Pathya is essential during treatment and while taking any medicines. The aim of Pathya is to eliminate the cause of the disease and to set up a routine and other circumstances favourable for proper cure. Avoiding aspects opposed to the special characteristics of the prescribed medicines and complying with those factors that increase the potency of the medicines is also one of the aims of Pathya. Moreover, Pathya is prescribed to regulate the mutually conflicting effects of some powerful medicines. Pathya is of two kinds, viz., genial and austere.
The following 16 regulations apply to both types of pathyas
- Use water that has been
- Boiled and then cooled to tolerable warmth for bathing, washing and other purposes. Discard cold water altogether unless prescribed. Those whose constitution cannot stand warmth can use boiled water that has been cooled.
- Evacuate bowels and bladder at appropriate times.
- Food should be timely and in prescribed quantities. It should be wholesome and hearty.
- Sex is to be avoided (cases of excessive semen is an exception).
- Do not stay awake after 10 p.m. Sleep is, however, taboo in cases of poisoning and some throat ailments.
- Avoid strenuous exertion. This is not applicable in cases of obesity, Kapha diseases, adiposity and some kind of skin diseases.
- Excitement due to anger or sorrow is to be avoided. This may need modifications in cases originating from emotional upsets and in some demonological and mental cases.
- Keep away from dew, wind, smoke, dust, rain and sun. However sunshine is favoured in leucoderma, leprosy and allied cases.
- Wayfaring and traveling in ill-ventilated vehicles are to be avoided.
- Do not talk or read aloud or think hard.
- Do not sit, stand or walk for long.
- It is not good to use too high or too low pillows or an uneven bed. In rare cases, pillows will have to be discarded.
- Sleeping during daytime is taboo. For the weak and for those who cant sleep in the night or suffer from severe aches, sleep is permissible during the day. Do not disturb patients once asleep.
- The bedroom, house and the surroundings must be kept clean and vessels in use, bed linen and dress must all be neat.
- People and food not liked by the patient must not be allowed near him/her.
- Timings of medicines, food and other routines should be strictly observed. The rest of the daytime should be spent with friendly people in peace and listening to good stories, the narrators taking care that their stories are not exciting.
This discipline is to be observed throughout the period of the treatment and for as many days more as the days of the treatment. All those who are chronically ill or constitutionally weak should observe this strictly.
Itchha Pathya (Involving no harsh discipline)
In ailments that are prolonged or not very serious, and when too weak to stand austere Pathya, Itchha Pathya is prescribed. In such conditions, austere Pathya is likely to do more harm than good. Therefore, in these circumstances, strong medicines are to be given with extreme caution and in small doses.
All the rules given above apply to Itchha Pathya also, as far as possible. But patients on this form of Pathya may walk and talk a little and think on light matters. But do not overdo it. Exposure to sun, fire, dew, rain and so on is taboo. Red chillies and fresh tamarind are to be avoided as far as possible. Salt and old tamarind is not so objectionable for Vata. In Pitta, all tastes except sweet, bitter and astringent are objectionable; pungent, bitter and astringent tastes are recommended in Kapha.
For purifying blood, tastes as for Pitta, and in adiposity those for Kapha are suitable. Rice from fresh paddy is to be avoided. Fresh jaggery, black gram, gingelly, wines and non-jangala meats are all unsuitable. Rice for cooking must be at least six months old. Wheat is also good. Shashtika rice is good in all cases. For diabetics, old barley, millet, ragi and wheat are acceptable in any form; as also Shashtika rice, if a year old.
In most cases, assorted dishes made from limes, pumpkins, different kinds of gourds, yams, plantains, mango pickled in salt, old tamarind, ginger, pepper, curry leaves, turmeric, old horse gram, buttermilk, ghee, old jaggery, table salt, grapes, oranges and roasted papad can be used in small quantities. These dishes must be well prepared and palatable.
According to some physicians, coconut and coconut oil are forbidden but in Itchha Pathya, oil made from coconut milk will not do any harm. Buttermilk can be used, if boiled. Taking buttermilk immediately after ghee is not good. As a general rule, thin soup prepared from mutton can be taken. In case of aversion for food, any appetizing item may be taken in small quantities. Hot water bath may be had every two or three days.
Those who are uncomfortable without daily bath may bathe everyday in summer. In the evenings, all may bathe. A mid-day nap is permissible for those accustomed to it and for those exhausted from heavy work or excessive sex, the aged, children and those with asthma, hiccup, dysentery or indigestion or in acute pain or insanity.
Kricchra Pathya (Involving very severe austerities)
All the sixteen rules given above must be observed strictly. Moreover, the bedroom must not be exposed to direct draughts. Doors and windows should be opened only when necessary. Do not walk barefoot and never step out of the room. Avoid going out for calls of nature, use a commode. If it cannot be avoided, protect the head and body fully with a sheet to avoid exposure to sun, rain and mist; use a wooden sandal when going out and return soon.
Rice should be broken into small grains, washed well, cooked, completely drained and kept over a low fire and eaten warm. Lightly roasting the grains before cooking is preferable. Do not fill your stomach completely but leave space for a couple of morsels. Rock salt may accompany food though some object even to this. Chilli and tamarind are strict no-nos. One should not drink water, nor bathe. Milk is also generally proscribed.
When taking medicines containing mercury or sulphur and in the case of Bhasmas, ghee and milk are allowed moderately. In the case of other medicines, when exceptionally thirsty, water boiled with the ingredients of those very medicines may be taken in minute doses. The body and head should be covered lightly even when indoors. This type of austere Pathya is prescribed only when powerful Rasayanas are given in serious cases; when decoctions containing Madhusnuhi (Smilax china) is given for persisting wounds or when potent Bhasmas like mercury are given in large doses.
Such Pathya will provide great relief but if given without assessing the stamina of the patient, many complications like Grahani, Gulma and colic may arise and the course of the treatment may have to be cut short due to intolerance. It is only an experienced physician who can administer medicines involving Austere Pathya.
It is not uncommon that a blend of the two types of Pathya is advised according to the intensity of the disease. If the medicine is taken in the morning, all Kricchra Pathya restrictions are observed in the morning; from the afternoon onwards, Itchha Pathya is followed. This does make medicines more effective but such ventures must always be in consultation with a competent physician.