Swelling refers to the enlargement of a body part, which is caused due to fluid buildup or inflammation. Swelling can either be localised (in one section of the body) or generalised (all over the body). Some people experience a slight swelling in the legs, especially in the lower legs, due to walking or standing for a long time. It more frequently reported in the warmer months of the year. This is an example of localised swelling. Generalised swelling occurs in case of chronic or severe disease or in case of organ failure.

Swelling or oedema is of two types – pitting (when the swollen area is pressed, it leaves a dent, which gradually fills back) and non-pitting (no dent is seen when the swollen area is pressed).

The Ayurvedic term for swelling is shotha. As per Ayurveda, swelling in the body occurs due to a disturbance in organ function. Heaviness in the body and discolouration of the swollen part are some of the general symptoms of swelling.

Ayurvedic procedures of abhyanga (oil massage), lepas (coating the affected body part with medications) and raktamokshana (bloodletting) help get rid of the excess dosha and toxins in the body. Arjuna, shunthi (dried ginger), eranda (castor) and punarnava (red hogweed) are some of the herbs used to reduce swelling. Ayurvedic preparations of chandraprabha gutika, punarvasava, dashamoolarishta and arogyavardhini vati are effective in reducing swelling. Including old rice, buttermilk, horseradish, radish and pointed gourd in the daily diet and avoiding incompatible food combinations, sexual intercourse and long walks will help improve oedema.

  1. Ayurvedic view of swelling
  2. Ayurvedic treatment for swelling
  3. Ayurvedic herbs and medicines for swelling
  4. Dietary and lifestyle changes for swelling patient as per ayurveda
  5. How effective are ayurvedic medicines and treatments for swelling
  6. Side effects and risks of ayurvedic medicine and treatments for swelling
  7. Takeaway
Doctors for Ayurvedic medicine, treatment and remedies for Swelling

Swelling can arise due to vitiation in any of the three doshas or all the three doshas at once. The following different types of swelling are observed based on the vitiated dosha:

  • Pittaja shotha: This type of swelling arises due to the vitiation of pitta. Pittaja shotha mainly occurs due to malfunction or dysfunction of the liver. This type of swelling first occurs in the abdomen and eventually moves upwards.
  • Vataja shotha: Vataja shotha arises due to the vitiation of vata and the swelling noted in this case is of pitted type. It is caused due to weak heart function. Swelling primarily occurs on the feet; it increases during the day and reduces by night.
  • Kaphaja shotha: This type of swelling arises because of the vitiation of kapha. It is caused due to impaired kidney function. It mainly occurs in the pits of the eyes and later spreads to other parts of the body.

Abhighataja shotha is a type of swelling that occurs due to external factors such as trauma, being exposed to poisonous herbs, getting bit by poisonous animals, getting hurt by poisonous animal horns or nails.

  • Abhyanga
    • Abhyanga is a therapeutic technique where oils are poured and massaged on the body. It promotes cleansing of the meridians and helps bring energetic balance between the sensitive points of the body.
    • Abhyanga mainly stimulates the lymphatic system and improves the function of brain, skeletal muscle and bone marrow.
    • This therapy promotes toxin removal and provides nutrient supply to body cells
    • For the treatment of swelling, abhyanga is performed using dashamoola kwatha (decoction) as it has vataghna (vata-reducing) properties.
    • Swedana (sudation or sweat therapy) using dashamoola kwatha is performed after abhyanga.
  • Mridu virechana (mild purgation)
    • Virechana is performed to heal many health conditions including smallpox, skin patches, abdominal tumours, and jaundice.
    • The herbs and herbal formulations used in this therapy cleanse the body by eliminating toxins and excess phlegm, fat and pitta.
    • Virechana also heals poisoning, kidney stones, dysentery and conditions that arise due to blood toxicity.
    • Mridu virechana is especially beneficial in case of vata shotha. Snehana (oleation) using eranda is performed after virechana.
  • Lepa
    • Lepas are medicated plasters that are applied in the opposite direction of hair growth. They are commonly used to reduce inflammatory swellings.
    • Lepas are made of several herbs mixed with water or another liquid to achieve a semisolid consistency.
    • The ratio of herbs and ghee or oil is decided on the type of dosha aggravated.
    • Lepas made from punarnava, ginger and deodar (cedar) are commonly used for the treatment of oedema.
    • A mixture of haridra (turmeric), raktachandana (red sandalwood), daruharidra (Indian beriberi), haritaki (chebulic myrobalan) and other herbs is formed into a lepa for reducing pittaja shotha.
  • Raktamokshana
    • Raktamokshana therapy aims at releasing toxins from different sites of the body by the process of bloodletting.
    • It provides relief from many health conditions including headaches, liver conditions, spleen problems and hypertension.
    • Raktamokshana is useful in reducing swelling that is caused due to external factors. Since it helps draw out toxins from the blood, it is also useful in swellings caused due to poisons.
    • Parisheka (showering the body with medicated liquids) is performed along with raktamokshana in people who have swelling due to external factors.

