Water – the Elixir of Life- An Ayurveda View

Water – the Elixir of Life- An Ayurveda View
Aug 2022

Water is Jala or aap in Ayurveda. It is one of the 5 basic elements (panchamahabhuta). Water is needed for all our body functions. How much to drink? hot or cold water? medicinal values etc are discussed here

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Table of content
What is Potable water ?
Benefits of cold and hot water an - ayurvedic view
Benefits of drinking water in morning
Benefits of Drinking Good Amount of Water
Home remedies using water
75% of the earth's area is covered by water. Water is the major component of all living beings and it is the major constituent of human cells. Ayurveda considers water (aap or jala) as one of panchamahabhutas or 5 basic elements. Water provides a good medium for most of the biological processes that happen in living beings. Dehydration or loss of water from the body causes dry skin, lowered energy, muscle cramps, reduced alertness, and affects vital organs.
What is Potable Water?
Water that is not harmful to health and has all qualities to serve as drinking water is called potable water. The potable water must be free from heavy metals, suspended particles, and pathogens like bacteria.
Gangambu or Rainwater in Ayurveda
Ayurveda recommends rainwater (collected during monsoon) that is devoid of impurities and microbes as pure potable water. This is called "Gangambu". Such rainwater is healthy, refreshing, cools the body increases alertness, and satiates taste buds. The properties of pure Gangabu or rainwater are narrated as follows.
"Jeevanam tarpanam hridyam hlaadi buddhiprabhodhanam |
Tanvavyaktarasam mrushtam sheetam laghvamrutopamam||"
"Dushta jala" or Polluted Water
In the present environmental scenario the polluted sky, dusty winds, and chemicals spewed from industries get dissolved with rainwater causing acid rains. It is not advisable to drink such rainwater. Even in Ayurveda, it has been mentioned that rainwater has to be used after analyzing its purity.
The water contaminated with mud, weeds, algae, and microbes is referred to as "Dushtajala" in Ayurveda. Dushtajala or contaminated water should not be used for any purpose as it is harmful to living beings.
Benefits of cold and hot water according to Ayurveda
Cold Water Health Benefits
Ayurveda explains the properties of cold water as follows
"Sheetam madaatyayaglaanimoorchaachardishramabhramaan || Trushnadaahapittasravishanyambu niyacchati ||"
Cold water reduces the intoxication of alcohol. It relieves fatigue, giddiness, and vomiting sensation, and quenches thirst. It alleviates symptoms of increased pitta dosha, rakta dosha (blood), and poison.
Health Benefits of Hot or Warm Water
Deepanam paachanam kantyam laghushnam basthi shodhanam ||
Hidmaadmaanaanilashleshmasadyahashuddhinavajware |
Kaasaampinasashwaasapaarshwarukshu cha shasyate |
Hot water kindles hunger helps to balance Agni and improves digestion, soothes the throat, cleanses the bladder (during UTI and Cystitis), reduces hiccups, and alleviates increased vata dosha and kapha dosha. Hot water is recommended during panchakarma therapy. It eases symptoms of cold, cough, fevers, and breathlessness.
It removes and flushes ama, the metabolic toxin of the body. It aids in ayurvedic skin detox and also helps to detox liver
Hot Water for Joint Pain
According to Dr.Shirish Bhate, Hot water or warm water is an excellent remedy for joint pain. Here is what he opines from his experience
"Most of the pains in the body are generally caused by Vata dosha. One of two major reasons for vitiation of Vata is the diet and lifestyle which causes loss of dhatus. The Vata takes the space created by leaving dhatus. The second reason is the traffic jam. When naturally moving Vata encounters blockages caused by undigested ama and Kapha. This excites Vata and causes pains. This is similar to a situation in which pus entrapped in the boil causes pain, which disappears when the boil breaks. Both these forces are weakened by boiled water. Mothers all over the world know the efficacy of boiled water in Vatic disorders, joint pains, cold, cough, fever, disorders related to excretory systems, etc. The `Deepana' property of warm water causes the expansion of strotas (microchannels) of digestive juices. The increased hunger as a result of increased flow of digestive juices causes proper digestion of food resulting in increase of dhatus. When increased dhatus take their usual seats, Vata is driven away and pains reduce (this also explains why arthritis treatment sometimes contains rasayanas.) Of course, warm water as a medicine must be reduced and stopped when Agni has increased sufficiently and pains reduced. -Dr.Shirish Bhate
Benefits of drinking water in the morning
The benefits of drinking water are manifold. Ayurveda acharyas explain the health benefits of drinking water at various hours of the day. In yogaratnakara the advantages of drinking water in the early morning have been explained beautifully. Before starting this procedure one must evacuate bowels and urine. The teeth and face must be cleaned.
