What Is Ayurvedic Basti?

An important limb of ayurvedic treatment procedure, basti is said to be half the cure for most diseases. It is the introduction of medicated decoction or oil through the rectal or genitourinary tract, and is aimed at cleansing the colon. In ancient times, the bladders of animals such as ox, buffalo were disinfected, cleansed, tanned, softened and used as an equipment for holding the liquid medicine before injecting it into the rectum. This gave basti, literally translating to “bladder”, its name.

Who Should Undergo Basti?

The benefits of basti can be derived by diagnosed as well as healthy individuals, as it promotes strength, development of tissues, imparts longevity, clarity of senses and improves immunity. Vata dosha, which is particularly aggravated during rainy season, is said to be the ideal time for basti. Nonetheless, based on the body constitution and climatic changes, it can be opted for at any time, based on the advise of your physician.


Illnesses That Basti Can Cure

Several illnesses arising due to old age, where vata is the dominant phase of life, respond to basti. Vata dosha governs the body movements, organ functions, reflexes and is prime in maintaining pitta and kapha dosha in equilibrium. Vata dosha is mainly localized in the pakvashaya i.e., large intestine, as well as the lower portion of the body below the umbilicus. Basti is effective in controlling and alleviating disorders arising of vitiated vata and acts on relieving vata specific symptoms like pain, dryness, numbness, tremors, immobility. Basti helps the treatment of arthritis, cervical spondylitis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, paralysis, Parkinsons, intestinal cleansing, allergic disorders, infertility, hemorrhoids, spleen disorders, back pain, muscular spasms and reproductive disorders.1

Who Should Avoid Basti?

This procedure is best avoided if the patient is in a state of terror, grieving, mentally unfit, experiencing excessive thirst/hunger, vomiting, delirius, having episodes of epileptic seizures, persistent coughing or hiccups, breathless and restless. Individuals diagnosed with an advanced stage of anemia, jaundice, skin disorders, edema, diabetes are also contraindicated. Basti with mild potency of herbal preparation is given for treating people with weaker constitution, the elderly and infants.


Types Of Basti

There are three broad categories of basti2:

1. Niruha Basti (Decoction Enema)

This mainly consists of herbal decoction and is mixed with honey, salt and oil for cleansing and purifying.


2. Anuvasana Basti (Oil Enema)

Oil enema is predominantly made of herbal oil and is used mainly to combat the dryness of vata and rejuvenate the body. Oil basti is absorbed and effective in a body which is previously cleansed by the niruha basti.

3. Uttar Basti (Urethra Cleansing)

Uttar basti is the introduction of decoction or oil through the urinary or genitourinary tracts for treating bladder and gynecological complaints.


Basti can further classified into matra basti (daily oil enema), karma basti (course of 30 enemas), kaala basti (course of 15 enemas), yoga basti (course of 8 enemas), shodhan basti (colon enema), and lekhan basti (excess fat cleansing), based on the proportion and type of herbs, their effects, alternation and combination of decoction/oil basti, as recommended by the physician.

Basti Procedure

  • The ayurvedic physician carefully considers the patient’s physical and mental strength, type of disease before administering a basti.
  • The patient is admitted in the facility and is prepared with oleation, steam as deemed appropriate for loosening the toxins from the body channels and its easy expulsion.
  • Patient is advised to void his stool/urine and then lie on the bed in the left lateral position with his left knee extended and the right knee flexed forward for accurate positioning and ease of administering the medicine.
  • The therapist diligently inserts catheter into the rectum and with uniform pressure injects liquid medicine from the basti equipment, thereafter the catheter is removed and leg side of the bed is slightly raised.
  • The patient is advised to lie for ten-fifteen minutes in order to prevent the out-flux of medicine instantly.
  • Thereafter, he is carefully monitored and is also encouraged to attend the urges.
  • The procedure’s success rate depends upon the absence of any distressing symptom and on the timely discharge of injected medicine with flatus and fecal matter, which is ideally within 45 minutes and can however vary on the type of basti.
  • The patient ideally feels light and weak after the procedure and is therefore advised to take a shower, rest and have light meals to regain strength.

Ancient scholars have given a logical analogy to explain the effects of basti to the remote parts of our body by comparing it with watering a tree. Similar to the process by which the nutrient from water is absorbed by the roots and nourishes the entire tree, the potency of medicines administered during basti spreads from the intestine into the entire body.