What are Sapta Dhatus (7 Dhatus) In Ayurveda?

One of the most basic concepts in Ayurvedic sciences is the concept of sapta dhatu which means 7 bodily tissue explaining the formation and functioning of human body. It is believed that the body is made out of seven Dhatus (bodily tissues) each of which have their distinct feature and functions, and each one of them is formed with the help of the one just above it. Let’s have a look at them in detail.

The seven dhatus are rasa, rakta, mamsa, meda, asthi, majja, and shukra/artava

Rasa Dhatu : Plasma (serum, white blood cells, lymphatic system)

Rakta Dhatu : Blood (red blood cells)

Mamsa Dhatu : Muscle tissue

Meda : Fat, Adipose tissue, lipid

Asthi : Bone tissue and cartilage

Majja Dhatu : Bone marrow, Nerve tissue and connective tissue

Shukra / Arthava : Male and female reproductive tissue.

When the food is consumed, it goes through digestion and transformation into the 7 bodily tissues. Every tissue has its own digestive fire or metabolic energy called dhatvagni which digests and transforms. The dhatvagni of each tissue plays an important role in formation of that tissue and further nourishes the next tissue in line.

When the food is first digested, it is converted into Ahara Rasa. The dhatvagni of each individual dhatu, uses the ahara rasa and converts it two forms. One is the dhatu or mature tissue form itself which is being nourished called sthayi, and other is the raw form or immature nutrition called asthayi  for the next level of tissue formation. The asthayi form circulates in the body and provides nutrition to subsequent tissues. When the asthayi dhatu is transformed in the next tissue, it also produces 2 other byproducts called Upadhatus and Mala. 

Upadhatu means sub tissues. For example, sub tissue of Rasa dhatu are breast milk, menstrual blood, ovum, top layer of the skin. Mala is the impurity  of that particular dhatu.

DhatuUpadhatuMala
Rasa DhatuBreast Milk, Menstrual blood, Ovum, Top layer of skinPoshaka kapha
RaktaBlood vessels, faciaPoshaka pitta
MamsaSubcutaneous fat, all 6 layers of skin except the top layer.Nasal crust, earwax, sebaceous secretions, tartar on the teeth, smegma
Medathe flat muscles, sinews, tendons and ligamentsSweat
AsthiTeethNails, Hair
MajjaTearsOily secretions from eyes
ShukraOjasPublic and auxiliary hair

Rasa Dhatu

Rasa dhatu consists of white blood cells, plasma, blood serum and fluids of the lymphatic system. Entire lymphatic system is a part of rasa dhatu. The qualities of rasa dhatu are the same as kapha dosha i.e. oily, slimy, liquid, cool, heavy, sticky, slow and soft.

Rasa disorders include, rasa vruddhi (increase of rasa dhatu), rasa kshaya (decrease of rasa dhatu) and rasa dushti (disturbed rasa dhatu)

Below are signs and symptoms of rasa disorders

Rasa VruddhiRasa KshayaRasa Dushi
Lymphatic and venous congestionAnemiaLack of taste/ perverted taste
Repeated colds, bronchial & sinus congestionDehydrationLack of faith
Water retention (edema), swellingDizzinessLack of clarity and perception
Excess salivationDry skinFatigue
Feeling of heaviness in the heart PallorEmaciationNausea

Excess thirstStupor

FatigueGeneralized pain and body-ache

Hypersensitivity to soundFever

Palpitations

Shock

Rakta Dhatu

Rakta Dhatu refers to the red blood cells that flow through the blood vessels. Both rakta and rasa dhatu act as one to provide nutrition to the tissues and cells of the body. They also transport Mala to elimination organs as well as hormones to different parts of the body. Rakta dhatu specifically gives oxygen to all cells and tissues.

Below are signs and symptoms of rakta disorders

Rakta VruddhiRakta Kshaya
PolycythemiaAnemia
Fullness of blood vesselsEmptiness of blood vessels
Bleeding tendenciesPale skin, conjunctiva, lips, tongue, and nails
Skin conditions such as: rash, urticaria, acne, dermatitis, eczema, erysipelasDry, rough, cracked skin
HypertensionBreathlessness on exertion
Red, warm hands and feetCraving for iron
Red eyesCraving for hot spicy foods, sour, citrus fruit, or meat
Enlarged liver or spleenCold hands and feet

Loss of luster

Lack of enthusiasm

Mamsa Dhatu

Mamsa Dhatu is the muscle tissue. It is a combination of earth and water elements. It supports the bodily structure and functions e.g. movement. They provide shape to the body and plasters the important organs. The muscle tissue is dense, firm, heavy, elastic and bulky.

