Ayurveda, the all-time healing system, has some specialised therapeutic procedures of its own. Among them, sneha karma is one. It is a therapy, which is usually employed as a pre-operative procedure to panchakarma. This procedure produces snigdhata (suppleness) in the body. Ayurvedic texts compare the exhausted human body with a dry stick, which breaks easily. Application of oil to the body makes it supple. This therapy can be employed either by administering oily substances internally or by using them externally in the form of oil massage. This article throws light on abhyanga and mardhana-a specialised oil massage therapy of Ayurveda.
Charaka Samhita, the Ayurvedic treatise, advocates oil massage as a regular health care measure in maintaining positive health.
1.Massage preserves the body energy.
2.It improves the blood circulation and helps in excreting toxins out of the body through sweat, urine and mucous; thus rejuvenating and relaxing the body.
3.It protects against the vitiation and aggravation of vaata and kapha doshas.
4.Massaging oil into the body makes it strong and helps the skin become smooth, says Ashtaanga Hridaya, another Ayurvedic treatise.
5.So, one can expect good results from massage in treating skin disorders like eczema, blisters, scabies, seborrhoea and other conditions like neurasthenia, headaches, sleeplessness, gouty arthritis, polio, obesity and mental disorders.
The Ayurvedic system of medicine calls the lymph system as the kapha or mucous carrying system. Lymph contains most of the elements in blood i.e. plasma, amino acids, glucose, fats, hormones, enzymes, salts and lymphocytes which fight infection. It acts as a transport medium between cells and the blood stream. It also aids circulation by maintaining the balance of the fluids in the body. The massage technique is pointed towards increasing lymph flow in the body by applying pressure at the marma (vital) points as described in the Sushruta Samhita. Increasing the kapha activity by massage is purported to increase the nourishment of the body and give proper stimulation to joints and body tissues.
If lymph flow is increased by massage, then there are several likely processes, which may be involved. Lymph possesses a relatively large amount of the amino acid, tryptophan. This subsequently causes a parallel increase in the neurotransmitter (chemical between nerve endings), serotonin. Serotonin has been implicated in several psychiatric diseases with low levels of its metabolite found by researchers in depression, hallucinations, headaches, anxiety and irritability. So, massage is beneficial in treating these conditions. Another interesting point is that lymph contains approximately 30 times as much histaminase (an enzyme which breaks the allergy and acidity causing histamine) as in blood. So, the pathological conditions where histamine is involved, like painful and swollen tissue areas, gastric irritation, headaches, skin allergies, can be treated with lymphatic massage in order to provide increased supply of histaminase.