The term ‘ritucharya’ is derived from two different words: ‘ritu’ meaning season and ‘charya’ meaning ‘regimen’. Seasonal regimen prescribed for preservation of health and prevention of diseases is termed as ‘ritucharya’.
Ayurveda, the science of life defined the human body (sharira) is always in a state of change towards degeneration called as sharira (human body) [Vaidyaka shabdasindhu]. Ancient scriptures were aware of astronomy; they keenly observed the change in seasons with respect to the sun, moon, stars, wind, and rainfall. The concept of “yat pinde tat brahmande‘- whatever there is in the environment is also there is the human body is applied in understanding health. This leads to appreciating changes in the human body according to seasons and regimens are made accordingly. The seasonal regimen's main aim is to prevent diseases due to the derangement of dosha. Hence ritucharya is one of the ways to be in synchronize with ever-changing nature and being healthy all at the same time.
1 Department of Post Graduate Studies in Swasthavritta, JSS Ayurveda Medical College, Mysuru, Karnataka, India |
2 Department of Post Graduate Studies in Kayachikitsa, JSS Ayurveda Medical College, Mysuru, Karnataka, India
3 Rheumatologist, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
4 Department of Kayachikitsa, G. J. Patel Institute of Ayurvedic Studies and Research, New Vallabh Vidyanagar, Gujarat, India
|Publisher||Charak Samhita Research, Training and Development Centre, I.T.R.A., Jamnagar, India|
|Date of publication:||December 13, 2022|
Concept of ritucharya (seasonal regimen)
Seasonal conditions in nasal administration therapy:
Ritusandhi (period of climatic transition):
Seasons, constellations and Sun signs:
Concept of Yamadamshtra:
Concept of ritu haritaki:
|Varsha(rainy)||Saindhava lavana (rocksalt)|
|Hemanta (winter)||Shunthi (dry ginger)|
|Shishira(late winter)||Pippali (long pepper)|
|Grishma (summer)||Guda (jaggery)|
Epidemic or diseases affecting communities (Janamara)
Remedies for epidemic:
Prevention of occurrences of diseases :
Importance of ritucharya
Division of seasons
The Year is divided in to six season(six ritu)
|Solstice||Indian season (Ritu)||Month as per Hindu calender||English month||English Season|
|Nothern solstice (Adanakala/Uttarayana kala)||Shishira||Magha – Phalguna||Mid January - Mid March||Late winter|
|Vasanta||Chaitra Vaishakha||Mid March - Mid May||Spring|
|Grishma||Jyeshtha Ashadha||Mid May – Mid July||Summer|
|Southern solstice (Visarga kala/Dakshinayana)||Varsha||Shravana Bhadrapada||Mid July - Mid September||Rainy / monsoon|
|Sharad||Ashwini Kartika||Mid September - Mid November||Atumn|
|Hemanta||Margashirsha Pushya||Mid November - Mid January||Early winter|
Seasons across globe:
|Northern hemisphere||Southern hemisphere||Start date||End date|
|Winter||Summer||1st December||28th February|
|Spring||Autumn||1st March||31st May|
|Summer||Winter||1st June||31th August|
|Autumn||Spring||1st September||30th November|
|Winter||December – February||Coldest months, average temperature around 10-15 oC|
|Summer or Pre-monsoon||March - May||Hottest month is April in western and south region. In north region, May month is hottest. Temparature will be around 32-40oC|
|Monsoon or rainy||June to September||Dominated by humid, monsoon begins from north India and south India receives more rainfall|
|Post-monsoon or autumn||October – November||October and November are usually cloudless in north-west. Tamilnadu receives most of its annual precipitation in north-east monsoon season|
General charactristics of seasons
Weather is cold, the air or wind element is high. So one should stay nourished and warm, and work on increasing physical stamina. Apply sesame or almond oil to Skin and hair to prevent the tissues from drying.
- Eat fats and foods like homemade butter, ghee, olive oil, dry fruits, dates and honey.
- Mustard, spinach, fenugreek, amaranthus, chinopodium, beens, raddish, carrots, onion , garlic, ash guard, yam.
- Fruits like Orange, guava, strawberrys, grapes, figs and Indian gooseberry & hot beverages
- Warm water for drinking & bath.
- Physical exercise.
There is wet, cloudy weather, the element of fire is disturbed, which affects the digestive power. In this season, immunity is at its lowest.
- Prefer foods that are sour, salty, and greasy.
