The Authoritative Guide to Kumkumadi tailam by Krya – decoding its formulation, properties & benefits

Krya's authoritative guide to Kumkumadi tailam
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We are often asked for our opinion of Kumkumadi tailam by our customers. We are asked to explain its benefits. Many also ask us if it is indeed the gold ayurvedic standard in beauty / skin oils as it is made out to be in popular media. Many also complain that it did not work well for them, and they would like to know why it did not work for them.  Of course we are then asked if Krya makes a kumkumadi tailam – when we answer that we do not, we are requested to immediately make one .

Confused about the benefits of Kumkumadi tailam and wondering if you should buy it?

This blog post has been written to answer the questions asked commonly by Krya’s customers – we seek to demystify and explain the big picture behind Kumkumadi tailam. This post will explain the history behind this formulation, the dravyas that go into it, who it suits, what conditions it is not suitable for. It will end with a brief piece on 2 of the new Krya facial oil serums which are excellent options to consider when you seek an ayurvedic facial oil / ayurvedic facial serum.

What is Kumkumadi Tailam? Who formulated it and for what condition  ?

 Kumkumadi tailam is an ancient, classical ayurvedic skin oil formulation which is now gaining popularity among many companies which promote luxurious Ayurveda. This formulation is being marketed as an ultimate, all purpose Ayurvedic skin oil to solve ALL skin problems. Costs of this product are also going through the roof, with some companies selling 12 ml for close to Rs.2500 (around 2 lakh rupees per litre!)

Kumkumadi tailam has quickly been appropriated by the Luxury retail segment

This post aims to cut through this hype and educate about the real benefits behind Kumkumadi tailam and who should be using it. Read on.

In classical Ayurveda, many hoary formulations exist which according to Indic tradition, have been formulated by the Gods and the Devas.

The Ashwini Kumaras are Devas / Divine beings who are the royal Physicians of all Devas. In Ayurveda, they are the twin Vedic gods of Medicine and are the Sons of Surya the Sun God and his wife Sarayu, the Cloud Goddess.

Nasatya Deva is the older of the Ashwini Kumara twins and is considered the Deity of Health. Together with his younger twin Dasra, the Deity of Medicine, they are said to appear in the sky in a golden Chariot at times of need, bringing divine oushadies (herbs) and formulations to help mankind.

Kumkumadi tailam is a divine formulation created by the Ashwini Kumaras

The Divine Ashwini Kumaras have created many healing formulations and medical techniques over time (as is recorded in the Puranas). One such medicinal formulation was created for Rishi Chyawan by the Aswini Kumaras which still exists today as Chawanprash, the immunity boosting avaleghya (ayurvedic herbal preserve).

The Aswini Kumaras do not just create herbal medicines. In the case of the Vedic Warrior Princess Vishpala, a legendary Rig Vedic queen of India, the Ashwini Kumars created the first prosthetic limb. After losing her leg in battle with King Khela, the Aswini Kumaras appeared on the eve of the battle to Princess Vishpala and fitted her with an iron leg – after which she went on to emerge victor in the battle.

The first recorded mention of a prosthetic limb is in the Rig Veda - created by the Ashwini Kumaras

Unfortunately , unlike the case of Chawanprash or the Iron Leg, we do not know enough about the actual history behind why the Ashwini Kumaras formulated Kumkumadi tailam, and what they originally intended for .

So we have to reverse engineer its origin story by taking you on a journey discovering its formulation.

 What  goes into the original Kumkumadi tailam formulation? What is the overall effect of this formulation

The formula for original Kumkumadi tailam is found in 2 texts: the Ashtanga Hridayam and Bhaisajya Ratnavalli.

Kumkumadi tailam is a classical ayurvedic formulation

It contains a single Kashaya(ayurvedic decoction) made from the following ingredients:

  • Kesara (saffron)
  • Chandana
  • Laksha
  • Manjishta
  • Yastimadhu
  • Daruharidra
  • Vetiver
  • Padmaka
  • Nilotpala
  • 2 banyans – Vata & Plaksha
  • Kamala Kesara (lotus stamen)
  • Dashamoola (10 ayurvedic roots)
  • Bilwa
  • Agnimantha
  • Shyonaka
  • Gambhari
  • Patala
  • Shalaprini
  • Prishnaparni
  • Gokshura
  • Brihati
  • Kantankatri

 

This Kashayam is reduced to ¼ its original volume. It is then boiled along with Tila taila (sesame oil), Ajaksheera (goat’s milk) and the following herbs present as Kalpa form (wet herbal paste):

Kumkumadi tailam is made in classical tila paka method

The Kalpa (wet ayurvedic herbal paste) contains:

  • Manjishta
  • Madhuka
  • Laksha
  • Patranga
  • Yashtimadhu

 

Basic concepts of ayurvedic taila formulation:

To understand the effect of the formula, we must try and work out the effect of the Kashayam separately and the Kalpa. We must also analyze the properties of the base oil, i.e Tila Taila and the special dravya that goes into this formulation, Ajaksheera.

When preparing a Taila(oil) as opposed to a Ghrita (ghee), we are trying to temper / adjust the properties of the taila using the herbs that we add as Kashaya and kalpa.

Analysis of base oil in Kumkumadi Tailam – Sesame Oil

The choice of Taila used in the Kumkumadi tailam formulation is Tila taila (Sesame oil).
Sesame oil is the base oil in Kumkumadi tailam with specific medicinal properties.

Ashtanga Hridayam Samhita tells us that Tila taila (sesame oil) is teekshna (sharp in action), vyavayi (spreads / penetrates quickly), is sookshma (subtle) in its action, and ushna veerya warming.

Acharya Vagbhatta says that if treated with the right herbs, sesame is capable of curing any disease.

Properties of the herbs in the Kashaya:

In the original formulation, each herb is taken in equal quantity. So we can conclude each herb is equally important and the synergistic action of each of these herbs is what we are looking for in the Kashayam.

Properties of the herbs used in the Kashaya formulation of Kumkumadi tailam:

  • Kumkuma (Saffron) – potent herb – warming, kantivardhaka, when taken internally pacifies rakta-pitta, vata
  • Chandana (Sandal wood) – potent pitta pacifying herb – helps in pitta aggravation disorder with rakta-pitta disorder like diarrhea with blood, bleeding piles, etc. Is cold and bitter and is a good astringent. Cleanses skin, reduces inflammation
  • Laksha (Lac insect resin) – Wound healing, fracture healing – famously used in formulae for post partum women and severe vata aggravation
  • Manjishta – Blood purifier, improves micro circulation. Indicated for Kushta roga (skin disease), in bleeding inflammatory conditions, and in wound healing, healing fracture and improving complexion
  • Yastimadhu (Indian liquorice) – Helps in Pitta roga like piles, anemia, in vata roga like urine retention, vata rakta, and in wound healing, reducing inflammation
  • Daruharidra (Tree turmeric)– Checks Pitta aggravation conditions like jaundice, helps in Kushta roga (skin disease), helps in Pitta aggravation conditions like vaginal discharge, diabetes, etc. Also an excellent wound healer
  • Vetiver – helps in hemorrhage and bleeding disorder, reduce Pitta aggravated conditions like fever, boils, etc. Kanti vardhaka
  • Padmaka (Indian lotus) – Helps in bleeding disorder, hiccoughs, asthma, etc. Also a kantivardhaka
  • Nilotpala (Indian Water Lily) – Pitta and Kapha balancing, Wound healing, helps in Rakta pitta disorders
  • 2 Healing Indian banyans – Vata & Plaksha – Plaksha helps in bleeding disorders, inflammations, and aids in wound healing
  • Kamala Kesara (lotus stamen) – checks excessive hemorrhage and bleeding, checks bleeding piles, dysentery and promotes strength and virility when taken internally
  • Dashamoola (10 medicinal roots) – excellent at curing vata aggravation conditions like lower back pain, hip pain, slipped disc, etc. Reduces pain + inflammation.
  • Bilwa (Bael ) – Works to balance conditions of aggravated Pitta like Diarrhoea, piles, jaundice, etc. Reduces inflammation. Is pitta+kapha balancing.
  • Agnimantha – medicinal herb useful in diabetes, obesity, piles, inflammations, edema and pitta aggravated conditions like utricaria and vyanga.
  • Shyonaka – useful in diarrhea, ascites, ENT disorders,
  • Gambhari – one of the dashamoola roots; reduces inflammation, is wound healing and nourishing
  • Patala – helps treat burns, wounds and reduces blisters, burning sensation, etc
  • Shalaparni – strong vata balancing drug effective in cardiac pain, hemi crania, and checks pitta based disorders like diarrhea
  • Prishnaparni – helps bleeding disorders like diarrhea with blood, bleeding piles, etc. Also helps in wound healing, setting fractures, etc
  • Gokshura – excellent herb to dissolve urinary calculi; also helps in bleeding disorders, dysuria, and is a general rasayana drug
  • Brihati -Helpful as an internal drug in piles, fever, cough, anorexia, etc.
  • Kantankatri – Helpful again in pitta based inflammatory conditions like Piles, fever, thirst, etc. Also helpful in cough, asthma and such conditions.

By now, you must have noticed a clear pattern. Most of the herbs chosen in the Kashaya are pitta balancing, improve rakta-pitta conditions and wound healing with a pronounced inflammation reducing effect. Therefore the overall effect of this Kashaya appears to be:

  • Highly wound healing
  • Reducing inflammations
  • Helps solve Kushta roga (small skin disorders)
  • Checks the effects of Rakta & Pitta based disorders like excessive bleeding, burning sensation, rashes, etcKashaya used in Kumkumadi tailam has a pronounced pitta balancing, wound helaing and inflammation reducing effect

Properties of Kalpa used in original Kumkumadi tailam:

This kalpa has 5 ingredients in it. In an ayurvedic tailam, we repeat selct ingredients from the Kashaya in the Kalpa to extract both water and oil soluble properties of the herb and strengthen its dosage and action in the formula.

Kalpa ingredients:

  • Manjishta – helps heal wounds, reduces inflammation, improves micro circulation
  • Madhuka – helps balance aggravated Pitta in conditions like bleeding disorder, thirst, and reduces pitta based inflammations, heals fractures, etc
  • Laksha – helps wound heal, reduce inflammations, heals fractures
  • Patranga – Kanti vardhaka, Pitta balancing, reduces inflammations, helps in Pitta conditions like diarrhea
  • Yashtimadhu – Reduces pitta + vata – soothes and heals skin, improves skin texture, reduces inflammation

Kalpa used in Kumkumadi tailam also has pitta balancing, wound helaing and inflammation reducing effect

Again, this Kalpa, like the Kashaya is also powerfully wound healing. By the higher number of complexion improving Kanti vardhaka agents here, we can say that this Kalpa is designed to be slightly astringent, anti inflammatory, healing and Pitta balancing . It is slightly more rasayana in action compared to Kashaya as there is a use of sweet herbs like Madhuka, and Yastimadhu.

Aja Ksheera (Goat’s milk) properties:

 Acharya Vagbhatta says that Aja Ksheera is laghu (light), with katu (pungent) and tikta (bitter) taste. It helps cure pitta and rakta pitta disorders like jwara (fever), diarrhea, asthma and emaciation.

Aja Ksheera (Goats Milk) is light, pungent, bitter and cleansing and pitta balancing

Aja Ksheera (goat’s milk) is highly medicinal, light , cleansing and astringent in Ayurveda. Hence it is a favourite choice in formulations where we are trying to cleanse, dry up or detoxify something. An example is Anutaila which is used as nasya (oil dropped into nostrils) to help dry up aggravates sinuses, and kapha in the nose, throat and chest area.

This is a light ,healing, bulk reducing and astringent dravya and is not not nourishing or rasayana (anti aging).

 What is the overall effect of Kumkumadi tailam?

To re-iterate, there is no record of the origin story of Kumkumadi tailam. So the analysis of the formulation will help us divine the purpose behind this divine formulation.

From the analysis of the Taila, Kashaya, Kalpa and Ksheera used, this formulation appears to have healing and balancing as a primary goal. It does not appear to be nourishing or rasyana (anti aging) in its basic nature. It seems to be a product designed to detoxify, cleanse, reduce inflammation and heal wounds and treat skin diseases.

Overall efect of Kumkumadi tailam is to heal skin, reduce pitta and treat pitta related aggravation and inflammation

This might be a good formulation for those who have pitta-kapha aggravation in skin like cystic acne, where the purpose is to balance the Pitta, shrink the inflammation and provide astringency and repair to skin. It should help in other Rakta-Pitta skin disorders as well.

However, as this is a pure taila formulation, it must be used very carefully to avoid increasing the oiliness and therefore aggravating the skin condition.

This formulation does not seem  to be designed for anti aging, skin nourishment, anti wrinkle, moisturizing effects or to improve skin texture . But as it works on Pitta balance and Rakta pitta disorder, it can work on blemishes, and correct complexion disorders. Although, being a powerful ayurvedic oil, it will still work to some extent as a moisturizer and rasayana , it does not appear to be focused on these aspects.

Obviously there is no comparison between Kumkumadi tailam and ANY synthetic product. It will beat all synthetic products hollow.

 Is Kumkumadi tailam good for skin?

Kumkumadi tailam is certainly good for skin and is a good skin healing formulation. As discussed above, the combination of herbs used in the Kashaya (ayurvedic decoction), kalpa (wet herb paste) and the choice of dravya (goats milk) in combination with Tila tailam (sesame oil) makes a very powerful, healing formulation.

However, we want to stress that Kumkumadi tailam is not the ONLY ayurvedic skin oil out there which is good for skin. Many other classical ayurvedic formulae also exist that are good for skin and have different properties like Nalapamaradi tailam, Lakshadi tailam, Durvadi tailam etc, which are formulated for different skin concerns.

Kumkumadi tailam appears to be formulated primarily for Pitta aggravation where wound healing and inflammation reduction is required .

 Does Kumkumadi tailam suit all kinds of skin? Does it suit oily skin?

Based on the above analysis, We believe that Kumkumadi tailam is better used as a wound healing and repairing ayurvedic skin oil for Pitta and Rakta-Pitta based skin disorders..

Some potential applications of Kumkumadi tailam could be:

  • Psoriasis / Eczema with Pitta origin / Pitta dominance
  • Cystic acne
  • Wound healing
  • Scar tissue
  • Old deep acne based pitting

From this analysis, it will be clear that Kumkumadi tailam is not a general purpose skin oil that is suitable for all skin types.

 

How to use Kumkumadi tailam correctly if it suits me

Kumkumadi tailam is a formulation made completely in sesame oil with Kashayams and no swarasas(fresh juices). The formulation does use Aja Ksheera to lighten it slightly. But the overall formulation is still quite potent and concentrated.

So it is important to train your skin to this formula by getting it slowly  accustomed to the formula.

First ascertain if the product suits you and does not trigger any allergic reaction by doing a patch test.

Patch tets is essential to understand if teh formula and brand suits your skin

Once the patch test is clear, we suggest starting by first using pre-face wash. Apply it as a very light coating on skin and wash after 15-20 minutes using a good quality, pure, herbal face wash powder. If the product feels slightly heavy on skin, apply less than recommended.

Use the product this way for atleast 3 weeks. This allows skin to get used to this formula.

After this, try leave-on night application. Use 2 – 3 drops of the product on damp, well cleansed skin at night. Apply lightly and massage using upward strokes onto skin. Allow the formula to air dry for 15 – 20 minutes before going to sleep.

Observe the skin the next morning – if there are breakouts or white heads appearing, then reduce the quantity used slightly.

Please choose a reputed brand that makes the correct Kumkumadi tailam formulation. The original formula for Kumkumadi tailam is given above in this blog post. By law, any company making a product called “Kumkumadi tailam” must follow this same formula if they are using this name. Check the formula of the brand you plan to use to see if they too follow these ingredients.

Choose your brand of Kumkumadi tailam very carefully

A commonly accepted substitute for Saffron (Kumkuma) is “Naga kesara” – “Mesua ferrens” This substitute is done to bring down the cost of the formulation. So please check what your product contains.

Again, I have stressed this point: Kumkumadi tailam is one of the hundreds of brilliant formulations available in Ayurveda. Do not have Kumkumadi tailam FOMO!

What do I cleanse skin with after using Kumkumadi tailam?

The choice of what to cleanse skin after using a potent, healing product like Kumkumadi tailam is extremely important. The right face wash can assist and support the healing work of the Kumkumadi tailam and further balance skin’s sebum levels, provide the right astringency, and help further heal and reduce inflammation.

For serious acne issues and cystic acne, we suggest combining Kumkumadi tailam with the Krya Anti acne Face wash and the Krya Anti acne Face mask.

Combining Krya Anti acne face products with Kumkumadi tailam:
Use the face wash twice a day, to prepare skin for Kumkumadi tailam.

Use the Face Lepa (mask) once / twice a week for deeper cleansing . Apply the Lepa thick (thickness of 1/2 the width of your thumb ) and rinse out when it begins to dry. Do not allow the Lepa to dry completely on skin. Seal off with One drop of Kumkumadi tailam applied on damp, clean skin.

