The term “swedana” is used in Ayurvedic medicineto describe treatments which involve sweating. Many people use it specifically to refer to one swedana treatment, the closed steam box. In Ayurveda, swedana is used to relieve excess doshas from the body, establishing a state of balance which promotes general health. People who do not practice ayurveda may also take advantage of swedana treatments, believing that they have health and beauty benefits.
This word is derived from the Sanskrit word swid, which means “to sweat.” According to the principles of Ayurveda, sweating releases toxins from the body, promoting general health. Sweating can also be used to create doshaor body type imbalances, especially when combined with herbs which target specific doshas. In order for a swedana treatment to be effective, the practitioner must first assess the patient’s dosha type to determine the best mixture of herbs.
Swedana can be broken into a number of different types. It can be wet or dry, mild to strong, and produced with or without the aid of fire. Exercise, for example, is a form of swedana which does not involve the use of fire, while sitting in a sauna is a dry form produced with the assistance of fire. Depending on the case, swedana may involve the entire body, or the treatment may involve only a very specific part of the body, and the duration of the treatment can vary.
Physiological Benefits of Steam in Ayurveda
Sweating – induced by steam therapy or Swedana – has different therapeutic and physiological benefits. A 10-20 minute session of steam bath increases the heart rate by 50-75 percent, which in turn enhances the cardiac output resulting in increased blood flow to the skin. The increased blood flow supplies vital nutrients to subcutaneous tissue and skin hence stimulating both cellular activity and growth of cells.
Swedana is especially beneficial to the parts of the skin suffering from poor blood circulation and ensures that these parts get extra nutrients and oxygen due to increased blood flow. The growth in the metabolic rate is beneficial in improving circulation, promoting water-weight loss, burning calories and skin beautification. Swedana is also an effective therapy to restore unbalanced Dosha- especially Vata and Kapha doshas – back to the normal state.
How the Body Detoxifies
As the skin acts as a doorway for the elimination of toxins, it is also referred to as the “third kidney” of the human body. When Swedana is applied to the patient, heat of a steam accelerates the chemical processes inside the body to excrete the accumulated toxins out of the body.
Millions of sweat glands make passage for the excretion of metabolic and other waste products hence reducing fluid retention inside the body. Opening up of pores through Swedana also stimulates perspiration allowing the emission of toxins and other impurities through the skin. All this makes Swedana an effective ayurvedic therapy that helps kidneys and liver in detoxification of blood.
Other major benefits of Swedana
- Helps in losing weight
- Cleanses an beautifies skin
- Effective in stress relief
- Provides relief from joint pain
- Eases sore muscles
- Relieves allergies/asthma
- Improves circulation/reduces inflammation
- It provides relief from coldness, stiffness, heaviness, and inflammation of the body.