Saptadhatu in Ayurveda - The Seven Body Tissues


What does Dhatu mean?

Dha in Sanskrit means to build. So Dhatu, in Ayurveda, means the building  element of the body. In English, Dhatu is termed as Tissue. According to Acharya Charak ( the principal contributor of Ayurveda), The human body is primarily made of seven Tissues or Saptadhatus (Sapta=seven, dhatus=tissues). Saptadhatu in Ayurveda are the seven body tissues. The dhatus are the structural components. They also maintain the functioning of different organ systems and play a significant role in the nourishment & growth of the body as well as the mind. Any imbalance in their quantity leads to disorders in body.

What are Sapta dhatus?

The saptadhatus can be called the building blocks of the body. They are:

i. Rasa (Plasma)

ii. Rakta (blood):  

iii. Mamsa (muscle) 

iv. Meda (Adipose tissue) 

v. Asthi (bones and Cartilage)

vi. Majja (bone marrow)

vii. Shukra (Reproductive fluid )

Origin and formation of Dhatu

The food which we intake is digested, absorbed and assimilated by the bioenergy of the body called Agni. The most important Agni is Jatharagni which when works upon the ingested food, converts it into two parts: Saar and Mala.

1. Saar: Saar contains all the nutrients and energy which after various processes converts into dhatu.

2. Mala: Mala or Trimalas are the undigested waste matter of the body which is discarded.

Formation of Sapta dhatus can be compared with the ecological food chain pyramid. As In food chain, the food energy passes from one trophic level to other, similarily the formation and health of one dhatu is dependent on the previous dhatu. Each Dhatu is formed with the combination of Panchamahabhuta (The five great elements)- Fire, water, earth,air, space  and Tridosha- Vata, Pitta and Kapha- regulate the Dhatus. Each Dhatu nourishes and supports updhatu (sub-tissue or secondary tissue). 

Nourishment of dhatu

Every dhatu has its own digestive fire (dhatvagni). Each dhatu gets digested by their respective dhatvagni and nutrients thus obtained helps to form the succeeding dhatu and sometimes updhatus too. 

Each dhatu nourishes the next dhatu.

i. Food nourishes Rasa

ii. Rasa nourishes Rakta

iii. Rakta nourishes Mamsa

iv. Mamsa nourishes Meda

v. Meda nourishes Asthi

vi. Asthi nourishes Majja

vii. Majja nourishes Shukra 



Overview of Saptadhatus:

1. Rasa Dhatu

Origin: It is first dhatu. It represents plasma. This dhatu is formed in the digestive system soon after digestion. It is formed from the essence of the food we ingest.

Quantity: 9 anjali

Function: It is major constituent of human body. Its main function is preenana, i.e. nourishment of all the tissues, cells and organs. It mainly nourishes and strengthens blood.

Predominating mahaboot: Jal mahabhuta (water)

Dominant Dosha: Kapha

Dhatvagni: Rasagni

Corresponding Updhatu: breast milk(Stanya), menstrual flow (Rajastrav)

Mala produced: Sweat, tears and saliva, cough

Symptoms of Increase in Rasa dhatu: 

weak digestion



Excess salivation

breathing related problems


excessive sleep

sluggish digestion

Symptoms of Rasa deficiency: 


increase in heart beat

pain in heart

early exhaustion

dryness in  mouth and body parts



intolerance to sound

Diseases caused due to imbalancing of Rasa dhatu

Poor appetite


wrinkles on face

pain in body parts




lack of interest in the food


Treatment of Rasaj rog: 


taking rasayan

nourishment therapy (tarpan): for example, netra tarpan

therapeutic emesis, vamana(vomiting)

2. Rakta Dhatu

Origin: Rakta dhatu is blood without plasma. This dhatu is formed by the nutrients present in Rasa dhatu.

Quantity: 8 anjali

Function: Its main function is jeevana, i.e. enlivening. It maintains life, transports oxygen to all the vital organs, clears complexion of skin, increases strength and immunity.

Predominating mahaboot: Agni and jal mahabhuta (fire and water)

Dominant Dosha: Pitta dosha

Dhatvagni: Raktagni

Corresponding Updhatu: Blood Vessels/vein (Shira), Fascia/Tendon (Kandara)

Mala produced: various pigments and acidic secretions

Symptoms of Increase in Rasa dhatu: 

Redness in skin

Redness in eyes

fullness of veins

Symptoms of Rasa deficiency: 

paleness in skin

loss of lustre from hair

weak blood vessels

dryness and cracks in skin

craving for sour and cold food items

Diseases caused due to imbalancing of Rasa dhatu:

Following disorders are caused due to blood vitiation:



blood cancer

bleeding disorder


discoloration of skin

state of confusion

saline taste in mouth

fetid odour in body

foul smell in nose and mouth

Treatment of Rakta rog:

purification of blood

therapeutic purgation (virechana)

bloodletting (rakta mokshana)

pacification therapy (shamana)

theraupetic fasting

3. Mamsa Dhatu

Origin: Mamsa dhatu represents the muscles. This dhatu gets nourishment from Rakta as well as Rasa dhatu.

Quantity: 3 anjali

Function: Its main function is lepana, i.e. protection and covering. It covers the delicate vital organs, enables movement and provides physical strength to the body.