Combining Krya Classic face products with Kumkumadi tailam:
For healing Pitta aggravation, oily skin and healing old scar tissue and blemishes, we suggest using Krya Classic Face wash and Krya Classic Face Mask.

Choose this range only if acne is well under control, and your problem is to simply balance sebum levels and lighten scars and blemishes.

Use the face wash twice a day, to prepare skin for Kumkumadi tailam.

Use the Face Lepa (mask) once / twice a week for deeper cleansing . Apply the Lepa thick (thickness of 1/2 the width of your thumb ) and rinse out when it begins to dry. Do not allow the Lepa to dry completely on skin. Seal off with One drop of Kumkumadi tailam applied on damp, clean skin.

Kumkumadi tailam for baby: is it suitable for use

Kumkumadi tailam is a potent, concentrated and pitta balancing and wound healing formulation. Before applying this product, or any product for baby, it is better to do a patch test to rule out any allergies / rashes / irritation from this product.

Please ensure you select a good brand with good quality ingredients – some brands of Kumkumadi tailam can be too ushna and can trigger skin allergies in baby’s skin.

If Kumkumadi tailam is found suitable for your baby, it can be mixed in a very small dose to the regular baby massage oil. The maximum dosage attempted should be 8 – 9% of the overall mixture.

Please think carefully before adding Kumkumadi tailam for baby massage. It may not suit tender skin

For example, if you want to mix Kumkumadi tailam to the Krya traditional Baby massage oil or  Nalapamaradi tailam, you can use 20 ml of Kumkumadi tailam to 200 ml of Krya traditional baby massage oil / Nalapamaradi tailam.

It is critical to cleanse baby’s skin well after using an ayurvedic massage oil / combination of ayurvedic massage oils. Some parents think that simply wiping off the oil with a hot towel is sufficient as baby’s skin is very tender and especially if they live in cold countries.

Baby’s skin is very tender, but ayurvedic oils are very thick, penetrative and potent: unless they are cleansed properly from baby’s skin, there is a tendency for the remaining oil to cool rapidly and then aggravate Kapha. Please ensure you use a pure herbal bath powder to cleanse baby’s skin. You can also use a home made combination of herbal bath powder – remember to avoid chemical filled synthetic soap.

Ensure baby's skin is cleansed well after oil application

With baby’s skin, it is best to stick to tried and tested traditional baby massage oils. Kumkumadi tailam does not appear to have been formulated for baby massage purpose.

 How should I choose a facial oil from Ayurveda?

Ayurveda tells us that formulations should be chosen based our prakriti (inherent dosha combination) OR vikruthi (problems caused by dosha aggravation). For many of us, it takes time to understand our inherent prakriti as we are thrown off by our current state of imbalance.

So starting from our problem areas / skin concerns / vikruthi is a good start if you do not know your actual prakriti.

Once you have listed your skin concerns, you can list down what your skin needs are from your facial oil.

If your skin needs moisturization, and currently the skin texture is rough and the appearance is dull, you could be suffering from vata aggravation. Hence you should look for a facial oil that gives your skin a rasayana effect , which is sookshma (subtle) in its action, penetrates skin well and nourishes it deeply.

If skin is rough and dry, it may need a nourishing and rasayana formulation

If your skin needs balance, often erupts, is clogged with visible open pores, you may need a product that evenly balances sebum, has a cleansing and astringent effect on skin while supplying light moisturization. So you should look for a pitta friendly product that is not very heavy / dense and is made with a lot of cooling, pitta balancing dravyas, which offers light moisturization.

If skin is sensitive, erupts easily and has unbalanced oil production, choose a light balancing oil

With all genuine ayurvedic skin moisturization products, less is more. You would need only 1 – 3 drops of the product, applied correctly to begin working on the skin. Do not apply liberally or with a heavy hand – this is not an abhyanga oil!

2 facial serums available from Krya

Krya offers a good range of moisturizing oils and serums which are made using a strictly ayurvedic formula and manufacturing technique. Our facial oils and serums are made using ONLY whole herbs where the nutrients are extracted using the ayurvedic distillation process.

Krya's skin oils and facial serums made using whole herbs and cold pressed oils

Krya does not use essential oils or solvent extracted nut and seed oils to make our facial serums. We believe that many essential oils are extremely potent and cannot be used except under medical supervision. We are also wary of the chemical contamination of nut and seed and essential oils that are extracted using procedures like solvent extraction.

Hence, we stick to the tried and tested Ayurvedic principles of manufacturing and formulation where we use well researched, properly studied herbs and cold pressed oils in combinations approved by the acharyas.

The Krya Vyoma Serum:

Krya Vyoma ayurvedic oil serum is a serum formulated to go with the Krya After Sun range. This ayurvedic facial serum is designed to hydrate Pitta aggravated skin (high sun exposure, pitta dominant prakriti, tanning beds). It helps combat skin patchiness, hyper pigmentation, melasma, blemishes, freckles and textural changes due to frequent sun exposure OR sun exposure on an already aggravated Pitta individual.

As Vyoma facial serum has been designed to balance aggravated Pitta, it has been formulated with a high number of pitta cooling, astringent and balancing kashayas and dravyas. The serum contains 25+ organic fruits, vegetables and forest collected ayurvedic herbs including Beetroot, Durva, Udumbura, Ashwathha, Ashoka, Vata, Bala, Manjishta, etc.

Krya Vyoma serum designed for Pitta aggravated skin with hyper pigmentation, tanning

The herbs have been chosen for their complexion evening, skin nourishing and hydrating property. The oil is designed to balance aggravated Pitta which is the reason behind these textural changes post excessive sun exposure.

Pitta prakriti individuals have a greater sensitivity towards sun exposure – hence even if they are in the sun for short periods, when Pitta is aggravated they burn faster and skin changes are much more rapid.

The regular use of Krya Vyoma serum is recommended for those with pitta dominant or pitta aggravated skin type which has moderate to high sun exposure and has tanning, hyper pigmentation, melasma and blemishes primarily due to sun exposure.

The formula helps calm aggravated pitta, soothes and balances skin, evens out complexion and reduces pigmentation and blemishes in skin.

The Krya Dyuti Serum:

Krya Dyuti ayurvedic oil serum is designed for dry, dehydrated and mature skin that is vata dominant or vata aggravated . This vata aggravation can be due to inherent nature (vata dominant / vata vitiated) or lifestage (40 + and dry). This is a nourishing, skin repairing and rasayana (anti aging + nourishing) formulation.

The formulation is one of our most complex formulations: we use 43 different dravyas in this formulation including 9 cold pressed organic plant oils. The oils used include Moringa seed oil, Almond oil, Apricot Oil and the intensely healing and re-generating Chalmoogra seed oil. A whopping 34 herbs go into this product as Kashaya (decocotion), kalpa (wet herb paste) and swarasa (freshly squeezed herb juice with minimal water).

Krya Dyuti Serum designed for vata aggravated or aging skin to nourish with rasayana effect

These 3 forms of extraction are used in Ayurveda to extract both water based and oil based bio actives from the plants. When we create a serum using these extracts, the bio actives are more easily absorbed into the oils, transforming the nature and properties of the oil. The resultant oil / serum is very light, easily penetrates skin / scalp and is nutrient dense.

In Dyuti, we use organic Kumari (aloe vera ) swarasa . Kumari is an excellent anti-aging and rasayana dravya for skin. This is enhanced by twachya improving, rejuvenating ,madhura rasa herbs like Ela (elaichi), Draksha (organic raisin), Vatama paya (almond milk), Dadima (pomegranate), Yashtimadhu (Liquorice), Bala, Guduchi, Fennel, etc.

The internal code name of Dyuti is “jaraa nashini”. This name is taken again from the Namavalli of Thaayar, Goddess Lakshmi, who is called “nashini” (destroyer) of “Jaraa” (brittleness, decay and attrition) and Mara (death itself).

The whole focus in our “Jaraa nashini” serum or Dyuti serum is to intensely hydrate, support and replenish naturally dry / drying skin. The texture of the serum is therefore quite different from Vyoma.

This is an intensely rich and nourishing and extremely potent serum. Just 1 – 2 drops are more than sufficient per use. One drop if you are applying in the daytime and 2 drops at night. Dyuti works primarily on skin texture. So if your skin feels rough (rooksha / khara) and dry and looks dull, this is the product for you.

To sum up:

A part of our work at Krya is to educate everyone about the power and potential of Ayurveda. We would like to encourage people to adopt the powerful practices suggested in Ayurveda to improve one’s health.

There is a lot of misinformation out there today in the name of Ayurveda, Siddha and traditional medicine. Companies are exploiting people’s interest towards leading a chemical free life and are over promising benefits in the name of Ayurveda. We hope this post of ours on Kumkumadi tailam helped demystify this classical formulation for you and give you the information to make the right choice on whether kumkumadi tailam would benefit your skin or not.

 

If you have any queries on this or on one of our ayurvedic serums, please call / WhatsApp us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.

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Ahara Niyama : The Value of Desi A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda

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Reading Time: 15 minutes

One of the recommendations we make to improve hair and skin health is to include good quality, desi A2 Cow’s milk in the daily diet. This is an ayurvedic ahara (diet) recommendation which helps improve ojas, tejas, build good dhatu and improves the health and nutrient availability in the body.

Regular drinking of desi A2 Cow's milk is recommended in Ayurveda for health and vitality

However, there is a lot of confusion and issues linked with Dairy sourcing in India today. For one, what we freely get in India is processed, homogenized, pasteurized mixed milk which is predominantly A1. There is also a rise in the vegan movement where dairy consumption is rejected on environment, animal rights and health reasons. Also, many of us, have gotten used to drinking tea and coffee and have given up almost completely on milk.

So we wanted to write a detailed article addressing these issues, and also explain the many benefits behind drinking desi A2 Cow’s milk. This article expands on a shorter post already shared on the Krya Product Support Community on the same topic.

Isn’t Dairy bad and cruel?

A2 Cow’s milk in Ayurveda (Go Ksheera from a native cow) is considered an elixir. Obviously at the time the texts were written, there was no need to make a distinction between A2 and A1 and we ONLY had A2 cows in India. A1 Cows are a very recent addition (of about 50 years vintage) to Indian dairy farms.

The adoption of foreign breeds into India dairy farming is a new practice

Today we see a huge backlash against Dairy, some of it legitimately so. We are seeing disease condition of epic proportions and are handling certain forms of auto immune disorders, chronic skin conditions, allergic and respiratory conditions and cancers of various kinds. Desperate for answers and solutions, we latch onto every new theory / opinion that tries and explain the spread of such disease conditions.

There are 2 unfortunate reasons that Dairy, especially commercial dairy has taken such a huge backlash around the world:

One is the rise of commercial dairy farming with epic proportions of animal cruelty, all designed to treat the Cow as a machine and literally milk her to her death, shortening her Life span and treating male calves as fodder to the leather and meat industry in the bargain.

Commercial dairy farming is cruel and unethical

The second reason is linked to the first. Because of the huge , single minded focus on Milk , and Milk alone of a particular variety with a certain amount of Fat, India has joined the world of commercial dairy farming by exporting ad nauseum Jersey / Holstein breed cows that give higher fat, A1 milk .
Comemrecial dairy farming promotes A1 cow breeds over native A2 breeds

In the process, we have carefully ruined our indigenous dairy genetic strain and almost sounded the death knell for what Ayurveda terms as “ojas improving, dhatu improving and prana extending” – A2 milk.
Desi A2 cow breeds have been neglected in commercial dairy farming

Cow as Gau Mata – unique status in Indian Ayurveda, Krishi vigyan (agricultural science)

The Cow is revered and respected as “Gau mata” in the Indic civilization. This reverence extends beyond India to other lands where the civilization has reached like Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Java, Sumatra, etc This high status comes not just from the way the Cow is revered in India’s temples, Agama, Puranas, iconography, etc, although the extent of the Cow’s reverence in these systems should be seen to believed.

Cow is richly revered in Indic civilisation

But, this particular status of the cow comes from the value of what the cow offers not just from her udder, but also the “Mala” she secretes, namely the Cow Dung and Cow Urine (Gau mutra). Gau gobar (Cow dunk) and Gau mutra are extensively used in Ayurveda, Siddha and Krishi vigyan (agricultural science in India).

Cow dung and Cow Urine are important by products that are used in traditional medicine and agriculture

Go-bar (cow dung) is used in ritual purification, in homas and yagnas, and also to purify various kinds of Rasa (metals), minerals and poisonous herbs.

Gau mutra is also used in Shodana of certain Metals and Minerals. Treated cow urine is a very powerful “drug of choice” in certain aggravated disease conditions like kidney disorder, splenomegaly , certain kinds of cancers etc. Skeptics notwithstanding, there are very powerful testimonies to how well these therapies worked, when undertaken in the right Ayurvedic method.

In Krishi vigyan, Go-bar and Gau mutra are invaluable to a farm. This is why in Indian traditional systems the value of  a cow cannot be economically measured simply by the milk she produces. In fact, the Urine and Dung are of far greater value in a farm helping give good quality produce, arrest the growth of unwanted weeds, keeping down predatory population of insects that can destroy the crop, etc.

Cow is indispensable to healthy soil

Today, the Indian organic agriculture movement has access to ONE such formulation: Panchagavya – made from the 5 by products of a cow – gobar, gaumutra, milk, curd and ghee, . Virkshayurveda as a science is as old as Ayurveda – the texts talk of numerous such formulations that are designed scientifically on Ayurvedic principles to improve crop yield, nurture soil, keep down predatory insects and animals, improve quality of produce, etc.

And Gaumutra and Gobar is integral to many of these traditional farming practices and concepts.

We can go as far as to say that the Indian Cow is integral to many aspects of our health and well being, according to traditional wisdom. There is nothing better than cow dung and cow urine for improving soil, produce and yield. Cow dun and Cow urine are integral to Ayurvedic science both directly and indirectly to either enhance the qualities of the herbs, metals and minerals we work with or consumed as a drug.

Similarly, the direct fruits of a Cow, i.e Cow’s Milk , and by products made from it like Ghee, Butter, Buttermilk, and in some cases Curd are all considered Elixers. Cow Ghee is and should be an integral part of every Indian’s diet.

So for this wide reaching improving effect the Cow has on every sphere of our food, health, harmony and well being, she is rightly called Gau Mata – the Mother of us all. In fact , the Mother of all Mothers.

Gau Mata - the mother of All Mothers

Ayurveda analyses all Milk, not just A2 Cow’s milk:

The Ayurvedic Nighantus and Samhitas are extremely detailed and deep. So it should come as no surprise that the Acharyas have analysed the properties of different kinds of milks – both from animals and human beings and have given us when each of these can be consumed.

Not content with this, they have also analysed the qualities of the by products of these Milks like ghee – so the texts lay out in detail the qualities of ghee made from human breast milk, from sheep milk., from camel milk, etc , and finally from A2 Cow’s milk.

The qualities of each of these milks differ according to the basic nature of the animal, the gunas and mano gunas within the animal, where the animal is found, and finally, how the animal is treated and how these products are extracted and processed.

Properties of Go Ksheera (A2 Cow’s milk) according to Ayurveda:

Ashtanga Hridayam calls “Go Ksheera” (cows milk) “ Jeevaniya” (restores life /jeeva), and “Rasayana” (regenerative / anti aging). It is extremely useful in “Kshatksheena” or conditions of emaciation and extreme injury to slowly build and restore strength.

Kshatakhseena is a condition that is no existent among most of us today – it refers to emaciation caused by injury on the battle field. Today, this is probably applicable to soldiers and those in the defense cadre and also to those of us recovering from illness and long stays in a hospital.

Cow's milk is indispensable to recover health, vitality and strength

Apart from this, A2 Cow’s milk is referred to as improving “Medhya” or intellect, improving “Balya” or strength. It is a galactalogue and is also considered a dravya that is slightly laxative in nature (sara).

A2 Cow’s milk relieves “shrama” (fatigue), “bhrama” (giddiness), “mada” (intoxication), svasa (asthma /breathing / respiratory disorders), “kasa” (cough based disorder), trishna (excessive thirst). Ksut (excessive hunger), jeerna jwara (fevers brought on by indigestion / toxin buildup), “Mutrakrucha” (painful urination / dysuria), vitiated disorder of Rakta + Pitta (anemia, bleeding and circulatory disorders, etc).

Most importantly Milk is considered both Mangalyam and as a remover of “Alakshmi”. This explains its deep significance in auspicious events like going to a new home, during festivals like Lohri, Pongal, etc.

Personally, I have experienced both of these qualities first hand: the Mangalyam brought in by Milk and the “Alakshmi” brought in by rejecting Milk.

A2 Cow’s milk – benefits for Women, Men and Children

Go Ksheera is an elixir for Women as it pacifies Rakta, Pitta and Vata aggravated disorders. women are very sensitive to disorders of both Rakta and Vata . One Rakta disorder that many Indian women have is anemia and post partum women and working women are very affected by aggravated Vata dosha.

A2 cow's milk is an indispensable nutritional supplement for Indian women.

