Our neck is responsible for head movements and the flow of blood to the brain. It helps in holding the head up which assists proper and easy breathing.
Due to modern day lifestyle and other reasons we often experience neck pains. The reasons for neck pain may include constantly sitting in one position, sudden jerks during traveling, uncomfortable sleeping positions.
Common neck pain can be cured by massage, stretching, applying heat or taking painkillers. But prolonged neck pains can be very serious.
Greeva basti is one such method used in Ayurveda to relieve neck pains. This is basically a hot oil therapy.
What is Greeva Basti?
The word Greeva Basti comes from the Sanskrit language in which Greeva means ‘neck’ and Basti means ‘to contain or hold’.
It is one of the most effective therapies for neck pain in Ayurveda which involves pouring of oil in a small compartment constructed using wet flour or black gram flour. The oil used in this therapy is specially medicated keeping in view the problems of an individual. The combination of oils may vary from one another.
Conditions in which Greeva Basti is used
Greeva Basti is effective in almost all neck-related conditions whether chronic or ordinary. It works for minor stress to a wide range of serious neck problems like cervical pains.
Stress and Improper Sitting Positions
Improper postures may cause stressed muscles in the body. Modern-day jobs require people to sit in the same positions for long hours which may affect the soft tissues of the spinal cord and neck region. Sometimes even inappropriate sleeping postures may affect the neck muscles. Sleeping on too high and hard pillows on a regular basis gives rise to stiffness in the neck. All these above reasons may lead to minor pain in the neck but if not treated in time can cause more problems. In such conditions Griva basti helps with local muscle relaxants, strengthening the cervical spines and increase in blood circulation.
Past Neck Injuries
Certain past injuries like fractures, strains, breakage of ligaments, etc may have post effects on your body. Sometimes even after recovery, the neck muscles are stressed which cause prolonged pain. This can be due to a few reasons maybe your body has still not recovered from that shock; the neck may be weak to carry out certain activities. Whatever may be the reason but proper treatment in such cases is necessary. Often people take pain relievers to counter such problems but that does not help in the long run. Griva basti is considered as rejuvenating treatment post such injuries, as not only it stops the degeneration of bony structure but also works as wonderful anti-inflammatory treatment.
The space between the two vertebrae is occupied by intervertebral disks. This spacing ensures the smooth movement of the spine. When one or multiple of such disks slip they exert pressure on the muscles and veins present in the neck and the spinal cord. This results in neck pain, dizziness, muscle weakness, spreading of pain in shoulder and arms and contractions of veins in the neck and spinal region. This therapy strength the musculature structure around the cervical, which eventually could help to re position the slip dices.
Severe migraine pains can also lead to problems in the neck. Sometimes the pain spreads from the head to the neck. Common symptoms of migraine also include pain and stiffness in the neck. Greeva Basti combined with Shirodhara is very helpful in such conditions. Shirodhara refers to the ayurvedic therapy which involves pouring of warm oil on the head and forehead of a person. This process may help to channelize the movements of brain waves and is very refreshing for the brain.
Sprains and Muscle Stretch
The most common in neck sprains is whiplash. The term whiplash refers to the sudden jerk experience in the neck due to traveling, amusement park rides or sudden fall. These jerks cause immediate and shocking movements in the neck which results in stiffness and pain. Some exercises also lead to overstretching of the neck muscles. Griva basti helps overstretched neck muscle to heal naturally with the effects of herbal oils used during this therapy
It is also known as cervical spondylosis and cervical osteoarthritis. The common cause of this condition is aging as it gives rise to the changes in bones and cartilages found in the spine. Any such tension in the spine can spread pain in the neck as well. The other causes of neck arthritis may include dehydrated spinal discs, stiffness in the ligaments, neck injuries and herniated discs. Griva basti delays such ageing of the bone and cartilage, and then rejuvenate the existing damage.
Procedure of Greeva Basti
Stage-1 (prior to the treatment)
This stage is also known as the Purvakarma consists of the pre-treatment procedures which involves proper examination of the patient to determine his problem.