Predominating mahaboot: vayu, jal and agni (air, water and fire)

Dominant Dosha: Kapha dosha

Dhatvagni: Mamsagni

Corresponding Updhatu: Muscle fat, skin

Mala produced: Earwax, mucus, eye discharges

Symptoms of Increase in Mamsa dhatu: 

thickness of buttocks, arms, thighs, cheeks

heaviness of body

extra muscular growth

Symptoms of Mamsa deficiency: 

loss in flesh of the buttocks, neck and abdomen



craving for sour and cold food items

Diseases caused due to imbalancing of Rasa dhatu:

burning sensation in the body



skin disorders

tertiary fever


inflammation of epiglottis

obstinate urinary diseases

Treatment of Mamsa rog:



application of alkali


enema therapy

4.  Meda Dhatu

Origin: It indicates fat and adipose tissue of the body. This dhatu is formed by the nutrients present in Majja dhatu in addition to Rasa and Rakta dhatus.

Quantity: 2 anjali

Function: Its main function is snehana, i.e. lubrication. It maintains the lubrication of all the tissues. It provides insulation to the body and increases strength, stability and nourishment to bone tissue.

Predominating mahaboot: prithvi, jal and agni mahabuta (earth, water and fire)

Dominant Dosha: Kapha dosha

Dhatvagni: Medagni

Corresponding Updhatu: ligaments (snayu), joints (sandhi)

Mala produced: sweat, sebum

Symptoms of Increase in Meda dhatu: 

abdominal obesity

unctuousness of body


bad body odour

Symptoms of Meda deficiency: 

decreased abdominal girth


cracking sound in joints

dryness and cracks in skin

craving for fatty food 

weak muscles

Diseases caused due to imbalancing of Meda dhatu:



high cholesterol

emotional disturbances



Treatment of Meda disorders:

adopting healthy lifestyle

regular yoga practices

thrapatic fasting

eating ghee, milk (in case of deficiency of meda)

5.  Asthi Dhatu

Origin: It represents bones and cartilage. It is the hardest dhatu. This dhatu is formed from nutrients in Meda Dhatu in addition to Rasa, Rakta, and Mamsa. 

Quantity: 206

Function: Its main function is dharana, i.e. to hold up body structure. It provides structure and support to the body. It protects internal organs, helps in movement. It also nourishes the bone marrow tissue.

Predominating mahabhuta: Prithvi mahabhuta

Dominant Dosha: Vata dosha

Dhatvagni: Asthyagni

Corresponding Updhatu: No updhatu

Mala produced: body hair, nails

Symptoms of Increase in Asthi dhatu: 

bony growth

extra tooth

increase in body hair and nails

pain in bones and joints

Symptoms of Asthi dhatu deficiency: 

loss of body hair

loose joints


breaking of teeth and nails


Diseases caused due to imbalancing of Asthi dhatu.

extra growth of bones and teeth

discoloration of body hair

pain in body parts


Treatment of Asthi dhatu disorders:

taking supplements with calcinated powder


exposure to sunlight



eating food rich in calcium

6.  Majja Dhatu

Origin: It denotes bone marrow. This dhatu is formed in the digestive system soon after digestion.

Quantity: 1 anjali

Function: Its main function is poorana, i.e. filling up bone cavities. It produces white and red blood cells, gives nourishment to shukra dhatu.

Predominating mahabhuta: Jala mahabhuta (Water)

Dominant Dosha: Kapha

Dhatvagni: Majjagni

Corresponding Updhatu: No updhatu 

Mala produced: sebum, mucus of faeces, thick secretions from eyes

Symptoms of Increase in Majja dhatu: 

heaviness in eyes and entire body

formation of carbuncles in between joints

Symptoms of Majja deficiency: 



pain in bones

hollow bones


Diseases caused due to imbalancing of Majja dhatu:


Rheumatid artheritis


blood cancer


bone cancer

Treatment of Majja dhatu disorders:

intake of food with sweet and bitter taste


body purification


7.  Shukra Dhatu

Origin: Shukra dhatu relate to the generative tissue. It is the most powerful and refined dhatu. This dhatu is formed by the nutrients in the Majja Dhatu in addition to Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Meda, and Asthi.

Quantity: half anjali

Function: Its main function is garbhotpadan, i.e. reproduction. It mainly nourishes and strengthens blood. It constitutes semen and ovum, increases courage and attraction towards opposite sex.

Predominating mahaphuta: vayu, agni, prithvi, jal (air, fire, earth, water) in equal proportions.

Dominant Dosha: Kapha

Dhatvagni: Shukragni

Corresponding Updhatu: No updhatu

Mala produced: body hair, nails

Symptoms of Increase in Shukra dhatu: 

excessive production of semen

excessive libido

Symptoms of Shukra deficiency: 



delayed/absence of ejaculation

pain in reproductive organs

semen mixed with blood

Diseases caused due to imbalancing of Shukra dhatu:


non ovulation

non ejaculation of semen


Treatment of Shukra dhatu disorders:


balanced diet

Aphrodisiac therapies (vajikarana) in case of diseases of semen



Oj or Ojas:

The essence of all the seven dhatus is called Oj or Ojas. It is also known as mahadhatu. Quality of Oj is dependent on the quality of all dhatus. Reduction (Kshaya) of both the quality and quantity of each Dhatu leads to corrosion of immunity (Ojakshaya).

From an Ayurvedic perspective, it takes about 30-35 days for the food to transform into seven tissues (dhatus). These Dhatus are the by-products of the food that a person consumes. Hence one should eat Good quality , nourished food, diet  having rich fats , proteins , minerals , carbohydrates , aromatic herbs- like ghee, dairy products such as milk and yogurt, root veggies , fruits and grains, etc .

Apart from this , some satvik ( righteous ) practices such as - daily moderate exercise routine , yoga , meditation , seva & satsang , healthy relationship with all at every level must be included in daily life.



Post a Comment