In Ayurvedic medicine, a basti is a therapeutic treatment in which medicated oils and herbal preparations are introduced into the rectum for the purpose of flushing toxins from the intestinal tract. The procedure’s name comes from ancient times, when healers used the sterilized bladders or bastis (in Sanskrit) of animals to contain and apply the treatment oils.

Bastis are often referred to as enemas but offer many more healing benefits than simply evacuating the colon. This is because the medication that’s given rectally goes in the deeper tissues, including the bones. According to Ayurveda, the colon is the principle site of Vata, the aspect of the body that governs movement and circulation. Excess Vata in the colon is considered a toxin that manifests as many symptoms and diseases, including arthritis, back pain, gout, headaches, nervous disorders, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s – among other  Vata disorders. A basti gently eliminates the excess Vata and helps restore health and wellbeing. The cleansing is also an effective treatment for most digestive disorders, including constipation, gout, spastic colon, and indigestion. Finally, people who want to feel more energized benefit from the rejuvenating effects of bastis.

In Ayurveda, there are more than a hundred different kinds of bastis for a variety of conditions and symptoms. The kinds of herbs administered and the duration of the treatment depend on the illness or condition being treated and the constitutional make-up of the patient.