Ayurvedic Aromatherapy in a Nutshell
Ayurveda and its relations to Indian philosophy is derived from the Vedas, the divine Hindu books of knowledge. The aim of Ayurveda is not only to heal the sick, but the preservation of life, and in that way it compromises a noble system of living that makes Ayurveda the most complete system of medicine and Healthcare we know today ~ Gopi Warrier & Deepika Gunawant (Courtesy of The Complete Illustated Guide to Ayurveda.)
Some aspects of Ayurvedic medicine include:
- Detoxification by panchakarma
- Herbal Medicine
- Meditation and prayer
Ayurvedic theory is based on the individual constitution of a person, according to which he or she is susceptible to certain illnesses. The basic Ayurvedic belief is that everything within the universe, including ourselves, is composed of five elements called panchamahabhutas and tridoshas. By correcting the balance of the tridoshas within ourselves and in relation to the world around us, we promote health on all levels.
To give a full explanation of all aspects of Ayurvedic Medicine is not possible in this blog, so I will just touch on the Doshas and how aromatherapy can be used to create harmony and balance in the individual.
We are all born with a unique balance of the Doshas, that makes us who we are, and what our strengths and weaknesses are. There are 3 pure types, and 7 combinations, although each is individual. If you are born with a high proportion of Pitta, and a small amount of Vata and Kapha, you are said to be Pitta dominant. I’ll just re-iterate that this information is an extreme over simplification.
Follow the link for a simple Ayurvedic Constitutions Quiz
Vata is the subtle energy associated with movement Is a combination of air and ether, and responsible for motion in both the body and mind. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety. Symptoms of high Vata include a desire for wamth (food, clothing & environment). Physical symptoms are constipation, lack of energy, loss of sleep, fatigue & gas. Balancing the Vata Doshas with Essentials oils For obstructed Vata, pungent essential oils are needed to remove the obstructions with heat.
Pitta expresses as the body’s metabolic system — Is a combination of fire and water, and is in charge of any form of change. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy. Symptoms of high Pitta brings out the desire for cooling (foods, environment & clothing). Physical symptoms are excessive hunger and thirst, and burning sensation in the skin, eyes or hands, allergic rashes, fevers or giddiness. Many inflammatory and infectious diseases can occur. Balancing the Pitta Doshas with Essentials oils Because Pitta is hot and wet, it should be treated with cooling, heat dispelling, drying, nutritive and calming oils.
Kapha is the energy that forms the body’s structure — Is a combination of water and earth, and produces lubrication as well as insulation. Bones, muscles, tendons — and provides the “glue” that holds the cells together. Kapha supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy. Symptoms of high Kapha include digestive issues such as loss of appetite, nausea and possible vomiting, along with heaviness in the stomach. Ther may be pallor of the skin, cold hands and feet, and possibly swollen joints. Mucus will increase with coughing, congestion and swollen glands. One may suffer excessive sleep, lethargy and lack of concentration. Balancing the Kapha Doshas with Essentials oils Because Kapha is water and earth, It is predominantly cold and moist, slow and heavy in nature. It can be treated with warming, drying and stimulating oils.
Each of the Doshas are forces acting in every part of the body, all the time. For example, in the digestive tract, Vata creates the movement of food, Pitta is the digestive process, which transforms the food into useable energy, and Kapha makes up the structures into which the food moves and into which the nutrients are absorbed. Each of the Doshas are concentrated in particular areas of the body (for instance Vata is concentrated in the brain, lungs, stomach, circulation & nervous system, and it’s greatest concentration is in the colon. Pitta’s primary concentration is in the small intestine, but also the liver, heart, eyes and skin. Kapha is primarily concentrated in the chest, stomach, mouth, head and joints. When the Doshas are out of balance, they will product specific conditions and symptoms.
As you can see, this article just touches the tip of the iceberg, and I hope it has inspired you to investigate further into this intriguing system. Plant Essentials offers Dosha essential oil blends for your convenience here.
- Toni McMahon