Edema, also known as Shotha in Ayurveda is a Kapha type of disorder that occurs due to water retention or accumulation of fluid in the body tissues causing pain and inflammation. The swelling or water accumulation can either be localised (i.e. affecting only a part of the body) or generalised (i.e. affecting the whole body). Although the swelling can be seen in the face, hands, nose, but in most cases, edema is generally found in the lower extremities, i.e. the legs and feet.
In case of swollen foot, the accumulation of water can also occur due to over walking or running, desk-bound lifestyle, sport injuries, ill-fitting shoes, wearing high heels all day, obesity and infections among other things. Medically, edema is an underlying condition that is usually noticed in people suffering from chronic conditions like kidney or liver problems, diabetes, allergy, lymph node inflammation, cardiac anomalies, problems in the brain or uterus, or in case of pregnancy.
Also Read: How To Manage Oedema During Pregnancy
Edema is usually diagnosed with symptoms like swelling, stretching, puffiness, enlargement of edema, wheezing, coughing, presence of blood in cough, chest pain, sweating, pale skin and fainting.
Edema can be of two types:
Pitting: This causes a dent when the affected area is pressed.
Non-pitting: This leaves no dent marks when the swollen area is pressed.
According to Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old holistic remedial science, our body is made of three types of energies or doshas mainly Vata (i.e. air), Pitta (fire and air) and Kapha (earth and water). Since the bodily fluids are connected to the Kapha doshas, an imbalance of it causes Edema or Shotha. But ayurveda also suggests that Shotha can also occur due to vitiation of the other two, i.e. Vata and Pitta doshas or a combination of all 3 doshas.
Ayurveda has classified shotha into 4 different types, mainly:
Kaphaja Shotha: This type of Shotha arises due to an imbalance of the Kapha doshas, mainly occurring due to impaired kidney functions. This swelling is mostly observed in the pits of the eyes and can gradually spread to other parts.
Pittaja Shotha: Shotha occurring due to the vitiation of the Pitta doshas owing to the malfunction of the liver. The accumulation of water is first noticed in the abdomen which gradually moves upwards.
Vataja Shotha: The imbalance of Vata doshas causes this type of Shotha which in turn happens due to cardiac anomalies. This swelling is primarily noticed on either or both feet which increases during the day and reduces at night.
Abhigataja Shotha: Another type of shotha, where the accumulation of water happens due to external factors including trauma, getting bit by poisonous animals, exposure to poisonous herbs, getting hurt due to insect stings or scratches etc.
Shotha can be treated in Ayurveda through the following processes:
Abhayanga: It is a type of therapeutic technique where oils are used to massage the entire body. For treating edema, abhayanga is generally done using dashamoola kwatha.
Mridu Virechana: It is a mild purgation therapy where herbs, herbal formulation and oils like eranda taila (castor oil) is used to cleanse the body to eliminate toxins, fat, mucous and pitta. This is most effective in the case of Vata Shotha.
Lepa: It is the application of medicated preparations in the form of plasters in the direction opposite to the growth of hair to reduce inflammatory swellings. These lepas are usually made using ginger, punarnava, deodar, haritaki, daru haridra, haridra, rakta chandana and are most pivotal in the case of pittaja shotha.
Raktamokshana: This process helps in eliminating toxins or poisons from various parts of the body via blood-letting.
Let’s dive in to know about the incredible ayurvedic herbs that help treat the symptoms and provide relief from Shotha.
Ayurvedic Herbs For Shotha:
Coupled with stimulating, astringent and rejuvenating properties, the bark of arjuna is extremely beneficial for treating heart anomalies and swellings caused due to vitiation of the Vata doshas which in turn helps in diminishing swelling, pain and inflammation due to Shotha.
Punarnava, the ultimate rejuvenative herb is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities. These properties not only make it extremely beneficial for reducing joint and muscle pain, but also being an excellent diuretic, it restricts fluid retention in the body that may occur to the inflammation of the kidneys. Make a paste and apply it on the affected part according to the lepa therapy.
Also Read: Punarnava: Benefits, Uses, Dosage, and Adverse Effects
The abundance of anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties of the bioactive ingredients in this Rasaoushadhi or herbo-mineral formulation makes it the ultimate choice for providing relief from pain and inflammation due to vitiation of Vata doshas causing accumulation of Ama in the bodily channels. When used regularly, it helps provide relief from both edema and different types of arthritic conditions.
The potent healing properties of shunthi or adrak or ginger is not uncommon to us. This age-old bulbous underground stem is extremely beneficial in case of swelling, pain and inflammation. Not only does it eliminate excess Vata and Kapha from the body, but also owing to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, it actively treats edema or shotha.