Bhavaprakasha Nighantu says that those who are weak, emaciated, suffer from chronic jwaras (malaria, dengue, chikungunya), emaciation are advised to have Milk. It is especially suitable for those who suffer from vata disorders like vertigo, anxiety, spasms, and pitta disorders like anemia, burning sensation, excessive thirst.

For women suffering from infertility / reproductive issues, , UTI, vaginal discharge, etc , Cows Milk is ideal. Women who suffer from repeated miscarriages are much benefited by daily consumption of Milk.

Also children, old people, those who suffer from “Kshata-kshina” (translated as emaciation and fatigue due to battle – in today’s context overwork) are suitable candidates for Milk drinking.

Sexually active adults are also advised to drink Milk regularly. Reproductive tissue like ova , semen are considered the very last dhatu to be formed in the body by Ayurveda, just before Ojas. So when we are sexually active, there is a chance that we lose vital dhatus in the body, especially Men. So a common practice suggested in Ayurveda is regular Milk drinking in sexually active adults to continually re-charge the body and ensure vital energy is not depleted.

Self care through Ahara: How to prepare and drink A2 Cow’s milk everyday

The simplest, and easiest and most potent form of self care you can do for yourself is to drink a glass of good quality A2 Cow’s milk every morning.

The Ayurvedic Samhitas give us some rules for preparing and consuming Milk:

  • GoKsheera must be freshly boiled, preferably within 4 – 5 hours of Milking. Once boiled it should not be heated / re-boiled in any way as the samhitas tell us that this enhances its kapha and mucous clogging properties.

A2 milk to be drunk freshly boiled

    • Many of us in India consume pasteurized milk which we re-boil at home. So we are re-boiling already “cooked” milk. As per this rule, we are all automatically subjecting ourselves to a Dravya which is guru (heavy to digest) and kapha aggravating.
    • Hence, we advise sourcing raw, fresh A2 Cow’s milk which we can boil at home
      Milk should be soruced raw, and whole without pasteurisation
  • The Go Ksheera we get should be whole and taken directly from the cow – this means it should not be altered / changed in any way.
    • Commercial milk has fat extracted/ added back to suit standard trade definitions like low fat, medium fat, full fat etc
    • Whole milk has its own proportion of fat which depends upon desha, kala, cow species, etc.
    • The properties we have described of A2 Cow’s milk only hold if this milk is unaltered in any form – so we advise sourcing fresh, whole Raw A2 cow’s milk
  • Go Ksheera must be boiled with 25% water. The Milk has to be boiled until the water completely evaporates. This makes the milk lighter, and more easy to digest.
    • When milk is boiled this way, it is processed to ensure that no Kapha aggravation results.
    • The milk is lighter, more easy to digest and is absorbed much better as well.
  • Freshly boiled, warm milk is ideal to drink. It should be flavoured with the right spices that suit each one’s prakriti

A2 Cow's milk should be flavoured with correct spicces for your prakriti to enhance absorption

What can be added to make the taste of Milk more appealing?

We have a detailed post that talks about what flavouring is beneficial for each prakriti to make A2 Cow’s milk better absorbable by the body. Please take a look.

In Greeshma (summer) , Milk drinking is very vital . As excess heat drains the body and depletes Ojas – Milk is sweet, cooling and nourishing and ideal for this weather.

Many of us have a love-hate relationship with Milk. As a child, I refused to drink warm Milk. I also disliked the sight of plain Milk. So I would demand addition of chocolate flavoured Milk additives.

The addition of such commercial Malted beverages is virrudha ahara. Many of the synthetic preservatives added to such drinks have a salty taste, and salt is virrudha ahara with Milk. Similarly adding sour substances is also virrudha ahara – citric acid and such preservatives added to these commercial Milk additives is also Virrudha Ahara.

Malted milk and other commercial milk additives are viruddha ahara

Hence: Do NOT add any commercial Malted beverage , chocolate or any flavouring agents to Milk. Please use the spices I have suggested in my post, and add good quality, unbleached, sulpharless sugar to your Milk.

I drink A2 Cow’s milk in my tea / coffee: is this good enough?

Many times I hear a response that Milk is consumed with Coffee / Tea. Please note, this is NOT Milk. Any substance added to Milk, changes / alters its properties. This is why we add certain spices to Milk like Turmeric, black pepper etc, to reduce its “Snigdha” (oil) guna, reduce its “Madhura” (sweet ) rasa and vipaka, etc.

Both coffee and tea strongly alter of the properties of Milk. So when we add these to Milk, we get a milder version of Coffee / Tea and not a slightly altered version of Milk.

Milk based coffee and tea is not milk.

This is good if you habitually consume Coffee and tea – both beverages are too strong and acidic to be consumed black / without Milk. You will do your gut lining a great favour by adding Milk.

But you will not get any of the good properties of Milk  in this manner.

Some other Issues with dairy farming: Commercial dairy practices and Going Vegan

As with all things that are good for us, we must learn to love and respect Cows Milk. It is important to choose a dairy farm where cruelty free diary practices are followed and the cows are respected and looked after well. Drinking hormone laced, antibiotic full Milk is harmful to health. It is also critical to choose milk from a dairy farm that contains desi, indigenous Indian cow breeds.

Ayurveda tells us that the Milk of the Gho (cow) is ideally suited for us. The Acharyas describe the Cow’s love, Compassion and kindness and intelligence and conclude that such Milk can ideally add to the human diet and enhance Medhya and Buddhi in the body, especially when enhanced with select herbs. Such a Divine Animal must not be mistreated. If we drink Milk from an abused Animal, it does us more harm than good and we accumulate Paapa (sin) according to Ayurveda.

Even small amounts of well sourced, cruelty free A2 Cow’s milk can act as an elixir to us. On the other hand, even high amounts of cruelty filled, antibiotic A1 Milk will do no good for us.

My experience with going vegan and why I do not recommend a vegan diet in general:

There is a whole, separate post waiting to be written about my experience with going vegan. As a lifelong vegetarian and wanting to live a more ethical life, I was horrified by commercial dairy farming practices.

So on the strength of my conviction, I went vegan in 2010 along with my partner, Srinivas Krishnaswamy.

We were committed and strict vegans until 2015 for 5 years. In 2016, on the consistent advice of my Vaidya and seeing disastrous health issues with being vegan, I switched back to a Vegetarian diet. At that time, I was suffering from severe anemia, and nutritional deficiencies. All of these were slowly corrected through Ayurvedic treatment and Ahara Niyama including drinking Milk.

In the case of Srinivas, his health issues were MUCH more severe. He developed a form of gout, described in Ayurveda as Vata Rakta. This is a SEVERE and aggravated increase in vata Dosha leading to extreme weight loss, extreme degeneration of bone, joint and teeth , and severe, constant pain while using the bones and joints. So for 2 years, Srinivas suffered from loose and shaky teeth, severe weight loss, reduced appetite, insomnia, anxiety and swelling of bone and joints – all signs of aggravated and imbalanced vata dosha.

Again in his case, it took Ayurvedic treatment of nearly a year with special medications, restricted travel and addition of good quantities of carefully sourced Milk and Ghee to make up for the nutritional deficiency.

When we begin to follow Ayurveda, we come to the realisation that Ayurveda and veganism do not co-exist. Go Ksheera , carefully sourced A2 Cow’s milk is a panacea in Ayurveda.

It is consumed extensively during pregnancy, post partum, as a child, as an adult and in old age. It is only restricted in a few disease conditions.

All the modern milk based foods that we consume are not advised in Ayurveda. So there is no over dosing on cheese, curd, high amounts of paneer etc. We are advised to have some milk, small amount of buttermilk (obtained after making butter) and decent quantities of ghee.

There is a huge, disastrous, un-thought through urgency in the Vegan movement today, especially in India. Buoyed by a few studies like the China Study and limited success in a few disease conditions like diabetes (where Ayurveda anyway advises to follow a largely vegan diet), many Medical professionals, Nutritional experts and Vegan concerts are urging people to drop Dairy completely.

Nuanced debates on A1 vs A2 milk, on the benefits of a small amount of carefully chosen dairy, or even the differences between different Milk by products are not discussed in this wave. Ayurveda does not treat A1 and A2 milk as the same. Neither are the properties of Milk and curd the same nor is butter and ghee interchangeable.

Most importantly, enough is not being said about the issues many Vegans continue to face after many years of giving up on the beneficial aspects of Milk. I have shared my issues and my partner’s issues in detail here.

However, We are far from being the only Ex Vegans with health issues.

In my work, I have met many Vegans with extremely high vata aggravation, bone and joint disorders, restricted Menstrual blood flow, oral issues like loose and falling teeth  etc. At a simple level, many of the Vegans who have come to us at Krya complain of loose and brittle and falling hair, very high skin darkening and joint and bone issues like gout. All of this is linked to aggravated Vata dosha DIRECTLY affecting asthi dhatu (bone ) which is a key seat of Vata dosha in the body. Asthi Dhatu has a direct and immediate correlation with bone and joint health and the health of hair.

The aggravation in Vata dosha in the Vegan diet can be attributed to 2 key causes: Dropping Milk and ghee from the diet which potently bind aggravated Vata dosha in the body. The second reason is ADDING on a high amount of nuts, seeds and lentils and attempting to substitute Dairy with modified forms of Nuts , seeds and Lentils.

As we can guess, Nuts , Seeds and Lentils are already high in Vata Dosha and have dramatically different properties from Milk, ghee and other dairy products in Ayurveda. For example: Cashew milk can never be a substitute to A2 Cow’s milk – to think that something that looks and tastes like Cow’s Milk IS Cow’s Milk is absurd.

Nuts and their derivatives can strongly aggravate vata dosha

I share my Vegan story and my concerns around this movement to sound a warning bell. If you do intend to make such sweeping health changes, please consult many more health professionals, especially an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can examine you and ascertain if your body can handle this transition.

Do remember: We never miss good health until we lose it!

I haven’t drunk A2 Cow’s milk in a while: how to start?

 Most of us have an aversion to Milk. I did too.

At first it was extremely difficult for me to drink Milk. Milk is dense and slightly heavy to digest. It takes getting used to. It also has a subtle taste, especially if it is drunk without additives like chocolate, coffee, tea, etc.

I started with a small glass of Milk. I was slowly able to increase the volume of Milk drunk as my system got used to it. I am still unable to drink Milk twice a day as is advised for my stress level and activity. But I am able to drink 1 glass of Milk in the morning everyday and it is a good start.

Silver enhances the properties of Milk:

The Ayurvedic texts advise that Milk is ideally stored and drunk in a silver vessel. Metals are extremely important to enhance health as per Ayurveda and we are advised to eat and drink out of glasses and plates made with silver and gold. This ensures very minute quantities of these metals enter our body via the ghee and milk we consume in these vessels.

silver enhances milk properties

Milk drinking procedure to be followed:

Keep a separate silver glass / tumbler for each family member if possible. This is the case with all personal eating utensils, as the metal interacts with your lips, fingers, etc as you mix your food and drink your milk. The body the  absorbs whatever is appropriate for it from your glass / plate.

As soon as the milk is boiled, pour the appropriate amount into your silver tumbler and mix your sugar, spices, etc into the tumbler. Allow the milk to cool in this tumbler until it reaches a temperature you are happy with. Milk should be sipped warm, but everyone differs in how much warmth they can handle.

When should you be drinking Milk, ideally?

Ayurveda advises that you give yourself time to slowly enter the day when you wake up. This contemplative time is ideal for Milk drinking. Find a comfortable spot and look outside at trees / birds, etc while you slowly sip your milk.

Milk should be had only on an empty stomach. Morning is best as it gives your body time to absorb the Milk slowly. If this is not possible, evening time (around 4) is ok, but the stomach should be clear and empty.

Night Milk drinking is ONLY advised for old people, patients, people who are very emaciated, small children etc. Here too, in the case of Adults, Milk should be drunk on an empty stomach and enough time should be allowed for the body to digest the Milk – one must not go to sleep immediately. For these reasons, I suggest drinking Milk only in the daytime.

To Sum up: Benefits and Properties of A2 Cow’s milk

I hope this article gave you an insight into the great esteem with which Ayurveda holds carefully sourced A2 Cow’s milk and its by products.

We write this article after a great deal of personal experimentation, harrowing health issues, and after experiencing the painful process of building our health one step at a time. We hope our experiences helps you make the right health decisions for you and your family. We also hope this article gives you insights into the importance of dairy and how you must include it for good health benefits.

If you have any questions on this, please write to us or call / whatsapp us (0-75500-89090)

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Abhyanga modification for Spring (Vasanta Ritu)

abhyanga modification suggested for vasanta ritu - by krya
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

The abhyanga is a powerful Dinacharya that gives us good health and well being. When done regularly it helps improve strength, balance aggravated doshas and also improves skin health and hair health. However, as we have seen, Ayurveda also advises following Ritucharya practices. These are changes / modifications to food habits and daily practices in each season.  In today’s post we will look at the abhyanga modification to be done for Spring (Vasanta Ritu).

In our earlier post on Vasanta Ritucharya, we have covered why a change in habits is required in this season. In Spring (Vasanta Ritu), just like ice melts in the Mountain tops due to the presence of the sun, the Sun’s movement helps melt accumulated Kapha in our bodies too.

Just like ice melts in the mountain top in spring, kapha melts in our body in spring

As this Kapha beings to circulate in the body, we experience a surfeit of mucous related issues like colds, runny noses, hay fever, etc. Particularly if we did not follow the Ritucharya rule in Winter about putting accumulated Kapha to work through intensive exercise, we will have to deal with aggravated Kapha in spring.

The presence of this liquid Kapha in the body creates a few challenges to the practice of abhyanga in spring. As there is more Kapha circulating in the body, there is a resistance to oil absorption.

Also, as Kapha tends to increase heaviness and stiffness in the body, we must be VERY careful during Abhyanga NOT to contribute further to this feeling of “gurutva” or heaviness and stiffness in the body.

Abhyanga Contraindications :

Before we get into the post on the abhyanga modification to be done in spring, here are some basic precautions to follow while attempting this Dinacharya.

  • Do NOT do Abhyanga is you are pregnant or are menstruating
  • Do NOT do Abhyanga if you are tired, have had low sleep or are otherwise fatigued
  • Do NOT do abhyanga if you are running a temperature, have a fever or are ill
  • Do NOT do an abhyanga if you have indigestion or any gastric complaint
  • Do NOT do an abhyanga AFTER a heavy meal or in the evening
  • Do NOT do an abhyanga after an intensive workout or after heavy sun exposure

Abhyanga contraindications and general rules should be followed in all seasons.

Abhyanga modification for spring (Vasanta Ritu):

1. Yoga / Exercise BEFORE Abhyanga

In Winter, we recommend doing intensive exercise or doing housework AFTER doing an Abhyanga. When this practice is done in Winter where the external cold is high, the warmth generated by the body during exercise helps in the deeper and better absorption of the oil. However the exercise has to be of an intensive level in order to generate warmth in a cold season.

An important part of the abhyanga modification in Spring is a change in the order of exercise and abhyanga . As Kapha is already melted and circulating in the body, we recommend warming the body with light exercise or housework BEFORE starting the Abhyanga.

In vasanta do exercise before abhyanga

This exercise BEFORE the Abhyanga helps settle down circulating Kapha. It also helps the body warm up internally and allows the oil to penetrate the skin better in this season.

2. Do Abhyanga early

We have written earlier about how the day is divided into 4 hour parts and how each part is dominated by a particular dosha. The period between 6 am – 10 am is dominated by Kapha dosha, when we all wake up, do an abhyanga, bathe, eat breakfast, etc.

Doing an abhyanga in the Kapha period is generally not recommended. This is much more of a problem in Spring when aggravated Kapha is already flowing freely through the body. So if you are doing an Abhyanga between 6 am – 10 am, please do the Abhyanga as early as possible in this 4 hour period.

An early morning abhyanga is recommended in Vasanta

Even if you are unable to wake up before dawn for abhyanga, try and do your abhyanga in the early part of the Kapha period.

This abhyanga modification is recommended to ensure that the abhyanga leaves you feeling light and refreshed. Doing an abhyanga at 9 am vs 6 am will make your body feel stiff and heavy as you are applying oil ( a kapha increasing dravya) in a high Kapha time During a Kapha dominant season.

Late Abhyanga in Kapha peak = Aggravated Kapha

3. WARM the oil before Abhyanga

Warming oil is a generally useful suggestion throughput the year. However, it is especially relevant in Vasanta Ritu to avoid cooling the body and aggravating Kapha further.

In Spring, use warm oil for abhyanga

This abhyanga modification is recommended to help penetrate the skin and body much better. Warm oil is lighter, more sookshma and penetrates skin much faster than cold oil. Cold oil can further aggravate Kapha in the body.

Cold Oil = More Kapha

4. Use LESS Oil and Massage MORE

Due to the high amount of Kapha circulation in the body, using a high amount of oil during Abhyanga can potentially cool and stiffen the body due to aggravated Kapha. Therefore in this season, it is advisable to use slightly less oil than normal during Abhyanga and MORE massage + movement.

