Review Article


Journal of Ayurveda and Integrated Medical Sciences

2023 Volume 8 Number 12 December

Importance of Pathya-Apathya in Ayurveda : A Review Article

Sakshi C1*, Rupali2, Sonali T3, Indu4

1* Chauhan Sakshi, Second Year Post Graduate Scholar, Dept of Rog Nidan Evam Vikriti Vigyan, Rggpg Ayurvedic College Hospital Paprola Dist, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India.

2 Rupali, Second Year Post Graduate Scholar, Dept of Rog Nidan Evam Vikriti Vigyan, RGGPG Ayurvedic College Hospital Paprola Dist, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India.

3 Thakur Sonali, Second Year Post Graduate Scholar, Dept of Rog Nidan Evam Vikriti Vigyan, RGGPG Ayurvedic College Hospital Paprola Dist, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India.

4 Indu, Second Year Post Graduate Scholar, Dept of Rog Nidan Evam Vikriti Vigyan, RGGPG Ayurvedic College Hospital Paprola, Dist Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India.

In Ayurveda both the body and disease are considered to be food dependant - Ahara Sambhavam Vastuh Rogaschahara Sambhavah. Ahara is given the first place among three Upastambha which are the most essential for living. In Yuktivyapashraya Chikitsa, only medicine and food are planned. These medicinal Ahara and Vihara are called Upashaya and opposite is Anupashaya. Principle of Pathya-Apathya is similar to Upshay-Anupshay. To advocate importance of Pathya, Acharyas have mentioned specific Pathya and Apathyas in accordance to disease. This conceptual study is an attempt to throw light on the importance of Pathya-Apathya in disease as well as normal life. The concept of Pathya and Apathya is important in the treatment of every disease as well as for prevention or for maintaining a healthy life.

Keywords: Ayurveda, Pathya, Apathya

Corresponding Author How to Cite this Article To Browse
Chauhan Sakshi, Second Year Post Graduate Scholar, Dept of Rog Nidan Evam Vikriti Vigyan, Rggpg Ayurvedic College Hospital Paprola Dist, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh, India.
Sakshi C, Rupali, Sonali T, Indu, Importance of Pathya-Apathya in Ayurveda : A Review Article. J Ayu Int Med Sci. 2023;8(12):125-129.
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Manuscript Received Review Round 1 Review Round 2 Review Round 3 Accepted
2023-10-08 2023-10-13 2023-10-18 2023-10-23 2023-11-16
Conflict of Interest Funding Ethical Approval Plagiarism X-checker Note
None declared. Nil Yes 21.98%

© 2023by Sakshi C, Rupali, Sonali T, Induand Published by Maharshi Charaka Ayurveda Organization. This is an Open Access article licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ unported [CC BY 4.0].


As is generally known, the aims and objectives of Ayurveda are to prevent and treat diseases as well as keep healthy people healthy. Ayurveda advocates the importance of maintaining balance of physical, mental and Adhayatmik aspects and to maintain this equilibrium, diet (Aahara) is the key.

Pathya is derived from word ‘Pathya’ which means path. Pathya is a factor contributive to both body and mind. According to Charak Samhita, Pathya Ahara is such diet which has beneficial effect over the body and mind of an individual without causing any untoward effect.[1] Every fundamental principle in Ayurveda, such

as Ritucharya and Dincharya, mentions Pathya or Apathya. Each disease condition also has a specific Pathya or Apathya specified.

The doctor's prescription for treating ‘Pathya’ usually involves sticking to a tight diet or eliminating certain foods. It speeds up recovery and improves the effectiveness of treatment. Pathya Ahara results in healthy bodily development and Apathya leads to disease.


Pathya - Satmya, Swavasthaparipaalaka, Swasth-hitakara, Hita Ahara, Swasthaaurjaskara, Sharmakara, Sukha-Parinaamkara, Dhatua-Avirodhi, Dhatu-Saamyakara.

Apathya - Asatmya, Ahitkara, Anupashaya, Swastha-Ahitkara, Asukha-Parinaamakara, Dhatu- Asamyakara, Ashrmakara.


