Fomentation is preparation of hot moist material applied to any part of the body to increase local circulation and to alleviate pain. In Ayurveda, this technique is more elaborate and called “Swedana Karma”. Swedana, a sanskrit word, means “to sweat, to perspire, foment, soften” The basic principle is sweat is brought out on the skin by inducing heat from different sources or even without heat , through hair follicles, by opening the pores of the skin. Ayurveda believes that by fomentation, the Agni is increased. “Ama”, the toxic residue gets thrown out through the skin. In simple words, swedan is medical perspiration artificially produced.
There are several techniques of “swedan “. The major processes are:-
1. With or without using heat.
2. Swedan all over the body or only on affected part
3. Wet or dry fomentation.
4. Intensity of fomentation, Mild, moderate and strong.
For persons with vat vridhi, it is recommend to go for fomentation by poultice; For kaf vridhi – dry and steam therapy; For pitta vyadhi – liquid fomentation.
Sweden Karma is taken up only after proper oleation A person undergoing this therapy is given heat either by using a decoction of medicinal herbs or by applying in direct heat to the body by covering with warm clothes or keeping the patient in warm cabin or partially open box.
The following can trigger sweating, without using fire:
2. Being inside a warm cabin
3. Wearing heavy cloths
5. Excessive drinking of alcohol
7. Exposure to sun
8. Application of thick poultice
Before diaphoresis, external oleation therapy or massage is carried out. A proper chart of blood pressure, pulse and respiratory rate is to be made and studied. Apply paste of wheat flour or lotus paste on eyes, before starting fomentation.
1. Metals Balls, sand, salt etc are heated and wrapped in a cloth. The cloth is used to foment the local area.
2. Herbs are boiled in a wide vessel. The patient inhales directly.
3. Preparing a hot poultice of muslin cloth or wool or leather material containing herbs cooked in ghee or medicated oils and apply the poultice on the affected area.
4. The patient immerses his body or affected part in hot medicated oil / water.
5. Medicated steam is directed to the entire body or affected part through a hose or tube.
6. The patient is massaged with oil and wrapped in cotton linen. Then hot herbal decoction is showered over the body through small holes made in a pot or pitcher.
7. In an airtight room herbs are burnt in an oven. The patient is place in the room and faces the heat obtained by burning of herbs.
8. The patient is made to lie on a bed below which a layer of burnt dung of cow, elephant, goat, camel etc has been smeared.
9. For persons who are suffering from quite pain in the heels –Two bricks are heated and covered with leaves of madder plant. Patient is asked to stand on the bricks. The relief is immediate.
After the therapy, the patients are advised to go for rest, avoid cold, take warm baths and get adequate fresh air.
• Pregnant women, diabetics, patients with liver diseases, haemophilics, Diarrhea, aneamia, jaundice, fever are not recommended swedan.
• Only mild fomentation should be applied to heart, eyes and testis.
• Avoid chilling patients.
– The patient feels cool because of excessive perspiration.
– Stiffness of joints in the body is reduced.
– Relaxes spasms or cramps.
– Pain is reduced.
– Relaxed muscles.
– Relieves congestions.