Ayurveda gives a detailed description of the water we drink. In Ashtanga Hridaya (an ancient classic in Ayurveda), chapter 5 in Sutra sthana deals with ‘Knowledge of Liquids’.

In this chapter, the purest source of water is described as rainwater. This may be possibly due to fact that on those days there was less pollution compared to the present era.

Rainwater is described to be enlivening (Jivana), provides satiety (Tarpana), stomachic (Hrdya), pleasing (Hladana), sharpens intellect, light, without predominant taste, purificatory cooling and is considered an elixir of life. When this pure form of water, falls on earth and gets exposed to sunlight, moonlight, and air, its properties undergo several changes that greatly depend on the location of the water resource and the season during which it is collected.

In Ritucharya (seasonal regimen), when describing the autumn season there is a special reference given by the scholars called as ‘Hamsodaka’.

Hamsodaka is the water heated by besieged rays of the sun during daytime and colled by moon rays during the night, detoxified by star Agastya (the star Canopus) rising in this season. This water is said to be pure and clear, capable of pacifying ‘Tridoshas’, which is neither secretory or causing dehydration, is said to be as good as a divine elixir and is desirable for all users.

In this perspective article, I would be discussing the following.

  • Is there a contraindication for drinking water
  • The ideal time for drinking water
  • Properties of cold water as per Ayurveda
  • Properties of hot water as per Ayurveda
  • Natural processing of drinking water

Restrictions on drinking water – 

Drinking water is contraindicated for those affected with the weakness of digestion (Agnimandya), Abdominal fullness (gulma), Anaemia (Pandu), Ascites (udara), Atisara (diarrhea), hemorrhoids, functional bowel disease, edema. In case of an excessive thirst very small quantity of water is advised.

Except for the seasons of autumn and summer, healthy persons are also advised to take a limited quantity of water.

Drinking water with respect to food intake

  1. Drinking water before food makes a person lean
  2. Drinking water after food makes a person obese
  3. One who drinks water in the middle of the food will neither be too thin nor too fat.

It is ideal to drink water in between meals since it helps to disintegrate food into tiny particles and aids in easy digestion and assimilation.

How can a person gets fat if he drinks water after meals? At the initial stage of digestion, the predominant dosha is Kapha. Drinking water further increases Kapha which leads to an errant assimilation of food and nutrients in the body leading to obesity.

When you drink water just before meals, the digestive fire, and hunger decreases. You will not be able to take food properly which in due course will lead to emaciation.

Cold water  Vs Hot water

It is always better to drink hot water. Hot water is carminative, digestive, desirable for throat and light. It cleanses the urinary bladder and is desirable in belching, abdominal distention, when there is a vitiation of Kapha and Vata and after eliminative therapy. Hot water is described as a medicine in certain disease conditions – fever of recent onset, cough, rhinitis, asthma, pain at the lateral aspect of thorax or spine.

Cold water is said to relieve alcohol intoxication and is indicated in weakness, fainting, vomiting, fatigue/palpitation, giddiness, thirst, heat, burning sensation, bleeding disorders, and toxins.

How can you naturally process your drinking water?

  • You can store your water in a mud pot, or Copper vessel overnight and get a natural cooling effect.
  • In order to aid digestion, drinking water boiled with cumin seeds is beneficial.
  • In urinary infestion, water boiled with barley is beneficial.
  • In cases of vomiting and diarrhea, water boiled with puffed rice is beneficial.

How much water you should drink daily?

I would rather suggest drinking water as per your thirst is satisfied. The whole concept of 8 glasses of water a day is not true as per Ayurveda. Ayurveda explains even a healthy person should take water in required quantity.

A multi-institute study led by Monash University has revealed for the first time the mechanism that regulates fluid intake in the human body and stops us from over-drinking, which can cause potentially fatal water intoxication. The study challenges the popular idea that we should drink eight glasses of water a day for health.

Ayurveda says it’s not desirable to drink water before the digestion of water of another locality is completed. Drinking boiled water before the digestion of unboiled water even after the digestion of boiled water is contra-indicated. Also, cold water should not be drunk before the digestion of hot water.

  • Unboiled plain water takes 3 hours (1 Yama) for digestion as per Madanapala Nighantu
  • Cold water requires 1.5 hours (1/2 yama) for digestion
  • Hot water requires 48 minutes (1 muhurt)  for digestion

Physiologically the major constituent of all living being is water. It is important to drink water as per your needs and stay hydrated for healh.

Article prepared by Dr Arya Krishna

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