basti (the one with decoction).

बस्तिर्वयःस्थापयिता सुखायुर्बलाग्निमेधास्वरवर्णकृच्च|
सर्वार्थकारी शिशुवृद्धयूनां निरत्ययः सर्वगदापहश्च||२७||
विट्श्लेष्मपित्तानिलमूत्रकर्षी दार्ढ्यावहः शुक्रबलप्रदश्च|

विश्वक्स्थितं दोषचयं निरस्य सर्वान् विकारान् शमयेन्निरूहः||२८||

  • Nirhua Basti Slows down the process of ageing.
  • Niruha basti brings-
    • Happiness, longevity,
    • strength
    • power of digestion
  • Nourishes intellect, voice and complexion
  • It accomplishes all aims of a physician- to treat the patient.
  • It is harmless for children, old persons and youth.
  • Evacuates feces, kapha, pitta, vata and urine
  • Brings firmness in the body against physical and psychological ups and downs.
  • Improves the hormonal balance.
  • Promotes strength
  • It cures all the diseases by removing accumulated dosha from entire body. 

Benefits of Anuvasana Basti

देहे निरूहेण विशुद्धमार्गे संस्नेहनं वर्णबलप्रदं च|
न तैलदानात् परमस्ति किञ्चिद्द्रव्यं विशेषेण समीरणार्ते ||२९||
स्नेहेन रौक्ष्यं लघुतां गुरुत्वादौष्ण्याच्च शैत्यं पवनस्य हत्वा|

तैलं ददात्याशु मनःप्रसादं वीर्यं बलं वर्णमथाग्निपुष्टिम् ||३०||
मूले निषिक्तो हि यथा द्रुमः स्यान्नीलच्छदः कोमलपल्लवाग्र्यः|

काले महान् पुष्पफलप्रदश्च तथा नरः स्यादनुवासनेन||३१||

Unctuous enema promotes complexion and strength. But before giving the anuvasana/ fats through medicines, there should be cleansing with decoction type of Basti. When followed by the decoction basti it gives following benefits-

  • There is no therapy better than the administration of oil (unctuous enema) which is specifically useful for the patients afflicted with diseases caused by vata.
  • The oil by its unctuousness, heaviness and warm properties counteracts the dryness, lightness and coldness properties of vata respectively.
  • Administration of oil instantaneously improves complexion and digestive strength.

Just as a tree irrigated with water at the root changes old blue leaves into beautiful with tender leaves and during the course of time grows to produce flowers and fruits, similarly a person changes by the administration of unctuous type of medicated enema.

Should one do Basti at home?

In era of google, everyone wants to do the things at home. DIY- do it yourself videos and classes are famous.

Most of the patients take Ayurveda lightly. Perhaps “quacks” had made Ayurveda a home remedy. So everybody keeps on looking about how to do basti at home only.

So it is important to answer this question that should one do basti at home?

Answer is no.

No one should do basti at home. By oneself.

Anus is a sensitive part of the body and a shock in the nerves of the anus can cause “anaphylactic shock”. Which can be very crucial and life endangering.

While describing this Charak says-

समीक्ष्य दोषौषधदेशकालसात्म्याग्निसत्त्वादिवयोबलानि|
बस्तिः प्रयुक्तो नियतं गुणाय स्यात् सर्वकर्माणि च सिद्धिमन्ति||६||

Basti administered after careful examination of

  • Dosha (vitiating factors), 
  • aushadha (potency of drugs), 
  • desha (place of living and body of patient), 
  • kala (season and time of administration), 
  • satmya (accustom), 
  • agni (factor responsible for process of digestion and metabolism), 
  • sattva (mind), 
  • oka (habituation due to continuous use), 
  • vaya (age) and 
  • bala (strength) is certainly capable of providing the significant results, the benefits of the therapy and ultimately success.

This much detailed process cannot be done at home in any way.

Complications of Basti when done at home!

Yes Samhitas, talk about all these –

तिर्यक् प्रणीते तु न याति धारा गुदे व्रणः स्याच्चलिते तु नेत्रे||२०||
दत्तः शनैर्नाशयमेति बस्तिः कण्ठं प्रधावत्यतिपीडितश्च|
शीतस्त्वतिस्तम्भकरो विदाहं मूर्च्छां च कुर्यादतिमात्रमुष्णः||२१||
स्निग्धोऽतिजाड्यं पवनं तु रूक्षस्तन्वल्पमात्रालवणस्त्वयोगम्|
करोति मात्राभ्यधिकोऽतियोगं क्षामं तु सान्द्रः सुचिरेण चैति||२२||
दाहातिसारौ लवणोऽति कुर्यात्तस्मात् सुयुक्तं सममेव दद्यात्|२३|

  • When nozzle inserts obliquely, then the fluid will not flow into the rectum.
  • In case the nozzle shifts from one place to the other, then this may cause anal injury.
  • In case pouch carrying medicines is compressed slowly, then the enema- fluid may not reach the colon.
  • On other side when pouch extra pressure on the pouch will cause the liquid to go upsides.
  • When fluid is very cold, then it may cause stiffness.
  • In case fluid is very hot, then it may cause burning sensation and fainting.
  • When fluid is very unctuous, then it may cause numbness.
  • In case the fluid is dry, then it may cause aggravation of vayu.
  • When fluid is administered in large quantity, then it may cause ati-yoga.
  • When fluid is viscid, then it may cause emaciation of the patient, and it moves in the colon very slowly.
  • Where basti fluid contains salt in excess, then it may cause burning sensation and diarrhea.

Therefore, basti should be properly administered. And should not be done at home, without proper guidance.

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