Pinda Sweda


What is Pinda Sweda?

Pinda (“bolus”) Sweda, an age-old healing therapy for pain relief, is a type of Ayurvedic massage which is done with warm medicated herbal oils and herb bags. These herb bags also called as boluses are prepared by combining herbs and tying them in linen cloth while taking into account the client’s body type as well as health condition. These boluses are then dipped in warm oils and placed on the client’s body. Due to the remarkable pain relief provided by the boluses, they have actually been nicknamed by some clients as “magic potlis (bags)”!

Pinda Sweda massage promotes blood circulation, soothes nerves and muscles, alleviates pain, swelling and stiffness, works as a mini detox, releases stress, induces good sleep, and provides complete mind-body relaxation. Hence this massage therapy is highly recommended for muscle and joints pain, neck pain and stiffness, back pain, diabetes, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, menopause, thyroid, infertility, stress, depression, insomnia and allergies. If the client is open and receptive, then this healing therapy can also do emotional clearing very effectively. Hence Pinda Sweda treatment renews and re-energizes the entire body.


Basic Theory/Principle of Pinda Sweda

According to Ayurveda, the wind is represented in our bodies in the form of “Vata” or “Vayu”, fire in the form of “Pitta” and water in the form of “Kapha”. Such elements in nature are represented within us in a micro-form. Whenever these micro-elements are imbalanced, the macro-elements of nature are skilfully used by us to replace or balance them. This is the secret of Ayurveda – best use of nature in psycho-somatic healing. Psycho-somatic means involving both the mind and the body. Not surprisingly, almost all Ayurvedic medicines are derived from nature, for oral consumption, for “Panchakarma” treatments, and also external therapies.

The roots of Pinda Sweda treatment lie in “Panchakarma”. Panchakarma in Sanskrit means an Ayurvedic process of detoxifying and purifying the body. This treatment involves massage, herbal therapy, and other procedures. Any procedure of Panchakarma treatment includes three karma, namely, Poorva karma, Pradhana karma (operative) and Panchakarma (postoperative).

A part of Poorvakarma, namely, the Swedana karma, is a sweat-inducing therapy and can be performed by several methods. Basically, there are two types of Sweda, namely, Sagni Sweda (direct contact with fire), and Niragni Sweda (without the direct contact of fire). “Sankara Sweda” is one of the thirteen types of “Sagni Sweda”. Pinda Sweda massage is based on the principles of Sankara Sweda therapy.


Basic Recipe of Healing Mixture for Pinda Sweda

There are several recipes for Pinda Sweda in Ayurvedic medicine. Here is a basic recipe:

Ingredients for Healing Rice – 2 cups of high-quality organic basmati rice or brown rice, ½ garlic clove, 4 cups of whole milk and 1 cup of water.

Ingredients for Herb-Milk mixture – 15 g of herbs, and 1 litre of whole milk. The most commonly used herbs are ginger, rosemary, and lavender

Preparation of Healing Rice –

1. Wash the rice.
2. Heat the milk with water. When it boils, add washed rice.
3. Cook the milk-rice mixture on low heat until the rice softens and absorbs the liquid.
4. Add garlic pieces to the cooked rice, approximately five minutes before finishing. Remove from the heat once the rice is done.

Preparation of Herb-Milk Mixture –

1. Grind the herbs in a coffee grinder and mix in equal proportion.
2. You can add a teaspoon of Curcuma (a tropical Asian plant that yields spices such as turmeric) which is an excellent pain remedy.
3. You can also prepare your own mixture by adding other herbs such as cayenne pepper (a caustic hot-tasting red powder made from ground dried chilli peppers), sage (an aromatic plant whose greyish-green leaves are used as a food flavouring substance), and mint.
4. Pour one bottle of whole milk into a wide bowl, and add two tablespoons of the ground herbs. Heat the herb-milk mixture until it boils, and then simmer for a minute. Once this is done, remove and leave the mixture aside for five minutes.

Preparation of Boluses (hot herb bags) –

1. Put a linen rag over a deep plate. In the middle of the linen rag put one tablespoon full of hot healing rice. Then shape it into a ball, wrap the ends of the linen rag, and tie them with a ribbon or a rope.
2. Take another linen rag and repeat the procedure.
3. Soak the linen bags into the hot herb-milk mixture. Leave these bags to soak for the herb-based milk to fully infuse the healing rice.


Pinda Sweda Massage Technique

The duration of Pinda Sweda is a minimum of thirty minutes. Here is the
step-by-step procedure:

  • Before performing Pinda Sweda, a relaxing massage with warm oil (previously heated sesame or olive oil) is performed on the client’s body, while the client sits comfortably on a chair or bed. This type of relaxing massage is called Abhyanga.
  • After Abhyanga is done, the client’s body is massaged by using the hot boluses that are filled with rice, milk and herbs. Initially, the skin is lightly pressed with the bags for the skin to adjust to the warmth. Then they are circulated energetically all over the muscles, shoulders, neck and also around wrists, with a special focus on the painful areas. Also, it is advisable for the massage therapist to hold the hot herb bag where it is tied with a rope, so as to isolate the hand from the extremely warm bag.
  • The warmth of the linen herb bags opens the body’s channels and promotes circulation, thus letting the healing milk and rice to penetrate deep into the tissue. The anti-inflammatory effect of milk nourishes, hydrates and rejuvenates the skin. Hence the client’s skin becomes gentler and glows.
  • The bags must be changed all of the time because the treatment has to be warm and it has to make the body sweat.
  • After the treatment, the client’s body is wrapped in a sheet and the client is advised to rest for fifteen minutes.
  • Then the client should take a shower or a hot bath. A treatment session in the evening would induce a good night’s sleep.


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