Pizhichil – A holistic Ayurvedic massage

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Our ancestors believed that cure of every pain and every disease is within our body and in our environment. It is on this belief that the alternative lines of medication and therapy like acupressure, acupuncture and Ayurveda are based on.

Ayurveda is one of the oldest known disciplines, that is supposed to have its origin in the Indian subcontinent.

Ayurveda finds its mention in the Upaveda which is considered to be a supplement to the four Vedas in particularly the Rigveda and Atharvaveda.

Ayurveda is based on balancing the three fundamental principles of nature – Vata (air & space), Pitta (fire & water) and Kapha (earth & water).

In ancient times ayurveda was the most widely used or probably the only mode of treatment available and used by the ordinary people as well as the Maharajas (the royal families).

The royals not only used ayurveda to cure ailments but also used them as a means to maintain their health and build up immunity and strength. One such form of special ayurvedic treatment was Pizhichil.

Pizhichil is a type of Ayurvedic massage which combines two modes of therapies, i.e. oil therapy and heat therapy. It is a mild and coordinated body massage, which is done with constantly flowing warm medicated herbal oil.

Thus, it combines the goodness of both oils and heat. When medicated oil is massaged, its healing elements are directly absorbed in the body through skin. The massage enhances the blood circulation and thus helps to balance mind and body.

Heat therapy is known to relieve pain and relax muscles. It is highly recommended for extremely high Vata dosha types.

Meaning of Pizhichil

The word pizhichil means squeezing. Pizhichil is a type of Sarvangdhara. Sarvanga means the whole bodyand dhara means stream. Thus, Sarvangdhara refers to pouring a stream of oil on the whole body.

In Pizhichil massage, the oil is squeezed from a cloth dipped in a bowl of warm oil on the whole body of the person receiving massage.

Process of Pizhichil

The first step in Pizhichil includes applying of the oil on the head and complete body of the person receiving the massage. Then a cloth is placed or tied over the forehead of the person so that the oil poured does not enter the eyes.

Sometimes, thalam treatment is also combined with Pizhichil massage. Thalam uses herbal powder mixed with medicated oil to be applied on the head.

Then a cloth is placed over the forehead. There are different types herbal medicated oils (thailam) that are made by combining oil extracts of various herbs or plants.

The type of ayurvedic oil that will be used for an individual’s Pizhichil treatment depends upon his or her medical condition and requirement thereof.


Thailam or oil to be used for Pizhichil is first warmed. Two bowls containing this oil is placed on both sides of the individual receiving the massage.

There are generally two masseurs present during every Pizhichil massage. The masseurs take a clean cotton cloth and dip it in the bowl and the oil from this cloth is gradually squeezed over the whole body.

The oil is first poured over the shoulders. The masseur squeezes the oil with one hand and gentle massages on the area the oil is poured with the other hand so that the oil gets absorbed in the body.

The massage is given in rhythmic and synchronized motions. Pizhichil massage is given in such a manner that no part of the body remains untreated.

Although the treatment starts and ends in the sitting position for this purpose the individual receiving the massage is made to change 7 positions. These 7 positions include:

  1. Sitting
  2. Lying on the back
  3. Lying on the right side
  4. Lying on the left side
  5. Lying on stomach
  6. Lying on back again
  7. Sitting again

Sometimes during the Pizhichil massage, Shirodhara is also performed. Shirodhara refers to the continuous pouring of oil on the forehead (the third eye).

Although profound sweating is a part and purpose of the Pizhichil massage, special care is taken to see that a person does not sweat over the head.

Post the massage the individual is given a warm water bath over the body and lukewarm water bath over the head. This can be done only once a day

Duration for Pizhichil massage

Usually a Sarvangdhara Pizhichil massage lasts for about 60 to 90 minutes. If you are undergoing a Pizhichil treatment you will be taking 60-90 minutes massage daily for a period of 7 to 21 days.

Although Pizhichil is usually done on the whole body, you can get it done for a part of the body (Ekhanga Pizhichil) or half body (Ardhang Pizhichil) too.