Mamsa dhatu gets its nourishment from rakta dhatu. Below are signs and symptoms of mamsa disorders

Mamsa VruddhiMamsa Kshaya
Muscle hypertrophyMuscle atrophy, wasting
Muscle flaccidityMuscle rigidity
Undue growth of muscle, myomas, fibromasLoss of muscle power
Fibrocystic changes in the breastsEmaciation
Uterine fibroidsFatigue
Enlarged lips, cheeks, tongueDislocation of joints

TMJ disorders

Craving for meat

Meda Dhatu

Meda dhatu is the adipose or the fat tissue. It also includes phospholipids, steroids such as cholesterol, and all other types of lipids. The adipose tissue forms the cell membranes and other structures inside a cell. It also nourishes the cells. Along with having this function, it is also used in the body for lubrication purpose. It insulates the body and maintains body temperature.

Fat is also found between muscles to avoid creation of friction during movement. It surrounds internal organs as a protective layer. Below are signs and symptoms of meda disorders.

Meda VruddhiMeda Kshaya
ObesityDry skin
LethargyCracking joints
Pains in the jointEmaciation
Breathlessness on exertionOsteo (degenerative arthritis)
Slow metabolismLumbago
Underactive thyroidOveractive thyroid
Profuse sweatingOsteoporosis (bone loss)
Lipomas (fatty tumors)Enlarged spleen
Hypertension
Gallstones
Low libido
Excessive thirst and sweet taste in mouth
Diabetes

Asthi Dhatu

Asthi dhatu is the bone tissue which is the most hard and dense tissue in the body. It holds the body structure with the help of mama dhatu. It gives shape to the face, shoulders, head, thorax, nose and limbs and protects the vital organs by creating cavities like cranial cavity, thoracic cavity and pelvic cavity. 

Asthi dhatu excretes the heavy metals like mercury, arsenic and lead as a mala to hair and nails hence protecting the inner organs from toxicity. This dhatu gets its nourishment from the meda dhatu.   

Asthi VruddhiAsthi Kshaya
Bony protuberances, spursHair loss
Osteomas (bone tumors)Rough, dry, brittle, crooked nails
CalcificationOsteoporosis (bone loss)
Lordosis (abnormal convex curve of lumbar spine)Osteo (degenerative arthritis)
Kyphosis (hunchback)Rheumatoid arthritis
Bone fusionArthralgia (joint pain)
Extra teethSpontaneous fractures
Excessive hair growthShortened height
Scoliosis and spinal misalignmentScoliosis and spinal misalignment

Receding gums

Majja Dhatu

Majja Dhatu is responsible for filling the spaces inside asthi dhatu, needless to say, it gets its nourishment from asthi. It is not just the bone marrow, but also the nerve tissue. 

One of the main functions of majja dhatu, is communication. It moves the awareness throughout the body. Majja dhatu brings all the organs together throughconscious awareness. All five senses ie. tasting, touching, hearing, smelling, and seeing are carried out by majja. It is also responsible for voluntary actions of the skeletal muscles and for the involuntary actions of smooth muscles. 

Majja VruddhiMajja Kshaya
Pineal and pituitary tumorsOsteoporosis (bone loss)
Neurofibromatosis (tumors on peripheral nerves)Anemia
Heaviness of eyesOsteo- and rheumatoid arthritis
General heaviness and sluggishnessof lumbar spine)Sexual debility
Excess sleepInsomnia
Hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in ventricles of brain)Neurological problems

MS, Parkinson’s

Stroke paralysis

Epilepsy

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

Lack of understanding

Poor communication

Shukra Dhatu

Shukra dhatu is the male reproductive tissue and artava is the female reproductive tissue. The function of this dhatu is the creation of new life / offspring.

Shukra / Artava VruddhiShukra / Artava  Kshaya
Preoccupation with sexLow libido
Increased desire for sexSterility
Shukra only: Excess semen flow with increased prostatic secretion but low sperm contentPain during coitus
Premature ejaculationFear of sex
Prostatic calculiShukra only: Oligospermia (low sperm count)
Artava only: Premature orgasmImpotence (failure to achieve or maintain erection sufficient to maintain penetration and coitus)
SterilityArtava only: Primary sterility
Multiple cystic ovaryNo ovulation

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Swati

Writer & Blogger, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder and CTO Turiya Infotainment Private Limited I am an Ayurveda enthusiast and have a deep love for everything natural. I am also a software engineer by degree and now I work as a full time blogger on Honey Fur! I have been learning about Ayurvedic principles for past 7 years now and have completed certificate courses from the Kerala Ayurveda Academy. The courses I have completed are: Ayurveda For Women Care: A course which deeply dives into women health problems like menorrhea, leucorrhea, amenorrhea. It also gives a detail study of child birth and pregnancy care, pre and postpartum. Ayurvedic Cosmetology: This is a lecture and video course which deeply dives into Skin Care, Hair Care, Eye & Oral Care & Common Issues and solutions pertaining to the same.

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