Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old ancient tradition of India and the world’s oldest health care system. Ayurvedic medicine focuses on natural and preventative means of addressing the root causes of diseases. It restores the balance of the body. In Ayurvedic medicine, there is a specialized branch called Swasthavritta, which means science for maintenance of the whole health. Maintenance is obtained by creating a circle of health. In these olden Ayurvedic texts, vegadharan has been explained in by Swasthavritta. The word vega means natural urge and dharan refers to suppression. Vegadharan is suppression of natural urges. There are two types of natural urges: Dharniya, the one that is to be suppressed and adharniya, the one that is not to be suppressed. Hence, dharniya vegas are suppressible urges and adharniya vegas are non-suppressible urges.
Mind and body influence each other. The root cause of many diseases lies in the excess of dharniya vegas, such as manasika vega, meaning that they affect the mind. Today, science has proven that mind is the root cause of all the serious diseases, including cancer. Manasika vega are described in Charaka Samhita, an old Ayurvedic text (Sridevi and Dash, 2014). Some of the manasika dharniya vegas (or either natural or developed urges that need to be suppressed by every human being) are as follows:
- Greediness or Lobha
- Grief or Shoka
- Fear or Bhaya
- Anger or Krodha
- Ego or Ahankar
- Shamelessness or Nirlajata
- Envy or Irshya
- Jealousy or Abhyasuya
- Lust / Passion or Kama
- Pride or Mana
- Arrogance or Mada
- Anxiety or Cittodvega
- Anguish or Vishada
- Inferiority complex or Dainya
These urges of the mind must be suppressed in order to maintain a sound mental health, and allow one to lead a virtuous life, remarked by enjoyment of the fruits of virtue or dharma. Ayurvedic tradition wants us to enjoy every moment of life and urges us to live with the moment. In contrast, when we suppress non-suppressible urges, the physiological functions in the body associated with those adharniya vegas create a pathological state which can create non-communicable diseases in the future (Tiwari et al., 2013).
According to Ayurveda, various ailments are caused by suppression of natural urges, known as vega-vidharan. Acharya Sushruta, an ancient Indian Ayurvedic physician, who is considered the “Father of Plastic Surgery,” described 13 types of udavarta rogas, corresponding to the kinds of suppression of natural urges. Udavarta is a Sanskrit word that means upward, backward, or reverse movement of vata dosha and rogas(diseases). These 13 natural urges are related to the following:
- Eructation (belching)
- Rapid breathing from exertion
Suppression of these urges create improper signaling in the autonomic nervous system and hence, diseases. Let’s scrutinize into each of these 13 adharniya vegas that ought not to be suppressed:
Urge of urine (Mutra vega)
Symptoms: When urge to urinate is controlled, it can cause retrograde flow of urine into kidney, urinary calculi, distended bladder and create incorrect programming of the nervous system over time. It may cause pain in the body, urinary bladder, and genitalia. It can also lead to constipation, headache, difficulty in micturition, bending the body near to abdomen, and distension of the abdomen.
Treatment: Do not suppress urge to urinate. These symptoms of Mutra vega can be relieved by putting a hot pack over the abdomen, taking a hot tub bath, massaging the body with oil, putting drops of ghee in nose and doing enema.
Urge of feces (Purisha vega)
Symptoms: Suppressing the feces might cause constipation, rectal pouch, diverticulosis, diverticulitis, pain in the rectum and the large intestines, obstruction of feces and flatus, vomiting, an upward movement of air in the abdomen, bad breath, and oppression in the heart region. Due to reabsorptions of the toxins, you can get body aches, leg pain, and headaches.
Treatment: The symptoms of Purisha vega can be relieved by drinking two glasses of luke warm water in the morning, hot pack, tub bath or steam bath, medicated suppository, medicated enema, and using natural laxative herbs like Triphala and laxative foods like prunes.
Urge to discharge semen (Shukra vega)
Symptoms: When males suppress their urge to discharge seminal fluid, it can cause retrograde ejaculation, increased flow, and there is pain and inflammation in genitals. There could also be difficulty in passing urine and pain in the heart region or in the whole body. The person might get a fever. There might be an enlargement of the scrotum and seminal calculi, which causes pain in the testes and pain during ejaculation. The person might even suffer from impotency, as semen can ejaculate in bladder.
