Essential oils are used in ayurvedic therapeutic formulations for their yogavahi value?their ability to help transport the healing wisdom of herbs and herbal oils to the cells and tissues of the body. They play the same important role in transdermal formulations and skin care that spices do in cooked preparations and compound herbal formulations that we eat.
Beyond their role as yogavahis, many essential oils are important for their own healing wisdom. According to ayurveda, good health comes from physiological balance. All of us are made up of the same five fundamental elements that the universe is made up of?space, air, fire, water and earth. Vata, Pitta and Kapha, called the three doshas in ayurveda, are combinations of these elements and refer to the three psycho-physiological principles that govern all the activities of mind and body. Each of us is born with a unique composition of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Maintaining that original unique balance is vital for ongoing good health, and diet, lifestyle, herbs and essential oils are modalities used in ayurveda to help restore this balance.
Essential oils help create balance through the sense of smell, and many offer targeted benefit for different subdoshas, subcategories of the three main doshas. The rose, for example, is renowned in ayurveda for its ability to pacify Pitta dosha (the fire plus water dosha), and in particular Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha of Pitta that governs the emotional heart. Sandalwood is another aroma that helps pacify Sadhaka Pitta. Lavender helps pacify Prana Vata, the subdosha of Vata (the space plus air dosha) that governs the mind and nervous system, and thus helps promote restful sleep.
?Like herbs, aromas need to be combined carefully for synergistic results,? says ayurvedic expert Rama Kant Mishra, formulator of a range of cutting-edge herbal transdermals incorporating herbal extracts and essential oils in a pure base of shea butter and walnut oil. ?If used incorrectly aromas can actually create imbalance and lead to irritation, headaches and the like.?
Essential oils can be added to massage oils, facial oils, bath water and liquid cleansers, in homemade facials and masks, and in floral waters and mists. They can also be blended for a specific dosha or health goal and worn in personal aroma lockets or diffused in your home. To balance Vata dosha, pick from calming or warming essential oils such as ylang ylang, sweet orange, frankincense, clove and rose geranium. For Pitta, choose from cooling or soothing aromas such as rose, sandalwood, fennel, mint, jasmine and vetiver. For balancing Kapha (the water plus earth dosha), choose from invigorating or warming oils such as rosemary, eucalyptus, lemon, basil, juniper and coriander.
Essential oils are potent, so exercise great care in blending and use. Never apply essential oils directly to the skin?instead, mix the recommended amounts in a base oil or in water. Test all oils for sensitivity, and consult your physician before using essential oils if you are pregnant or nursing or have a medical condition.
Note: This information is educational, and is not intended to replace standard medical care or advice.
About the Author: Shreelata Suresh is a yoga instructor from the Bay Area. She writes for various publications on yoga and ayurveda. For more information on ayurveda or to buy ayurvedic products, visit http://www.ayurbalance.com.