- Freshly-cooked warm meals shall be taken.
- Include ginger, lemon, and cinnamon in diet.
- Vegetables like gourds, okra, colocasia leaves can be taken.
- Fruits like apple , custard apple and stone fruit (drupe)
- Avoid raw and uncooked meals
- Avoid overeating
- Less physical exercise and avoid barefoot walking
During this season fire and air energies dominate, inside and outside the body. This gives rise to heat and dryness. So it is important to keep light and hydrated.
- The foods consumed should be light, cool and non-greasy.
- Include more fresh fruits, veggies, juices, herbs and leafy greens, pumpkin, brinjal, jackfruit mango, melons, Indian blackberry, cashew, palm fruit and lots of coconut water
- Avoid sour and spicy foods.
- Avoid physical exercise or if needed less physical exercise shall be followed.
In this season the temperature starts falling gradually and the day light is less. Leaves on the trees turn yellow, orange, red and brown during autumn. The autumn months are the time of the harvest season
- Vegetables like spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, broccoli. Fruits like apples, lime, figs, grapes, blackberries, plums
- Waliking, jogging or mild physical exercise
Seasonal adaptation schedule
|Day||Quantity of previous regimen||Quantity of ensuring|
There after a new season regimen to be continued.
Regimen in different Seasons
|Season||Wholesome diet||Wholesome lifestyle||Unwholesome diet||Unwholesome lifestyle|
|Early winter (Hemanta)||Foods predominant of sweet, sour & salt
Fatty foods (Unctous)
Milk & milk products
Cereals like New rice, wheat & flour preparations
Pulses like blackgram (Masha) & Sesame (Tila)
Meat & meat soup of aquatic animals
Madira & seedhu (Wine prepared from sugar cane juice) type of alcohol & Honey
|Full body oil massage & powder massage
Using room heaters
Wearing heavy and warm cloths
Wrapping the body with silken cloth &blankets
Warm water bath
Anointing body with saffron & Aquilaria agallocha(Agaru) paste
Use of medicated smoking
Excessive sexual intercourse
|Foods which are easily digestible and likely to vitiate vata
Foods which are cold & dry in nature
Avoid underfeeding (Pramitahara)
Intake of gruels
Food which causes indigestion
|Exposing to strong & cold wind(waves) |
|Late winter (Shishira)||Similar in nature of early winter except more dryness in the body and more cold because of cloud, wind and rains prevail. So in this season entire prescription of early winter regimen should be followed. Cereals and pulses, wheat/gram flour products, new rice, corn and others are prescribed. Even Ginger, Garlic, fruits of termianalia chebula, fruits of piper longum, sugarcane products, milk and milk products are advised in the diet. |
In this season speciallly spending more time in windless & warm houses, avoiding foods & drinks possessed of pungent, bitter & astringent taste and as well as cold diet and drinks are prohibited and sleep at late night should be avoided.
|Spring (Vasanta)||Foods predominant in pungent, bitter and astringent taste
Easily digestible foods
Cereals like Barley, wheat, Sashtika shali (Rice- oryza sativum which is harvested in 60days)), maize (zea mays) neevara, kodo millet (Paspalum scrobiculatum)
Pulses like greengram, lentil (Lens culinaris), .
Bitter taste Vegetables like Patola (Tricosanthese diocia, Nimba(Azadiracta indica) leaves, Vartaka (Brinjal).
Meats of easily digestible like Rabbit (sasha) etc,..
Bevarages- Sringaverambu(Water prepared by adding ginger), Madhavambu (Water adding honey) etc. can be used .
Honey and different fermented beverages like Asava & Arishta (self generated alcholic medicinal preparation), Seedhu (alcoholic preparation by using sugarcane),
Mridvika (wine prepared by using grapes) should be used
|Physical exercise, Powder massage, medicated smoking, gargling
Using warm water all purposes
Bath with warm water
Smearing body with santalum and aqualaria
Panchakrma therapies like emesis, purgation and enema
|Foods which are heavy to digest Foods which are Sweet, Sour, cold (Sheeta) unctuous, heavy(Guru), Liquid items Foods which are increases kapha
New grains , Curds and cold drinks
|Day sleep which increases kapha|
|Summer (Greeshma)||Foods predominant of Sweet taste , Cold, Liquid, unctuous and light(Easily digestible food) like rice, lentil etc,.. Food added with ghee, sweet and liquids, followed by boiled milk sweetned with sugar at night.
