Definition - What does Snehana mean?
In Ayurveda, sneha is a soft, oily or lubricating substance, and snehana is the treatment process of oleation, in which sneha, such as ghee or medicated oils, are applied to the body. Snehana can be administered both externally (bahya) and internally (abhyantara), with four main types of sneha: oil (taila), ghee (ghritha), fat (vasa) or bone marrow (majja). This process is a mandatory preliminary step for panchakarma, an ayurvedic method of detoxifying the body.
Yogapedia explains Snehana
Snehana is used to detoxify organs and lubricate or soften tissues in the body. This therapy can help to detach toxins from wherever they are stored in the body, channeling them to the gastrointestinal tract. In this way, toxins can be easily eliminated from the body during the panchakarma process.
Snehana can be divided into two categories, administered between three and seven days:
1. Internal (abhyantara) - in which fat is administered either orally, through the nose or as an enema. The type and dosage of sneha used will be carefully calibrated by an ayurvedic practitioner, having considered the constitution and condition of the patient, as well as their digestive power. Prior to abhyantara snehana treatment, the patient will have a restricted diet in order to clear the body's channels, and the treatment itself is usually conducted whilst fasting.
2. External (bahya) - which can take the form of head, foot or body massage, oil pulling or gargling, application of sneha to specific parts of the body or pichu, in which warm oil is poured continually onto the body through a hole in a cotton cloth.
Snehana is particularly effective in treating Vata disorders, such as insomnia, stress, and anxiety. It is also used to treat infertility, dry skin, anemia and fatigue. It is not advisable for those suffering from indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, weak digestion or anorexia.