Essential oils, also called aromatic oils, are hydrophobic liquids that contain the main extract of the plant from which they are extracted. India was one of the first civilizations in the world to discover the strong healing properties of these extracts.
There are hundreds of types of essential oils in the Vedic literature, each of which is thought to cure at least one disease, and some are even polyvalent. Today essential oils are known far and wide and their use is widespread in many cultures and various forms of therapy.
The different oils have one thing in common – they are all fire lambs of the plants from which they originate. However, they also have a number of wonderful individual characteristics, with which each affects our physique and psyche in its own way.
For millennia, Indian medicine Ayurveda has used the powerful properties of oils to heal and improve tone. Many treatment programs based on aromatherapy, massages and direct application of essential oils have been developed. In the pharmacology of our western culture, a wide range of medicines based on oil extracts of various herbs has also been developed.
We have all heard of them and probably even took them on prescription in the form of capsules, drops and more. Unlike conventional medicine, Ayurveda does not agree with synthetic imitation of extracts or even with their excessive laboratory processing.
In the Indian tradition, oils are used in their pure form, dissolving in water or honey (for cosmetics and gargles). For cosmetic needs the oils are rubbed into the body directly or dissolved in honey, base creams and others. In massages they are applied in the form of a compress or directly by rubbing the therapist’s hands.
Types of essential oils depending on the application
The ideal background for yoga and meditation practices
Due to their relaxing effect, essential oils are a very good choice when we practice yoga and meditation. They can be just a gentle background that predisposes our mind to soaring activities.
The combination of hatha yoga and pranayama exercises and aromatherapy is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give to your body and spirit. For yoga studios and group sessions, the oils are suitable because they mask any heavier odor when sweating. The same applies if your home is relatively small and you are expecting guests immediately after your daily gymnastics.
Oils used for medical purposes
Aromatherapy can also be used as a means of overcoming much deeper conditions such as migraines, insomnia, anxiety and many others. With the oils we can also prepare a compress for a sore or sprained area, to lower the temperature or to eliminate the inflammatory process.
If we are looking for soothing a red throat or cough, we can gargle with honey in which we have previously dissolved a few drops of essential oil. In combination with a good hot tea we can fight the cold for a negative time.
As for more severe conditions in which there is permanent damage to an organ, such as pharynx or vocal cords, we need a more powerful treatment, which will include both infusions and decoctions of essential oils, as well as their inclusion in massages and other therapies. The same goes for every organ in our body.
Essential oils successfully deal with persistent runny nose and sinusitis. One of th most successful methods of administration for this purpose is by inhalation. Just a few drops of healing oil, dissolved in a bowl of hot water, cause the appearance of healing vapors.
Eucalyptus, cinnamon, mint, tea tree and rosemary – all these herbs are used to make cough medicines. Feel their direct effect by inhaling over a bowl of a mixture of oils and its effect will not be delayed. Sweep yourself with a towel or scarf so that the steam does not escape, and take a deep breath. Inhale for up to 15 minutes. Inhalations are very useful both for the treatment of diseases of the upper respiratory system and for the prevention of sinuses.
The rubbing is not only much more pleasant when we add aromatic oils. Essential oils have many valuable qualities, which can help us in the fight against various diseases. The healing effect of all well-known massages is enhanced a hundredfold by the exact extract. In Ayurveda, a whole class of oil massages – abhyanga – have been developed.
For bites and against insects
The smell of lavender or narcissus is repellent to mosquitoes and flies, but also smearing the bite with their oil soothes itching and redness. The essential oil of tea or tea tree also has a good effect.
For cosmetic purposes
There are countless benefits of essential oils for the treatment of many cosmetic problems and for improving the overall appearance. A number of ointments, lipsticks, creams and masks have been developed on the basis of essential oils in Ayurveda.
Assistant in the care of gums and teeth
Sage and tea tree oils have proven efficacy against receding gums. You can use them in the form of mouthwash by diluting a few drops with distilled water. The mixture will become even more effective if we add a little lemon oil.
Purification of the aura and the body
Accumulated toxins, called in Ayurveda ama, respond very well to some essential extracts such as vanilla, cinnamon, ylang ylang, rosemary and lemongrass.
When you do not have time for a massage or other procedure with essential oils, you can relax yourself in the comfort of your home. There is no better way to deal with everyday stress than pleasant smells, and the smells of Ayurveda are always pleasant! You can take care of yourself by turning on the diffuser and enjoying the wonderful aroma of healing oils.
Aromatic baths and sauna
However, let’s not forget that all famous expensive perfumes are developed on the basis of the same essential oils that Ayurveda uses, but in a much purer form.
Selection and application of essential oils
We need to know the characteristic properties of different oils to make sure we apply them correctly. It is important to choose the oil or combination we will use.
Read a lot and consult a specialist in the field to choose the most suitable for you. Oils are combined in different ways according to their properties, but in some cases the constitution of the patient is also important, or how the life energies, called in Ayurveda doshas, are distributed in him (pita, vata, kafa).
Balance is key in Ayurveda and it is the proportion of doshas that should interest us when we choose the oil for therapy. There are types of energies that need certain types of oils, as well as more or less fat, depending on its own nature. Taking all this into account, our Ayurveda specialist develops the right strategy for us.
How do the different essential oils affect the individual balance of the doshas?
- People with predominant pita dosha in the constitution for example respond well to essential oil of sunflower, coconut, ylang ylang, as well as flower extracts such as rose, chamomile, calendula and others. As the main characteristics of pita dosha include heat and moisture, oils with a cooling nature such as jasmine, mint, neem, sandalwood and gaultheria are preferred to soothe it.
- In an unbalanced state, vata dosha causes symptoms reminiscent of the natural effects of aging. This dosha prefers soothing and highly hydrating oils such as patchouli, oregano, sage, almond, cinnamon and more. There is another oil that is considered miraculous when it comes to balancing cotton wool, and that is sesame oil. Abhyanga massage with it will make you feel like new the next day.
- If we want to balance the coffee dosha, we must first realize that it needs much less oil than the other two doshas. This is because it itself has quite an oily nature and we can overdo it very easily if we are not careful.
However, the imbalance in this dosha can be expressed in the collection of excess mucus in the body. This condition can be controlled through the participation of essential oils and the ritual of panchakarma. For the successful harmonization of coffee dosha or coffee-dominant constitution, healers rely on orange oil, eucalyptus, cardamom, saffron, nutmeg and ginger.
Side effects and what to look out for when using essential oils
Treatment with essential oils could not cause side effects if the dosage was followed and the type of oil was chosen correctly for the appropriate therapy. If you experience headache, dry mouth, or dizziness, you may have applied the wrong oil or misjudged your symptoms.
In any case, if your problem is beyond the scope of everyday trivial problems, it is good to consult in advance. Panchakarma rituals and massages with essential oils are recommended to be applied only by a specialist.
It is very important to use organic essential oils and be careful not to come across synthetic substitutes for natural aromas. According to Ayurveda, only natural oils contain prana – ie. the vital energy of the original source. In addition, they are often contaminated with various types of chemicals, which after penetrating our body are broken down to ama (toxins).
It may not just be that artificial fragrances have no therapeutic effect on us. They should be avoided because they can aggravate our symptoms and add new negative feelings, instead of helping us to overcome them.