Beverages : Fragrant and cold drinks mixed with sugar shoud be used, cold water, fruit juices such as mago juice, meat soup and churned curd with pepper
Coconut water is useful.
Alcoholic drinks are generally prohibited however those who are addicted to drinking in smaller quantity is prescribed but it should be mixed with plenty of water During night one should take milk with sugar candy.
|Exposing to cold breeze
Staying in cool places
Recreation in the lakes, wells , rivers and forests.
Dress should be of very thin cloth and sprinkled with perfumes.
Sleeping in apartment equipped with water fountains during day and during nights in an open area
Anointing body with camphor and sandal paste
Day time sleep
|Foods predominant taste of pungent, sour and salty Alcoholic drinks should not be taken or taken in very little quantity or with addition of large quantity of water||Excessive physical exercise , Basking in sun |
Exertional activities or hard work
Excessive Sexual intercourse
|Rainy (Varsha ritu)||Foods with predominant taste of sour & salt
Uunctous foods .
Foods like Barley, Rice & Wheat
Meat of arid animals/Meat soup
Yusha (Soups prepared with pulses)/ Vegetables soup
Alcoholic preparations like madhvika (wine prepared from madhuka indica) or arishta (fermented preparations) type of liquor,
Boiled and cooled water
In all preparations honey should be added
|Rubbing the body with unctuous material(oil) after the bath
Anointing of body with aqualaria
Sleeping in upper storied cool room to avoid moisture with heavy coverings
|Foods which are heavy to digest like meat
Groat (Water mixed th flour) (Mantha)
Excessive intake of liquids (Ati drava)
|Sexual intercourse |
Exposing to dews, getting wet in rain Barefoot walking
Exposure to sun rays
Staying at river bank
|Autumn (Sharad ritu)||Foods predominat with sweet taste, bitter tastes & Cold properties
Foods which are laghu (Easy to digest) in nature
Cereals like Rice & wheat
Pulses like Green gram
Meat of wild animals like common quill, grey partridge, antelope, sheep, wapiti and rabbit,
Fruits like Amalaki(Gooseberry), vegetables like patola (Tricosanthese diocia)
Honey & Sugar candy
|Panchakarmas like Purgation & bloodletting
One should pass evenings on the upper part of house enjoying the white moon light (moon rays first three hours of night are health promotive)
Body well - adorned with paste of sandal, camphor and with garlands of pearls and attractive dress
One may swim in tanks decorated with lotus and lilly.
Applying paste of sandal
Having food only when there is hunger
|Astringent, bitter, sour & hot substances
Excessive oil & fat substances
Meat of aquatic and marshy animals
Excessive Sexual intercourse
Sun bath (Exposing to sun light)
Exposing to frost
[Cha. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/46 & Su. Sa. Uttara Tantra 64/20]
Contemporary approach and researches
Impact of seasonal variation on health:
All these facts are well studied and presented by Ayurveda scientists along with the management protocol. More over recent studies have shown changes in the biochemical parameters along with seasonal variations. The physical health impacts of climate change, especially infections, allergies, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases are now well recognized. These objective evidences can be considered as a reflection of the physiological imbalance occurring in the equilibrium of tridosha due to seasonal variations, progressing to a pathological state as a result of unhealthy diet and regimen. So, in order to prevent seasonal outbreak of diseases, a regimen should be designed, including currently available facilities. For that a thorough knowledge of the physiological imbalances occurring in various seasons in terms of dosha vitiation, status of agni and bala are very essential.
The season is a variation for a particular time which includes environmental factors which consist of nature of land, water, atmospheric temperature, humidity, wind, rain, clouds and atmospheric pressure. All these factors undergo a continuous change and at a time, when no two movements are exactly alike in a given place.
Some studies are carried out to establish the influence of seasonal changes on the development of opportunistic diseases. These show the effect of photo period on immune function and hormone synthesis has a positive result. It also showed that time of the year is important in changing the glucocortcoid concentrations in unstressed and stressed animals.
A study was conducted to assess the biophysical, and biochemical changes and provocation of tridosha in ritusandhi. It shows that there was a increasing and decreasing pattern in biochemical changes within normal variations, but the changes were not remarkable. The study is also evident of occuring jwara (fever), pratishyaya (rhinitis), alasya (tiredness) frequently with dominance of vata and kapha provocation.
