Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu) Ph.D (Ayu) and Dr Hebbar.
Thirst is a normal phenomenon in everyone. But, when the there is excessive thirst, when someone is feeling thirsty all the time, when person is not happy even after repeated water intake, then it may give hint towards underlying disease. It mostly occurs as a symptom of disease such as diabetes or fever. But in Ayurveda, it is both considered as a symptom in many diseases as well as a separate disease entity. It is called ‘Thrishna’ in Ayurveda and Polydyspia in modern medical science.
In Ayurveda, thirst is explained as one among the 13 types of natural urges that should not be suppressed.
But here, we are talking about unusually excessive thirst, which Seers Charaka and Sushruta have referred as Trishna disease. Based up on the nature of origin, it is classified into 5 types as Vatic (due to Vata), Paittic, Kaphaja, Amaja, Kshayaja and Upasargaja. The details of this disease are furnished here below.
Causes for excess thirst as per Ayurveda:
1. Intake of dry, heavy and spicy food
2. Intake of salty, sour, pungent and alkaline food
3. Alcohol intake
4. Exposure to sunshine, fire etc
5. Excess sexual indulge
6. Fear, anger, grief etc
7. Long term suffering from diabetes, diarrhea, vomiting, fistula, liver disorders, emaciating disorders etc
10. Vata and Pitta imbalance.
11. Excessive thirst (Pipasa) is told as a symptom of vitiation of fluid channels of the body – Udakavaha srotodushti. (Charaka Vimana sthana 5th chapter)
Origin of disease condition – Thirst:
Due to above said causative factors, Pitta and Vata are aggravated individually or together and dehydrate the nourishing factors(Rasa Dhatu) due to warm and dry natures. Thus it results in thirst.
Features of Vataja Trishna:
Weakness, dryness, thirst, dizziness, sleeplessness, dry mouth and anorexia are the features of this condition.
Features of Pittaja Trishna:
Thirst associated with burning sensation, bitterness in the mouth, headache, craving for cold food, fainting, yellowish discoloration of eyes, urine and stools, unconsciousness, hatred for food, delirium and distressing fumes are the features of this condition.
Features of Kaphaja Trishna:
Thirst with the desire of warm beverages, sleepiness, heaviness and sweetness of the mouth are the features of Kaphaja Trishna.
Features of Amaja Trishna:
Ama is a condition of altered digestion and metabolism. This type of thirst is commonly associated with indigestion, cardiac pain, repeated spitting, nausea (vomiting sensation) and body ache.
Features of Kshayaja Trishna:
Kshaya means decrease / depletion. The thirst caused due to depeletion of Rasa Dhatu (Rasa is the useful product produced after digestion process). It is characterized with voice intolerance, darkness in front of eyes, dryness of heart, throat and palate, chest pain, shivering, emaciation.
Features of Kshataja Trishna:
Kshata means injury. This type of thirst is resulted following an injury and hemorrhage. This type is associated with burning sensation and fatigue.
Features of Bhaktodbhava Trishna:
Bhakta means meals. This type of thirst is caused due to intake of excessive unctuous (oily), sour, saline and heavy foods.
Features of Upasargaja Trishna:
Here fever, excessive urination, wasting, debility, dyspnea etc. are formed as features. Here, thirst is associated with another disease.
Complication of thirst:
Fever, hallucination, emaciation, cough, deafness and tongue protrusion are explained as complications of long persisting thirst.
Management of thirst:
All Vata and Pitta pacifying measures are undertaken.
Related: how to balance Vata and Pitta Dosha
Priority is given to restore the digestive fire throughout.
1. Kashmarya – Gmelina arborea
2. Draksha – Raisin – Vitis vinifera
3. Kharjura – Dates – Pheonix dactylifera
4. Usheera–Vettiver – Vetiveria zizanoides
5. Chandana – Sandal wood – Santalum album
6. Yashtimadhu – Indian liquorice – Glycyrrhiza glabra
7. Matulunga – a variety of lemon – Citrus media
8. Kamala – Lotus – Nymphea orodata
9. Amalaki – Indian Gooseberry (Amla) – Emblica offiicinalis etc
Ayurvedic medicines for excessive thirst:
1. Kharjooradi mantha – has sweet fruits like dates and pomegranate. Generally used in Kshayaja, Kshataja, Pitta and Vata types of Trishna.
2. Shadanga paneeya – has coolant and antipyretic (anti fever) herbs. Useful in Pittaja and Upasargaja Trishna.
3. Dhanyakadi hima – made from coriander seed – specific to Pitta variety.
4. Parpatadyarishta – used in treating liver and splenic disorders. It is useful in Pittaja, Kaphaja and Upasargaja types.
5. Trinapanchamoola kashaya – made with five types of grasses. Used in urinary tract disorders. Useful in Kaphaja, Kshataja, Kshayaja and Upasargaja types.
6. Chandrakala rasa – useful in bleeding disorders. Hence helpful in Kshataja and Kshayaja type of thirst.
7. Kamadugha rasa, Pravala pishti – useful in Pittaja.
Unwholesome diet and habits:
1. Heavy food intake
2. Sour, salty and spicy food
3. Pungent food
5. Work exhaustion
6. Heavy exercise etc.
Wholesome diet and habits:
1. Parched rice + sugar candy + honey
2. Cooked barley + sugar candy
3. Rice gruel with sugar and ghee
5. Gruel of green gram
7. Sugarcane juice
8. Dadima (pome granate)
9. Draksha (raisin)
10. Kooshmanda (ash gourd)
11. Trapusa (cucumber) etc
Disease conditions wherein thirst occurs as a symptom:
Diabetes mellitus – Type 1 and type 2, Diabetes insipidus, burns, dehydration, diarrhea, fever, heart failure, kidney disorders, kidney failure, multiple myeloma, sepsis. Read more
Thirst is a natural urge which should not be suppressed at all. If this is found in excess, surely one should be investigated for any underlying pathologies. Negligence of thirst may be found fatal, when it is diagnosed as Diabetes, Hypertension, Gastric ulcers, Colitis, Hormonal disturbances etc. It will be wise if it is examined at the earliest and relative medication is followed accordingly.