Treatment: The symptoms of Shukra vega can be relieved by massaging the whole body with medicated massage oil, hot water bath, a modified nutritional diet (consisting of milk, rice, and ghee), and a medicated enema.
Urge of passing flatus (Vata vega)
Symptoms: Controlling the urge to pass flatus can lead to painful upward movement of air or vayu in abdomen, distension of the abdomen, and even an abdominal tumor. It might cause physical weakness, loss of vision, loss of appetite, and heart disease. It may also obstruct the passing of flatus, stool, and urine.
Treatment: The symptoms of Vata vega can be relieved by oleation, hot packs, hot bath, oil massage, and use of boiled drinking water.
Urge to vomit (Chardi vega)
Symptoms: Vomiting is the way the body tries to get rid of toxins. Therefore suppressing the urge to vomit can cause rashes, skin diseases, itching, anorexia, fever, irritation in eyes, anemia, cough, nausea, discolored black patches on face, shortness of breath, and swelling.
Treatment: The symptoms of Chardi vega can be relieved by induced vomiting after eating, blood-letting by a leech, fasting, use of foods without oil or butter, inhalation of medicated smoke, physical exercise, and purgation.
Urge to sneeze (Kshavathu vega)
Symptoms: Repressing a sneeze can result in weakness of the sensory organs, headache, neck stiffness, and sometimes facial paralysis.
Treatment: The symptoms of Kshavathu vega can be relieved by external oleation of head, shoulders, and neck region. One can use a hot pack, inhale medicinal smoke, use medicated nose drops, consume ghee after meals, and balance the vata dosha.
Urge to belch (Udagar vega)
Symptoms: If you control your burp, you can get hiccups, shortness of breath, disliking of foods, shivering, heaviness in heart or chest pain.
Treatment: The treatment of Udagar vega symptoms lies in the treatment of hiccup diseases.
Urge to yawn (Jrumbha vega)
Symptoms: Stopping the flow of a yawn impairs vata dosha and creates symptoms similar to the suppression of sneezing. It can create diseases of the eyes, throat, ears, and nose. It can cause bending of the body close to abdomen. It can lead to convulsions, contractions, tactile sensations, tremors, and shivering in the body.
Treatment: The symptoms of Jrumbha vega can be treated by balancing the vata dosha.
Urge for hunger (Kshudha vega)
Symptoms: Suppressing hunger can lead to body aches, aversion towards food, exhaustion, pain in abdomen, dizziness, weakness, discolorations, vertigo, and skinniness.
Treatment: The symptoms of Kshudha vega can be treated with an intake of hot and light, digestive foods.
Urge of thirst (Trisnha vega)
Symptoms: Some of the symptoms of suppressing thirst of water include dryness of the throat and mouth, tiredness, skinniness, general physical weakness, exhaustion, deafening, delusions, dizziness, and even uneasiness in the chest.
Treatment: The symptoms of Trisnha vega can be treated with cold comforts, such as staying in a cold room, taking a cold shower, and eating cooling foods.
Urge to cry (Bashpa vega)
Symptoms: Tears are a gift of God. When you cry, you feel lighter as rain settles down all the dust and pollution. If you suppress the urge to cry, there can be pain in the nose, and pain in eyes, head, and heart. There may be neck stiffness, anorexia, dizziness, and an abdominal tumor involved. One might even get a common cold and experience loss of taste.
Treatment: The treatment for Bashpa vega is crying or sleeping while listening to calming music or words.
Urge to sleep (Nidra vega)
Symptoms: Sleeping in a timely fashion is crucial for our wellbeing. Staying up during the night causes heaviness in head and eyes, drowsiness, lethargy, delusions, yawning, and body aches.
Treatment: The treatment for Nidra vega involves massaging the whole body and sleeping day time, if awake all night.
Urge to breathe heavily on exertion (Shramashwas vega)
Symptoms: When one suppresses the urge to breathe heavily after exertion, it can lead to the development of an abdominal tumor, heart disease, fainting, delusions, and respiratory tract disorders over a period of time.
Treatment: The symptoms of Shramashwas vega can be relieved by resting and consuming a vata calming diet.
There is also a 14th vega described by Vagbhata, an Ayurvedic philosopher. It is the urge to cough (Kasa vega), suppression of which can create a loss of appetite, shortness of breath, heart disease, skinniness, and hiccups. The treatment for Kasa vega is taking a Sitopaladi churna, Talisadi churna, or Yashti madhu churna paste made in honey and warm water (Bagde and Sawant, 2013).