Based on the principles of ritucharya, a study has been conducted on healthy volunteers to assess the bala (physical strength) in different ritus (seasons). The study showed that maximum bala was seen during winter (hemanta ritu), moderate bala during spring (vasanta ritu) and minimum bala during rainy season (varsha ritu). Other systems of medicine also considered the effect of seasons on health. For instance, father of modern medicine, Hippocrates says that whoever wishes to investigate medicine properly should proceed thus in the first place to consider the seasons of the year and what affects of each of them produces. Tibetian system also believes that seasonal regimens are powerful instruments in prevention of diseases.
Variation in state of dosha in different ritu results in diseases if the prescribed regiment is not followed. For example, increased occurrence of flu, dry skin in winter, heat stroke in summer, pollen allergy in spring, high incidence of air and water borne diseases in rainy season and skin diseases in autumn are observed. Few studies show positive correlation between attack of asthma in winter season. Contemporary science also have evidences regarding seasonal affective disorders (SADs).
Understainding of Ayurvedic concept of seasonal divisions (ritu vibhaga) is mainly based on specific characteristic features of seasons (lakshanas), based on the hindu calendar months (masa) and stars (rashi). In present scenario, the characteristic features of classically mentioned characteristic features are not uniform all over the geaographical areas. But still specific features during seasons based on biological and external environmental changes during the each seasons are observed. In this connection, a few reviews eshtablish the relation between ritus and gut microbial changes and their effect on health. The food habits and lifestyle changes during each season (ritu) changes the free living microorganism in gut. This increases individual susceptibility to inflammatory as well as metabolic diseases such as non- communicable diseases. Adopting a proper seasonal regimen including seasonal purification enhances the gut acclimatization, thus prevent the pathological manifestation of seasonal diseases and maintain health.
A seasonal change in immune function has also been observed by researchers during animal studies. Immunological parameters like spleen mass, white blood cells, cellular immunity, IgG and IgM levels showed seasonal changes. Cellular immunity was found to be high in winter than in summer.
Clinical researches on ritucharya
- Abha shankar (2021). A preventive trial on ritucharya in seasonal disease of Greeshma ritu- A non-randomized controlled trial . PG Dissertation, KUHS, Kerala.
- Ramesh Kumar L (2016). Concept of Kaala in relation to ecological, physiological and biochemical changes in Greeshma ritu. PhD Thesis, GAU, Jamnagar, Gujarat.
- Lakshmi V. (2012). An interventional trial on preomotion of positive health through seasonal purification w.s.r toSarat Ritu. PG Dissertation, KUHS, Kerala
- Neeru nathani, J.K. Samaria & S.K.Tiwari. Evaluation of the effect of ritucharya on spirometric parameters in patients of Bronchial asthma. International Journal of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences (IJMPS) 4 (2). 2014: 111-118. BHU, Varanasi
References from other Ayurveda classics
- Sushruta Samhita :
- Time and its importance, Units and definition of time, Months and Seasons [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/3-6]
- Solistices and their characteristic features [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/7-9]
- Nomencluature of ritus, seasonal changes [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/10-13]
- Purification of doshas [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/14-15]
- Progression of doshas in 24 hours [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/16]
- Description of normal ritus [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/17-20]
- Effects of abnormal ritu, causes and management [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/21]
- Characteristics of different seasons [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/23-39] and purification according to seasons [Su. Sa. Sutra Sthana 6/40]
- Importance of following seasonal regimen [Su. Sa. Uttara Tantra 64/5 & 55] and Do’s & Dont’s of different seasons [Su. Sa. Uttara Tantra 64/54]
- Names and divison of the seasons [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/1-2]
- Characteristic features of northern solistice or period of exhaustion and southern solistice or period of hydration [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/3-6]
- Relation between physical strength and seasons [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/7]
- Seasonal regimen in late winter [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/8-16]
- Seasonal regimen in extreme winter [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/17]
- Seasonal regimen in spring [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/18-25]
- Seasonal regimen in summer [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/26-41]
- Seasonal regimen in rainy season [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/42-48]
- Seasonal regimen in Autumn incuding Hamsodaka [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/49-54]
- The rasa and properties of food items recommended for use in each ritu [A.Hr.Sutra Sthana 3/54-55].
