Ayurveda interpretation of Breast milk

       Breast milk is the most valuable food for the newborn and in early childhood. Breast feeding is of utmost importance for the healthy growth of the child. It also helps in the postnatal contraction of the uterus in the mother. It is produced to suit the digestive capacity and nourishment of the new born child and a natural process. The knowledge regarding breast milk is unique in Ayurveda. Vagbhada has quoted the importance of stanya and stanyapana as follows.

मातुरेवपिबेत्स्तन्यंतत्हिअलंदेहपुष्टये।(A.H U 1/14)

A well-studied narration of the physiology of Stanya is seen in every classical text book of Ayurveda. The milk secretion coming from stana after prasava is called as stanya. In the physiological level, stanya could be dealt in following sections.

·         Physiology of stanya formation (Stanyanirmana)

·         Physiology of milk ejection (Stanyapravrittihethu)

·         Qualities of ideal breast milk (Stanyasampat)


                              PHYSIOLOGY OF STANYA FORMATION

                     Stanya is the upadhathu of rasa dhathu. Ayurvedic classics unanimously claim that the effective establishment of lactation occurs only after three days of parturition. When rasadhathu is subjected to transformation in prasoothavastha in a female, its sara portion formed in breast region is known as stanya. This physiology can be experienced since conception.

                 After digestion of food the rasa is formed. Sweet essence part of this rasa circulating through the entire body by the action of vyanavayu reaches breasts and is termed as stanyaKasyapa is of the opinion that the ahara rasa of a pregnant woman nourishes three things - one part to nourish the mother’s body, one part to nourish the garbha, and the third part to form the stana and stanya.


                               PHYSIOLOGY OF MILK EJECTION

The milk is ejected from the breast by thought, touch, sight and physical contact of the body with the child. Maintenance of lactation is mainly by the uninterrupted affection towards the baby.

As per the modern physiology, mainly two hormones are determining the effective lactation.

·         Prolactin: From anterior pituitary for milk production

·         Oxytocin: From posterior pituitary for milk ejection (Let down reflex)

Of these, prolactin is a purely somatic component, whereas oxytocin is chiefly functioning according to the emotional status of the subject.

           The hormonal and neural mechanism involved in lactation is complex. With the delivery of the placenta, there is an abrupt and profound decrease in the levels of estrogen and progesterone in the blood which somehow serves to stimulate lactation. Now, the prolactin is free to exert its action on breasts and to promote lacto genesis. In normal circumstances, the intensity and duration of lactation are controlled to a larger extent by the repetitive stimulus of nursing. The neuro-hypophysis secretes oxytocin in a pulsatile fashion which stimulates the expression of milk from a lactating breast by causing contraction of the myoepithelial cells in thealveoli and small milk ducts. The ejection or letting down of milk is a reflex initiated by suckling which in turn stimulates the neuro-hypophysis to liberate oxytocin. Many psychogenic factors or even generalized sympathetic nervous system stimulation throughout the mother’s body can inhibit oxytocin secretion and consequently depress milk ejection. It may be inhibited by fight or stress.


As per Ayurveda, after delivery, only on the third or fourth day the dhamanis or siras situated in cardiac regions get dilated and initiate milk ejection. The first three days of deficient lactation in a female after delivery is due to the lack of efficient opening of sthanyavaheesiras which are attached to hrdaya.

So,the physical properties of ideal milk can be listed as,

·         Volume – 2 anjali

·         Colour – Sankhaavabhaasam

·         Taste – Madhura, kasayaanurasa

·         Smell – Madhugandhi

·         Guna – Laghu

·         Veerya – Seeta

·         Vipaka – Madhura

·         Karma – Vatapittasamana

·         Plain water test – Formation of homogeneous mixture

Managed by ayurvedamagazine.org

Leave a Comment: