(extracted for 'Jeevani - Ayurveda for Women' by Dr. P.L.T. Girija)
Water can be consumed either before a meal, after a meal or during a meal. Each of these ways of drinking water has different consequences. Water consumed before a meal reduces the power of digestion and leads to emaciation. Water consumed after a meal leads to an increase of Kapha and fat. Water consumed during a meal maintains the body and dhatus in equilibrium and helps in the easy digestion of the food consumed.
Water can be consumed in four different forms – hot water, cold water, boiled and cooled water, and water boiled with herbs. Each of these has different properties and is used in different situations.
Hot water increases appetite and stimulates the power of digestion. It helps in the proper digestion and assimilation of food. It is the ideal drink during a meal. It is good for throat and voice. It cleanses the urinary system. Hot water is useful in treating hiccups, bloating of stomach, increase of Vata and Kapha, cough, breathlessness, chronic colds, pain in the body, indigestion, increase of fat in the body and fevers.
Cold water is used in treating alcoholic intoxication, excessive tiredness and fainting, giddiness, dryness of tongue, burning sensation in the body, increased Pitta, haemorrhage and poison.
Water which is boiled and cooled is easily digested, more easily than cold water (not boiled). It cures tiredness and is good for alleviating all the three doshas.
However, boiled and cooled
water should not be kept overnight for use the next day. If it is used this way, it causes an increase in all the three doshas.
Water which is boiled with herbs possesses the medicinal properties of those herbs. In summer, water boiled with useera and cooled is used as a cooling and refreshing drink.
Except during summer and autumn, in all other seasons, one should drink water in moderation. In summer and autumn, we naturally feel an excess of thirst. So, we consume relatively large quantities of water to quench our thirst. However, even when we are very thirsty, we should not drink water in excess. If we do, it interferes with digestion and leads to an increase of Kapha and Pitta in the body.
People suffering from poor digestion, anaemia, udara (a disease where fluid collects in the stomach), diarrhoea, piles, severe digestive disorders (grahani), diabetes, diseases of eyes and throat, wounds, consumption and swellings in the body, should not drink water. Such people, even when they are thirsty, should drink water only in small quantities.
When we have fever, we should not drink cold water. Cold water consumed during a fever leads to indigestion and formation of the toxic residue of food, ama. It further causes thirst, excessive lethargy and sleep, bloating of stomach, a feeling of heaviness in the body, cough, excessive salivation, respiratory diseases and chronic colds. During fever, when thirsty, one should consume hot water, in small quantities. Hot water has the quality of alleviating fevers. In fever, water boiled with certain herbs like dry ginger is very beneficial.