The back (upper and lower spine) is a major anatomical support of the body structure.  It is a complex structure that takes up the responsibility of the weight bearing and locomotor functions.

Blame it on the television or the computer, backache is a growing health issue, which is now common even in young adults. Sedentary lifestyle and little or no exercise or physical activity are damaging our spines.

Chronic low back pain is defined as the presence of symptoms for more than three months. Chronic back pain is caused due to:

  • Remodeling of the connective tissue as a result of emotional, behavioral and motor dysfunction.
  • The stiffness of the connective tissue due to fibrosis.

There are many medicines and ointments that claim to relieve back pain, but these medicines always come with side-effects. Besides this, these treatment options provide temporary relief and the chances of back pain re-occurrence are high.

Ayurveda has a solution for each health problem. The best part about Ayurvedic treatment is that it is very effective and has no ill effects on the body. One such Ayurvedic treatment for chronic low back pain is ‘Kati Vasti’.

What Is Kati Basti?

Kati Basti was developed by ayurvedic practitioners in Kerala, India. They had a huge experience in stabilizing the ligaments, discs, nerves, blood vessels and bones of the lumbosacral region.

The word ‘Kati’ means the lower abdomen area or the waist. The word ‘Basti’ refers to the process of holding warm oil in the back region, which has been affected with pain.

Kati Vasti is a method in which medicated oil is poured over the lumbosacral region. A circular-shaped ring is made of black gram paste or mixed with wheat paste.

The poured oil is then allowed to stay in this circular-shaped ring of flour paste at a specific temperature. This process is usually carried out for 45 minutes every day for at least two weeks.

The type of medicated oil used for the treatment of backache depends upon the condition of the disease, season or weather.

Who Needs Kati Basti?

Kati Basti is an excellent solution for all types of back problems. It is useful for individuals with:

  • All sorts of musculoskeletal and neurological back injuries
  • Lower backache
  • Lumbar spondylitis
  • Spondylosis
  • Slip disc
  • Intervertebral disc protrusion
  • Nerve compression, sciatica etc.

Healthy individuals can also opt for this procedure to prevent back and spine problems. Because it strengthens the back muscles and nourishes the nerves. It is suitable for all individuals with back problems.

Benefits of Kati Basti for Back Pain

Kati Basti is a modified form of Snehana (oleation), Swedana (sudation) and Mardana (massage) therapy, reports a study.

Here’s how Kati Vasti works:

Improves Blood Flow

Medicated sesame oil is commonly used as a base oil in Kati Vasti. When the warm medicated oil is poured on the back, blood flow towards the back increases.

Such a flow of the nutrient and oxygen-rich blood towards the back soothes the back and helps in relieving the pain.

Heat from the warm oil stimulates the sensory receptors in the back and lowers the transmission of pain signals to the brain. This reduces the discomfort associated with back pain.

Continuing this procedure for 14-21 days definitely reduces the pain without causing any side-effects.

Reduces Inflammation

Spondylitis and lower back pain are associated with inflammation. This inflammation causes stiffness and pain.

Studies have reported that inflammation of the sacroiliac joints and lower spine is commonly seen in patients with ankylosing spondylitis.

During Kati Vasti, when the warm oil is poured on the back, it reduces the chemicals, which produce pro-inflammatory compounds. Such a drop in the levels of inflammation relieves stiffness and muscle spasms.

Helps in the Removal of Toxins

Toxin overload is implicated in the onset of lower backache and lumbar spondylosis. Accumulation of the toxins over a period of time, give rise to chemical substances that cause pain and spasms in the back.

Studies have found that Kati Vasti provides excellent benefits and relieves spondylosis in older adults. In Kati Vasti, the warm oil is poured and allowed to stay at the lumbar part of the body for 45 minutes.

According to Ayurveda, due to the heat of the oil, vitiated Vata dosha becomes pacified. This increases the blood flow towards the lumbosacral region and helps in flushing out the pain-producing biochemical substances or the vitiated Dosha.

This helps in relieving the painful spasms and reduces the stiffness too.

Strengthens the Back Muscles

One interesting study found that Narayana Oil when used in Kati Basti procedure, helped in reducing musculoskeletal conditions related to the back.

This amazing ayurvedic oil is made using various powerful and healing herbs, which are natural and have no side-effects on the body.

Narayana oil provides good nutrition to the affected area. Kati Vasti increases the tone of the muscle tissues and spinal muscles.

This procedure balances the vata dosha, which is otherwise aggravated. Hence, Kati Vasti strengthens the back muscles and reduces the irritating symptoms associated with back pain.

It improves the flexibility of the back muscles as well as the movement of the back.

It is Cost-Effective

In today’s time, cost-effective treatment is the biggest benefit. Kati Vasti is an affordable procedure. Spine surgeries and modern treatment used to treat back pain are expensive. You do not need to spend a big amount to get rid of pain and stiffness. But, this natural method is easy. All you need to do is regularly follow the treatment and post-treatment instructions carefully.

