Keralite upanaha-svedan is dadi maa’s poultice
Written by Dr. Madhavi Seetha, Dr. O.P. Sharma & Dr. R.S. Sharma   

Ayurvedic texts classify Svedana (fomentation) in several types with different points of view. Upnaha Sveda is one of them. It is the process of poulticing or plastering or applying pastes upon the skin. It is very helpful in local pain and inflammation.

It is known with the names like Sudation, Poultice, Salvana Upnaha Sveda, Mahasalvana, and Plastering etc. The termUpnaha is derived from the verbal root which means bandaging (Naha bandhana in Sanskrit) Upnaha Sveda has been found in “Susruta samhita” under the classification of thermal Sudation, where as in “Charaka samhita” it is found in the category of non-thermal Sudation. Application of different types of drugs on the affected part of the body and bandaging with animal skin etc. is known as “Upnaha”. Yeast (kinva), butter milk or fermented acids are generally used for the preparation of these Poultices. Sushruta praises Upnaha Sveda as one of the prime modality of treatment for the pain relief in sixty important procedures described by him in his treatise. Upnaha helps in the management of the pain which is caused due to the post traumatic osteoarthritis of the bone. It helps in reducing the inflammation by increasing the local blood circulation.

Non- thermal Type- Powders of wheat & Barley, sour gruel mixing with medicated oils, Yeast and Rock Salt can be used for Upnaha. Paste of the drugs belonging Sugandha Group like Kustha etc., Surabeeja, Jivanti, Satpuspa, Atasi & Tila Tailam should be applied on the affected part and then bandage with smooth haired, odorless skin of animal or with thick leaves or with silk cloth is tied at the night time. It should be removed in the morning and if tied in the morning time should be removed at the night and kept free, so that patient gets relief from burning sensation.
Thermal type- Paste of the roots of vata pacifying drugs mixed with sour gruel, rock salt, unctuous substance is prepared and after heating it same is applied on the affected part. The bandage with the skin of animals etc. is similar to non-thermal type of poultice. Drugs used for thermal type of poultice are Paste of Kakolyadi Group, Eladi Group, Sursadi Group, Padmakadi Group described by Sushruta. Other herbs used are Sesame Seeds, Linseed, Mustard Seeds, Rice Gruel (Krishara), Rice Pudding with milk (Payasa), Herbal Gruel (Utkarika), etc.
Salvana Upnaha Sveda A variety of Upnaha Sveda called “Salvana” is advocated for frequent application in Vataj disorders, for preparing the same flesh of birds and animals is well crushed and mixed with various oils and salts. It may be boiled and applied when it is pleasantly warm. Sarangdhara advocated- The use of “maha-salvana” which contains many more herbs than the Salvana and this is advocated in many vataj disorders. It is usually Vata pacifying but may also be used in Kapha associated with Vata especially with Surasadi Group or it may be used in Vata associated with Pitta also along with Padmakadi Group. In all cases, the parts are tightly or completely tied with animal skin or blanket or thick cloth etc. Otherwise mere application of plaster may be termed “Pradeha” or “Aalepa” etc. not Upnaha. Duration for Upnaha Sveda may be applied even at the intervals of 3-4 days, If there are any symptoms of excessive sudation, manage the complication by giving herbs with sweet taste and with the properties like Snigdha, Sheeta. Patient should follow the diet and regimen recommended for summer season (Grishma-Ritu). In case of insufficient sudation continue the process till the patient get proper symptoms.