Nasya is the instillation of medicinal oil, powder or juice of plants through the nostrils. In mentioning Nasya ancient ayurvedic gurus effectively cite that the nose is the gateway to the brain. Thus, the instillation of medicinal herbs through the nose is not only helpful in eradicating the diseases of the nose but also is an effective form of medicine that stimulates your brain. Due to such wide-ranging and competent effects, Nasya can be effectively used to cure the diseases of the head, including but not limited to diseases of the nose, brain, eyes, ear, etc.
Nasya is also known as Shirovirechana. Shirovirechana is composed of two words Shiro and Virechana. Shiro means head and Virechana means purgation. So, there is the purgation of the (toxic) doshas through the nasal route in the practice of Nasya. This not only relives multitude of diseases but also helps in acquiring a holistic health and further prevents diseases. Ancient acharya mention in their thought process that the Nasya is useful for alleviating the toxic doshas that have been aggravated in the head.
Nasya acts by forceful expulsion of the deposited secretions from the paranasal sinuses. The irritant substances in Nasya stimulate the olfactory neurons in the mucous membrane and a reflex of that impulse results in forceful sneezing, which expels the deposited secretions from the paranasal sinuses. Also, the nasal mucosa which comes into direct contact with the drugs applied. The nasal mucosa is supplied by maxillary and ophthalmic branches of trigeminal nerves and Nasya drugs act as counter- irritant reliving pain and other symptoms.
Depending on the types of drug used the Nasya can be of three types: Virechana (purgatives) where the pungent drugs like pepper are used, Brimhana (nourishers) where medicated ghee is used, Shamana (palliatives) which utilizes drugs according to the type of dosha involved. Depending on whether the drugs used are in liquid or solid or gaseous state, five forms of Nasya are used: snuffing, pressing, blowing, smoking, and smearing. The type of Nasya used depends on the condition, the diseased or health state of the receiver.
Nasya is helpful in various types of ear, nose and throat diseases. Particular Nasya is indicated in torticollis, coryza, allergic rhinitis, tonsillitis, migraine or tension headaches, facial palsy, hoarseness of voice or aphonia and pigmentation of the face. However, certain types of Nasya needs no indications and can be used on regular basis to clean up clogged up noses and sinuses. These types of errhines are known as “Pratimarsa Nasya”. Just after cleaning your teeth you can instill 2 drops of sesame oil on each nostril to clean up your nose.
Nasya is taken before meals. Kapha dosha takes the Nasya in the morning, Pittas in the afternoon, and Vata doshas in the evening or night. The process begins with a message of the paranasal sinuses using oil that are pungent. Then the applicator rubs his hands and applies them to the face thus creating a sort of warmth. It is followed by medicated steam inhalation, this helps in declogging the nose and when the errhines are infused they reach up to the nasal mucosa and help to relieve disease. However, the eyes have to be protected during this inhalation of steam.
Then, the person is subjected to the main process of Nasya, where the oil or other stuff is insufflated through the nose. It is followed by a gentle message of the surrounding structure. This helps in the diffusion of the oil through the whole of the nose. This oil then comes out through the mouth; however, it is not to be swallowed as this might irritate the gastric mucosa. The process can be followed by medicated smoke inhalation, where the fume of medicine is helpful in creating a dosha balanced state.
The classical features observed post-Nasya is the lightness of body, sound sleep, lightness of head, cleansing of microchannels, sensorial happiness and mental happiness. After Nasya, the receiver should follow a strict diet and lifestyle behaviors. For a few days, the receiver of Nasya should avoid yogurt, fish, fermented foods, swimming, walking in a cold environment. This regimen of diet is known as the paschatkarma. When Nasya is done correctly, your head gets clear of toxic dosh, there is a restoration of vigor and hale.
All the procedures of panchakarma should be performed under the proper guidance of an expert Ayurveda practitioner.