In vasanta, use less oil fo abhyanga with more massage

This abhyanga modification helps us get the benefit of abhyanga in this season without deranging kapha dosha.

More oil = More Kapha = More stiffness

5. Squeeze the limbs well during Abhyanga

An abhyanga massage with squeezing action is called Mardana.  Mardana massage is very useful in Spring as it helps draw out Kapha out of the body and ensure it does not get stuck and cause heaviness and stiffness in the body.

Use a downward squeezing action (mardana) especially in limbs.

Mardana action is suggested in Spring Abhyanga to constrict the movement of Kapha

This abhyanga modification is suggested to remove the feeling of heaviness and stiffness in the body which is common in this season. This restrains Kapha from spreading easily in the body. It also directs its proper flow and encourages movement out of the body.

6. Soak LESS after your Abhyanga

Generally we recommend waiting for 15 minutes after your Abhyanga. This “soak time” is useful to help the oil to penetrate deeper into the body. It also gives you a breather after a rigorous Abhyanga routine before you begin your Snana.

In Vasanta Ritu, the Soak time after Abhyanga should be very short. If you are a Sinusitis sufferer or are prone to coughs and colds, you may skip the soak altogether and directly begin your Snana. This is an important abhyanga modification in this season to prevent kapha aggravation.

The more you soak, the colder your body gets.

Cold = Kapha.

7. Bathe TWICE after Abhyanga

Bathing (Snana) is a critical practice to be done correctly in Vasanta (Spring).  When the snana is done correctly, the body feels well cleansed, and light after Abhyanga without any Kapha aggravation.

In Vasanta, it is a good practice to do Two Snanas (scrub the body, rinse and repeat) with a herb ubtan.

Bathe twice after abhyanga in vasanta

This abhyanga modification is suggested for 2 reasons. It ensures BOTH that applied oil is removed and that body is left cleaner as the Snana removes oily secretions deep in the srotas. If oil remains on the body in this season, you will feel stiff and heavy due to Kapha aggravation.

Krya’s Ubtans are best for post Abhyanga baths – our regular bodywashes just cannot remove oil as cleanly as our Ubtans do. but even our Ubtans will have to be used twice in this season, because of Melted Kapha.

8. Bathe in reasonably warm water:

Many Krya consumers complain to us when we remind them that according to Ayurveda, this season is Vasanta (Spring) and not Greeshma (Summer). Due to urbanization, urban heat effect and climate change, our once mild Vasanta (spring) feels hot, boiling and like a scorching summer.

But it IS NOT summer, not yet. Even though the weather is hot, your nose and throat might feel runny, you will sneeze more . These are signs of melting Kapha.

Melting Kapha = Vasanta / Spring.

In Summer, Kapha would have finished melting and would no longer circulate freely in the body.

To ensure that you do no further add to aggravate Kapha, please bathe in warm and not cold water. Bathing in very hot water will further liquefy Kapha. So your bathing water must be warm but not very hot.

bathe in warm and not hot water in Vasanta

9. Avoid aggravating Kapha & Pitta by Ahara (food) or other activities on Abhyanga days

Eating Kapha OR Pitta aggravating food / doing Kapha + Pitta aggravating activities in Abhyanga days. Kapha aggravating food will add to already excess Kapha in the body. Pitta aggravating food will melt more Kapha causing more runniness, colds, and more circulation of melted kapha.

10. Ensure your scalp is as dry as possible in this season

In this season, a wet scalp may mean sinus and kapha aggravation. Please use Rasanadi choorna LIBERALLY in this season: Inhale it, apply it on the crown of the head, on the sinuses of the head, behind the ears, etc.

Dry your hair quickly and efficiently using 2 towels if necessary. Do NOT sit in an air conditioned car / environment with wet hair.

Keep the scalp dry in Vasanta

If you find that your scalp is sweating, you may still use Rasanadi choornam to ensure the water does not seep into the sinusitis aggravating Kapha.

Cold = water freezing on scalp = Kapha.

Krya’s Abhyanga Products for Vasanta Ritu:

Classic Abhyanga Snana Range: general purpose for all Prakritis especially Pitta leaning prakriti

This Abhyanga Snana Range is a general Abhyanga Oil + Ubtans suitable for all prakritis, with no major aggravation in any one dosha. The Krya Classic abhyanga oil is a 34 ingredient proprietary formulation. The herbs and herb compositions have been carefully chosen from the classical samhitas. This is a balanced Abhyanga oil which helps balance all 3 doshas. It is suitable for both Men and Women and is a general abhyanga oil that can help all prakritis.

The Krya Classic Abhyanga oil goes with either the Krya Women’s Ubtan (Classic) OR the Krya Men’s Ubtan (Classic).

 

If you are a high Kapha prakriti, we advise using less Abhyanga oil which has been well warmed, more vigorous massage and bathing twice with the Ubtan – this is a guideline to ensure there is no further Kapha aggravation.

Intense Abhyanga Snana Range:

If you are intensely Vata dominant, or are a Post Partum woman or have an INTENSIVE exercise routine (marathoners, regular gym goers), the Intense Abhyanga Snana range is more suitable for you.

We have also recommended Intense abhyanga Oil for those on a low fat / limited fat diet and a Vegan diet – such diets usually aggravate Vata very quickly – so if you are on one and are noticing skin darkening and sudden weight loss, it is time to both re-examine your diet and use the Intense abhyanga Oil.

The Krya Intense Abhyanga Oil is a 41 ingredient proprietary formulation. This oil has been formulated to balance aggravated Vata dosha, so it is warming and intensely Vata balancing in nature. It is not recommended unless your Vata dosha is really out of balance. Pitta aggravated individuals might find this oil too hot and warming for their liking. In some cases Kapha aggravated individuals can also use this oil. If you have any queries, please call / write to us seeking clarifications.

The Krya Intense Abhyanga oil goes with the Krya Women’s Ubtan (Intense) which is a new launch. This is a special women’s ubtan designed with a high amount of Mangalyam (auspicious), Vata balancing , astringent, skin health improving herbs. This is especially suitable for post partum women.

We do not yet have a Krya Men’s Ubtan (Intense) – so to go along with the Intense Abhyanga oil, Men can continue to use Krya Men’s Ubtan (Classic).

To sum up – abhyanga modifications in spring

We hope this post gave you a good idea of both the importance of Abhyanga as a Dinacharya and the correct modifications you should be following in this season to get the most of your abhyanga.

If you are keen on adopting this Dinacharya, but still have questions, please write to us or Call/WhatsApp us (0-75500-89090).

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What are healthy eating timings according to Ayurveda ?

Krya blog post on healthy eating timings in ayurveda
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Reading Time: 11 minutes

A common misconception we hear at Krya is about healthy eating timings to follow and meal choice at each time. Today the Media is full of advice on nutrition and guides to healthy eating. Different theories abound on calculating protein and carbohydrate content of food, eating unpolished grains and ensuring higher nutrition by eating raw, unprocessed foods. It is no wonder that many of us are confused and seek advice on ahara and ahara niyama.

Is the diet and nutritional advise out there just confusing you

A key part of Ahara niyama in Ayurveda is the selection of proper / healthy eating timings. This influences the capacity to digest food, and our capacity to extract nutrients from food.

In fact, choosing the correct time to eat each meal has  a similar influence as choosing what to eat, on our health. In other words, we should spend the same amount of time planning when to eat as planning what to eat

In this post, we will see why Ayurveda pays so much attention to good eating timings and how we can improve our health and well-being by working out a healthy eating time schedule for us and our family.

Selection of healthy eating timings: Different Doshas influence different day parts

Ayurveda tells us that each day is divided into 4 hour dayparts. Each of these dayparts is connected to the slow rise, peaking and then falling of a particular dosha in our body.

Dosha surge in body corresponds to day part

The strength of the surge in the Dosha depends upon the movement of the Sun. So, for example, if there is Sunshine during a Kapha period, the effect of Kapha is slightly reduced. Similarly, if there is good Sunshine, say during a Pitta daypart, Pitta will be much more aggravated due to the influence of the sun.

In order to take advantage of these natural surges in a particular Dosha, we are advised to do certain activities during certain day parts. Our body’s internal workings also take advantage of the dosha surges in day parts.

As long as we do not tamper with our internal clock by eating at inappropriate times or sleeping at inappropriate times, we can be sure that our body is always working to ensure that we stay in good health and harmony.

An example is to wake up during a Vata day part and eat during a Pitta day part. Pitta influenced day parts are ideally suited to digest and process food. Hence a pitta day part makes perfect sense and is ideal  for our heaviest / largest meal.

Similarly, waking up during a Vata day part ensures we are able to utilize the creativity, enthusiasm and high energy that such a day part offers us.

Waking up in a Vata influenced day part helps provdie teh body with energy, and creativity

This is why our Acharyas recommend waking up during Brahma Muhurtha ( 90 minutes before sunrise) – by design Brahma Muhurta occurs after during the peak surge plus gradual drop of Vata dosha.

Waking up this time therefore gives us high energy, mental clarity and freshness through the day. In fact, many commentators say that waking up during this times allows for a “dosha re-balance” that is close to your natural state.

Selection of healthy eating timings: Choosing the correct Pitta day part for our heaviest meals

The process of kindling of appetite, production of salivary and gastric enzymes, digestion, absorption of nutrients and separation of food into useful and non useful by-products that eventually leave the body, are ALL governed by Pitta dosha and its various branches.

Pitta dosha is strongly influenced by the sun as “Agni” is one of the 2 Pancha mahaboothas that make up Pitta dosha. Therefore when the Sun reaches its Peak, with maximum Agni, the Pitta in our body is also at its peak, around noon.

Pitta energy peaks at noon due to the movement of the sun

So ideally, the correct time for our heaviest meal should be Noon.

But here comes a problem.

In traditional times, we ate one / two meals a day. In modern times this has been stretched to 3 meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner with sometimes 2 – 3 small meals / snacks between these meals.

Breakfast is usually around 8 am. Lunch around noon time and dinner is again around 8 pm. Many of us may also additionally snack on fruit juices, buttermilk, fruits, nuts and seeds or even cooked snacks between these 3 main meals.

Are you etaing many small meals on mistaken nutritional advice?

 Hence we may be overloading our body with food at the unhealthy eating timings – this leads to Ama build up in the body and weakens digestive fire.

Also, as many of us are stressed for time in the busy morning, we reserve our largest meal for our evening meal, i.e Dinner. Many families / friends also go out to Dinner during weekends to bond and catch up over food. This is great from the point of view of building relationships, but not so great from the point of your Digestive Agni and build up of Ama (toxins in the body).

There is a strong chance of over-eating and eating the wrong food for this day part in these occasions, leading to Ama build up in the body. 

Eating with groups of people at Dinner may cuase us to overeat, increaisng chances of Ama in the body

How to utilize the 2 Pitta day-parts everyday to make a healthy eating time table?

Ayurveda tells us that there are 2 Pitta strong dayparts in the day, 10 am – 2 pm in the morning and 10 pm – 2 am at night. The first Pitta daypart peaks at 12 noon approximately and the other at 12 midnight. As the Pitta peak coming at midnight is dampened by the absence of the sun, the BEST and MOST IDEALLY STRONG digestive Agni occurs at noon, in the day time.

So we should eat our heaviest meal of the day, as close to Noon time as possible . At this time, if we eat the right Ahara for our prakriti, there is the greatest chance for this food to be well digested, and properly absorbed with high nutrient retention inside the body.

Eating at teh correct time in the correct quantity strongly influences nutrient absorption in the body

 

What happens during the second Pitta day part at night?

In normal circumstances, the Pitta peak at midnight is utilized by the body to “tune up” Pitta organs like the Liver ,Spleen, etc. This repair and maintenance activity is ONLY done if Digestion is fully complete.

It takes the body upto 3 – 4 hours to digest a single meal fully. This timing slows down if the meal is extremely heavy, improper for our prakriti, improper for the Ritu, or contains a high amount of Guru foods (curd, sweets, red meat, etc), Or if Agni is weak / impaired due to Wrong Ahara and Wrong Ahara Niyama.

If the body is engaged in Digestion at the second Pitta time, the maintenance of Liver , spleen and Other Pitta organs DOES NOT TAKE Place. Habitually eating late means that these organs are under a severe strain without the time or space given to do their maintenance. This puts the body’s health under duress.

Eating at teh correct time also allows the body to do its regular maintenance activities

The ability of the body to digest is weakened severely post Sunset. So we are advised to have the lightest meal of the day as Dinner, and NOT the heaviest as is ritually the case with many of us.

It is also wise not to go out to eat for Dinner, experiment with new cuisines which may be heavy / difficult to digest or eat socially (as we often end up over eating in these situations). Instead we can reserve these activities for Noon, when our Digestive Fire + the sun can help us digest such experimental meals.

Choosing healthy eating timings: Effect on Agni + Ama when Kapha is aggravated

 In the normal course of events, we have only one Pitta rich day part to eat and digest a meal properly. Our other 2 commonly eaten meals of breakfast and dinner are BOTH in Kapha dominant dayparts of 6 am to 10 am, and 6 pm – 10 pm, respectively.

Kapha aggravation can produce “Mandagni” (reduced digestive fire), tamasic thoughts especially when food is tamasic, sloth, laziness and weight gain when ahara is improper.

In cases of Mandagni, the Agni is in a doused and weak condition. Its ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is extremely poor. So even if we feed the healthiest and best food to our body when it is in a state of Mandagni, it will be of little use to us. The body will generate Ama instead of digesting the food as the Agni is unable to handle the digestion process.

Instead of being fully digested, Food may be only partially digested. The undigested food will putrefy inside the system producing bloating, inflammation, and reducing the appetite and increasing heaviness in the body.

Heavy eating at peak kapha periods can increase chances of Mandagni in the body

This is why the combination of improper ahara and eating during a peak Kapha period is the precursor to an Ama disaster in the body.  The evening Kapha period when we have dinner is far worse than the morning Kapha period when we have breakfast.

The morning Kapha period, is weaker in the kapha surge. This is due to the presence of the Sun and increased activity on our part . This is why we have less trouble digesting our breakfast compared to digesting our dinner.

In the evening time, as the sun sets, Kapha dominance becomes extremely strong and our activity levels are on the wane . The later we eat, the worse our digestive capacity / food absorption is going to be.

Ahara Niyama (Eating guidelines) as per Ayurveda:

Here is an Ayurvedic recommendation for meals:

Breakfast moderately, lunch well, and eat dinner very sparingly.

To repeat: Eat a moderate breakfast, a good lunch and a sparing dinner

Any fruits, or in-between meal snacks should ONLY be eaten if there is good hunger and appetite. Do NOT eat because you have read that eating 6 small meals is healthy or that it is good for you “to graze”. Grazing animals have a completely different digestive system – we cannot follow their method of eating through the day.

Ideally all meals should be freshly made and hot as per Ayurveda. However, because both our breakfast and dinner is eaten during a Kapha surge, please eat food that is freshly cooked and hot. At these meals, the body’s ability to digest stale meals is impaired. Stale meals are higher in “gurutva” as per Ayurveda, so they are more difficult to breakdown and can quickly aggravate Kapha.

 

Freshly made, hot food id recommended for breakfats and dinner to counter the effect of Kapha surge

During breakfast and dinner,  Kapha rich foods like sweets, cakes, desserts, sweet fruits,  meats and foods like curd should be avoided. Any manner of cold / refrigerated food , cold drinks should also be reduced / avoided. If leftover rice is being used from the morning, we advise that you re-wash and re-steam the rice to remove some of its “gurutva” (heaviness).  

avoid kapha triggering foods like desserts and sweets during Dinner

Avoid difficult to digest food like raw food, highly complex cereals, and heavy lentils like Rajma, Channa, etc, for Dinner. They can be eaten in very small quantities occasionally at Breakfast, only if Digestive fire is good and activity level is high.

Choosing healthy eating timings: Recommendations by Prakriti

Aggravated Kapha / Kapha leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

For those with Kapha leaning prakriti or Kapha aggravation (weight issues, poor hair growth) we suggest eating Dinner as early as possible within the evening Kapha cycle.  

For example, eating at 7 pm means that only 1 hour has passed in the Kapha cycle of 4 hours. But eating at 9, means that the body has had 3 hours to accumulate Kapha – so digestive fire needs to be more intense to combat the coldness wetness and heaviness produced by the natural Kapha upsurge in the body.

Eat eraly dinners if Kapha prakriti is high

Apart from eating as early as possible, food must be light, well cooked, warm and devoid of kapha aggravating foods. Foods that are rich in oils, nuts and seeds, sweet foods, etc must not be eaten at Dinner.

Deepana & Pachana herbs that are recommended for Vata prakriti can also be used. In addition, mildly sour foods help kindle appetite and reduce Mandagni for this prakriti. So food can be flavoured with local tomatoes, lemon, small amount of ripe tamarind, etc. Well churned, well diluted buttermilk can also be taken at night.

Aggravated Vata / Vata leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

Vata leaning and Vata aggravated individuals have “Vishama agni” (Inconsistent Agni). So they will find that their appetite, ability to digest food, etc greatly varies from day to day. So here, apart from ensuring Dinner is eaten early and Kapha aggravating foods are avoided, the Agni needs to be trained and brought under control.

Vata leaning and vata aggravated individuals often have weak and dry hair, poor skin texture, suffers from bone and joint aches and disorders, abnormal skin darkening, gas, bloating, etc.

For such individuals, it is especially important to eat Deepana (appetite kindling) and Pachana (digestive) spices along with their evening meal and eat freshly cooked, hot, light , appetizing food. This food must be eaten at the same time every day as a habit. Training the body with regular meal timings and proving deepana and pachana herbs along with tasty food brings Vishama Agni under control.

Deepana and Pachana herbs and spices are excellent for Vata prakritis

Deepana and Pachana herbs that help Vishama Agni are Maricha (black pepper), Pippali (long pepper), Sunthi (dry ginger), Jeera (cumin), Curry leaf, hingu (asafetida), Black salt (small doses) and Saindhava Lavana (rock salt).

Aggravated Pitta / Pitta leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

Pitta aggravated / Pita leaning individuals are very sensitive to changes in eating timings and are most affected by improper dinner timings. Such individuals suffer from premature greying, hair thinning, gastritis, acidity, anger management issues, Blood pressure, acne, skin sensitivity, sun burn, etc.

Why is late dinner so problematic for Pitta aggravated/ Pitta leaning individuals?

We often find that Pitta dominant people never have a problem with appetite, but when they eat late, they develop gastric, acidity, sour belching etc. This is because of 2 reasons:

The later we eat in the Kapha cycle, we need to utilize more Pitta energy to combat Kapha upsurge. This is already high in Pitta leaning people – so they will extract MORE Pitta energy simply to digest their food.

The second reason is that after the Kapha cycle, we are in the beginning of the second Pitta cycle which starts at 10 pm. If we eat at say 9:30, instead of Pitta energy being used up and subdued after digestion if we had eaten at 7 pm, we will experience a second wind in Pitta at 10 pm. This will excite Pitta further. This also keeps us awake, gives us poor sleep as the body is engaged in energy intensive digestion at this time, instead of repair and regeneration of important pitta organs like liver, spleen, etc which is usually the case.

Pitta aggravated / leaning individuals do very well when they have a fresh, warm meal around 8 pm without any Pitta aggravating dravyas. Such people should avoid eating fried / oily food, sour food, salty food and other Pitta aggravating foods at night.

Avoid exciting Pitta dosha heavily for Pitta individuals during dinner

Suggestions for Pitta-Kapha aggravated individuals:

For many people with high Pitta-Kapha imbalance (Acne, PCOD / PCOS, pre-diabetes, etc), we advise completing dinner before 8 pm, and then drinking a glass of hot water about 30 minutes before sleep around 9:45 pm – 10 pm.

This has a stomach clearing effect, and aids elimination of toxins out of the body. This should not be done very late and strongly into the Pitta night period as it could the re-stimulate Pitta dosha. This is why we suggest doing this at the beginning of the Pitta day part or earlier, depending upon your eating timing.

To sum up: healthy eating timings for all based on ayurveda

We hope you found this post on choosing the healthy eating timings as per Ayurveda useful. We also hope this post gave you easy to implement modifications in both your selection of food and also when and how to eat your meals depending upon your prakriti.

An ideal suggestion as per Ayurveda is to eat by 7 pm, and go to sleep BEFORE the second Pitta surge starts at 10 pm. This is most ideal for rest, recuperation, good sleep and energy the next morning. If this is not possible, we must atleast avoid eating close to 10 pm and try and complete dinner around the half mark of the Kapha period, which is 8 pm.

We often say that Ayurveda is a holistic , health giving science. As we can see in this post, the acharyas have thought through every aspect of human existence and have given painstakingly accurate, logical and holistic suggestions to maintain health and well being.

We hope you too found the suggestions given in this post useful for your and your family. If you have any questions on this, please email us.

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The History of Abhyanga: What Ashtanga Hridayam says about Abhyanga

Benefits of abhyanga according to ashtanga hridayam
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Reading Time: 10 minutes

The Abhyanga is a key Dinacharya, daily practice recommended in Ayurveda to impart Bala (strength), Ayush (health and Immunity) and Ayu (long life) to the body.  This practice forms an important part of Krya’s recommendations to improve hair growth, impart better strength and texture to hair and to also improve the quality, tone and texture of skin.

Abhyanga is a key dinacharya practice recommended in ayurveda

An abhyanga is also a very important Dincharya that is recommended for specific cases of hairfall like post partum hairfall, hairfall due to sudden and extreme weight loss (cases of high vata aggravation).

Many Krya consumers have found a HUGE difference to their hair health, skin texture and overall well being and immunity when abhyanga is added to their daily routine. The practice of abhyanga is mentioned as a health giving practice in all the Ayurvedic Samhitas.

In today’s post, we will analyse the abhyanga shloka in Ashtanga Hridayam’s Dinacharya chapter and see why Acharya Vagbhatta says this is such an important and useful practice.

Ashtanga Hridayam: part of the Brhat Trayee Texts in Ayurveda

We have written often about how empowering Ayurveda is as a Vaidya shastra. Ayurveda is considered an UpaVeda, an offshoot of the vedas themselves and is found in the Atharva Veda. This Upa Veda is a Divine Science which has been handed down from the Devas to the Raja Rishis.

Ayurveda is an Upaveda: it si incredibly ancient and of divine origin

It was then passed down in oral tradition until it was compiled about 3000 – 4000 years ago by Agnivesa. Agnivesa’s Samhita, was then further redacted by Charaka.  Charaka’s redaction of Agnivesa Samhita became much more famous than the original, and soon everyone began to refer to Charaka’s redaction as the Charaka Samhita.

Charaka Samhita is one of the 3 ayurvedic texts in the Brhat Trayee.

Charaka Samhita forms the first of the Brhita Trayee. The second text in the Brihat Trayee is Sushruta Samhita. The Sushruta Samhita concentrates more on surgery and surgical methods than general Chikitsa (medicines and general healing) which Charaka Samhita focusses on.

The Ashtanga Hridayam is the 3rd text included in the Brhat trayee – the great 3 texts of Ayurveda . This classification of “Brhat Trayee”  is of the 19th century origin. The classifier appears to have chosen 3 texts that are of universal repute in the field of Ayurveda, with use in almost the entire length and breadth of India.

The Ashtanga Hridayam is of more recent origin. Various datings ascribe it to the 7th – 8th century AD.  Despite its more recent origin compared to Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, it is not surprising that the Ashtanga Hridayam text is included in the Brhat Trayee . This text is extremely lucid, clear with  easy to understand and shorter Sanskrit shlokas .

Concept of “Living Right” in Ayurveda:

One of the stark differences between Ayurveda and Western Medicine is the high emphasis on “living right”. Each Acharya tells us that if we followed “Dinacharya” (daily practices for health and well being), followed Ritucharya (seasonal modifications to adjust to changes in weather and internal doshas) and followed Ahara Niyama (guidelines to eat, choosing right food, avoiding incompatible foods, etc), we can avoid nearly 85% of the disease.

Ayurveda varies gretaly from allopathy in the emphasis on living right

A Vaidya is then only required for the balance 15% of the stubborn diseases which may occur due to accidents, karma etc. Even the effect of these diseases, their severity and the speed of our recovery can be greatly affected if we have been following Dinacharya, Ritucharya and Ahara niyama.

As Ayurveda spans a long length of time (over 4000 years), it makes sense that there will be variations in the variety of herbs used, and also additions to the disease conditions discussed, chikitsa techniques, etc over time across various texts.

But the basic fundamental chapters like Ahara Niyama (how to eat / food guidelines), Dinacharya (daily living) and Ritucharya (seasonal living) are largely unchanged from the time of the MOST ancient Ayurvedic Samhitas.

Abhyanga in Dinacharya: ancient and unbroken guideline to “Living Right” in Ayurveda

We have already seen that the chapters on Dinacharya and Ritucharya have remained largely intact, with only minor modifications and additions from the time of Acharya Charaka. So also,  Acharya Vagbhatta’s Shloka on Abhyanga is a modified and modern retelling of the Shloka found 3000-4000 years ago in the Charka Samhita. Since Charaka Samhita itself is a redaction of Agnivesa Samhita which is even more ancient, we can surmise that a similar shloka on abhyanga would have been found there also.

As many ayurvedic texts and commentaries are lost today, we cannot physically verify this fact. But each Acharya in his retelling confirms this and tell us that he is presenting in a brief manner what he has already read / seen / studied from earlier texts. The abhyanga tradition can therefore be seen as a distilled piece of practical wisdom that follows an unbroken chain across thousands of years of traditional Indian medicinal wisdom .

Abhyanga is a distilled piece of wisdom form an unbroken line of indian traditional medicine

So, without doubt, when we practice abhyanga regularly, we should get the benefits that the acharyas have described.

Abhyanga recommendations at Krya:

At Krya, we recommend doing a “regular” abhyanga for good health. What is the meaning of “regular”? As the abhyanga is mentioned under “Dinacharya” chapter in Ayurvedic texts, along with activities like brushing our teeth, etc, it should also be done “Dina” or daily.

However, most of us are unused to even the idea of a Dinacharya, let alone the concept of an Abhyanga. So at Krya, we start by suggesting that Abhyanga be done two times a week as a complete routine including Karna abhyanga (ear massage), Shiro Abhyanga (head oiling) and Pada abhyanga (feet oiling).

In addition, we have recommended doing a shortened version of the abhyanga, called “Mini Abhyanga” 3 – 4 times a week. The Mini Abhyanga is mainly done for women to balance Apana vayu. This is very useful to correct Vata imbalances in the lower abdomen – this helps regulate menstrual cramps and ensures periods are relatively easy and pain free. In Men, the mini abhyanga helps regulate digestion.

Similarly, we recommend doing Pada abhyanga atleast 3 – 4 times a week. The Pada abhyanga is a vital part of the daily abhyanga and is an incredibly health giving, relaxing abhyanga to do. For those who are unable to do a regular full abhyanga, the Pada abhyanga is a great way to start inculcating the Abhyanga Dinacharya.

Pada abhyanga is to be done atleast three to four times a week

We will do a separate post on the benefits of Pada Abhyanga. But in short, it helps relieve fatigue, improves sleep quality, balances vata dosha and is a “drishti prasadaka” practice – clarifies and strengthens the vision.

A pada abhyanga is especially recommended for Men and those with high mental stress, insomnia, late nights, high vata aggravation, etc.

Splitting Abhyanga into mini units – some benefits

By splitting the abhyanga into full and mini Abhyanga units at Krya, we have been able to overcome some part of the resistance to take time out to do this Dinacharya. As our consumers start experiencing the benefits of these mini abhyangas for themselves, they are much more motivated to attempt doing a full abhyanga regularly.

Also, we are seeing a high rise in certain repetitive stress disorders due to the nature of urban careers. For example, we see a lot of wrist injuries, frozen shoulder, lower back ache etc, due to the high use of smartphones and laptops and also due to long commutes in a car. This tends to aggravate Vata dosha in these specific areas in the body.

Hasta abhyanga - good mini abhyanga that helps in repetitive stress disorders

So when Mini abhyangas like Pada abhyanga & Hasta abhyanga are done, there is an immediate improvement in the flexibility, working and health of these areas.

An Interpretation of Acharya Vaghbatta’s Shloka on abhyanga:

How did we arrive at concept of Karna abhyanga , Pada abhyanga, and mini abhyanga ? We arrived at this by interpretation of the abhyanga Shlokas themselves. How did we arrive at the benefits of doing a regular abhyanga? Again by reading and interpreting the shlokas first and then following their instructions and then experiencing these benefits.

Every Ayurvedic Nighantu and Samhita offers a varied nuance / flavour for each Dinacharya practice suggested. Obviously the more texts we read, the more complex and detailed our understanding of the process becomes. When we do these Dinacharyas ourselves and also observe the benefits experienced by hundreds of Krya consumers of various prakritis age groups, demographics and geographies, we get better and better at understanding the abhyanga and its benefits.

Given below is a picture of the exact shloka on abhyanga from one of the commentaries written on Ashtanga Hridayam. The Shloka itself has been composed by Acharya Vagbhatta in the 7th century AD.

The translation given here is my own based on my interpretation, the interpretation of my gurus and also derived from the interpretation of many more commentaries of the same text.

Summarizing the benefits of Abhyanga: from Acharya Vagbhatta’s Ashtanga Hridayam

In this shloka on abhyanga, the Acharya uses the word ” achareth” which means “suggested / recommended”. This is a point of change from the Abhyanga shloka in Charaka Samhita. In Charaka Samhita the Acharya makes an observation: ” the body of one who does abhyanga daily is strong, does not break easily, etc”.

Ashtanga Hridayam - shloka on Abhyanga's importance

But Acharya Vagbhatta has taken it upon himself to make a more “prescriptive” suggestion. In the Ashtanga Hridayam, The Acharya has remarked that Vata based diseases are on the rise. This could be an increase from Acharya Charaka’s time. Acharya Vagbhatta has also predicted that he expects 50% or more of all diseases in the future to be caused by Vata aggravation. This is most certainly the case today for all of us. I suspect this is why he has actually used the word “achareth” or recommend in this shloka.

The benefits of abhyanga are well known to us: but to summarize from this shloka: A regular abhyanga retards aging, removes tiredness, reduces vata aggravation, clarifies eye sight, gives good quality sleep, improves health and improves the stability and strength of the body.

Acharya Vagbhatta tells us to pay special emphasis to the Head, Ears and Feet while doing an abhyanga. This is the reason behind frequent hair oiling of atleast 4-5 times a week which is recommended by us at Krya.

Hair oiling atleast 4 – 5 times a week improves health AND hair quality, growth and texture. Similarly, doing a Pada abhyanga 4 – 5 times a week improves vision, relieves fatigue, etc. Other texts contain specific shlokas on the benefits of Pada abhyanga and hair oiling separately.

Abhyanga products available at Krya:

We have 2 kinds of abhyanga snana products available at Krya. Just as the choice of abhyanga oil is very important, the right Snana product is also equally important. The correct Snana product cleanses and removes only the excess oil present after abhyanga on Skin. This varies by prakriti – we can expect Vata prakriti skin to strongly soak up abhyanga oil leaving very little aside to remove.

Such an intelligent system like our body, also requires intelligent cleansing. We have written more about why cleansers made from Divya Oushadis and live organic grains are intelligent and better suited for your body, here. Do take a look.

Classic abhyanga-snana range:

This abhyanga snana range is a general abhyanga Oil + ubtans suitable for all prakritis, with no major aggravation in any one dosha. The Krya Classic abhyanga oil is a 34 ingredient proprietary formulation. The herbs and herb compositions have been carefully chosen from the classical samhitas. This is a balanced abhyanga oil which helps balance all 3 doshas. It is suitable for both Men and Women and is a general abhyanga oil that can help all prakritis.

Krya abhyanga Oil - classic

The Krya Classic abhyanga oil goes with either the Krya Women’s Ubtan (Classic) OR the Krya Men’s Ubtan (Classic).

If you are a high Kapha prakriti, we advise using less abhyanga oil which has been well warmed, more vigorous massage and bathing twice with the Ubtan – this is a guideline to ensure there is no further Kapha aggravation.

Intense abhyanga-snana Range:

If you are intensely Vata dominant, or are a Post Partum woman or have an INTENSIVE exercise routine (marathoners, regular gym goers), the Intense abhyanga Snana range is more suitable for you.

We have also recommended Intense abhyanga Oil for those on a low fat / limited fat diet and a Vegan diet – such diets usually aggravate Vata very quickly – so if you are on one and are noticing skin darkening and sudden weight loss, it is time to both re-examine your diet and use the Intense abhyanga Oil.

The Krya Intense abhyanga Oil is a 41 ingredient proprietary formulation. This oil has been formulated to balance aggravated Vata dosha, so it is warming and intensely Vata balancing in nature. It is not recommended unless your Vata dosha is really out of balance. Pitta aggravated individuals might find this oil too hot and warming for their liking. In some cases Kapha aggravated individuals can also use this oil. If you have any queries, please call / write to us seeking clarifications.

The Krya Intense abhyanga oil goes with the Krya Women’s Ubtan (Intense) which is a new launch. This is a special women’s ubtan designed with a high amount of Mangalyam (auspicious), Vata balancing , astringent, skin health improving herbs. This is especially suitable for post partum women.

We do not yet have a Krya Men’s Ubtan (Intense) – so to go along with the Intense Abhyanga oil, Men can continue to use Krya Men’s Ubtan (Classic).

To sum up: the Benefits of a Regular abhyanga

At Krya, we emphasize that external products alone do not give you the holistic changes you expect in skin and hair health. When you add on good Dinacharya practices like the abhyanga and also follow Ahara Niyama guidelines, you can see a quicker and more long lasting change in your health and well being.

Today, we are no longer trained in our Indic languages like Sanskrit and Tamil. We do not have any training of Ayurveda. We have also lost out on hard earned cultural knowledge like food norms, dietary guidelines, etc.

