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Pain Management in Ayurveda

Pain is a symptom of mental and physical hurt or disease. In ayurveda, it is known as SHOOLA ROGA. Pain can be of any region, but it is caused due to the aggravation of the VATA humor. Other humors may also be associated with the VATA and can alter the type and intensity of the pain.

Pain in ayurveda

According to the philosophy of Ayurveda, the five elements in the body merge in pairs to form the three basic functional principles or DOSHAs (also called humors). These humors are called VATA DOSHA, PITTA DOSHA and KAPHA DOSHA.

The internal functions of the body, including those of the mind, are controlled by these humors. When these humors are balanced, a person remains healthy. When these humors are out of balance, they lead to ill health.

VATA DOSHA – responsible for pain

Pain is a protective body mechanism, which alerts the person about the harmful condition or experience that occurs in the body. Pain can be somatogenic or psychological. The somatogenic pain occurs due to physiological causes or external injuries. The psychological pain does not have any physical cause, but it occurs due to the some disturbance in the mind.

In ayurveda, all types of pain are considered under VATA Aggravation. According to ayurvedic theory, pain can only occur due to the VATA involvement and it cannot occur if VATA is not involved in it.

VATA dosha is responsible for every movement and action in the body. The hindrance in VATA flow leads to the pain.

VATA is energy belongs to the Vacuum and Air elements. It is present in the hollow organs, nerves, blood vessels, all other body channels. It allows the other PITTA and KAPHA humors to function in the body. PITTA and KAPHA cannot work without the help of VATA humor. Therefore, VATA should flow easily in the body without any obstruction. The obstruction in VATA flow causes pain.

“If pain appears in any disease, it indicates the involvement of VATA humor.”

“All ayurvedic treatments and therapies treat the VATA humor if a patient experiences pain anywhere in the body.”

Categories of pain

Categories of pain according to ayurveda are as follows:

Pure VATA pain

This type of pain is sharp and throbbing, and moves from location to location. It also varies in intensity. It manifests quickly and resolves just as quickly. This pain tends to be localized on the surface of the skin.


This type of pain is burning, intense, lancing, and remains in one place. It appears with increasing intensity in a few hours’ time and reaches its peak either during midday or at midnight. It tends to be localized in the middle of the body.


This type of pain is dull and remains in one place. It reaches its peak within 6-24 hours and can last for several days at a time. The intensity is highest either in the evening or in the morning. The pain is located deep within the body.

Treatment of Pain according to category

The pain treatment may be different for every person and may be different in every type of involvement of other humors. The general pain management description is given below:

Treatment of Pure VATA pain

This type of pain is treated by massaging with warm oil along with the application of heat for 20 minutes.

Vatashama oil, Mahanarayana oil, Bala or Ashwagandha mixed in sesame oil or just sesame oil is used for the massage. Light to medium pressure is used for a slow and soft massage.

Treatment of VATA-PITTA pain

This type of pain is treated with an oil massage at room temperature.

Oils with anti-inflammatory properties such as rajat bhasma, coconut oil, olive oil, and Pittashama oil are used. Herbs with pitta-reducing properties such as Manjistha or Bala are also used. Medium pressure is used for a vigorous massage, followed by a soft massage.

Treatment of VATA-KAPHA pain

This type of pain is treated with a hot oil massage along with application of heat for 20 minutes. This is followed by a dry powder massage using herbs such as ginger and calamus that generate heat. The oils used are a blend of sesame and mustard oil or a mixture of sesame and olive oil. The massage is done vigorously with pressure.

Other treatments

Internal as well as external herbal drugs are also administered in pain disorders. Internally, the herbal preparation called Asthakvargam is given. Other herbal and ayurvedic drugs like some bhasma, Yogaraj guggulu, Triphala guggulu, Lakshadi guggulu, Dashmularishtam, Brahmi, and Ashwagandha are prescribed.

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