The Concept of Dhatu in Ayurveda
Dhatu basically refers to the body tissues that are responsible for the structure of the body and the functioning of organs and systems. Each Dhatu is created from a previous one and it develops from the nourishment supplied by the digestive system. Dhatus are generally the result of the catalytic action that converts one tissue to another. The main purpose of metabolism is to bring together the Dhatus in synchronization with which they perform their role in carrying out various physiological activities.
Dhatu is a Sanskrit work that means “that which enters into the formation of the body”; According to Ayurveda, there are seven types of Dhatus in a body. These basic Dhatus are made of five mahabhutas. For the body to function properly, these Dhatus remain inside the body in a proper equilibrium. Any sort of imbalance or disturbance in this equilibrium results in diseases and ailments.
Given below are the seven Dhatus:
- Rasa (Plasma)
- Rakta (blood)
- Mansa (muscles)
- Meda (fat)
- Asthi (bone)
- Majja (bone marrow)
- Shukra (semen or reproductive fluid)
Rasa means “juice” or “sap”. Its primary function is to provide nourishment and strengthen the blood. Fundamentally, tissue fluids consist of blood plasma and lymph. Breast milk and menstrual blood are accessory tissues.
Rakta is believed to be constituted as a result of the metabolic refinement of the Dhatu Rasa. Its primary function is nourishing the body. Moreover, it is called the preserver of life.
This element is formed from rasa and rakta and serves to be the basic cover for the bone and the body’s structure.
It is the finer part of mansa, also known as fatty tissue. It helps maintain the lubrication between various organs of the body and helps the body maintain the exact internal temperature.
Asthi is the finer essence of Meda. Of all the Dhatus, these are converted into the most solid form. They provide basic structure to the body.
It is the finer essence of asthi. Being a semi-solid substance it is found inside the spinal cord and the brain. It is yellow and red in colour.
Shukra is generated from the best refined essence of majja. Ojas, the essence of all the Dhatus, is the result of Shukra. Shukra is responsible for the energy and vitality of the body.
As the Dhatus depend on each other to support and derive energy, if one Dhatu is affected, it influences the others as well. For example, when there is a disturbance in the production of plasma, it affects the blood quality and eventually, the muscle is affected. Each type of tissue has its own agni that determines the changes of metabolism in the tissues and produces by-products that are used in the body or excreted from the body. For instance, menstrual periods are a by-product of rasa. Moreover, the three doshas also govern the tissues and any sort of imbalance in them may also result in imbalances in Dhatus. Hence, heavy periods can be a result of the effects of excess kapha on plasma.