Despite this loss, some of what the Ayurvedic texts survive in our lives – but as a fragment of a fragment of a fragment. This is why all of us are used to only a once a year abhyanga on Deepavali day. We have lost the knowledge of the Samhitas and the shlokas which asked us to do abhyanga “Nityam” and are instead doing abhyanga once a year only.

I hope this post inspires you to adopt this health giving, wonderful practice. The most wonderful part about Ayurveda to me, is how firmly the acharyas put our health in our own hands. Every Acharya tells us that if we adopted the guidelines of Dinacharya, Ritucharya, ahara niyama and Right living, we will not fall ill often and have to meet the Vaidya.

When we follow the principles of “Ayurvedic right living”, we have to meet a Vaidya only about 15% of the time for truly serious illnesses. The balance 85% of illnesses can be avoided, averted or simply treated at home.

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Ritucharya for Vasanta (Spring) – ayurvedic guidelines to get balanced and stay healthy in spring

Vasanta Ritucharya: ayurvedic seasonal regimen to reduce pollen allergies, spring fever
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Have you begun to sniffle, sneeze and put away your winter jackets? Has the season change caught you unawares? One of the most powerful concepts in Ayurveda medicine is the concept of Ritucharya – seasonal regimens to be followed to naturally balance the changes in your doshas due to the change in climate and season. This post will speak about the Ayurvedic concept of Ritucharya and also look at the Ritucharya recommended in Vasanta (spring) so that you can stay healthy in spring.

Preventive health care and staying healthy across seasons:

Ayurveda’s goal is to prevent the formation of disease by following certain guidelines of good living. This is best described by Acharya Charaka in his Sutra Sthana shlokas:

“Swasthasya Swasthya Rakshanam Aaturasya Vikara Prashamanam Cha”

He explains that the goal of medicine (Ayurveda) is to rejuvenate and preserve the health of the healthy and then to alleviate diseases in the ill. This order of first  tending to the healthy and then  treating the sick is specific to Ayurveda. It explains why so much of Ayurveda is primarily focused on health giving regimens rather than disease treatment .

This emphasis on preserving health is why Dincharya and Ritucharya regimes (regimes for daily living and special regimes to follow in specific seasons) come first in all 3 Brihat Trayee texts of Ayurveda (Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridayam).

Dinacharya: daily regimens to correct dosha imbalances and stay healthy

The Ayurvedic dinacharya is a very powerful , self healing idea that puts the responsibility for your health back into your hands. As Ayurveda’s aim is to prevent disease and keep you in health , enjoying a long productive life, The self care regimens are the cornerstone of harmony and well being.

The Acharyas split these self care regimens into 2 types: things to be done everyday (Dina-charya) and things to be done in each Season (Ritu-charya).

Dincharya comprises of regimens to be followed daily. Many of these suggested Dinacharyas may seem simplistic and even very difficult to follow. For those accustomed to waking up late, the idea of waking up 90 minutes before sunrise may seem impossible and unnecessary.

However, we can attest to the powerful, subtle and transformative nature of these Daily ayurvedic regimens. Each Dinacharya practice works in a nuanced and different way to calm down aggravated doshas, improves prana shakti and increases Ojas in the body when practiced over a long period.

We will do a more detailed post on Ayurvedic dinacharyas. For the purpose of this post, Dinacharya regimens include waking up at the right time (Brahma Muhurtha), doing correct amount of Vyayama (exercise) for the season & your prakriti, Oral care, Taila abhyanga , Hair Oiling (Keshya abhyanga) , Snana (bath) and leading a life of balance. When these tenets of Dincharya are followed, we are guaranteed a life of harmony and balance.

 

Staying healthy in Spring: Dinacharya is a daily set of practices to stay healthy.

Following the Dinacharya helps the body adjust everyday and bring back aggravated Doshas to balance on a daily basis. Dinacharya takes care of the small stresses, changes in diet, sudden change in plans, excessive travel, etc. It works like a checking mechanism bringing us back to the golden mean.

However, when Seasons change, the accompanying shifts in weather, humidity , etc leads to a larger scale shift in the dosha balance in our body. To bring these shifts under control, we add on Ritucharya practices to our existing Dinacharya practices.

The seasonal health regimens form a part of Ritucharya (seasonal tenets of living). Ayurveda divides the year into 6 seasons. Each season lasts roughly two months. The time of change of seasons usually throws the body into a series of minor health issues – these issues can be simply solved or avoided if we follow Ritucharya practices to stay healthy.

Staying healthy in Spring: What happens to us in Winter?

During winter (Hemanta and Shishira) , the severe cold weather drives Agni inwards from all parts of the body. This strongly increases our digestive capacity and hunger. So Ayurveda advises us to eat well and eat oily, rich foods that can satisfy this high Agni, in Winter.

Staying healthy in Spring: We are advised to eat heavy, rich food in winter to satisfy increased agni in the body.

At the same time, Ayurveda also recommends stronger and more intense Vyayama (exercise), Sun exposure, Regular and Frequent Taila Abhyanga, and to avoid being lazy, sleeping during the day, etc.

Staying healthy in Spring: What happens to us in Spring?

Vasanta is the spring season described in Ayurveda. The official start of Vasanta is marked by the festival of Holi. This can change slightly depending upon distance from the equator,etc.

Staying healthy in Spring: spring starts with Holi

In Vasanta, as the climate again starts to become warm, the sun rays melt all the Kapha that has been stored in our body during winter. The amount of Kapha that is stored in your body varies. It depends upon whether or not we have followed Ritucharya guidelines in Hemanta and Shishira. If instead of regular exercise, regular abhyanga along with a rich, oily and heavy diet, we have simply eaten but not done exercise or abhyanga, we would have accumulated a greater amount of Kapha in Winter.

This high accumulated Kapha melts and starts running in the body in Vasanta as Mucous through our body . This explains why so many of us are prone to spring fever, hay fever, pollen allergies and coughs and colds in this season. Even if you have not accumulated too much excess Kapha, the coming of Spring starts to melt whatever Kapha is stored in your body.

Staying healthy in Spring: Kapha liquifies through the body and flows leading to coughs, colds and seasonal allergies

This liquefied Kapha dosha, if aggravated can douse the digestive Agni. When Agni is weakened, our appetite is poor. We also have a reduce capacity to digest food and poorer nutrient absorption in the body.

This may lead to poor appetite, lack of interest in food, tiredness and fatigue. Therefore , in order to ensure our Agni is not impacted in Vasanta, we need to work on this liquefied Kapha and focus on drying it up.

Ayurvedic seasonal therapies to stay healthy in Spring :

Vamana therapy (a part of Pancha karma – controlled vomitting) and Nasya therapy (controlled application of nasal drops) are 2 Ayurvedic procedures that can be initiated by Vaidyas during Vasanta to remove aggravated Kapha dosha.

This is advised if you have Spring aggravation symptoms like severe mucous accumulation, pollen allergy, extreme lethargy, lack of energy etc, suggesting the presence of large amounts of liquid Kapha in the system.

For many of us, this may not be required. For those with normal kapha aggravation, the Acharyas have given us many milder suggestions that we can all do to dry out liquefied kapha.

Staying healthy in spring: correction routines

Avoid these foods in Vasanta (spring):

Ayurveda advises us to avoid Guru (heavy), Snigdha (oily), Amla (sour) and Madhura (sweet) foods during this season.

Heavy (Guru) and sweet  (Madhura) foods increase Kapha dosha accumulation in the body. Oily (Snigdha) and Sour (Amla) foods aggravate and increase Pitta in the body. When Pitta is stimulated, it will further melt Kapha, adding to the volume of mucous already flowing through the body.

Staying healthy in Spring: Avoid sweet, rich and heavy food that can aggravate Kapha dosha

Add these foods in Vasanta (Spring):

Apart from avoiding Kapha aggravating and Pitta triggering foods, we also need to add certain foods to our diet to help control aggravated Kapha. This is a good time to add Millets to our diet in small quantities. Millets are Laghu (light) and Rooksha (drying) so their addition can help absorb and dry out liquefied Kapha. Similarly, Yava (barley) is considered a good grain to be eaten during Vasanta.

Staying healthy in Spring: Eat drying, slightly astringent food with healing spices

Yava(barley grain) is considered to have a dual taste of both “Kashaya” (astringent) and “madhura”  (sweet) rasa. This balances the intensity of the sweetness of barley, making it  a good grain for Vasanta where we want less sweet substances.

As its guna is cold, it balances Pitta. As Yava has rooksha guna (dry property) and pungent vipaka, it also helps dry up excess Kapha well. Yava is both a mutraghna and bulk forming grain. It helps remove aggravated liquefied kapha both through urine and through feces.

In Vasanta, Yava helps us by its lekhaniya (scraping quality against excess fat), reduces picchila (sticky toxins in the body), and also ignites jataragni which could be diminished due to liquefied Kapha.

Add these spices to your food in Vasanta (Spring):

In Vasanta, it is important to use ushna but not teekshna, deepana (agni kindling), pachana (digestive), kapha drying herbs and spices. Hence the Acharyas suggest using spices like Haridra (Turmeric), Sounth (dried Ginger), Clove, Elaichi and Maricha (Black pepper) in the food.

Haridra is astringent and drying, and will help absorb excess liquids in the body. Dried Ginger is warming without being intensive and aggravating Pitta, so can be safely used to spice food. Similarly cloves and cardamom are both warming without aggravating Pitta dosha.

Staying healthy in Spring: use drying, warming spices to dry up aggravated Kapha

Maricha (black pepper) is recommended in Ayurveda to balance excess Kapha, aid digestion and open up the srotas . Maricha is a better spice choice for most people compared to red and green Chillies which are now commonly used in Indian cooking. Chillies are intensely pitta aggravating due to their teekshna and katu nature. Chillies are best avoided for everyone, but especially if you already have Pitta complaints like hair thinning, premature greying, high blood pressure, acidity, high stress, etc.

Making these minor diet corrections will help remove liquefied kapha, prevent toxin deposition and help us stay healthy in spring.

Staying healthy in spring (Vasanta): Right physical exercise

Vasanta is also a good time for physical exercise. We are advised to do it at a slightly lower level than we would have during winter.

The main purpose during exercise in Vasanta is to moderately (and not sharply) increase heat and provoke sweating in the body, to encourage drying and removal of excess Kapha dosha.

Staying healthy in Spring: Regular physical activity removes aggravated Kapha

There is another reason to recommend lower intensity of exercise. This is because we are currently in Adana Kala as per Ayurveda where the sun’s intensity is going to increase until Varsha season (monsoon ends). Adana kala is considered a time of depleting body energy as per Ayurveda.

So the ojas in the body can also deplete if we over-exercise or over-exert ourselves in any way. In fact in Summer (Greeshma) when the effects of Adana Kala + high agni peak and severely depleting, we are advised to do the least amount of exercise – please remember that we have to continue to do some form of exercise, but these are not the seasons to do high intensity marathon training, or 3 – 4 hour sessions in the Gym.

Staying healthy in spring (Vasanta) – other activities suggested

The Acharyas encourage us to spend time in the company of good friends and in Nature. Vasanta is the season where birds abound, and when Nature is lush and green with the profuse flowering of fragrant herbs and flowers. We are advised to picnic in gardens, visit river banks, and enjoy the season in pleasant hill stations.

Staying healthy in spring: drink the right warming drinks

Ayurveda does not universally advise to drink tea or coffee due to their many disturbing qualities. Also, neither of these drinks are native to the Indian sub continent, so many of us may not be naturally accustomed to their qualities. Coffee can intensely aggravated Pitta and tea can aggravate Vata. Neither quality is appreciated in any season, but particularly so in Vasanta.

Instead, Ayurveda suggests we sip specific, herbal warm drinks in Vasanta to aid expelling of liquid kapha. We can sip plain warm water, or water which has been boiled mildly with dried ginger powder (in cases of large volumes of aggravated mucous).  Do not drink too much Ginger water as it can heat up the body in large amounts.

You can sip 1 glass of warm ginger water per day, for a few days at a time, to help move aggravated Kapha , in case of high aggravation, out of the body.

Staying healthy in Spring: Spices like dried ginger help remove aggravated kapha in spring

A Spring health recipe: How to make Dried Ginger water:

Boil one glass of water until the water comes to a rolling boil. Switch off the gas. Add 1 teaspoon of freshly ground dried ginger powder. Allow the herb to steep for 4 – 5 minutes into the water. Strain. Do NOT sweeten. Sip through the day. Do NOT OD on this.

Staying healthy in spring (Vasanta) : Modified Taila Abhyanga with Mardana:

Taila abhyanga with emphasis on “Mardana” is a good practice in Vasanta. The right taila should be chosen which is warming and mala removing and not cooling. “Mardana” is the strong pressure filled kneading of limbs is recommended during Vasanta.

This Abhyanga modification forces liquefied Kapha through the body and out of it. This ensures that excess Kapha does not cool inside the body and create blockages. The limbs should be squeezed in a downward direction and not in an upward direction. This is an excellent practice to remove fatigue and lethargy caused by aggravated Kapha and helps your maintain health in spring.

Staying healthy in Spring: Taila Abhyanga and Mardana are recommended

 

Staying healthy in spring(Vasanta) – Modified Keshya Abhyanga (hair oiling):

Keshya abhyanga us strongly recommended as a Dincharya practice to cool additional Pitta in the scalp. However, in Vasanta where there is liquefied Kapha flowing through the body, adding a cooling practice without modifications, may intensify sneezing, coughs and colds, etc.

We recommend morning hair oiling in Vasanta, instead of night oiling. This ensures kapha does not aggravate in the body. As an additional precaution, we suggest applying oil that has been warmed well on the scalp with a longer head massage compared to other seasons. This improves absorption and slows down kapha aggravation.

Additionally, ensure that you oil the head in a room without a cold / draughty atmosphere. You may continue to use the Krya hair oil of your choice for Keshya Abhyanga. Please ensure you use Rasnadi choornam diligently after every hairwash.

Stay healthy in spring (Vasanta)  – Modified Snana (bath) with astringent herbs :

Snana is to be taken with pitta and kapha pacifying, slightly astringent and rooksha herbs. The choice of rooksha herbs is to help dry up excess Kapha. The choice of astringent is to deal with vitiated Pitta. This way we can avoid the oily pus filled breakouts, prickly heat and allergic skin conditions that are common in Vasanta.

Application of these astringent herbs on skin as a paste, helps open the minor Srotas and helps in removal of mala through the body. It also enhances circulation and ensures liquefied Kapha does not get solid and block the minor channels.

Staying healthy in Spring: Snana is to be done with astringent, drying herbs

All Krya Ubtans and bodywashes contain a good volume of astringent, Kashaya and slightly rooksha herbs. So you may continue to use your existing Krya Bodywash / Ubtan in this season. We advise a few Snana modifications as given below:

  • Have a bath in warm Water. Use only warm water to make a paste with your Krya bodywash / Ubtan
  • Use large circular motions while applying the bodywash / ubtan. Once you have covered the body, repeat this scrubbing action again all over the body (without adding more product). This intensifies the Srota cleaning and Mala expelling action.
  • Once Snana is complete, quickly dry the body and dress warmly in a non-draughty room which is not cold. Do not delay this as presence of water on skin can again aggravate Kapha.
  • When doing a hair wash, always use Rasnadi choornam. Ensure you inhale the choornam as well.


12. womens ubtan

To conclude:

The emphasis in Ayurveda is always on following a life of balance and moderation, along with carefully chosen , sensible, health giving practices. When we follow this method, we are guaranteed both Ayu and Ayush (long life and health) as per our Acharyas.

Many of the problems we face as we live our busy and chaotic lives in cities is because we are unable to balance the excesses we face. So we end up over using our eyes, over commuting, eating the wrong kind of food, and ignoring what we must be doing in each season.

Following Dinacharya and Ritucharya guidelines is the greatest investment you can make in your health. We hope this post gave you an idea of how you stay healthy in Spring.  If you have any doubts in the above, please do drop a comment or write to us.

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Reduce Eye Strain & naturally nourish the eyes with Ayurveda

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Due to the high use of electronic devices, and excessive eye engagement, many of us commonly face eye strain & eye fatigue.  We have recently been receiving a lot of queries on tackling eye fatigue and improving vision through Ayurveda. So we have re-written and expanded one of our earlier posts on this subject. This post will explore how you can easily & visibly reduce eye fatigue & eye strain with Ayurveda .

Do you have eye strain?

Do you constantly feel eye fatigue? Do you develop headaches after a long bout at your computer? Are you experiencing premature greying and hair dryness?  Do your eyes feel dry, scratchy and itchy? You could be experiencing computer vision syndrome / computer related eye strain.

Eye strain is a real and wide-spread problem today, which affects both children and adults. For several hours every day, we stare at electronic screens across phones, tablet, TV and computers.

As we continually use our eyes for subtle / sookshma purposes, we strain the  minute eye muscles and do not allow them a chance to recover or relax. So we are all affected with eye strain to varying degrees.

Do you have eye strain & fatigue? You could be suffering from Computer Vision syndrome.

The symptoms are blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes, headaches, eye pain, neck strain, eye-irritation and eye watering. The factors that induce eye strain are the number of hours of screen-time, the size of the screen, the strength of your vision, light levels and posture.

Causes for Eye Strain as per Ayurveda :

It is astonishing that our ancient Ayurvedic texts are able to give us a rationale behind a seemingly modern problem. Acharya Sushruta tells us that all Netra Rogas (diseases of the eye), occur due to the following causes:

Imbalance of hot and cold ( Ushnabhitaptasya) leading to eye strain

When the body heat is very high, there is a vasodilation of blood vessels to help excess heat to be transmitted outside. When this hot body steps into a cold environment, the dilated vessels suddenly have to constrict to ensure heat loss is minimal.

When we constantly keep having this change in temperature, we over-work all blood vessels, including the ones in the eyes, leading to eye redness, weak muscles and poor circulation.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: hot-cold imbalance causes eye strain

An example of Ushnabhitaptasya causing eye strain:

Many of us use our smartphones to read / chat whilst in our cars. The environment is usually an airconditioned one. Also, Indian roads are NOT smooth, so we travel in jerky conditions with sudden braking and stops – the eye muscle has to work harder in such a jerky / moving environment.

So apart from the strain of reading from a small device, we are also over-working the eye muscle by making it focus on a small screen in jerky, non-smooth motion.

All of this eye work is done in the cold confines of our car air conditioner, so we unknowingly causing Ushnabhitaptasya.

Vision distortion due to over-reliance on one kind of eye work – Doorekshanat :

All of us are subject to the complications of Dorrekshanat, as we have all transitioned to using our eyes for only one kind of work.

Increasingly, as we all become knowledge workers, we no longer use our eyes and muscles for doing work that involves eye work over the long distance or even over the medium distance. All work that involves using our hands to make large movements – sewing, cutting, cooking, pottery, painting, other forms of art involves both fine and moderate eye work.

Any form of outdoor physical work like working in the fields, cleaning, sweeping, walking to fill water, etc involves both medium and long distance eye work.

Instead, most of us who work in office environments work only using our laptops, computers and phones. So we substitute the wide range of work our eye is supposed to do, with a large amount of fine work or sookshma work.

This is referred to as “Doorekshanat” in Ayurveda – interestingly the Samhitas say that too much of any one kind of eye work – long distance eye work or short / fine distance eye work strains the eyes. This distorts the vision, over accustoming the eye muscle to only one kind of work.

In ancient times, the samhitas tell us that jewellers and those who worked with very fine and intricate crafts like small paintings and canvases, etc were subject to Doorekshanat.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Repeatedly straining the eyes to read fine print increases eye strain

Krodha, Shoka & Bhaya (Anger, Grief and Fear) leading to eye strain

Emotional strain in difficult environments over-aggravates the emotional qualities of Pitta and vata dosha. Krodha or anger activates Pitta dosha, and Shoka and Bhaya activates Vata dosha. The dosha aggravation strains the eye’s muscles.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Excessive anger, fear and grief increase eye strain.

Anyone who has undergone loss, depression or grief will know that the eyes feel wrung over after a bout of weeping. When this continues for a long time, it tends to affect eye health and vision quality.

A special note on PMS

Many women are prone to pre menstrual tension / depression. This is aggravated when we follow an improper diet which is high in Pitta and Vata stimulating foods. Not only can such foods increase bloating and discomfort, they can also trigger strong PMS symptoms like temper tantrums, fits of weeping, mood swings, etc. There is a lot of advertising and media driven acceptance of PMS and women are asked to “indulge” themselves during this time.

The acceptance of and acknowledgement of PMS is in itself a good thing. But unfortunately, this acceptance comes with encouraging unhealthy food habits which will further trigger PMS. For example: chocolates, wine, fried foods etc are common cravings during PMS and during periods. Chocolates and wine excite Pitta dosha. Fried foods excite Pitta and vata dosha.

If your diet consists of such foods before and during your periods, you will regularly notice that your temper is out of control and you have depressive mood swings leading to high amount of weeping, and eye strain due to binge watching television, etc. This should be observed and dealt with.

Ayurveda says that menstruating women should be cheerful and in good temper, eating healthy pathya food, and must avoid mental and physical strain at all cost. This is not just good for eye health but promotes overall feminine health and well being.

Vega vinigraha (suppression of natural urges) leading to eye strain :

In many office goers, we observe suppression of urges like urination – this is especially common among women. This leads to disturbance in Apana vayu and aggravates vata dosha throughout the body when it is carried out for a long time.

The urge to sleep (nidra) and the urge to cry (Ashru) are both urges which should not be suppressed as per Ayurveda. Working well beyond our bed time, suppression strong emotional responses, and not blinking often to help the production of tears to moisten the eyes, worsen the health of our eyes and increase eye strain.

Viruddha Ahara (incompatible food) :

Ushna, Lavana and Amla ahara (salty, spicy and sour tastes) aggravate eye strain because these  3 tastes aggravate Pitta dosha. When Pitta dosha is aggravated in the body, the amount of Agni energy in the eye increases – this weakens the accompanying muscles in the eye , causing higher eye strain and eye watering.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Foods that are sour, salty & spicy aggravate Pitta Dosha. This in turn, increases eye strain.

We receive a lot of enquiries from stressed out, type A individuals who write to ask seeing help for premature greying and hair thinning. On investigation, we find a predominance of Pitta aggravating foods being eaten by such people like curd, spicy food, chinese food, etc.

When such Pitta aggravating foods are eaten in a time of high stress, it further compounds the body’s Pitta dosha. This leads to hair greying, hair thinning, acidity, digestive issues, inability to relax / sleep and also affects eye health and well being.

Ratri Jagarati – (Night vigil) / Insomnnia or delayed sleep  :

In the texts, the Acharyas mention that certain occupations which require Night vigil (Ratri jagrati) are more prone to eye strain like soldiers, guards, etc.

Today, Ratri Jagrati has become a common feature in many urban homes. Due to late night working, late dinners, and late television watching, we are all prone to eye strain due to use of the eyes at the wrong time.

 

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Staying up late and night and delayed bed time can also aggravate eye strain.

 

Ayurveda says that a disease must be tackled from the “Hetu” or root cause. So also, eye strain  must be treated by examining the root causes listed above.

If you have nodded yes to any of the points mentioned above like Ratri Jagriti, Doorekshanat , Virruddha ahara, etc, you must first start by correcting some of these behaviors. In addition, here are some Ayurvedic recommendations on how we can reduce / prevent eye fatigue below.

Reduce Eye Strain with Ayurveda in these easy ways:

Control the hot-cold imbalance 1 : Regular hair oiling to reduce Ushna

Keep the head cool and allow natural removal of excess ushna everyday through daily oil application. Remember, we encounter fresh stress everyday – so this fresh stress which aggravates pitta dosha must be tackled everyday by regular and frequent application of the right Ayurvedic hair oil. We have given recommendations for Krya hair oils below.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Regular hair oiling reduces eye strain and fatigue.

 

Control the hot-cold imbalance 2 – regulate the body temperature

Regulate the body temperature, especially if working in an air conditioned atmosphere. We often advise that you carry a light jacket / shawl to simulate the normal temperature outside your office. Request office admin to set temperatures between 24 – 26 degrees centigrade (this will also bring down electricity bills), and drink warming, non diuretic, and nourishing drinks in your office (so no tea, coffee, cola, cold fruit juices – instead warm water and a warm, natural spiced beverage is ideal).

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Keeping your body temperature steady and warm and avoiding hot-cold imbalance improves vision.

When in your car, avoid working your eyes. Use this time to gaze out of the window, instead and engage in long distance eye work instead. Keep the temperature at a comfortable degree. If not, lightly wrap yourself using a jacket / shawl in your car.

Alternate between “Sookshma” and far vision:

Use your complete range of eye vision – so if you are constantly on a computer, take a break every hour or so to gaze into the distance (preferably at trees or greenery). Reduce your “Night vigil” and work towards saner and more balanced work timings.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Take a break from repeated fine use of your eyes to gaze into the distance. This relieves eye strain.

If you work in an air conditioned environment, it is possible that your neck muscles and shoulders are also strained from hunching over your laptop.  A short walk around the block every 2 hours will help stretch out these muscles and also give your eyes a rest.

Most of us also have strained our blink reflex with excessive screen use. Remember to  gently blink your eyes every 4 – 5 minutes or so to ensure your eyes do not go dry. Shifting your eye range also helps in this.

Do not suppress natural urges:

Do NOT suppress natural urges like the urge to use the washroom, the urge to sleep or the urge to blink or yawn. If you are doing this often to appear polite and well mannered , you are setting up yourself for a serious range of eye diseases later on.

Suppressing the urge to visit the washroom tampers with “apana vayu” a sub set of vata dosha. This also sets up for more serious disorders related to the urinary and reproductive tract. So, when you gotta go, JUST GO!

This is very common among women who are embarrassed to use the washroom due to public scorn / ridicule. This is also a problem when we are in public places and are afraid of unclean washrooms. Again: the possibility of an infection form an unclean washroom is less of a health issue compared to not using the washroom at all.

So, JUST GO! Please encourage your children to listen to their natural urges and not “learn the bad habit of suppression”.

Reduce screen glare and over-bright light :

Control the amount of bright light your eyes work in. Many computer and smartphone screens are set to the highest level of brightness. This is unnecessary and extremely fatiguing to your eyes. This along with the bright, white office lighting and pale walls, re-create the sun even in your office.

This amount of light is fatiguing and drying to the eyes. Re-set screen brightness and switch off a few lights if the room is bright enough. But do remember too much light AND too little light both strain vision – experiment and arrive at optimal light for yourself.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Turn down your phone's screen brightness to reduce eye strain due to screen glare and blue light.

 

Re-set aggravated pitta and vata through regular abhyanga:

Balance aggravated pitta and vata through the body through regular abhyanga – a regular abhyanga helps dissipate aggravated vata and pitta dosha and moves it back to its original seat, thus bringing the body back to balance. We often see that people with high pitta aggravation experience profuse eye watering and release of hot vapour from their eyes when Abhyanga is done. This is a good indication both of how aggravated the dosha is and how powerfully the abhyanga works in restoring the body back to balance.

Reduce eye strain with Ayurveda: Regular Abhyanga Snana balances aggravated vata and pitta dosha, reducing eye strain and fatigue.

Practice regular Pada abhyanga to improve eye strength and vision clarity:

Pada abhyanga is a gem of a dinacharya that is a gift from Ayurveda. When regularly done, Pada abhyanga deepens sleep, improves energy levels the next day, removes excessive fatigue and strain stored in the legs, balances vata dosha, and most importantly , gives “drishti prasadaka” or vision clarity.

A regular pada abhyanga helps reduce eye strain by nourishing the eyes, clarifying vision

This Drishti prasadaka benefit of Pada abhyanga can be explained using references from various Ayurvedic texts. Bhela Samhita tells us that one important centre of Alochaka Pitta is the feet. Alochaka Pitta is a sub division of Pitta dosha that is responsible for good vision. Alochaka Pitta’s primary centre is the Liver – so eating Pitta aggravating food over stimulates Alochaka Pitta which leads to eye degeneration.

But by doing a regular Pada abhyanga AND adopting a Pitta balancing diet, we can temper the Alochaka Pitta and help strengthen the eye.

Acharya Vagbhatta tells us that 2 important Siras (veins / circulatory vessels) of the eye end in the feet. Through the process of pada abhyanga using special herbs and oils, we can detoxify and strengthen these 2 Siras, thus helping nourish the eyes.

 

Regulating aggravated Pitta dosha through Ahara Niyama (diet + food regulation) :

Regulating Pitta dosha helps regulate Pitta aggravation in the eye.

At Krya, we advise various means of regulating Pitta through Ahara. This can be read in detail in some of our earlier posts on this.

In short, the addition of madhura and ojas building dravyas like milk and ghee to the diet, using a careful selection of spoces that warm and aid digestion but do not irritate the body (pepper, cumin and not red and green chillies), help balance aggravated Pitta. To ensure Pitta does not flare up, we advise following ahara niyama (meal regulations) like  eating meals on time. Delayed and untimely meals are a strong aggravator of both Pitta and vata dosha.

Regulating aggravated Pitta through right food is critical for eye health

Adding cooling grains and vegetables like split mung, aged rice, and gourds (ash gourd, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, snake gourd, parwal) are also very useful help in pitta regulation.

Night gazing:

Star and Moon gazing are prescribed Ayurvedic practices to infuse cooling, nourishing energies into the eyes. This also helps counteract the strain brought by close gazing.

Night sky gazing is an excellent practice to reduce stress and improve vision and well being

Night sky  gazing is an excellent practice to counter feelings of depression, high stress, inability to switch off and aggravated Pitta-vata dosha.  At Krya, we have seen that consumers with moderate depression, anxiety and stress related hairfall, benefit greatly from this practice. It helps calm down the brain and visibly brings down stress.

Electronic cut off time:

At Krya, we often recommend a strict cut off time in cases of aggravated vata and pitta dosha. Setting limits for smartphone and laptop usage go a long way in restoring health and harmony to the body.

Many of us use broadband and wi-fi at home to surf the net / watch television, etc. We often forget to switch off this wi-fi signal at night. Many of us also sleep with our cell phones in the bedroom  near our heads.

Radiation fatigue can excite vata in the body

These practices increase the amount of radiation our body absorbs over time. Research tells us that this radiation exposure causes deep seated fatigue and vibratory responses in the body. Minute nerve cells are excited by these radiation based energies and vibrate in response to them causing depletion of ojas and fatigue in the body. So from both eye health and overall well being, an electronic and radiation cut off is extremely beneficial for the family.

Application of cooling substances like Ayurvedic Kajal to the eyes:

Many synthetic eye make up products increase Pitta dosha in the eyes. They also contain ingredients like lead and other suspect minerals and substances which are transdermally absorbed through the eyes. Ayurveda recommends using only a suitable herbal kaajal that strengthens vision and cools the eyes.

Frequent eye washing using pure, clean water

Eye washing is an approved Ayurvedic practice to clarify the eyes, remove toxins and balance aggravated Pitta.. We will do a more detailed post on this later on the Krya blog.

Eye washing is recommended using pure clean water, or herb infused water in Ayurveda in the following times: on waking up, after meals. Each of these has a slightly different effect on the eyes, which we will read about in a later post.

For the best eye cleansing, we are asked to hold clean, cool and pure water in our mouths while washing the eyes. Once you have finished washing the eyes, the water held in  the mouth can be discarded.

A Summary: ayurvedic practices to strengthen vision naturally and reduce eye strain

Infographic on simple ways to strengthen vision naturally

To conclude:

Modern choices come with many serious, dangerous fall outs, which we remain unaware off. The practice of using a cell phone is barely 20 years old in India. Apps are even more recent : just 3 / 4 years old. However, we have already begun reaping the ill effects of over use of these conveniences.

Ayurveda is always immensely practical – the Acharyas are not strict or “Methodist” in their advice. They always recommend leading a life of balance for good health.

We hope our post helped you appreciate many of the deeper reasons behind eye strain and eye fatigue. We also hope you will go through and follow the Ayurvedic recommendations we have suggested to help you get the most out of your eyes.

Krya Hair Oils to reduce Eye fatigue :

  • For very high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Vibrant hair colour hair oil . This hair oil is very potent. If you experience high premature greying, hair thinning, have anger management issues, are a type A personality and have high stress (and other such signs of classic pitta prakriti / pitta agravation), please choose this oil.
  • For moderate – high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Classic hair oil
    • Note : If in doubt whether your Pitta aggravation is moderate or severe, start with the Krya Classic hair oil . If after a month you do not see good progress, crank it up a notch with the Krya vibrant hair oil
  • For Vata aggravation due to high stress (difficult work atmosphere, frequent air travel / travel, long commute, missed / skipped meals, difficulty sleeping, long working hours AND dry and falling hair ) – chose the Krya harmony hair oil

Krya Abhyanga Oils for Pada Abhyanga :

  • Classic Abhyanga Oil – can be used by everyone in the family. Balances all 3 doshas
  • Intense Abhyanga Oil – Can be used by people with high vata aggravation, those with very high physical activity, Post partum women                                       
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Is using olive oil for baby massage good? – Krya shares an ayurvedic perspective

is olive oil for baby massage a good idea
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

Parents frequently write to us at Krya asking if using olive oil for baby massage is a good practice and what Ayurveda feels about this. With our worlds being opened up everyday and many of us being seasoned travelers, we come across many new, exciting plant oils and butters from around the world. All of them come with excellent nutritional benefits, and seem like they would be very good for skin. So how do we decide which oil to use while giving our baby a massage?

olive oil for baby massage - confused by teh plethora or baby oil choices?

To choose the right oil, we must first understand WHY we are asked to give baby a regular abhyanga-snana or oil massage followed by the bath by Ayurveda.

Benefits of a regular baby abhyanga / baby oil massage:

Ayurveda advises that we give baby a regular Abhyanga with special medicated oils and then follow it with an ayurvedic snana that is performed with special Ayurvedic herbs. The Abhyanga is to be done until the child is atleast 1 year of age, or even older.

