On Snuffs And Errhines

The term "Nasya" (Snuff) is so called from the fact of its being composed of the powders of any drugs or of any Sneha (oleaginous substance) cooked with such drug or drugs, to be stuffed into the nostrils. It may be broadly divided into two kinds, viz.: - Siro Virechana (errhines) and Snehana (contributor of oleaginous principles); and may, however, be further grouped under five specific heads, viz.: - Nasya, Siro-Virechana, Pratimarsha (a medicated Sneha poured into the nostrils to be discharged into the mouth), Avapida (the expressed juice of any drug put into the nostrils in drops by pressing it with the palms then and there) and Pradhamana (a medicinal snuff blown into the nostrils with the help of a blowpipe). Of these, the Nasya (snuff) S'iro-Virechana (errhines) are pre-eminently the most effective. Pratimarsha is a Nasya while Avapida and Pradhamana are Siro-Virechana (errhines). Thus it is that the term Nasya is employed in the above five senses. The term Nasya, in the specific sense, is particularly used with reference to the snuffing of any Sneha (oleaginous substance) with a view to make up the deficient oily matter in the brain in the case of a patient complaining of a sense of void or emptiness in the head or to impart tone to the nerves and muscles of the neck, shoulders and chest, or to invigorate the eye-sight. This should be prepared with a Sneha (oleaginous substance) cooked with the drugs possessed of the virtue of subduing the deranged Váyu and Pitta and should be snuffed in by a patient affected in the head through the overwhelming preponderance of the deranged Váyu and in cases of the falling off of the teeth and hair of the head and beard, in Karna-Kshveda, acute ear-ache, Timira (cataract), loss of voice, disease of the nose, dryness of the mouth, Ava-Váhuka, premature greyness of the hair and wrinkling of the skin and other dangerous complications due to the deranged Váyu and Pitta as well as in similar other affections of the mouth. 18.


Powders of the S'iro-Vire-chana drugs * or any Sncha cooked with those drugs† should be employed in the event of there being an accumulation of Kapha (mucus) in the region of the palate, throat, or head of a patient, as well as in cases of an aversion to food, head-ache, heaviness of the head, Pinasa (coryza), Ardhávabhedaka (hemicrania), worms, Pratis'yáya (catarrh), loss of the faculty of smell, hysteric convulsion (Apasmára) and in similar other diseases of the super-clavicular regions due to the action of the deranged Kapha. 19.

These two kinds of Nasya (snuffs) should be administered before meals. To a patient affected with diseases of Kaphaja origin they should be administered in the morning, while one suffering from any Pittaja complaint should use them at noon and one

afflicted with any distemper of the deranged Váyu should use them in the afternoon. * 20.

* The S'iro-Virechana drugs are Pippali, Yidanga, S'igru, Siddhar-thaka, Apamarga, etc. See Sutiashána, Chapter XXXIX (Symptoms And Medical Treatment Of Fever (Jwara-Pratishedha)).

† S'rikantha Datta, commentator of Vrinda, says that Gayi readsSiro Virechana 200201 etc., from which it is evident that he prescribed only the Sneha cooked with the S'iro-Virechana drugs as S'iro-Virechana Nasya.

Before the application of a S'iro-Virechana (errhine) the patient should be asked to cleanse his mouth with a tooth-twig and by smoking. Then the regions of the neck, check and forehead should be fomented and softened with the application of heated palms, the patient himself being laid on his back in a dustless chamber not exposed to the sun and the wind. His head should be kept a little hung back with his arms and legs fully stretched out and expanded and a compress should be tied over the eyes. Then the physician should lift up with the fore-finger of his left hand the tip of the nose of the patient and slowly drop with his right hand a continuous jet of (medicated) Sneha into the cleansed channels of the (patient's) nostrils The oil to be so used should be made lukewarm (D. R. - made lukewarm in the sun) and kept in a golden, silver, copper, or earthen receptacle or in an oyster shell and poured down into the nostrils of the patient by means of an oyster shell (D. R. - pipe) or (by pressing) a cotton plug (soaked in that oil). Care should be taken that the oil does not get into the eyes (while being poured into the nostrils). † 21.

Metrical Texts

The patient should refrain from shaking his head or indulging in a fit of anger or speaking, sneezing or laughing at the time of any oily snuff (Sneha-Nasya) being administered unto him, as it may otherwise badly interfere with its reaching down to the desired spot or may bring on an attack of cough or coryza (catarrh) or any affection of the head or of the eyes 22.

* In respect of healthy patients, the Nasya should be administered at noon in winter, in the morning in spring and autumn, and in the afternoon in summer, while in the rainy season, they should be administered at a time when the sun would be visible in the sky. - Vriddha- Vagbhata.

† The commentator of Vrinda adds two more conditions - viz., the patient should be made to pass stools and urine before the application of the Nasya and that the Nasya should be applied at a time when the sky would be free from clouds.