Ayurvedic herbs for swelling

  • Arjuna
    • Arjuna has stimulant, rejuvenating and astringent (constricts body tissues) properties. It acts on the digestive, circulatory and reproductive systems.
    • It is known as the best herb for heart conditions, which makes it useful in treating swellings caused due to vitiated vata resulting from a weakened heart function.
    • Arjuna provides healing from swelling, scars and wounds. It even treats diarrhoea, angina, ulcers and skin conditions.
    • You can take arjuna in the form of a powder, juice, decoction, asava/arishta (herbal wines) or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Punarnava
    • Punarnava is used as one of the primary herbs for kidney stone treatment. It helps treat other health conditions as well including piles, heart diseases, swelling, skin conditions, asthma and snake bites.
    • When applied externally, it heals snake and rat bites and reduces swelling. Punarnava leaf juice is used for jaundice treatment, and root decoction helps treat internal inflammation.
    • You can take punarnava in the form of an infusion, decoction, powder, juice or paste prepared with honey or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Adraka (ginger)
    • Due to its healing properties, ginger is used as a medicinal herb to treat many health conditions including swelling.
    • Fresh ginger is helpful in treating cold, fever, asthma, indigestion, sore throat, laryngitis and diarrhoea.
    • Dried ginger or shunthi, when taken with black pepper or long pepper, acts as a carminative (relieves flatulence) and purgative (laxative).
    • The analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties of ginger make it useful for reducing swelling.
    • Shunthi helps in eliminating excess vata and kapha from the body.
    • It is effective in the treatment of constipation, flatulence, toothache, ulcers, incontinence, delirium, and arthritis, also ginger consumption is known to improve memory.
    • You can take adraka or shunthi in the form of a paste, fresh juice, decoction, pill, powder or as per your physician’s direction.

Ayurvedic medicines for swelling

  • Arogyavardhini vati
    • Arogyavardhini vati is a mixture of several ingredients including tamra bhasma (calcined preparation of copper), triphala (a combination of amalaki [Indian gooseberry], vibhitaki [belleric myrobalan] and haritaki), loha bhasma (calcined preparation of iron), shilajatu (asphaltum), neem juice and shuddha gandhak (purified brimstone).
    • This medicine improves the overall health by bringing back the balance between doshas.
    • According to Ayurveda, this medicine can help heal skin disorders and treat fevers that arise due to vitiation in doshas.
    • This formulation has hridya (cardiotonic), deepana (appetising), pachana (digestive) and medonashaka (fat-destroying) properties.
    • Arogyavardhini vati reduces the accumulated cholesterol.
    • As it promotes a balance between the body’s channels and removes toxins from the body, it can help treat swelling caused due to an imbalance between doshas and swelling caused due to poisonous substances.
    • You can take arogyavardhini vati with warm water or as per your physician’s direction.

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  • Chandraprabha gutika
    • Chandraprabha gutika is an Ayurvedic formulation, which is prepared using 42 herbs including trikatu (a combination of the three acrids – pippali [long pepper], shunthi [dried ginger] and maricha [black pepper]), bhringaraj (bhangra), rock salt and asphaltum.
    • This medicine is indicated for many diseases including urinary infections, urine incontinence, spermatorrhoea, dysuria, diabetes insipidus and swelling.
    • It is also given postoperatively to prevent any infections.
    • You can take chandraprabha gutika with milk, brihatyadi kashayam, warm water or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Punarvasava
    • Punarnasava is a combination of guduchi (heart-leaved moonseed), neem, eranda, sugar, honey, raisins and 23 other ingredients.
    • This medicine is used to treat fevers, liver and spleen diseases, dropsy and swelling.
    • You can take punarnasava with water or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Dashamoolarishta
    • Dashamoolarishta is prepared using 65 ingredients which includes dashamoola (10 roots), honey, guduchi, haridra, jaggery, raisins, musta (nutgrass), ashwagandha (Indian ginseng) and amalaki.
    • This medicine is helpful in the management of treating rheumatic conditions. It also provides relief from pain, vomiting, swelling, dysuria and anaemia.
    • Dashamoolarishta is mostly used as a general tonic to improve strength, vigour and vitality in the body.
    • You can take dashamoolarishta with water or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Muktashukti pishti
    • Muktashukti pishti is a gerbal formulation comprising shauktik and mauktik pishti (shell and pearl powders).
    • This medicine helps maintain a balance between the doshas, especially vata and pitta dosha. Therefore, it is beneficial for treating swelling caused due to vitiated vata and pitta.
    • Muktashukti pishti strengthens the mamsa, rakta, and asthi dhatus, thereby, improving strength.
    • It is used to treat sunstrokes, headaches and burning sensations.
    • You can take muktashukti pishti with honey or as per your physician’s direction.
  • Mandura bhasma
    • Mandura bhasma is the calcined preparation of iron oxide.
    • It is mainly used to treat cirrhosis, dropsy, swelling, hepatomegaly, anaemia and jaundice.
    • As it is effective in treating liver conditions, it can help alleviate pittaja shotha.
    • You can take mandura bhasma with honey, triphala kwatha, lemon juice, milk or as per your physician’s direction.