Savithasthu udayakale prasuthihi salilasya pibedashtau |
Roga jaraa parimuktho jeevedtsarashatam saagram ||
In the morning when the sun is about to rise man must drink eight prasruti (8 times his hand full= approximately one big glass) of water. By doing this the aging process slows down, the signs of aging diminishes and his immunity improves. His life span increases.
When a man drinks water during Sunrise, his three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) get balanced. Agni gets improved and normalized. This method also acts as Vajikarana. It increases a man's libido and sexual energy.
Apart from these, drinking water in the morning helps to reduce diseases like piles or hemorrhoids, edema, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity, allergies, and back pain.
Benefits of Drinking a Good Amount of Water
Healthy glowing skin:
Drinking 2 liters of water per day helps to detoxify skin and reduces the eruption of acne and pimples.
A good supply of water to the body slows down the aging process of the skin and prevents the formation of wrinkles. Increased water intake moisturizes the skin from inside. It maintains the elasticity of the skin and gives young looks. Water acts as a fountain of youth.
Drinking warm water helps in softening dry scaly skin. Consumption of warm water also reduces the flaring of psoriasis.
Well-hydrated skin never tends to dry. This is a good home remedy for people who suffer from dry skin conditions.
Keeps headaches at bay
Drinking sufficient water helps to keep headaches at bay. Consuming warm water regularly can prevent repeated migraine attacks.
Keeps Cardio Vascular system healthy:
Research has revealed that drinking water regularly reduces the risk of heart diseases. Scientists say that dehydration increases the viscosity of blood and plasma which are risk factors for heart disease.
Good Digestion:
Water is very essential for the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients. Well-hydrated body cells function normally and efficiently. Water helps in expelling waste products produce during metabolism.
No Constipation:
Inadequate consumption of water and lack of fiber in diet cause constipation. Drinking 14 glasses of water per day along with a good fiber diet eases bowel movement and relieves constipation. Constipation can also cause erectile dysfunction.
Alert mind:
Dehydration can affect mental alertness. Frequent ingestion of water keeps the mind alert and prevents dizziness which occurs due to dehydration.
Beneficial in Joint pains and fever
Dehydration of joint spaces can lead to pain in joints. Drinking water plenty help to reduce joint pain
Warm water therapy is advised by Ayurveda acharyas in conditions like arthritis. According to the principles of Ayurveda warm water digests the toxins and helps to expel them.
A good supply of water to the body reduces back pain. Water hydrates the soft tissues which cushion the joint spaces and eases the joint movement. This reduces pain.
Consumption of warm water during fever accelerates our body's defense mechanism to fight the disease-causing pathogens.
Regular Detoxification:
In recent years our environment is full of toxins like pesticides, industrial wastes, vehicle exhausts, etc. These toxins enter the human body and get collected in tissues. Drinking a lot of water help to eliminate these toxins from the body and liver. Hence drinking clean and pure water regularly in large quantities help to flush these toxins and prevent diseases that arise from the accumulation of these toxins.
Other health benefits
Apart from the benefits mentioned above, water regulates body temperature and boosts the immunity of the body. Sportspersons are always advised to drink plain water instead of aerated drinks.
Drinking the water stored in copper vessels can help in hair growth
Drinking boiled water protects us from many contagious diseases.
Drinking sufficient water helps in weight loss.
Drinking a glass of warm water before going to bed and after getting up early in the morning relieves constipation.
Home remedies using water
Drinking 8 - 10 glasses of water per day flushes the toxins from the body, hydrates the skin well and reduces wrinkles, makes dry skin soft, and prevents acne and pimples.
Spraying water frequently on the face and body helps to keep dry skin soft and smooth.
Drinking a glass of water before every meal helps in weight reduction.
Drinking plenty of water help to reduce dark circles.
Good water intake keeps headaches at bay.
Warm water consumption eases discomforts caused due to bronchitis and arthritis.
Drinking 1/2 glass of warm water once in 2 hours helps in indigestion.
Consuming water in between meals helps in good digestion.
These are a few health benefits of water that are picked up from the long list. Let drinking water become an inseparable part of your daily routine. Harness the innumerable health benefits by just drinking 2 liters of water spread over a day.