This step is necessary as the whole essence of the treatment depends upon this. Properly documented details in ayurvedic consultation help in ensuring the various components and medicines to be used during the therapy.
Before starting treatment, the material is arranged beforehand. The following things are required in this procedure:
- Medicated oil
- Black gram flour
- Clean towel
- Utensils for warming oil
Stage-2 (during the treatment)
This is the stage where the actual treatment takes place. The patient should go through the treatment empty stomach as he needs to lay down on the stomach.
This treatment can be done anytime depending upon the Doshas:
But for most people, morning is the best time for such therapies.
The first step in the procedure involves making of a cabinet or a ring-like structure with wet kneaded black gram flour on the back of the neck. This ring should be 4-5 inches tall and should cover the entire neck bones.
A mixture of heated oil is then poured into the structure after ensuring no leakages. The selection of oil depends upon the Doshas and nature of the disease. The oil needs to be changed and heated on regular basis to ensure uniformity of temperature.
The various oils used include:
- Pinda Thailam
- Mahamasha Thailam
- Sahacharadi Thailam
- Mahanarayana Oil
- Ksheerabala Oil
Out of the above oils, one or a mixture of oils can be used for the therapy. The therapy may last from 30 – 45 minutes and treatment duration may vary from 7 days to 21 days depending upon the need of the patient.
Stage-3 (post treatment)
This step involves the steps after the therapy. The process of Greeva Basti takes 30-45 mins after that the oil and the flour compartment are removed from the neck. This removed oil may be stored and used for the next sessions.
Slow and light massage is given to the patient after this therapy to provide further relax to the neck muscles. But this step is optional and may not be available everywhere.
The residual oil should be cleaned using a wet warm cotton towel, cloth or tissue. The patient is then advised to take a bath after an hour or two.
Some people may experience a mixture of multiple therapies with Greeva Basti. This solely depends upon the nature of the disease.
Benefits of Greeva Basti
- Relieves pain in neck muscles, shoulder and the spinal cord.
- Improves the flexibility of the neck and shoulder region.
- Ensures easy and smooth movement of the neck.
- Regulates blood flow from the heart to the brain and in the neck and shoulder area.
- Is effective in reducing headaches, dizziness and stress by providing an adequate supply of blood and oxygen to the brain.
- Helps in relieving inflammation near bones and soft tissues of the neck and shoulder area.
Any Necessary Precautions
Ayurvedic therapies are well suited for everyone but some precautions should be taken before going through and such treatments. Following are some points you should consider before Greeva Basti:
- This treatment should be done on an empty stomach as it involves laying on the stomach. Thus, it is also not suitable for pregnant women as it will exert pressure on their stomach.
- The temperature of the oil is needed to be kept constant. Therefore, the timely replacement of oil is desired.
- Always visit a certified ayurvedic practitioner because such therapies need to be conducted with proper care.
- Before going in for therapy you must get the perfect knowledge about the procedures, benefits and complications of the therapy.
People who are not suffering from any neck conditions can also go through this therapy as it helps in lowering stress, relieves neck muscles and shoulders.
Ayurvedic therapies are considered best because they do not have any adverse effect on the body. This therapy is natural and thus has no such side effects.
- Shettar and Bhavya, Evaluation of Combined Efficacy of Greeva Basti, Patra Pottali Sweda and Nasya in the Management of Cervical Spondylosis: A Pilot Study, P. G. Department of Kayachikitsa, D. G. M. A. M. C. & H, Gadag, India, https://www.omicsonline.org/open-access/evaluation-of-combined-efficacy-of-greeva-basti-patra-pottali-sweda-and-nasya-in-the-management-of-cervical-spondylosis-a-pilot-study-2167-1206.1000137.pdf
- Sangeeta Sharma, Nirmal Bhusal, Cervical Spondylosis And Its Panchkarma Management A Conceptual Study, Department of Panchakarma, National Institute of Ayurveda, Jaipur. Publishes in International Ayurvedic Medical Journal Nov 2017. http://www.iamj.in/posts/images/upload/4157_4160.pdf