Importance of Pathya and Apathya can be understood as every Acharya has mentioned its significance in there Samhitas. Acharya Charaka says whatever is appropriate for the path and is dear to mind is Pathya and opposite is Apathya. He mentioned that when channels of circulation become hard by aggravated Dosha, Pathya helps to soften those channels of circulation and alleviate vitiated Dosha.[3]

Acharya Sushruta has written a specific chapter named “Hita-Ahita” in Sutrasthan, where he gave terms like Ekant-Hita, Ekant-Ahita, Hita-Ahita.

पञ्चभूतात्मके देहे ह्याहारः पाञ्चभौतिकः | (Su.Su.46/526)

Pathya diet is essential for health and both body and diet are Panchbhautik. Body organs are nourished only through diet. Healthy eating causes physical development while unhealthy eating causes disease. Dosha-Dhatu-Mala are the basics of a body. Pathya helps nourishing them and maintain the equilibrium.

Acharya Kashyapa has called Ahara as Bheshaj. He stated that food is the best medicine. Only the Hitkar-Ahara can keep a person healthy. Acharya Kashyap describes the therapeutic potential of Ahara (food) and its preventative health benefits.[4]

Acharya Harita stressed that if a person does not acknowledge the concept of Pathya-Apathya and consumes Apathya (unhealthy), illness will never leave the body.[5]

The significance of Pathya Ahara was focused by Vaidya Lolambraj in Vaidya Jeevanam, who said that if a patient takes Pathya Ahara, they do not require medication, and if they continuously take Apathya, they do not require medication because it will not be effective.

Acharya Charak has mentioned a few things which should always be consumed and a few which should be avoided.

SNAhara DravyaHita-Ahara Dravya[6]Ahita-Ahara Dravya[7]
1.SukadhanayaLohita ShaliYavaka
3.UdakaAntariksha JalaRiver water
4.LavanaSaindhava LavanaUshra
6.Mriga MansaEnaGo Mamsa
7.Meat of birdsLavaKanakapota Mamsa
10.SarpiGo GhritaAavika Sarpi
11.MilkGo KsheeraAavi Ksheera
12.Sthavara SnehaTila TailaKusumbh Taila
13.Anupmriga VasaVaraha VasaMahish Vasa
14.Matsya VasaChuluki VasaKumbhira Vasa
15.Jalchara Vihanga VasaPakahamsa VasaKakmudaga Vasa
16.VisikravasaKukkuta VasaChatak Vasa
17.Sakhada MedsamAja MedaElephant Meda
18.KandaShringvera (ginger)Aaluk (potato)
20.Ikshu VikaraSharkaraPhanita

Similarly, Acharya Sushruta has also given few terms.[8]

Ekantha Hita - The things which are absolute suitable to use continuously without causing any harm to the body. Eg. Jala, Ghrita, Dugdah, Audan.

Ekantha Ahita - The things which are absolute unsuitable to use, can cause harm in short period. E.g. Dahan, Pachan, Maran.

Hita-Ahitha - which are suitable in some conditions and unsuitable in certain conditions. E.g. some items suitable for Vata not suitable for Pitta.

There are five Ekanta-Pathyam things mentioned by Acharya Sushruta:[9]

Brahmacharya (celibacy), Nivatshyana (sleeping at a place devoid of breeze), Ushan Udak Snana (bathing in hot water), Ratrishayan (sleeping at nights), Vyayam (physical exercise).

Acharya Charaka has further added in the context of Pathya-ApathyaNityam Tann Lakshayet”. It means that the characteristics of Pathya-Apathya are not fixed because no Bhava is always Pathya or Apathya, rather depends on many factors.