- Dosha accumulation, increase and decrease as per seasons [Sha.Sa. 2/27-28]
- Seasons and status of tridoshas : Movement of the sun from one stellar constellation to the other makes for the six seasons during which the trodosas undergo mild increase, profound increase and derease to normal [Sha.Sa. 2/25]
- Causes for state of dosha like mild increase , profound increase and back to normal are explained [Sha.Sa. 2/30-36]
- Formation of seasons and their characteristic features [Bha.Pra. Purva Khanda 5/309-315]
- Merits and demerits of seasons [Bha.Pra. Purva Khanda 5/316-322]
- Characters of a dosha, increased in its place [Bha.Pra. Purva Khanda 5/327-329]
- Regulations during seasons [Bha.Pra. Purva Khanda 5/330-341] and importance of seasonal regimen. [Bha.Pra. Purva Khanda 5/342]
- Seasons and their qualities [Y.R.1/808-812]
- Accumulation, aggrevation and purification of doshas in different seasons and their effect [Y.R.1/813-816]
- Wholesome and unwholesome during rainy season [Y.R.1/817-820]
- Wholesome and unwholesome during autumn season [Y.R.1/821-824]
- Wholesome and unwholesome during winter season [Y.R.1/825]
- Wholesome and unwholesome during cold season [Y.R.1/826]
- Wholesome and unwholesome during spring season [Y.R.1/827]
- Wholesome and unwholesome during summer season [Y.R.1/829]
- Benefits of seasonal regimen for preventing disease [Y.R.1/830]
- Description of hamsodaka (auspicious water) [Y.R.1/8321-832]
- Proper time for giving purification medicine [Bhe. Sa. Sutra Sthana 25/13-17]
- Seasonal regimen: Rainy season [Bhe. Sa. Vimana Sthana 6/2-6], Autumn season [Bhe. Sa. Vimana Sthana 6/7-12], regimen for winter [Bhe. Sa. Vimana Sthana 6/13-18], regimen for cold season[Bhe. Sa. Vimana Sthana 6/19] and Rainy season regimen [Bhe. Sa. Vimana Sthana 6/20-23]
- Definition and properties of hamsodaka (auspicious water) [Ka. Sa. Khila Sthana 23/2]
- Properties of water during different seasons [Ka. Sa. Khila Sthana 23/3-4]
- Properties of untimely rained water- all waters having fallen immediately and without the appropriate season are not considered as praise-worthy water [Ka. Sa. Khila Sthana 23/6]
- Water fit to be used in different seasons [Ka. Sa. Khila Sthana 23/26-27]
- Names of the seasons [H.S. 3/19-20]
- Description of two solistices [H.S.3/21-30]
- Description of each ritu with characteristic features and regimen [H.S.3/32-62]
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- ↑ Definition of seasons- www.memam-webster.com Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- ↑ Khavrus, V.; Shelevytsky, I. (2010). "Introduction to solar motion geometry on the basis of a simple model". Physics Education. 45 (6): 641–653. Bibcode:2010PhyEd..45..641K. doi:10.1088/0031-9120/45/6/010. S2CID 120966256. Archived from the original on 2016-09-16. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
- ↑ Hippocrates. Airs, waters and places. An essay on the influence of climate, water supply and situation on health. In: Hippocratic Writings. Lloyd G.E.R. ed. London, UK, Penguin, 1978.
- ↑ Jangid C, Vyas HA, Dwivedi RR. Concept of Ritus and their effect on Bala. AYU Int Res J Ayurveda. 2009; 30:11–5).
- ↑ Nelson RJ, Demas GE. Seasonal changes in immune function3. Q Rev Biol. 1996; 71:511–48.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Romero LM. Seasonal changes in plasma gluco-corticoid concentrations in free-living vertebrates. Sci Direct. 2002;9:1147–51
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Mallika KJ. Critical study of Swastha-Catuska w.s.r. to Biophysical and Biochemical changes in Rtusandhi. MD (Ayu) Thesis. Jamnagar: Gujarat Ayurved University; 2002.
- ↑ Valiathan MS. Towards Ayurvedic Biology ,Bangalore: Indian Academy of Sciences; 2006.
- ↑ Tabers Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary. 18th ed. New Delhi: Jaypee Brothers Medical Publisher (P) Ltd; 2000
- ↑ Deppti R, Vandana Rani .M, Delvin T Robin, Anushree Dilip. Adopting seasonal regimen (Ritucharya) to modulate the seasonal variation in gut microbiome. Journal of ethics food : 2-2021
- ↑ De Li Xu,Xiao Kai Hu, Yufen Tian. Seasonal variation in cellular and humaoral immunity in male striped hamsters, Biology, open 2018,7 bio038489,doi- 10.1242/bio 03848