Cut the flab the ayurvedic way

Follow Udwarthana, the practice of rubbing medicated herbal powders, very much like Abhyangam (oil massage), to calm the mind and encourage the body's healing properties

Ayurveda is all about a way of life that is in sync with nature, where there is an unseen regimen at work all the time. One key regimen that Ayurveda propounds is Udwarthana, the practice of rubbing medicated herbal powders all over the body to trigger its healing properties, promote wellbeing and calm the mind of the practitioner.

Touch is the basic human instinct. It can relax the body, calm the mind and encourage healing and wellbeing. This process of manipulation of skin and muscle is recommended by Ayurveda. Udwarthana is not a treatment procedure. It is described as a daily routine which has to be performed by every individual to maintain a healthy life , very much like Abhyangam (oil massage).

Udwarthana is a regimen that each individual can practice and involves rubbing medicated powders of herbs all over the body below the neck in a precise fashion. Here the direction of massage is opposite to the orientation of hair in the body (pratiloma), ie, the track of manipulation is quite opposite to that of Abhayanga (oil massage). Though Udwarthana is explained in the context of dinacharya (daily regimen), its therapeutic value includes a cure for obesity.

Based on the drugs used for the procedure and final therapeutic effect, two types of Udwarthana are elaborated in Ayurvedic literature, namely, Snigdha Udwarthana and Ruksha Udwarthana. In the Snigdha variety, unctuous substances like oils are used. If paste of herbs along with oils is used, then the procedure is known as Utsadana. Utsadana is employed mainly in the management of skin ailments. It is also used to enhance skin texture and lustre.

In Ruksha type of Udwarthana, dry powders of herbs are used. It is also known as Udgharshana. The aim of this procedure is to reduce Kapha and Medas. According to the classical texts, Udwarthana normalises morbid Kapha and liquefies Medas. It provides firmness to the body, improves blood circulation, removes toxins from tissues, relieves physical and mental fatigue and improves the functioning of all systems of the body.

Udwarthana helps open the obstructed pores in the skin, thereby facilitating the functioning of sweat glands (sweda vaha srotas). Sweda is considered as the mala of medo dhatu. The function of sweda (sweat) is to remove excess kleda (moisture) from the body. So when sweda vaha srotas (channel of sweat) functions normally, excess kleda produced by the accumulation of abnormal Medas will be removed. It opens the circulatory channels and facilitates metabolic activity.

Udwarthana thus helps in the development of a healthy body, improves body figure, recuperates the body tissues and reduces body weight as well as fat.


The drugs selected for the purpose depends on prakriti (constitution) and avastha (condition) of the patient, and illness, if any. In general, kashaya rasa pradhana dravyas (astringent) are helpful for karshana (fat removing) purpose. Kulatha choorna, Kolakulathadi choorna and Yava chorna are some of the herbal combinations which have proved effective in reducing subcutaneous fat.

The patient is asked to come after a light diet, wearing minimum and comfortable clothes, and is made to lie down on the massage table. The medicated powder is then rubbed all over the body below the neck in the direction opposite to that of hair follicles. The procedure can be per-formed in supine, left lateral, prone and right lateral positions. The total duration of Udwarthana varies from 30 minutes to 1 hour, for 7 days. After completion of the procedure, the patient is advised to rest for about 15 minutes followed by a hot water bath.

Therapeutic effects

Eases morbid Kapha dosha 

Trims clown the overload of Medas

Advances compactness of the body

Augments the complexion and lustre of skin

Brings lightness to the body and enthusiasm to mind

Reduces excessive sweating and resultant malodour

Udwarthana consists of a range of massage techniques including deep tissue massage, effleurage, fanning, continuous circle strokes, kneading, friction and pressure strokes percussion. Practice and research have provided evidence that deep tissue massage can restore structural alignment. It works mainly on the body connective tissue, fascia, which wraps, binds and supports all internal structures. Deep tissue massage and strokes can influence fascia. Friction and stretching ease blocks that hamper the flow of energy and life force throughout the body. Effleurage improves circulation and recovers the condition of cardiovascular and lymphatic systems. In fanning there is a sequence of shorter movements, which is soothing.

Obesity is a complex pathological condition, which is challenging for both the patient and the physician. Texts clearly specify that it is not easy to cure this situation. Still Ayurveda provides a lot of therapeutic measures like Udwarthana to minimize overweight and obesity. With judicious organization of appropriate diet and lifestyle and strict follow ups with a Kaya chikitsa, the physician will surely help the patient overcome the discomforts of obesity.

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