Kati Basti Procedure

Kati Vasti procedure is divided into three stages:

  1. Purva Karma (before the main procedure)
  2. Pradhana Karma (main procedure)
  3. Paschat Karma (after the main procedure)

Stage-1 Purva Karma

  • Ayurvedic consultation is an essential part of treatment for understanding the dosha and health condition. There are several ayurvedic oils, which may vary according to dosha aggravation and health condition of the patient.
  • In Purva Karma, the main procedure is explained to the patient and a written consent is taken.
  • Make sure the bowels are clean before the main procedure.
  • In the case of excess hair on the back, the patient may need to get it removed.
  • The black gram powder is mixed with water to form a semisolid circular boundary. Black grams are also known as Vigna mungo.
  • Medicated ayurvedic oil is heated up to slightly higher than the body temperature.

Stage-2 Pradhana Karma

  • Once all the ingredients or materials are ready, the patient is asked to lie down on a table.
  • The patient needs to lie down on his/her chest in a comfortable manner. The back or the lumbosacral region should be exposed properly.
  • The black gram flour paste is used to make a circular boundary over the lumbosacral The height of this circle is usually 2 inches and the diameter should be 4 to 6 inches.
  • The inner portion of the circular boundary is properly sealed so that the oil does not leak.
  • The warm medicated oil is then poured into this circular boundary and it is allowed to stay there for 45 minutes.
  • During the procedure, the oil is maintained at the same temperature. As the temperature of the oil decreases, it is replaced with a warm oil.

Stage-3 Paschat Karma

  • After 45 minutes, the oil is removed with the help of a spoon. The remaining oil is removed with the help of a cotton swab.
  • The black gram paste is then detached from the body.
  • The back is cleaned with a gauze piece.
  • The used oil as well as the circular boundary are stored properly for reuse.
  • Local herbal steam and marma massage is applied at the last.
  • After the procedure is over, the patient is advised to take rest in a relaxed position.

Precautions

  • Take proper rest for 45 minutes after the procedure is over.
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects. This can put a pressure or strain on your back.
  • Avoid forward or backward bending after the treatment.

Side Effects of Kati Basti

Kati Vasti is a non-invasive, cost-effective and affordable treatment for back pain. This natural procedure has no side-effects at all.

Summary

Besides relieving back pain, it strengthens the back muscles and helps them to relax. In fact, other medications and ointments used to treat back pain may have some side-effects, but this Ayurvedic therapy is completely natural.

Kati Basti can even reduce the need for spine surgeries. All a person needs to do is to be regular with this procedure for 14-21 days or as advised by the expert. Some patients may need it for a longer duration, please consult an ayurvedic physician for more details.

References

  1. Panda, Ashok. (2011). The effectiveness of Kativasti and exercise in chronic low back pain: a randomized control study. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy. 2. 338-42. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283578706
  2. Anil Kumar Sarma, O.P.Gupta, A clinical study on kativasti and yogasana in the management of katishool with special reference to low back ache, Govt. Ayurvedic College, Guwahati-14, Assam, India, International Ayurvedic Medical Journal (ISSN: 2320 5091) (June – July 2017) 1(5). https://www.ijrap.net/admin/php/uploads/2002_pdf.pdf
  3. Vijayalakshmi N, Ayurvedic Management of Spondyloarthropathy with Sacrolitis, Department of Samhita Sanskrit Siddhanta, Dr. B.R.K.R. Govt. Ayurveda College, Hyderabad, A.P, India. https://goo.gl/FLBjKx
  4. Panda Ashok Kumar, Effectiveness of kativasthi and exercise in chronic low back pain: a randomized control study, Ayurveda Regional Research Institute, Tadong, Gangtok, Sikkim, India, International Journal of Research in Ayurveda & Pharmacy, 2(2), 2011
  5. Kshama Gupta, Prasad Mamidi, Ayurvedic management of lumber spondylosis with spondyloltsthesis: a case report, Department of Kayachikitsa, Parul Institute of Ayurveda, P.P. Limda, Vadodara, Gujarat India. Journal of Pharmacetical and Scientific Innovation, http://jpsionline.com/admin/php/uploads/401_pdf.pdf
  6. Nirmal Bhusal, Gopesh Mangal, Amrita Bhattarai, Ujjwala S Hivale, Approach to standardization of oil temperature in Kati Basti –A pilot study, Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine 2017; 3(3): 139-141.
  7. Foram Joshi, Vyasadeva Mahanta, Tukaram Dudhamal, Gupta SK, Panda PK, role of kativasti in the management of sandhigata Vata (lumbar spondylosis): a pilot study, Ayurpharm Int J Ayur Alli Sci., Vol. 5, No. 1 (2016) Pages 8 – 14.