The word rukshana means the act of making thin. It is a medical treatment for reducing fat or corpulence. This is one among the six treatment modalities in Ayurveda. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 22/04] The treatment procedures which cause dryness, roughness and coarseness in the body are known as rukshana. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 22/10] It causes depletion of fat and moisture content of the body and results in dryness in the body. It is a type of langhana (reducing) therapy.
Etymology and derivation
Rukshana is derived from the word ruksha which means dry or absence of oiliness [Amarakosha]
Synonyms for ruksha
Apremam, Acchikkana [Amarakosha]
Based on the mode of administration
- As food materials
- As medicines/treatments
- As regimens
As food materials: Use of oil-cakes of mustard and sesame, buttermilk, honey [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 22/29], khala (curd preparation), uddalaka (rice preparation), Hordeum vulgare Linn. (yava), Echinochioa frumentacea Linn. (shyamaka), Paspalum scrobiculatum L. (kodrava) etc [A.Hr Sutra sthana 16/34] helps in rukshana. Overuse of substances having pungent, bitter and astringent tastes also provides rukshana.[Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 22/29]
As medicines/treatments: This can be considered under two headings
- Internal administration
- External administration
Internal rukshana drugs: Azadirachta indica (arishta), Piper longum (pippali), Commiphora mukul (guggulu), Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica, Phyllanthus emblica (triphala), honey [A.Hr Sutra Sthana 16/34] and scarifying enema (lekhana basti) [Su.Sa.Sutra Sthana.15/32] acts as rukshana.
External rukshana therapies: Powder massage (udwartana), pouring of fermented liquid over the body as a part of treatment (dhanyamladhara), pouring medicated buttermilk over the body (takradhara), providing heat with the help of bolus prepared with sand (valuka sweda) etc imparts rukshana.
Properties of rukshana drugs
The drug or substance that possesses dry, light, rough, sharply acting/intense, hot, stable, non-slimy and primarily hard qualities can cause rukshana. [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 22/14]
- Rukshana is indicated as a main treatment in the following conditions[Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 22/30]
Obstruction of body channels due to excess discharge (abhishyanda), diseases with greater morbidity, diseases of vital organs and stiffening of thigh (urustambha).
- Rukshana is indicated as a preparatory measure prior to oleation (snehana) in the following conditions [A.Hr Sutra Sthana 16/37]
- Rukshana is indicated as a measure to treat the complications caused by oleation (snehana). [A.Hr Sutra sthana 16/33-34]
Signs and symptoms of optimum rukshana
- Proper evacuation of flatus, urine and feces
- Feeling of lightness in the body
- Feeling of clarity in heart, eructation, throat and mouth
- Disappearance of drowsiness and exhaustion
- Appearance of perspiration
- Reappearance of taste, hunger and thirst
- Feeling of wellbeing [Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 22/34-35]
Signs and symptoms of excessive administration of rukshana
Pain in the joints, body aches, cough, dryness of the mouth, complete loss of hunger, anorexia, thirst, weakness of hearing and vision, confusion of mind, frequent eructation, fainting, frequent upward movement of vata, loss of body weight, digestive power and strength.[Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 22/36-37]
Importance in preservation of health and prevention
In spring (vasanta) season the person should indulge in rukshana activities like exercise and should undergo powder massage in order to prevent the diseases caused due to aggravation of kapha dosha.[Cha.Sa.Sutra Sthana 6/24] To prevent the complications caused due to internal administration of fats and oils, especially in persons having more kapha and adipose tissue (meda dhatu), rukshana is advised prior to it. [A.Hr Sutra sthana 16/37]
Importance in management of disease
Rukshana is the treatment of choice for persons having excess of kapha and adipose tissue (meda dhatu) present in the body. If the site of the disease is that of kapha, rukshana must be done as the first line of treatment. The diseases caused as a result of excessive administration of oleation (snehana) also should be treated by rukshana therapies. In vitiligo (switra) treatment, rukshana is adviced after purificatory therapies.[Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 7/172] If the edema is caused due to unctuousness then rukshana is the treatment of choice. [Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 12/17] Cough due to vata or kapha if associated with expectoration of sputum, rukshana therapies should be implemented as treatment. [Cha.Sa.Chikitsa Sthana 18/132]
The efficacy of rukshana treatment in transverse myelitis is reported in a study. The patient with predominance of kapha is being treated with rukshana methods including valuka sweda (sudation with sand bolus) and other internal medicines. The patient shows remarkable recovery within 10 days of treatment.
Administration of powder massage (udwarthana) along with gruel prepared out of buttermilk (takra siddha yavagu) is reported to be having hypolipidemic effect. Udwartana possess the quality to mutilate and liquefy the kapha and fat (meda). Buttermilk (takra) which is ruksha in quality and the drug used, shyamaka is also ruksha and it possess the property of decreasing the excess oil/fat from the body. There was significant reduction in serum cholesterol levels and weight of the patient.
Udwartana followed by ruksha basti (a type of basti treatment) is reported to be effective in reducing the blood sugar levels and signs and symptoms in type ll diabetes mellitus patient. Prameha which can be correlated as type ll diabetes mellitus, is having predominance of sliminess/moistness (kledha), kapha and medha in body. Rukshana is having the opposite qualities of kledha, kapha and medha.
List of theses done
- Anand Buchake (2002). An assessment of the activities of rooksha guna w.s.r to sthaulya. Department of Dravyaguna. IPGT&RA Jamnagar
- Monier-Williams, Monier-Williams Sanskrit- English Dictionary, 1st edition; Oxford University Press, Rukshana, Page 885
- VC Patil. Principles and practice of pancakarma. NewDelhi:Chaukhabha publications;2016.Chapter79, Purvakarma (Preparatory Therapies);p.64.
- Vagbhata. Ashtanga Hridayam. Edited by Harishastri Paradkar Vaidya. 1st ed. Varanasi: Krishnadas Academy;2000.
- Sushruta. Sushruta Samhita. Edited by Jadavaji Trikamji Aacharya. 8th ed. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Orientalia;2005.
- Nithin Jindal, Manoj KS, Sadhana Berry. Importance of rukshana karma (dehydrating therapy) in the management of transverse myelitis. Ayu. 2012 Jul-Sep; 33(3): 402–405.doi: 10.4103/0974-8520.108852
- Patel B, Kamble SB, Vyas HA, Vyas MK, Chinthala R. Hypolipidemic effect of Rukshana Upakrama in the management of dyslipidemia – A case study. Ayu 2018;39:72 5
- Ramteke RS, Thakar AB, Singh K. Hypoglycemic effect of Rukshana therapy: A case study. Indian j health sci 2016;9:114-6.