The use of essential oils as therapy has been incorporated for thousands of years within many modalities. The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Indians, Chinese, and Africans, as well as many other cultural systems, incorporated essential oils as a means of medicine, cosmetics, and adornment to elevate their daily lives. Ayurveda has also used essential oils for many years, helping to balance the doshas, adorn the body, and stimulate the organ systems. Learning how to use Ayurveda and essential oils can be a powerful way to improve overall health.
Essential oil use is a precious and natural way to balance the doshas and promote healing.
Benefits of Essential Oils
Essential oils primarily affect us by triggering the limbic system (the part of the brain that affects emotions and memory), which imparts different bodily reactions. Can you imagine a memory when a scent fills your nose? Close your eyes and imagine the sweet salty air of the sea or the smell of cotton candy wafting along the air of a summer fair. Even the scent of your morning coffee, or your favorite shampoo – does it recall feelings of joy and calm? Does it uplift the senses? This is the power of scent; it can affect mood, hormones, responses to stress, healing capabilities, even the ability to retain information.
In addition, essential oils are used in Ayurveda to balance the doshas.
Essential Oils for the Doshas
According to Ayurveda, essential oils affect each dosha differently. Selecting essential oils for each dosha requires the understanding of what that dosha vitiation is, and how to balance it. Remember that:
- Vata tends to exhibit dry skin, an “airy” or vacant mind state, a coldness in the body, with anxiety, stress, and fear when they are imbalanced.
- Pitta tends to run hot, with acne, or types of dermatitis that will manifest in their skin reactions, with an aggravated and irritated mood state accompanying these traits.
- Kapha will tend toward slowness and sluggishness, showing coldness in the skin and body, dullness in their mood. Kapha predominant peoples will tend towards depression when out of balance.
Best Essential Oils for Vata
Essential oils for Vata dosha will include those which are inspiring, warming, woodsy, grounding, and calming. Vata predominant persons should use essential oils regularly, and incorporate them into dinacharya – or their daily rituals. The best carrier oils for Vata include sesame, sunflower, and avocado oil. Oils that help decrease and balance Vata dosha include:
- Sweet Orange
Best Essential Oils for Pitta
Essential oils that help to reduce or balance Pitta will benefit from calming, nutritive, drying, and cooling oils. Pitta’s system is easily stimulated, so only a small amount goes a long way. Pitta should incorporate the most cooling oils during their daily abhyanga. The best carrier oils for Pitta are coconut, sunflower, or jojoba oil. Oils that are best for Pitta include:
- Ylang Ylang
Best Essential Oils for Kapha
Sweet and heavy Kapha benefits greatly from light, uplifting, astringent, stimulating, and drying qualities. Kapha should use essential oils throughout the day, whenever they feel they are starting to experience drowsiness or sluggishness. The best carrier oils for Kapha include sunflower and jojoba oils. The best essential oils for Kapha include:
- Juniper Berry
How To Use Essentials Oils According to Ayurveda
The use of essential oils includes:
- Application directly on the skin (often with a carrier oil)
- Inhalation, through a diffuser (where the extracts of the plant or flower are directed through steam)
- Soaps, body washes, skincare, or in the bath
An easy and powerful way to incorporate Ayurveda and essential oils into your routine is to practice the Ayurveda art of daily self-massage (Abhyanga). Simply add 1-3 drops of a dosha-specific oil to a carrier oil, and apply before a shower. In addition, after cleansing, consider applying essential oils as a perfume. In Ayurveda, adornment of essential oils is recommended to help you maintain a beautiful scent, as well as uplift your sense of well-being. Lastly, you may also want to diffuse essential oils during the day or evening as desired.
Ceanna Saatsaz is a Licensed Master Esthetician, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Certified Professional Herbalist, from Seattle, WA.