The main components which regulate the diet and unhealthy diet depending on it are as follows-[10]

1. Matra (measure)

2. Kala (time)

3. Kriya (mode of preparation)

4. Bhoomi (habitat)

5. Deha (constitution)

6. Dosha (morbid humours)

1. Matra (measure) - The action of the diet might alter from good to unhealthy based on Matra; for example,

  • Equal amounts of clarified butter (Ghrita) and honey (Madhu), cause Apathy.
  • Pippali is bitter, Guru, neither too sweet, nor too hot and sweet in Vipak. If Pippali is used in equal quantity for a short period of time then it is very beneficial. but when used in excess quantity, it accumulates Doshas. Therefore, it should not be used continuously.

2. Kala (time) - Certain things should not be consumed or followed at a certain weather condition or time of day. For example, in context with Ritucharya, certain things should not be done in particular season like

a. Hemant Ritu (Late Autumn/Pre-Winter) (Ch.Su.6/11-18)

Diet routine

Pathya - Unctuous, sweet, tarty and salty foods. Different meats milk, milk items, Sidhu (fermented preparations, Tila (sesame), warm etc. are likely to be consumed.

Apathya - one should not consume Vata aggravating foods such as Laghu (light), cool, dry foods.

Lifestyle - exercise, body and head massage, sunbath is suggested. Exposure to cold wind should be avoided.

b. Shishir Ritu (Winter) (Ch.Su.6/19-21)

Diet routine

Pathya - Foods having amla taste is preferred. Cereals, pulses wheat items, new rice are suggested. Ginger, garlic, Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Pippali (piper longum), sugarcane items and milk are to be incorporated into eating regimen.

Apathya - Laghu (light), Shita (cool) foods and foods with Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent) dominating Rasa should be avoided.

Lifestyle - massage with oil, sunbath, wearing warm clothes is suggested.

c. . Vasant Ritu (Spring) (Ch.Su.6/23-26)

Diet routine

Pathya - easily digestible foods, wheat rice old barley lentils, Mudga, Katu (pungent), Kashaya (astringent) foods should be consumed. Honey should be added to the diet.

Apathya - heavy, cold and viscous foods should be avoided.

Lifestyle - exercise, Kaval (gargle), Dhooma (smoking), Anjana is suggested and sleeping during day is not advised.

d. Grishma Ritu (Summer) (Ch.Su.6/27-29)

Diet routine

Pathya - Foods which are light to digest having Madhur (sweet), Snigdha (unctuous), Sheeta (cool) and Drava (fluid) Guna should be taken. Different fluids cold water, juices, butter milk should be consumed.

Apathya - Lavan and Katu (sharp), Amla (tarty) and Ushna (warm) should be avoided.

Lifestyle - wearing light dresses, napping at daytime, remaining in cold spots is suggested. Extreme exercise and sexual liberality should be avoided.

e. Varsha Ritu (Monsoon) (Ch.Su.6/35-40)

Diet routine

Pathya - foods having Amla (tarty), Lavana (salty) and Sneha (unctuous) qualities should be taken. One should consume boiled water.

Apathya - foods which are not easy to digest, excessive fluid and wine should not be taken.

Lifestyle - massage with oil, medicated Basti (enema)is prescribed. Drenching in rain, napping in day exercising, sexual indulgence should be avoided.

f. Sharad Ritu (Autumn/Fall) (Ch.Su.6/42-45)

Diet routine

Pathya - Foods having Madhura (sweet), Tikta (sharp) and light to process should be eaten.

Apathya - hot, bitter, fat, oily, curd should be eliminated from diet amid this season.

Lifestyle - Eating food only when feeling hungry, water sanitized by beams of sun in day time and beams of moon during evening (Hansodak) for drinking and bathing is suggested. Napping during day, exposure to sunlight and excessive eating should be avoided.

3. Kriya (mode of preparation) - Certain preparations can cause harm. For example- Poi herb (pointed gourd) cooked in sesame paste is contraindicated as it causes diarrhea.

If Pippali (long pepper) and Makoy (Solanum nigrum) are cooked in the same oil in which fish has been cooked.

4. Bhoomi (habitat)
Consuming dry and pungent substances in Dhanvan country i.e., wild country or desert and consuming moist, greasy, cold grounded things in Anup-desha (moisture places).