As treatments vary according to numerous factors and an individual’s prakriti (constitution), consult a qualified Ayurvedic doctor for the appropriate medications and treatments for your specific complaints.


  • Include foods like old rice, kulattha (horse gram), yava (barley), radish, horseradish leaves, mudga (green gram), buttermilk, karkotaki (a type of cucumber), patola (pointed gourd) leaves, rinds of amalaki fruits, rasna (Indian camphorweed) roots and milk in your daily diet.


  • Do not eat incompatible food combinations such as fish and milk.
  • Do not sleep during the day.
  • Do not suppress natural urges like urinating.
  • Do not take long walks.
  • Do not eat freshly harvested cereals, dried vegetables, salt or curd.
  • Do not take heavy medications.
  • Do not consume wine.
  • Avoid sexual intercourse.

Research studies have proved that Arjuna bark has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and cardioprotective properties, especially when taken along with milk.

In another case study, ginger powder was compared with ibuprofen to test its efficacy in treating swelling and other symptoms. Ginger powder was found to be as effective as ibuprofen in reducing swelling.

Most ayurvedic herbs and treatments are safe and do not have any side effects. However, depending on individual traits and body constitution, the following side effects are noted:

Raktamokshana should not be performed during menstruation and pregnancy. It should be avoided in babies and in people with bleeding, anaemia, cirrhosis and oedema.

People with recent fevers, poor digestion, bleeding conditions, a prolapsed uterus or stomach, weakness, diarrhoea, piles and ulcers should not undergo virechana therapy. It should not be done in elderly people or in pregnant women.

Arjuna might aggravate arrhythmia.

Swelling may be caused due to various reasons including health conditions and external factors. Ayurvedic herbs and formulations aim at reducing swelling and improving the overall health. Ayurvedic procedures like virechana and raktamokshana help draw out toxins and the excess and vitiated doshas from the body, which reduces swelling. Making appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes along with the right treatment is effective in improving health.

Dr Prashant Kumar

Dr Prashant Kumar

2 Years of Experience

Dr Rudra Gosai

Dr Rudra Gosai

1 Years of Experience

Dr. Hemant Sharma

Dr. Hemant Sharma

11 Years of Experience

Dr. Padam Dixit

Dr. Padam Dixit

10 Years of Experience


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  2. Swami Sadashiva Tirtha. Ayurveda encyclopedia . Sat Yuga Press, 2007. 657 pages.
  3. Santosh Pal. et al. Arogyavardhini Vati: A theoritical analysis. Journal of Scientific and Innovative Research 2016; 5(6): 225-227.
  4. Oushadhi. [Internet]. A Govt of Kerala. Gulika & Tablets.
  5. Vaidya Panchnan Ganghar Shastri Gune . Ayurveda aushadhiguna dharmashastra. Chaukhamba Sanskrit Pratishthan. 686 pages.
  6. Dube N. et al. Validation of therapeutic anti-inflammatory potential of Arjuna Ksheera Paka - A traditional Ayurvedic formulation of Terminalia arjuna.. J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Dec 29;7(4):414-420. PMID: 29034188.
  7. Rayati F. et al. Comparison of anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Ginger powder and Ibuprofen in postsurgical pain model: A randomized, double-blind, case-control clinical trial.. Dent Res J (Isfahan). 2017 Jan-Feb;14(1):1-7. PMID: 28348610.
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