Ayurveda treatment is primarily based on herbs, which are one of the best gifts of nature to humanity. It offers several ways to make the most of the available herbs. Using each part of a plant, even their fragrances is an essential part of Ayurvedic healing philosophy.
The smell, which is ten thousand times more sensitive than the sense of taste, provides a unique route to administer herbs. The use of herbal aroma began centuries ago, but the term aromatherapy didn’t exist up until 1900’s.
Aromatherapy uses fragrances of plants, flowers, wood, & resin to treat the conditions of body, mind, & spirit altogether. Many instances could be found in Ayurvedic texts where the sense of smell and touch has been used along with other therapies.
Ayurveda has always considered nature, & doshas in every aspect of treatment. But not much is known about the ways to implement Ayurvedic principles in Aromatherapy. So, let’s explore the relation between Ayurveda & Aromatherapy.
How does Ayurvedic Aromatherapy work?
Where western Aromatherapy works symptomatically with herbs and oils, Ayurvedic Aromatherapy is more of a personalized one.
Ayurvedic principle of ‘Prakriti,’ i.e., body constitution, lets you choose an aroma which not only treats your symptoms but is also compatible with your body type.
For this, Ayurveda notes herbal energetics of each herb and essential oils. It takes into consideration whether the herb is heating, cooling, moisturizing, or drying. This way, it is easier to choose which essential oil would be best for vata, pitta, or kapha body type.
Ayurveda uses pure fragrances in the form of flower essences or essential oils. In today’s busy world, pure scented soaps, candles, or powders are other options. However, aromas work best when pure. So, it is advised to use essential oils for effective results.
Ayurveda uses these essential oils by blending them with oils of similar properties or by mixing with base oil. This helps to achieve several healing effects at once.
As essential oils are a concentrated form of herbs, it should be used externally only. However, the trend of internal consumption of essential oils is emerging, but it is harmful and should be avoided altogether.
Essential oils for each doshic imbalance
In Ayurveda, everything ultimately boils down to doshas; therefore, the choice of essential oils highly depends on your imbalanced dosha.
Here, is a brief list of essential oils for each type of doshic imbalance but consult a physician to assess the exact kind of your doshic imbalance before using these oils:
As vata dosha is light, dry, & cold, it is treated with essential oils, which are moist, heavy, & warming but calming. Such oils mostly have sweet, sour, or spicy aroma. Ideally, sweet and spicy oils are mixed together to pacify vata.
- Celery seed
- Black pepper
These essential oils increase digestive fire, bring calmness to mind, destroy toxins, & strengthens body circulation.
Pitta dosha is hot & unctuous so, essential oils of cooling, drying, & calming nature are used. These oils generally have sweet, astringent, and sour aroma.
- Blue chamomile
- Aloe vera
- Tea tree
- Gotu kola
These oils are calming to the mind, dispel heat, fight infections, reduce swelling & bleeding.
Kapha dosha is cold, wet, heavy, & slow. Drying, heating, & stimulant oils are used to treat kapha-imbalance.
- Cedarwood oil
- Black pepper
Most of these oils have pungent and astringent aroma which reduces congestion and stimulates mind by clearing its channels. Almost all warming & drying oils are best for kapha..
Base oils or carrier oils are as important as essential oils when it comes to their application. Essential oils are potent & affect adversely if used alone. So, it must be mixed with base oil before using.
Base oils to be mixed with your desired blend of essential oils are also chosen as per doshas.
For vata – sesame oil, castor oil, flaxseed oil
For pitta – coconut oil, sunflower oil
For kapha – mustard oil, canola oil, safflower oil
How to practice Aromatherapy in your daily life?
Before using any essential oil, it is vital to consult an expert about its properties, dose, and contraindications. The amount of oil to be used depends on the severity of your disease, but it’s always safe to start with smaller amounts.
Here are a few ways to use essential oils in your daily life:
A relaxing bath of essential oil is the best way to start your day. Just put 15-30 drops of your favorite oils in the bathtub and step in. It is good to use oils that are good for your body type.
2. Steam Inhalation
Breathing in essential oils is an excellent way to step out of your disturbing emotional states. Not only this, but it also treats sinus problems, headaches, nasal blockage, flu, hay fever.
Boil water and put 3-5 drops of essential oil or two drops of heating oil like eucalyptus & thyme. While the water is steaming, put a towel on your head, close your eyes, and take deep breathes slowly until the odor decreases.
3. Warm compress
Warm compresses allow the essential oil to penetrate the skin and tissue, which makes it a good option in muscle pain, breathing difficulties.
Mix 5-10 drops of essential oils in 1 liter of hot water. Immerse a small towel in the water and after soaking it a few minutes, squeeze out the water and apply it to the affected area.
4. Oral care
Brushing with essential oils maintain your healthy gums and prevents its early decay. Put one drop of essential oil like neem, cypress, peppermint, fennel on your toothbrush while brushing.
Add 1-2 drops of essential oil to ¼ cup of water to make a mouthwash. Gargling with this mouthwash preserves healthy gums & teeth.
Essential oils quickly get absorbed in the skins & the underlying vessels. There are very few oils that can be applied directly to the skin, such as chamomile, lavender, rose, & sandalwood.
So, always mix other essential oils with base oils to apply on skin. The essential oil has a wide range of applications for skin care. For a few skin conditions, you can use the following oils,
If your skin is dry, thin, rough, cracked, & wrinkled, then massage your skin with oils like chamomile, geranium, lavender, jasmine, jatamansi, rose, and sandalwood.
If you have acne, itchy, irritating, & sensitive skin, then use peppermint, rosewood, blue chamomile, jasmine, & lavender oil.
If your skin is thick, smooth, & slightly swollen, then you may go for orange, eucalyptus, rosemary, cypress, birch, and juniper berry oil.
6. Hair care
For dandruff, use lavender, lemon, neem, bay, lemon balm, & cypress oil. To increase hair growth, massage your head with rosemary, coriander, cedar, & birch oil.
For hair loss use Gotu kola, birch, coriander, chamomile, peppermint, rosewood, & rose oil
7. Sleep aid
Sprinkle 1-2 drops of calming essential oils on your pillow or add 1-2 drops of oil in an electric diffuser filled with water.
Aromatherapy can help you heal physically as well as psychologically, but this healing principle takes time. Hence, it should be used with patience & a positive attitude.
The scope of Aromatherapy is often mistaken to be limited to cosmetics and perfumery, but it is much more than that.
Aromatherapy is getting more in vogue as people are becoming aware of the limitations of modern medicine and the high potency of essential oils.
Aromatherapy used in Ayurvedic way has got immense therapeutic value. Ayurveda & Aromatherapy has excellent potential to lower the healthcare costs and provide effective personalized treatment with no side effects.