Ayurveda Day 63: Essential Oils

Yesterday we delved into aromatherapy. Today I want to expand on the subject, and discuss essential oils. Essential oils are powerful and potent as often a large amount of plant is used to extract even small amounts of oil. There are many methods of use for essential oils, such as misting bottles, incense sticks (though smoke can irritate some people), natural perfumes, diffusers, compresses, charcoals, patches…it goes on and on. But what essential oils are best for each dosha?

Vata
Spicy, sweet, and warming aromas are most calming. Some examples are Rose, jasmine, lavender, sandalwood, and cinnamon. A simple and beautiful blend to try is cinnamon and sandalwood.
Pitta
Sweet and cooling aromas are most pacifying. Some examples are rose, sandalwood, honeysuckle, and rose geranium.
Kapha
Pungent, spicy, and warming aromas will be most stimulating for kapha. Some examples are cinnamon, clove, patchouli, cedar, basil, eucalyptus. A simple and beautiful blend to try is patchouli and clove.

Now that we see which aromas are best for each dosha, let’s see how to hone that more into specific common conditions:

Anger
We need to reduce pitta for this. Rose works well for opening and expanding the heart as pitta in the mind is a disconnect between the two. Sandalwood when applied to the third eye supports meditation.
Depression
We need to reduce vata and kapha for this. Wintergreen and Tulsi (holy basil) will be stimulating. Any citrus oils will also have a special action for increasing joy.
Fear/Anxiety
We need to reduce vata for this. Sandalwood works well. Lavender is also considered as it is tridoshic (works well for all doshas). This is especially good if you have multiple doshas out of balance.
Fever
We need to reduce pitta for this. Just as with anger, rose and sandalwood work best.
Immune Building (Ojas)
You want to know how to build ojas? Here’s another way! Try rose or saffron. These can however be a bit pricy, so good alternatives and rose geranium, frankincense, and myrrh.
Clearing the Mind (Stagnation, dramas, lack of motivation)
We need to reduce kapha for this. Tulsi, Calamus, camphor are all stimulating. Eucalyptus (esp. with lemon) will support brain function and rosemary can help support memory.
Reproductive Tone
We need to reduce vata for this. Lavender and lotus work well.
Bronchodialotors (decrease airway resistance, increase airflow to lungs)
We need to reduce kapha for this. Tulsi, eucalyptus, thyme, and mint are great.
Analgesics (reduce pain)
Typically associated with vata. Wintergreen, camphor, cinnamon, and ginger work well.
Digestion
All doshas need good digestion. Cardamon, mint, and ginger all are good choices.

These essential oils must be used with caution however. In order for essential oils to be used safely, please follow these basic rules:
– do not ingest unless very diluted. 1-2 drops in a cup of warm water is plenty! Not to scare you, but in some instances ingesting 1 tsp whole can be fatal!
– avoid contact with mucous membranes of the body
– add 1 drop to a 1/2 tsp of base oil before skin application
– wash hands with soap after handling and don’t touch your eyes.

So now that you know what to do, why to do it, and how to do it, get out there and buy yourself a mister or diffuser! It’s a great way to start and can really help with any issue listed above that you may be having, or just to bring down any doshas that are running rampant.

Special thanks to my instructor, Brenda Igler, for her amazing recommendations.

With gratitude,

S

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