A continued treatment for about 7 to 10 days is likely to show prominent positive outcomes rather than a one time sitting. For different ailments the duration is decided by Ayurveda experts based on an individual’s requirements and current health conditions.

How Pizhichil benefits patients?

Pizhichil massage offers multi-level benefits to the person receiving it. It not only rejuvenates the body but also refreshes the persons mind. Some of prominent benefits of Pizhichil massage include:

– Improves blood circulation. The massage and the warmth of the oil improve the overall blood circulation in the body.

– Detoxifies body: Pizhichil activates diaphoresis i.e. profound sweating. Through this sweating, the toxins from the body are thrown out and thus the body is completely detoxified and feels rejuvenated.

– Quick healing of fractured bones: It helps in faster recovery post a fracture and helps strengthen bones.

– Increases Immunity to resist ailments: Pizhichil massage believes in prevention rather than cure. Blood purification and improved blood circulation though this massage helps strengthen immunity system of the person and thus keeps ailment at bay.

– Helps increase life span: It helps improve and sustain overall physical and mental health thereby helping lead a healthy long life.

– Reduces stress and anxiety: It helps release the tension in the muscles and helps calm down disturbed and stressed out mind.

– Improves muscle development and also helps strengthen weak muscles.

– Enhances the skin: The improved blood circulation and moisturizing from the oils enhances complexion and texture of skin. It brings a renewed glow on the face.

– No Side effects: Unlike the main course of medications for stress, depression, pain relieving, etc.

– Pizhichil massage has no side effects as it only works towards stabilizing and reviving body’s natural healing capabilities.

– Reduces body’s burning sensation.

– Eradicates muscle spasms.

– Helps cure insomnia and depression.

Various ailments cured through Pizhichil

A regular Pizhichil massage therapy is evidently known to help cure many diseases and ailments especially those related to nervous weakness and nervous disorders and rheumatic diseases.

– Arthritis and Osteoarthritis: Pizhichil is very effective in curing Vata and Pitta Arthritis. Vata arthritis is seen when there is access of Vata (air) and ama (toxins). Pitta Arthritis is seen when there is access of heat, burning and swelling in joints.

– Paralysis: Paralysis refers to the loss of muscle movements and coordination. In ayurveda paralysis is thought to be caused by the vitiation of vata dosha.

Pizhichil is based on balancing of Vata and thus can help cure all types of paralysis, be it Monoplegia (paralysis affecting single limb),  Hemiplegia (paralysis affecting one part of the face along with the corresponding arm and leg) or Diplegia (complete paralysis).

– Paralysis-agitans (Parkinson’s disease): It is known as ‘Kampa Vata’ in Ayurveda and is neurological disorder. Pizhichil with medicated oils is used to normalize the vitiated Vata dosha to cure Parkinson’s disease.

– Sexual weakness: Pizhichil helps overcome various types of sexual weakness and disorders in both men and women.

– Hypertension: Hypertension is believed to be primarily caused due to vitiation of vata and pitta doshas and pizhichil can help balance both of these.

– Asthma: Pizhichil along with other ayurvedic medications can help cure asthma completely when continued for a longer time.

Other diseases that pizhichil massage can help cure also include diabetes and tuberculosis in their early stages.

Where and when can you receive Pizhichil Massage Treatment?

Pizhichil massage treatment is available at various Ayurvedic centers around the world, especially in India. Kerala in India is well known for its global health and medical tourism.

There are patients and visitors flocking the state all round the year but for best results, ideal time for Pizhichil treatment is from June to September.

This is the time for the monsoons or rainy season in India. During this time the dust free and cool atmosphere allow the body pores to open up easily allowing the body to absorb the goodness of oils faster. This enhances the results from Ayurvedic treatments like pizhichil.

Cost of Pizhichil Massage

Like any other treatment, the cost of pizhichil massage would also depend on the time period you need to take it for. If you are taking Pizhichil as a part of clinical treatment, the cost will differ from a general one.

A general pizhichil therapy usually is available for 7 to 21 days. A single sitting is also offered by most Ayurvedic resorts and spas.

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