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Basic Tissues

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General description

Plasma and lymph (‘Rasa’), blood cells (‘Rakta’), muscular and general connective tissues (‘Māmsa’), body-lipids including adipose tissue (‘Meda’), tissues resisting easy degradation - like bones (‘Asthi’), bone marrow and nervous tissue (‘Majjā’) and tissues responsible for reproductive functions (‘Śukra’) are the basic tissues from which the body is formed. (A.H. Sū.1/13).

Tissues producing breast-milk (Stanya), female reproductive tissues (Ārtava), ‘Kandarā’ (tendons), Sirā (blood vessels), ‘Vasā’ (muscle fat), six layers of skin and ‘Snāyus’ (sinews) are the ‘Upadhātus’ (subsidiary tissues). Tissues producing breast-milk and female reproductive tissues are Upadhātus of ‘Rasa’. ‘Kandarā’ and ‘Sirā’ are Upadhātus of ‘Rakta’. ‘Vasā’ and skin are Upadhātus of ‘Māmsa’. ‘Snāyu’ is the Upadhātu of ‘Medas’.(Ca. Ci. 15/17).

Classification of tissues described in Ayurveda is based on some rational observations. For example, ‘Rasa Dhātu’ includes both plasma and lymph (Intravascular fluid). ‘Rakta Dhātu’ mainly stands for RBCs. ‘Māmsa Dhātu’ stands for muscular tissue in general but also includes general connective tissue and parenchymal and stromal tissues of different viscera. As ‘coating’ or ‘covering’ is the function of ‘Māmsa Dhātu’, even epithelial tissue is included under the same. ‘Medo Dhātu’ includes adipose tissue and circulating lipids of blood because it is of two types: ‘Baddha’ (bound) and ‘Abaddha’ (free). ‘Asthi Dhātu’ includes all those structures of the body, which resist easy degradation. So, teeth and nails also are included under this ‘Dhātu’. ‘Majjā Dhātu’ stands for everything that fills bony cavities. So, apart from bone marrow, it also stands for Brain substance because this fills up a cavity formed by the union of several cranial bones. ‘Śukra Dhātu’ mainly stands for all hormones of hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal axis.

Supplying the nourishment (Prīnana), delivery of life-principle (Jīvana), providing covering or coating (Lepa), providing lubrication (Sneha), giving mechanical support (Dhārana), filling-in the (bony) cavities(Pūrana) and reproduction (Garbhotpāda) - are the most important functions of these seven ‘Dhātus’ respectively. (A.H. Sū. 11/4).[1]


  1. The content General description is borrowed from an article by Mr.Kishor Patwardhan