Ayurveda has the most sophisticated, complex and powerful herbal and massage oils of any natural healing tradition in the world. In Ayurvedic pharmacology, numerous herbs are specially cooked in an oil base, usually sesame, following ancient formulations with centuries of experience behind them. Their main name is Tailam, from tila meaning sesame oil. Yet other oils are used may be used in their preparation including coconut oil, castor oil and ghee.
While some Ayurvedic groups only offer simple oils like sesame, almond or castor. The oils prepared with herbs are much stronger and far superior.
Ayurvedic oils, we must clearly understand, are not simply adjunct massage oils. Ayurvedic oils form an entire treatment in their own right that is one of the most effective herbal treatments, perhaps the best.
The skin has a special ability to absorb the oils along with the herbs and nutrients prepared in them, often more so than does the digestive system, particularly as many people today suffer from malabsorption and poor digestion. Taking the herbs externally through the skin with Ayurvedic oils circumvents the weak digestive system and brings the effect of the herbs to a deeper level of the body, musculo-skeletal system and nervous system, where they can be more effective.
External Usage of Oils
Used externally, Ayurvedic oils can be applied to specific regions of the body. There are a number of oils that are good for the head, not simply for improving the hair but for calming the mind, strengthening the nerves and countering the side effects of how our nervous system is being disturbed and debilitated by our information technology. Such Ayurvedic oils for the head can counter insomnia, stress and anxiety, or even calm anger, agitation and unrest.
Relative to joint or arthritic pain, or simply for stiff or weak joints, Ayurvedic oils can be applied directly to the site of the pain or weakness with excellent results. This is extremely important because there is often little that can be done for arthritis in modern western medicine. Yet besides bone problems, the same Ayurvedic oils are excellent in sports medicine for loosening and strengthening the muscles and joints and improving performance.
In this regard, Ayurvedic oils are very helpful for the practice of Yoga asanas as they help loosen the joints and promote deeper healing in the bone tissue, allowing for easier performance of the asanas and less danger of injury. Regular abhyanga or oil application to the body, particularly the head, neck, back, elbows, hands, knees and feet is an important Ayurvedic regimen for promoting positive health and longevity overall.
Naturally Ayurvedic oils have many applications relative to skin diseases, including skin rashes, irritations and inflammations of various types. Many Ayurvedic oils have significant cosmetic value. They have been used to help remove warts and dark spots from the skin, to counter dry or cracked skin, and to improve overall skin luster and texture, including countering the aging process that appears through the skin. This is particularly important today when cosmetics are expensive and often leave dangerous chemical residues on the skin.
Internal Usage of Oils
In addition some Ayurvedic oils can be taken internally and are not only for external usage. Check the specific oils involved. Some are specific for taking internally. This includes taking oils orally through the mouth, in the nose as nasya therapy, or through the rectum as bastis or enemas. Each avenue of application has its specific value and purpose. Taking Ayurvedic oils through the nose improves breathing, opens the sinuses, and promotes positive brain function. As enemas, Ayurvedic oils are good for debility, weak nerves, poor elimination and conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
Taken orally oils can be used with warm milk in amounts of a teaspoon or more per cup to improve their strengthening properties. Or they can be simply taken directly into the mouth, even massaged into the gums to improve gum and oral health. Such internal taking of oils can be more powerful than the taking of herbal teas, pills or powders, and are easier to absorb.
Besides regular oils, Ayurveda also offers special potentized oils, called avartis, in which the oil may be prepared not just once but three, seven, eleven, twenty one or even a hundred and one times. Such highly potentized oils are especially powerful for deep healing, longevity and rejuvenation of both body and mind. They are specific to chronic diseases and conditions of weak physical and psychological immunity. Yet regular Ayurvedic oils are helpful in the same conditions as well.
Prescription of Ayurvedic Oils
Ayurveda prescribes oils with regard to the Ayurvedic dosha type of the person. Ayurvedic oils form a primary treatment for Vata dosha that accumulates in the skin, bones and joints and causes various nervous system and debility conditions. It is helpful for most Vata diseases as well as for preventative purposes. Vata types need daily usage of Ayurvedic oils.
Cooling Ayurvedic oils are helpful for Pitta dosha, particularly as applied to the head, which gets overheated in their cases, or for inflammatory conditions of the skin or joints. Ayurvedic oils are not as specific to Kapha dosha, which often needs more of a sweating therapy, but warming Ayurvedic oils can help in their case as well.
A few recommendations.
For the head, calming the mind and improving mental function, Chandanadi or Kshirabala Tailams, aid in both Pitta and Vata conditions. Triphaladi is very good for Vata and Kapha conditions of the head, neck, ears and throat.
For cosmetic usage for the skin, Eladi Tailam is excellent. For body massage and joint issues, Mahanarayan or Dhanvantaram Tailams are great. Mahanarayan Tailam is overall the best massage oil and used in this way in most Ayurvedic clinics in Kerala.
For gaining strength and countering disturbances of the nervous system, use Balashwagandha or Bala Tailams. For internal use and usage as enemas, Mezhupakam forms of the oils are used.
- For Kapha – Mahanarayan, Dhanvantaram, Karpuradi, Prasarani, Triphaladi, Marichadi
- For Pitta – Chandanadi, Kshirabala, Brahmi, Asanamanjishtadi
- For Vata – Balashwagandha, Bala, Mahanarayan, Brahmi, Dhanvantaram, Murivenna
An excellent source of authentic Ayurvedic oils from Kerala (Vaidyaratnam Pharmacies) is Trihealth Hawaii. They have dozens of oils and an entire range of traditional Ayurvedic herbal products.