What Can Ayurveda’s Sarvanga Dhara Do For You?


6 Min Read

An indulgent Ayurvedic massage session can be exactly what a sore body needs. And Sarvanga Dhara offers precisely that. Also called Pizhichil, this Ayurvedic massage involves holistic therapy for your body. Take a quick look at what this highly specialized therapy can do to get you the relief and relaxation you’re looking for.

An indulgent Ayurvedic massage session can be what a sore body needs badly. And that’s exactly what the Sarvanga Dhara treatment offers. But to truly benefit from any Ayurvedic treatment, you need to first understand what each specific therapy is meant to do – even when you let an Ayurvedic practitioner pick what’s best for you. So can sarvangha dhara get you the relief and relaxation you’re looking for? Let’s find out!

What Is Sarvanga Dhara?

Also called Pizhichil, this special Ayurvedic massage involves holistic therapy for your body. Dhara quite literally means “stream”, representing the flow of the medicated liquids used here. This medicated full body treatment involves a “bath” of herbal medications, delivered via a medium of oil, buttermilk, or milk. This is poured over you in a steady stream by a trained Ayurvedic therapist, to rejuvenate the body and mind. It also said to build your immunity and slow down aging while strengthening your body.1

A traditional treatment employed widely in Kerala in India, each sarvanga dhara session uses between 6 and 7 liters of warmed herbal oil. Specially designed bronze or mud pitchers are filled with this oil, and a special outlet channels the medicated oil in a steady stream.2

Benefits Of Treatment

According to Ayurveda, the body has energy centers or chakras, most of which are stimulated by applying the liquids. It is a treatment that is suitable for both healthy individuals and those with specific ailments who are seeking respite from their symptoms.

Treat Insomnia And Illnesses Of The Head

Ayurveda sees the head as being the main “command center” of your body. When the medicated oil is poured in a continuous stream over the forehead from a certain prescribed height, it eases fatigue and also helps those with insomnia and any other problems rooted in the head, like memory issues. It is also helpful for treating anxiety and depression, and overcoming stress.3

Vata and pitta are implicated as factors in insomnia, for which Shirodhara or the pouring of herbal oils on the forehead can help. Shirodhara when done alongside sarvanga dhara offers a more complete therapeutic treatment. It helps bring your body to a state of peacefulness, as you lie supine for a length of time during the treatment session. As your mind is relieved of its stress, your nerves are soothed and sleep is induced.4

Recovery From Paralysis And Muscular Disorders

Most Ayurvedic practitioners and specialty clinics also recommend sarvanga dhara treatment for patients who are recovering from paralysis. The therapy, which activates the five energy centers of the body on your spine, can help a person suffering from paralysis to regain some of their movement. It is also prescribed for musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders.

Get Glowing Skin: Treating Skin Ailments

Sarvanga dhara can be very helpful for treating skin problems and easing sunburn. For instance, if you have psoriasis, this pouring of medicated oils is done for a duration of about an hour, or in some cases an hour and a half. You will usually be prescribed a series of such treatments daily for a period of between one and two weeks. A hot water bath incorporating medication is also given.5

Slow Down Aging

Sarvanga dhara is also offered as a part of Panchakarma therapy. It is used to offset degenerative processes, helping the elderly lead more active lives. There’s also less of the slowing down that comes with the age. Besides the more direct effects as a rejuvenating treatment, it can work alongside other medication or therapy to help battle several diseases associated with old age like rheumatoid arthritis, neurodegenerative disorders, and gastrointestinal diseases.6 It also helps bring balance between pitta and vata doshas in the body, considered responsible for hypertension, a common problem for some elderly men and women.

Strengthen Your Joints

Sarvanga dhara as part of Panchakarma treatment has been reported to significantly improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In one case, after just seven months of treatment, the patient found a noticeable reduction in the pain experienced. Fever subsided, stiffness and motion of joints improved, and she was able to sit up and go about her daily life with far less trouble than before.7

In chronic RA, sarvanga dhara is best done at stages when the ama and inflammation have reduced. The therapy helps to strengthen the joints, tissues, and muscles and make them limber, facilitating movement that would otherwise be challenging or painful. Taila dhara with Tila Taila or sesame oil in an oil-based sarvanga dhara is considered beneficial.8

Detox With Sarvanga Dhara

When you undergo this particular Ayurvedic treatment, your body circulation improves as a result of the warm medicated oils and the gentle accompanying massage. It is normal to sweat a lot as your body purges toxins from its system, while the blood is purified internally. This kind of therapy is called Swedana, a term used to describe any sweat-inducing or fomentation-based treatment. Considered rejuvenating, the therapy can help your body boost its immunity too.

Rejuvenate Your Mind Too

When you undergo the treatment, you should see not just physical changes, but also some emotional and mental results. A feeling of calmness is typical after going through sarvanga dhara. You may also find that your memory is sharper than before and feel an overall sense of strength and vigor.9

References   [ + ]

1, 9.Sadikot, Yasmin. “The influence of Autumn and Winter on Skin, from an Ayurvedic Perspective.” Professional Beauty July/Aug 2009 (2009): 233.
2.Dhara – Ayurveda’s Stress Buster, The Home Of Ayurveda, Kerala Tourism.
3.Sodhana Chikitsa, The Madras Institute of Ayurveda.
4.Shetty, Toolika E. Narayana Prakash B., and Suhas Kumar. “A REVIEW ON AYURVEDIC MANAGEMENT OF PRIMARY INSOMNIA.”
5.Devaraj, Therany Lakkannagowda. Speaking of: Ayurvedic Remedies for Common Diseases. Sterling Publishers Private Limited, 1985.
7.Gupta, Kshama, and Prasad Mamidi. “Ayurvedic Management of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.” Journal of Pharmaceutical and Scientific Innovation.
8.S., Vijayalakshmi, and Byresh.“Role of Tailadhara and Upanaha for Joint Rescue.”International Ayurvedic Medical Journal.
CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.

CureJoy Editorial

The CureJoy Editorial team digs up credible information from multiple sources, both academic and experiential, to stitch a holistic health perspective on topics that pique our readers' interest.