The structural and supporting units of the body are called Dhatu in Ayurveda. In modern science, it related to tissues. So, Dhatu meaning in English is tissue. In ayurveda science, there are seven basic tissues that make the body and these tissues are collectively called Sapta Dhatu in Ayurveda.
|Rasa Dhatu||Body fluids|
|Mamsa Dhatu||Muscular tissue|
|Meda Dhatu||Adipose tissue|
|Asthi Dhatu||Bony tissue|
|Majja Dhatu||Bone marrow and nervous tissue|
|Shukra Dhatu||Generative tissue (including semen and ovum constituents, stem cells)|
According to Ayurvedic Principles, each Dhatu has its own specific Agni. This is called Dhatu-Agni. This Agni relates to specific enzymes, chemicals and processes in the body that help to convert Dhatu to higher Dhatu or Upadhatu (sub-tissue or secondary tissue). These metabolic processes also give rise to waste products, which are called Mala in Ayurveda. These include nail, hairs, saliva, tear, ear wax, stool, urine, sweat etc.
Precursor of Sapta Dhatu
The food is the precursor of all tissues. The waste products of food are stool and urine.
Let’s review a brief detail of each Dhatu:
Rasa Dhatu relates to body fluids in the body. It includes intracellular and extracellular fluids, plasma in the blood and fluid in the lymphatic system. It also includes all nutrients absorbed in the intestine.
|Upadhatu||Stanya (breastmilk), Raja (menstrual fluid/blood)|
|Mala (Waste Product)||Sweat, Tears, and Saliva|
Rasa Dhatu is responsible for providing nutrition to all cells, tissues, and organs in the body.
Rakta Dhatu relates to blood components (RBCs) except plasma in the blood. Rakta is derived from nutrients present in the Rasa.
|Upadhatu||Shira (Blood Vessels), Kandara (Fascia)|
|Mala (Waste Product)||–|
Rakta Dhatu supplies oxygen to all structures in the body. It is also responsible for maintaining strength, health, and happiness. It supports the functions of skin and sense organs.
Mamsa Dhatu relates to muscular tissues in the body. Mamsa tissue is derived from nutrient in the Rakta in addition to Rasa.
|Upadhatu||Muscle, Fat and Skin|
|Mala (Waste Product)||Earwax, crusts in the nose, and tartar of teeth|
The main function of Mamsa Dhatu is to provide strength to the body and protecting internal organs.
Meda Dhatu relates to adipose tissues in the body. It is derived from nutrients in Mamsa Dhatu in addition to Rasa, and Rakta.
|Upadhatu||Snayu (tendons), Sandhi (joints), Shira (lymphatic vessels), and Sweat (Sharangadhara Samhita)|
|Mala (Waste Product)||Sweat, Smegma of the prepuce|
Meda Dhatu is responsible for lubrication and providing strength and nutrition to the bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments.
Asthi Dhatu relates to bony and skeletal tissues in the body. It is derived from nutrients in Meda Dhatu in addition to Rasa, Rakta, and Mamsa.
|Mala (Waste Product)||Nails and Hair|
The main function of Asthi Dhatu is to protect delicate nervous tissue, brain, spinal cord and support bone marrow.
Majja Dhatu relates to the Bone marrow and nervous tissue in the body. It is derived from nutrients in the Asthi Dhatu in addition to Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, and Meda.
|Upadhatu||Hair (according to Sharangadhara Samhita)|
|Mala (Waste Product)||Oily secretions of skin – include secretions of sebaceous gland|
Majja Dhatu is responsible for proving nourishment to Shukra Dhatu. All functions of bone marrow, brain, and nervous tissue represent the functions of Majja Dhatu.
Shukra Dhatu relates to the generative tissue in the body. It is derived from nutrients in the Majja Dhatu in addition to Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Meda, and Asthi.
|Mala (Waste Product)||– (beard? Some believes)|
Shukra Dhatu is not only constituents of semen or ovum. It also includes all generative tissues and stem cells in the body, which are responsible for cellular regeneration and reproduction.
- दोषधातुमलमूलं हि शरीर ।।3।। (सुश्रुत संहिता, सूत्र संस्थान 15।8)
- दोषधातुमलमूलो हि देह:। (अष्टांग संग्रह, सूत्र संस्थान 19।1)
- दोषधातुमला मूलं सदा देहस्य तं चल:।।1।। (अष्टांग हृदयम्, सूत्र संस्थान 11)
- रसा डांसमेदोअस्थिमज्जशुक्राणि धातव:। (अष्टांग हृदयम्, सूत्र संस्थान अध्याय 1)
- तत्राहारप्रसादाख्यो रस: किट्ट च मलाख्यमभिनिर्वतंते किट्ठात् स्वेदमूत्रपुरीषवात पित्तश्लेष्माण: कर्णाक्षि नासिकास्य लोमकूप प्रजननमला: केशश्मश्रु लोमनखाद्यश्चाव यवा: पुष्यन्ति (चरक संहिता, सूत्र संस्थान अध्याय 28I4)
- किट्टमन्नस्य विण्मूत्रं रसस्य तु कफोअसृज: पित्त, मांसस्य खमला, मल: स्वेदस्तु मेदस:।।8।। स्यात् केट केशलोमाऽस्थ्नो, मज्ज्ञ: स्नेहोऽक्षिविद् त्वचाम्। प्रसादकिट्टे धातून पाकादेवविधच्छत: ।।19।। (चरक संहिता, चिकित्सा संस्थान, अध्याय 15)
- एवमयं लोकसम्मित: पुरुष:। यावन्तो हि लोके मूर्तिमन्तो भावविशेषातावन्त: पुरुषे। यावन्त: पुरुषे तावन्तो लोके इति। बुधास्त्वेवं दृष्टुमिच्छन्ति। (चरक संहिता, शारीर संस्थान, 4 I13)
- श्लिष आलिंगने (तेन) श्लेषमति।।5।। (सुश्रुत संहिता, सूत्र संस्थान 21)
- तत्र वा गतिगन्धनयोरिति धातु: ‘तप’ सन्तापे, शिलश आलिंगने, एतेषां कृद्धिहितै: प्रत्ययवात: पित्त श्लेष्मेति च रूपाणि भवन्ति।।5।। (सुश्रुत संहिता, सूत्र संस्थान 21)