Properties & usage of water according to Ayurveda

by Dr. Shilpa. S. N.

Ayurveda explains the qualities of water as follows –

Jeevena – Enlivening
Tarpana – Satiating
Hrudya – good for heart
Hlaadi – pleasing the mind or refreshing
Bhuddiprabhodana – stimulating the mind
Mrushta – pure
and is capable of balancing all the 3 Doshas if used carefully

 

Contra indications for water intake

Water should not be consumed in more quantity by a person who is suffering from Anemia, poor digestion, Piles, Irritable bowel syndrome, Swelling all over the body and also Ascitis. If it is inevitable, one can take processed water. (Processed with ginger / jeera etc for which one can take help from the Ayurveda physician.)

Ayurveda acharyas say when properly used water balances all the 3 doshas, maintains the health of all the tissues (dhatus), sustains life, delays the ageing process & thus acts like nectar.

 

Qualities of cold water & hot / warm water
Ayurveda explains all the concepts based on agni. Hence a healthy individual to maintain his agni has to drink hot water in cold season & cold water in hot season.

Properties of cold water
Cold water helps to relieve alcoholic intoxication, Exhaustion, fainting, vomiting, fatigue, giddiness, thirst, heat (of the sun), burning sensation, aggravation of Pitta – Rakta – Poison.

Properties of hot / warm water
Warm water is easily digestible; improves digestion, stimulates hunger, good for throat, clears urinary bladder, relieves gas / vayu, kapha;

It is good for those who are suffering from fever, cold,  cough, breathlessness, indigestion, pain in the flanks.

Water which is boiled & cooled is very easily digestible, ideal for Pitta.

 

Appropriate usage of water along with food
We often hear the advice regarding the usage of water that – “Water should not be taken in between meal. It should be consumed either half an hour before food or 1 hour after food”.

Ayurveda gives clear instructions regarding the usage of water.

It states that

भोजने अमृतं वारि भोजनांते विषप्रदं

The water taken taken in between food acts like nector & the water taken at the end of the meal is equal to poison.

To understand the accuracy of this concept, we can take a simple example.

In a grinder when we are grinding a substance we pour into it sufficient quantity of water. This quantity will be neither too much nor too little. Even the quantity depends upon the type of material to be grinded. This required water necessary for smooth grinding is to be poured neither initially nor at last. It is poured intermittently in between the grinding depending on the need. In the same way, in our diet too water has to be consumed according to the need, neither too little nor too heavy.

 

How to use water in between food?
As per rule one has to consume food which has all the 6 tastes. According to Achayrya Sushruta, after the consumption of each kind of taste of food, one should consume sips of water (quantity sufficient to cleanse ones mouth).

Acharyas have also guided that – one has to take solid food – – ½ of stomach, liquid food – ¼th of stomach & 1/4th part has to be left empty for air.

 

Simple test to know the purity of water
Cooked rice is kept in a silver vessel & the water to be tested is sprinkled on it. If the rice doesn’t become moist or change its colour, then such a water is to be considered pure.

 

Water unfit for use
Water which is contaminated with urine, excreta, decomposed insects, plants, etc. rain water which is unseasonal, fresh rain water even of proper season is unfit for use

 

Water intake influences our built???
Yes it is very interesting thing to know that nature of water intake influences our built!!!

Acharyas say that

The persons who drink water at the beginning of food – become lean
The persons who drink water at the middle of food – become normal
The persons who drink water at the end of food / immediately after food – become stout

Because of this Ayurveda says that,

  • Obese should drink water at the beginning of food
  • Lean person should drink water at the end of food
  • Drinking water while consuming the food (in-between 2 food articles) is always the best.

 

How much water should we consume per day?
Some people say – “one should consume more quantity of water as far as possible, if possible, 5 + lits per day. Many a times we feel very difficult to consume this much quantity also.

At the same time, some other say we need not / should not take this much quantity. It is harmful.

Then we will be confused that which one is correct!! What is the opinion of Ayurveda classics ?

Let us see the details.

There is no such hard & fast rule that one should consume this much of water. If we understand the role of water in our body, we will be clear.

Whatever food we consume, for its proper conversion / metabolism, our body needs sufficient quantity of water, even for the proper elimination of the metabolic wastes. But the quantity depends on the individual. Basically THIRST is the indicator for the need of water in our body.

For ex –

  1. a) If someone lives in coastal area
  2. b) If the season is summer
  3. c) if someone does heavy exercises / heavy work like agriculture etc,

then because of more sweating, water loss will be more from our body & body needs more water.

If someone lives in the cold area, cold season, works under air conditioned roof etc, naturally sweat will be less & also the water loss. In such a case, thirst will be less / the need for water will be less.


Author is Senior consultant, Sriranga Ayurveda Chikitsa Mandira, Healthcare unit of Prakruthi Ayurveda Pratistana ®, Mysore

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