5. Deha (constitution) - g. Medasavi person should not consume Rakta Shali because they are Laghu in nature.

6. Dosha - According to the predominance of Dosha one should follow the diet and lifestyle which counters the


Pathya keeps the person healthy, and maintains the normal functions of body. Moreover, Acharya has given three reasons for how a person remains healthy in case of unhealthy intake - 1. Atulayata, 2. Dosha, 3. Sharir.[12]

Due to some reasons, in those who consume unhealthy food, unhealthy food does not have immediate effect. Not all Apathya are equally harmful and not all Apathya are of equal strength. Similarly, not all bodies are equally capable of tolerating disease. Any bad thing becomes worse due to the influence of factors like Desha, Kala, Samyoga, Virya and Matra etc. Like if the Desha and Kala are similar to the unhealthy food, then the harmful consequences of that unhealthy food will be more quick and intense. On the contrary, if they do not have similar qualities then the effect of Apathya is reduced. Due to the difference in the strength of the Dosha and the strength of the body, Apathya is not equally effective everywhere and due to these reasons, diseases are also mild, severe and chronic.


Pathya-Apathya is important in both prevention as well as diseased condition. But consideration of the above facts (Matra, Kala, Kriya, Bhoomi, Deha, Dosha) is necessary to determine what is healthy or unhealthy. Without considering them, we cannot definitely call anything as healthy or unhealthy; While some Dravyas are Apathya, they can nonetheless be used as a treatment if used properly in accordance with the Matra, Kala, Kriya, etc.[11] The Pathya- Apathya changes from person to person and it needs analysis. And as Vaidya Lolambraj stated that patients do not need medication if they take Pathya Ahara; if they take Apathya consistently, however, they will not benefit from taking medication.


1. Agnivesha, Charaka, Dradhabala, Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, edited by Pt. Kashinath Shastri, reprint edition, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, Adhyaya, 2003; 25/45:478.

2. Commentary by Chakrapani, Yajjapurushiya Adhyay, Sutra Sthan, Charak Samhita with Chakrapani Teeka, ed. Yadavji Trikamji, 1st edition, Chaukhambha Surbharti Prakashan, Varanasi, 2014; page133.

3. Agnivesh, Yonivyaapad Chikitsa, Chikitsa Sthan, Charak Samhita with Chakrapani Teeka, ed. Yadavji Trikam Ji, 1st edition, Chaukhambha Surbharti Prakashan, Varanasi, 2014; 649.

4. Kashyap, Amlapitta Chikitsaadhyay, editor Prof.P.V.Tiwari, Kashyap Samhita, first edition, Varanasi, Chaukhamba Vishvabharti, 1996; page- 468

5. Harit, Aushadha Parigyan Vidhan, TrityaSthan, editor Harihara Prashad Tipathi, Chaukhambha Krishnadas Academy, Varanasi, 2005; page- 173.

6. Agnivesha, Charaka, Dradhabala, Charaka Samhita, Sutra esthan, edited by Pt. Kashinath Shastri, reprint edition, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, 2017; Charak Sutra 25/38.

7. Vaidya Lolimbaraja, Prathamo Vilasa, Vaidya Jeevana, editor Priyavrat Sharma, Chaukhambha Surbharti Prakashan, Varanasi, 2013; page- 6.

8. Sushruta Samhita Sutrasthana Chapter 20/4 Hitahitiya Adhyaya.

9. Sushruta Samhita Sutrasthana Chapter 20/6 Hitahitiya Adhyaya.

10. Agnivesha, Charaka, Dradhabala, Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthan, edited by Pt. Kashinath Shastri, reprint edition, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, 2017 Adhyaya, Ch.Su. 25/39.

11. Agnivesha, Charaka, Dradhabala, Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, edited by Pt. Kashinath Shastri, reprint edition, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, Adhyaya, 2003; 25/47:478.

12. Agnivesha, Charaka, Dradhabala, Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthana, edited by Pt. Kashinath Shastri, reprint edition, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, Varanasi, Adhyaya, 2003; 28/07.