Though one should not suppress natural urges, one should not forcibly initiate urges, because both trends can cause vata disorders. The practice of natural urges explained here allow the nervous system to perform functions in a timely manner and initiate the body’s vega to carry out normal bodily activities that excrete toxins. Suppression stops the elimination of waste products and creates nervous system disorders, leading to illnesses. In modern world, expressing these adharniya vegas in public is often considered rude. However, it is crucial to respond to these urges in a timely manner. If suppressing natural urges becomes a habit, it can be problematic for health in the long run. Let’s next look at a scientific, published research paper on suppression of natural urges.
As discussed earlier, suppressing natural urges such as holding the urge to urinate has been considered harmful according to Ayurveda. Diseases caused by the suppression of natural urges have been categorized in Ayurveda as prajna-paradhaja. Prajna refers to diseases that begin with psychological roots and later on have a somatic involvement. A study investigated the link between vega-vidharan and its impact on psychosomatic diseases, which are physical diseases thought to be triggered by mental factors such as stress and anxiety. Twenty-five normal healthy volunteers of ages 20 – 40 years of age were studied. This was followed by another study of 24 patients, out of which 7 had cardiovascular disease, 7 had bronchial asthma, and 10 had peptic ulcer (Tripathi et al., 1981).
The effect of urine retention on neurohumors was analyzed in the subjects. Blood and urine samples were collected in the morning, and blood pressure, respiration rate, and pulse rate were measured. The volunteers drank 1.5 liters of water and held their urine for as long as possible. After holding the urine for maximum time, a blood sample was taken, and blood pressure, respiration rate, and pulse rate were remeasured before the volunteers passed the urine, which was then collected. Plasma catecholamine and plasma serotonin were measured in collected blood samples. Urinary catecholamine levels were also determined and recorded in terms of urinary creatinine, and urinary 5-HIAA was also approximated using lab protocols. There was a significant increase in all of the following neurohumoral parameters after voluntary maximal retention of urine: blood pressure, pulse rate, respiration rate, plasma catecholamine, plasma serotonin, and urinary catecholamine, and urinary 5-HIAA (Tripathi et al., 1981).
An increase in blood pressure and catecholamine indicates stress. Any sort of stress resulting in catecholamine secretion in humans is primarily because of sympathetic nervous system stimulation. A rise in pulse rate and respiration rate could be explained based on tachycardia caused by stress. An upsurge of serotonin could be interpreted as a nonspecific response to stressful situation. This study quantified stress, as expressed in terms of physiological and biochemical parameters. By voluntarily holding urine, there was a significant increase in neurohumors which creates stress disorders including cardiovascular disease, bronchial asthma, and peptic ulcer. It was concluded that holding urine causes stress, weakens the vata dosha and, therefore, causes psychosomatic diseases. This also reinforces the ancient Ayurvedic concept of the detrimental effects of adharniya vegas and vega-vidharan on the human body, such as the practice of holding urine for a long time. (Tripathy et al., 1981).
Our body is like a temple, and we must listen to our natural urges wisely. When we suppress our vegas, we weaken the vata dosha and create toxins in the body. Ayurveda is all about prevention. When we respect our body’s natural urges, we create a balanced mind-body health. If we do not suppress our urges, we keep diseases away.
- Bagde, A., & Sawant, R. (2013). Adharaniya Vega – Inimitable Concept in Extent of Disease Manifestation and Treatment. Ayurpharm International Journal of Ayurveda and Allied Sciences, 2(11), 332-340.
- Sridevi, G., & Dash, S. (2014). Manasika Vegas: Their Causes, Effects and Psycho Spiritual Treatment. International Journal of Ayurveda and Pharma Research, 2(7), 1-4.
- Tiwari, M., Pandey, A., Chaudhari, P., Godatwar, P., & Gupta, A. K. (2013, February). Ayurvedic Approach for Management of Ageing and Related Disorder. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Pharmacy, 27-30.
- Tripathi, S., Shukla, M., Tiwari, C., & Upadhya, B. (1981, Oct-Dec). Evaluation of the Role of Vega-Vidharan (Suppression of Natural Urges) In the Aetiology of Psychosomatic Diseases (With special reference to voluntary retention of Urine and Neurohumoral Physiological and clinical changes in human volunteers). Ancient Science of Life, 1(2), 83-93.