Dhatu Mala: Tissue Waste Products: Ayurveda perspective

Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) and Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Body derives its fuel in the form of nutrition which we provide to it on a constant basis through the food, liquids and air we consume.   

The metabolic processes in the body convert these food substances into minute and micro-components so as to suit the needs of the body and also to get compatible with body elements, tissues and organs. With this 3 type of elements are formed which are needed for the body mechanics to run on a constant basis. They are –

Malas (excreta, waste substances, metabolic wastes) – These are the waste products of metabolism which are formed on daily basis and at the same time should be expelled out consistently so as to balance and maintain the body mechanics.

Malas are 3 in number i.e.
Pureesha (stools),
Mutra (urine) and
Sweda (sweat).

When they are expelled out at proper time in proper quantity, the body will be free from unwanted materials and toxins which could disturb the smooth functioning of the body.

Body shows some signals in terms of urges or reflexes when these are produced (except sweating which occurs spontaneously as and when produced) as and when the malas are accumulated and are ready to be voided. Excess or deficit elimination of these malas can lead to serious pathology and cause many diseases.

Formation of Dhatu Malas or Upa malas
Waste substances are not only formed in the process of digestion and metabolism in the gut, but are also formed as a result of tissue metabolism.

After the food gets digested, the essential nutrients (ahara rasa) are put into circulation. This essence of food eventually reaches the dhatus (tissues). The tissues take up this nutrition and convert it into finer forms which would get compatible with selves.

In the process, the food is divided into
1. Prasada bhaga – nutrient part and
2. Mala bhaga – excreta.

Prasada bhaga One portion of prasada bhaga becomes sthayi dhatu (local tissue) or poshya dhatu. This nourishes the local tissue. Another portion becomes poshaka dhatu. This portion nourishes the next tissue in the lineage of formation of tissues. This portion also nourishes the upadhatus or sub-tissues.
Read related: Upadhatus: Sub-Tissues Of The Body

Mala bhaga The mala bhaga or excreta is flushed out of the tissues. These malas or waste products formed in the cells during cellular metabolism (dhatu paka) are called Dhatu malas or Upa malas or sukshma malas (sub-malas, because they are formed in small quantity). Even these malas should be cleansed and expelled from the body from time to time.

Example of formation of dhatu mala –
When the Ahara rasa (nutritional juice formed after food digestion in the stomach and intestines) reaches the first dhatu i.e. Rasa Dhatu, the tissue fire of rasa dhatu (Rasa Dhatu Agni) acts on this nutrition (ahara rasa) and converts it into micro-form such that it can be used to form and strengthen the local tissue, i.e. itself. Due to this action, the ahara rasa is broken into different components.
Read related: Dhatu – 7 Body Tissues As Explained In Ayurveda

Prasada Rasa dhatu – The first portion is called prasada bhaga or essential nutrient. This prasada bhaga once again bifurcates into 2 parts. The first part nourishes the local rasa dhatu and is called poshya rasa dhatu. The second part nourishes the next dhatu in the chain of formation of tissues i.e. rakta dhatu or blood tissue and is called poshaka rasa dhatu. This portion also nourishes the sub-tissues or upa-dhatus of the rasa dhatu i.e. stanya (breast milk) and aartava (menstrual blood, ovum).
Read related: Understanding Digestion Process From An Ayurveda View

Mala bhaga – The second portion is formed after the metabolism is completed and is formed in the form of waste substances. This is called mala or rasa dhatu mala. Kapha or phlegm is the mala of Rasa dhatu. This kapha is injurious to the rasa dhatu if it is held back. Therefore this kapha is expelled from the tissue. (This kapha is different from the kapha formed during the process of digestion i.e. avasthapaka. The kapha formed at the end of the first part of digestion i.e. madhura avasthapaka in the stomach is the kapha which has the form of dhatu. It is the kapha which is needed for the body functions).

In the similar sequence, the other dhatu malas are also formed.
Thus the total detoxification of the body takes place only after the sthula malas (major excreta i.e. stools, urine and sweat formed at the end of the metabolism in the gut) and sukshma malas or dhatu malas (tissue excreta formed during tissue metabolism) are expelled from the body.

The Dhatu malas
कफः पित्तं मालः खेषु प्रस्वेदो नख रोम च।
नेत्र विट् त्वक्षु च स्नेहो धातूनाम् क्रमशो मलाः॥(च.चि.१५)
Rasa dhatu (Lymph, plasma)  – Kapha
Rakta dhatu (Blood) – Pitta
Mamsa dhatu (Muscle) – Karna mala (ear wax), Netra mala (eye discharges), Nasa mala (nasal discharges or mucus)
Asya mala (oral debris), Roma kupa mala (sebum), Prajanana mala (smegma)
Medo dhatu (Fat) – Sweda (sweat)
Asthi dhatu (Bone) – Roma (body hair), Nakha (nails)
Majja dhatu (bone marrow)  – Charma sneha (sebacious secretions), Netra vit (thick secretions from the eye), Pureesha sneha (mucus of faeces)
Shukra Dhatu (semen, reproductive fluid) – No mala, but some people believe that the smashrus (moustache) are the mala of shukra

Need for studying Dhatu Malas
A precise knowledge of Dhatu malas is needed because they are the unwanted materials of the body which need to be flushed out on regular basis. If they are not cleansed, they stay back and damage the tissue and tissue functions. When the tissue metabolism gets disturbed, it will have a gross impact on all the tissues, general health and immunity. The tissue produces these malas and tries to expel them from time to time. We only need to facilitate the process. We may have to manually remove the impacted discharges and secretions of the eye, nose, tongue, ear etc. We may have to clean our skin regularly and facilitate easy sweating process. It is also our duty to regularly trim our body hairs, nails and moustaches. This not only helps in expelling the malas but also will help us look good and healthy.

Just before Finishing –
The concept of dhatu malas is an exemplary science and depicts the earliest knowledge of the tissue metabolism and tissue wastes and toxins. The knowledge of the tissue metabolism and the wastes formed therein gives us an awareness of keeping our body clean and healthy by facilitating the process of expulsion.
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