At each stage of the child’s life, the Abhyanga gives special benefits to the child. In the first 3 months of the child’s life, the Abhyanga helps remove aches and pains from the ordeal of childbirth. It builds additional immunity to the child’s body through the use of special ayurvedic herbs. It also helps the development of the child’s sensory organs and helps create a loving bond between the Mother and the child.

olive oil for baby massage: abhyanga has different benefits at different ages of the baby

As the child begins to turn, hold its neck in position, crawl, etc, the Abhyanga lends strength and aids the correct development of the child’s musculo-skeletal system. When special Ayurvedic oils that have been processed via Tila Paka method are used, the herbs are able to enter the child’s body through the skin via the massage, positively affecting the health, strength and quality of the developing bones and soft tissue.

olive oil for baby massage: at teh crawling stage abhyanga boosts muscular growth and strength

When regular ayurvedic baby massage is done, we can see better strength, better musculo-skeletal development, better immunity and health, better sleep, and better digestion and nutrient absorption in babies. This is a huge range of benefits coming from a seemingly simple practice.

Regular abhyanga gives a holistic set of deep benefits to baby

BUT: there is a caveat here: these benefits accrue not just by the mere act of massage.

These benefits accrue when the right combination of oils and herbs are used along with the act of regular, correct baby abhyanga..

The right massage done with the right herbs and oil gives all these benefits to baby

Analysing various plant oils in Ayurveda: which oil is best for baby massage

The Acharyas have analysed in detail, the qualities of each and every plant oil that was found in the Indian sub continent. Every substance in this world, be it living or non living has its own prakriti. This prakriti is a unique combination of the 3 doshas : vata, pitta and kapha and is unique to the being in question. This combination arises as a result of the desha (geography where the being exists), kala (time period where the being was made), Ritu ( season in which they live) and is also influenced (if a living being) by the parents’ prakriti, time of conception, environment in which they live, etc.

So also, every single plant oil / butter has its own prakriti, decided by the above factors. A common oil that is potent, with high nutritive benefits and is available in India is Coconut oil / Narikela Taila.

Pros and Cons of a Coconut oil massage for babies:

Coconut oil is a very versatile, nutritive vegetable oil. Coconut oil contains important medium chain fatty acids like lauric acid, capric acid and Caprylic acid. Together this set of triglycerides has anti microbial and anti bacterial properties that are intelligent. This means they can boost growth of useful microbiota and bring down growth of invasive organisms.

As it is a vegetable oil, it can penetrate skin, unlike Mineral Oil / Light Liquid Paraffin which is a large component of commercially available baby oils. Compared to such synthetic oils, coconut oil is better at regeneration of damaged cells, helps skin heal fast and is nutrient dense.

However, we are not analyzing the benefits of Coconut oil VS a Mineral Oil. We are studying what Ayurveda says about the properties of Coconut oils and then analyzing whether it is a suitable oil for baby massage.

Narikela is considered to be “Snigdha” (oily), “Madhura” (sweet), “Sheetya” (cool) and “Vrhsya” (aphrodisiac) as per Ashtanga Hridyam.  Madanapala Nighantu describes it as “Brhamanya” (nourishing and weight gaining) but also “Durjara” – difficult to digest. The property of “Durjara” is mentioned for coconut pulp and oil and not for coconut water which is “laghu” (easy to digest).

Ayurveda says coconut oil is nourishing, regenerative, potent, heavy and cooling

As Coconut oil is Snigdha, Madhura and Brhamaniya, it can certainly nourish and repair skin and is nutritive in its nature on topical application. However, as it is Sheetya (cool) in its nature and also Brhamanya, it will be heavy and cooling both when consumed internally and when applied on skin.

To be able to penetrate skin and scalp effectively, the acharyas tell us that “teekshna” and “ushna” quality which is there in Pitta tending oils is required. Given that coconut oil has neither, it will not be as effective as some other oils in penetration. Also, due to oil’s cold and cooling nature, it can cause mucous build up, clogging, colds  – this is of particular concern in infants  who are already pre-disposed to these issues.

We have a much longer post on this subject which you can also read.

Pros and Cons of a Sesame oil massage for babies:

Sesame Oil / Tila taila is a natural choice in Ayurveda. The Acharyas tell us that if we are in doubt as to which oil to use in a formulation, we should automatically use Tila tailam.

Ayurveda says Sesame oil is hot, intensive, skin healing, hair health promoting and nutritive

Tila taila is said to be “teekshna” (sharp and penetrative), “ushna” (hot) , “vyayavi” (spreads quickly), “sookshma” (subtle), and does not aggravate kapha. It is a kirmi nashak (destroys worms). When used in Abhyanga it is considered skin healing, keshya (hair health promoting) and is also “Dhrishti prasadaka” (enhances clarity of vision).

Tila has a dual property which is very interesting according to Ayurveda: depending upon how it is processed it can BOTH nourish and also bring about Weight loss. The Acharyas call Tila an oushadhi taila – medicinal oil as it is capable of curing almost any disease when processed with the right herbs.
The last point is to be particularly noted by us. The Acharyas in their wisdom tell us that even such a beneficial oil like Tila, should be processed with correct medicinal herbs to enhance its ability to heal the body.

Here we have seen examples of 2 hoary and renowned oils in Ayurveda. We have seen that they both have potent nutrient benefits ,both when consumed and when applied externally. BUT, Ayurveda tells us that to balance some of their not so desired qualities and to enhance their healing qualities we have to process them further with herbs.

We can already begin to comprehend the Ayurvedic point of view on whether olive oil for baby massage is a good idea.

So is olive oil for baby massage a recommended Ayurvedic practice?

So we come to Olive oil. Even though we have grown up with wonderful oils like Coconut, Sesame, Peanut, Cow’s ghee, etc, we are tempted by all the reports and research that are sent our way about the benefits of new oils like Olive Oils.

Olive oil is a traditional Mediterranean vegetable oil obtained by processing green and black olives. Its cultivation dates to 8000 BC in this region. It was used by the Minoan civilisation for religious ceremonies. The Spartans and the Greeks used it as a skin application while doing gymnastics and wrestling.

Olive oil is an ancient Mediterranean oil with many benefits

Interestingly, Aristotle mentions that it is a good birth control aid, when processed along with cedar oil or frankincense.

As Olive oil was not part of the culture of the Indian sub continent, we have to try and analyse it ourselves as per Ayurvedic principles. We also have to take some hints from its historic usage and see what people who used it for a long time did with it.

Acharya Vagbhatta reminds us that that the property of the Taila we extract is derived from the property of the fruit / seed from which we extract the Taila.

So we can analyse by the source and its taste that Olive oil is Teekshna (sharp / acidic taste) and Ushna (slightly warm) and also appears to have slight Kashaya rasa (astringent taste). As research tells us that it is good to lower cholesterol and heart blockages, we can also conclude that it is “sookshma” (minute) and has a scraping / fat reducing property (lekhaniya).

Current research on topical application indicates that olive oil is a good cleansing oil when applied in skin. It is capable of breaking down fat based makeup, and is therefore a good non toxic cleanser instead of a make up wipe. This again would indicate that it has “Lekhaniya” or fat scraping property.

Going by the above properties, while Olive oil, by virtue of being Teekshna and Ushna can definitely penetrate the skin. But because it is not Madhura in rasa, and is in fact, probably “Lekhaniya” (fat scraping), it does not give us the nutritive and weight gaining principle we seek when it comes to baby massage oil.

If analysed by Ayurveda Olive oil could be thought of as hot, piercing, astringent and fat scraping.

As the Acharyas remind us, the very purpose of Baby massage is to nourish the baby, promote healthy weight and muscle grain and aid bone growth. For this a Madhura and Brahamaneeya property is desired which is present in both sesame and Coconut oil, but which is not present in Olive oil.

Hence, by analyzing through Ayurvedic principles, We can conclude that olive oil for baby massage is not a very good idea. It certainly has some skin nutritive properties. But these may be more suitable for cleansing and toning functions and not suitable for nourishment and nutritive purpose.

If we must proceed with olive oil for baby massage, we have to alter the undesirable properties of the oil slightly by processing  it with the correct set of herbs to ensure it becomes suitable for baby massage. Specifically, we have to taper down its teekshna, ushna and lekhaniya properties and make it sweeter and more brahmaneeya in nature by using the right herbs.

Herb processing to alter the properties of base oils: Important Ayurvedic concept

Herb processing is an important aspect of making an Ayurvedic oil. Even though we have many varieties of very good quality plant and animal origin fats and butters in India, we never use the base oils / butters directly for skin / hair application.

Instead, we process these base oils in a properly thought-through ayurvedic mixture of herbs. This herb processing is done for 2 reasons:

  • To reduce the undesirable properties of the base oil – for example, if we are using coconut oil we may want to cut down on its “Sheetya” guna slightly and also increase its ability to penetrate and act in a more minute fashion
  • To enhance the Oushadhi guna (medicinal qualities) of the Oil and make its action more targeted

 

Procesisng an oil with herbs is a specialty in Ayurveda to render the oil much more suitable

Krya’s herb processed traditional ayurvedic baby massage oils :a better alternative to olive oil for baby massage

The Krya baby massage oils are made using a combination of organic ,cold pressed Sesame oil and smaller quantities of organic, cold pressed Coconut Oils. We then use herbs suggested by the acharyas in the Varnya set (complexion improving, texture improving and skin health enhancing), Jeevaniya (health and immunity boosting), Brhamaneeya set (nourishing, improves weight gain and muscle development) and Twachya set (improves overall skin health) and Mangalya oushadhi (improve cheerfulness, and immunity, lends a positive aura).
krya baby oils: better alternative for baby massage compared to pure vegetable oils

Parents who use our baby massage oils attest to their health improving, immune boosting and sleep quality enhancing benefits. There is also an excellent improvement in overall skin health, even in the case of babies with otherwise sensitive skin.

We hope you were able to understand why, such ayurvedically processed, herb enhanced oils are a better choice when compared to modern and trending oils like organic olive oil, etc. We also hope you understand our point of view on olive oil for baby massage and why we prefer you choose something else.

Krya’s ayurvedic, whole herb based baby range can be explored here.

To sum up:

Being an active parent today can present us with a nightmarish set of large choices. We want to do what is best for our baby and also play an active role in choosing good quality, health and well being enhancing products for our baby.

In this rush, we come across many emerging pieces of information on new age ingredients. We might be tempted to reject the old fashioned choices in favour of these new products. We hope this post showed you our reasoning behind rejecting the concept of using olive oil for baby massage. We alos hope our post helped you understand why we say so and also give you a  framework to analyse other such choices in the future for your baby.

If you would like help choosing the correct Krya baby products for yourself or to gift to a new mother, please write to us or call us –(0)-75500-89090

 

 

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ayurvedic baby care practices : part 1

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Reading Time: 15 minutes

At Krya, we are often asked to describe in detail what the ayurvedic baby care practices are to be followed at home. We are also asked what the science / rationale behind some of these practices are. This is specially asked because in today’s day and age, many traditional baby care practices are being rejected by attending Pediatricians for many reasons. The foremost reason being there is a simple lack of awareness as to why these practices were instituted and the benefits behind the herbs, metals and dravyas which are used in Ayurvedic baby care.

Indian traditional medicine is highly advanced in its thought process and concepts suggested in many fields. However, due to oral transmission of texts, repeated invasions and the strong promotion of a Westernised concept of Education, we have lost both the language needed to interpret these texts (Sanskrit) and a large portion of the texts themselves.

Even what is remaining to us, (a fraction of a fraction of a fraction) if followed even to a small extent, can greatly improve the health, well being and outlook of both the baby and the post partum Mother. To speak about these practices will require more than 1 post. We will start in this post by talking about a few practices, and then build it from there.

Mother & baby in seclusion: ayurvedic baby care practices to improve health and reduce infections

Ayurveda frowns upon the frequent disturbance of the new Mother & baby. Both of them are said to be recovering from a great ordeal. In the case of the mother, due to the nature of pregnancy and child birth, she is greatly weakened. As the baby is extremely young and organ systems are still not fully developed, immunity is low. As the baby depends upon the Mother for nutrition, we have to be careful about giving strong medications to either.

ayurvedic baby care practices: seclude mother & baby for first 3 months to avoid risk of infection

Hence to avoid all these issues, an important ayurvedic baby care practice is to seclude the mother and baby until they recover strength after child birth. This period can vary depending upon age, health and strength of the Mother and general health of the baby. Visitors are asked to meet the baby after atleast 2 – 3 months. Unless necessary, the baby and Mother are to be at home and should not leave the home until 4 months have passed.

Visiting a New mother and Baby:  good gifts to carry as per Ayurveda and rationale behind this

Recently I had the opportunity to meet my friend’s 3 month old baby girl and take Ayurvedically approved  auspicious and good gifts. I had carried silver anklets, a silver bindi stamp and a bracelet made of vekhand (vacha / Acorus calamus) along with the Krya traditional baby massage oil and the Krya ubtan for baby girls for the Baby’s Abhyanga Snana.

Ayurveda tells us that a baby must be bathed, anointed, fed and protected with a combination of the right herbs, metals and of course be treated well in a loving atmosphere with positive energy. It goes without saying that this loving care MUST be extended to the newly delivered Mother who has sacrificed her blood, bone, tissue and vital Ojas to lovingly protect, nourish, grow and care for this baby from the time it was conceived.

The Mother and Baby must be given rest, freshly made warm food, a loving atmosphere of serenity, and must be nurtured to strength in a positive, Ojas building atmosphere with an emphasis on the use of good sounds and air purification.

The herbs must be delivered in a variety of forms as must the metals. To encourage the skin contact of these metals and herbs, we carry anklets made in silver, bangles / necklaces made in gold, Charms / bracelets made of vekhand, and strength and immunity infused ayurvedic oils, Ubtans, etc. More will be explained about the significance of these choices in the new few paragraphs.

A brief note on the use of Silver & Gold in Ayurvedic baby care:

Silver and gold are considered extremely beneficial for babies, and in fact everyone, as per Ayurveda. Silver is to be worn on the baby’s person under the waist region (and not above). The presence of this metal is said to enhance brain development and eye sight as it is minutely absorbed through the skin. It also helps cool pitta in the genital area.

Ayurvedic baby care practices: silver is beneficial for baby's health when worn below the waist

Additionally, if baby is fed using a silver spoon / bowl (once weaned), the food is also enhanced with very minute quantities of silver which further enhances this effect.

For baby girls traditionally, home made kajal or home made Kumkum (which has not been offered to the Divine) is used to draw Bindis and drishti dots. Using a silver bindi stamp instrument or a simple silver stick (as is used to draw Thiruman Kaapu) to draw this Bindi, is another way of incorporating Silver into the Baby’s Regimen. When used in this area, Silver helps clarify the Ajna chakra and also additionally helps cool the space around the eyes and the head.

Gold is used as a samskara as per Ayurveda for babies, post partum mothers and everyone in the family. One samskara that is to be regularly followed is to give the baby “baal guti” or “janam ghunti”  a combination of 25+ ayurvedic herbs, honey along with gold. (Here I am speaking about using the whole, authentic raw herbs along with honey and gold rubbed everyday on a herb grinding stone – I am not referring to newly available Baal guti syrups, compounded preparations, etc. If you would like to try these, please do your research and choose preparations made by reliable, authentic ayurvedic companies only after consulting with your Vaidya).

Each herb is moistened and then rubbed on the herb grinding stone for a specified number of circles. The dosage of the herb changes as per the baby’s age, prakriti and physical concerns. For younger children, the circumference of the circle drawn reduces, reducing the dosage. Depending upon the age, either water or breastmilk is used to moisten each herb. Once this is done, depending upon the baby’s age, a drop of honey is added to this mixture. Finally  gold is incorporated by rubbing it on the clean grinding stone in a clockwise direction along with the mixture of honey, and other herbs. If you weigh this gold after this, there will be no visible difference in weight, but extremely sookshma particles of the metal would have entered the herbs and therefore the baby.

Baal guti is an excellent immunity builder and strength enhancer for babies, if procured correctly upon the advice of a qualified, experienced ayurvedic Vaidya. It is better not to self diagnose in this case. If a Vaidya is not available, but the family traditionally uses this and an experienced older person can advise on the herb combination, one can go ahead too.

Gold is an important metal to be used in very sookshma quantities as a “Samskara” and not directly as a metal. When we say Samskara, we mean the process of energy transfer that occurs when gold simply interacts with the herbs or with the food. In this process, we use highly minute, undetectable quantities of gold every time we follow this Samskara. But as this is a powerful and potent metal, even these quantities are more than enough to improve our health and well being.

ayurvedic baby care practices: gold improves rakta and medhya

Gold is a powerful metal to improve Rasa, Rakta (quality) and Medhya.

Another way of incorporating gold and silver samskara for Adults, is to eat out of a silver plate which has a small gold coin embedded in the centre. As your food is ladled onto the silver and gold in your plate, the metals interact with food, transmitting their beneficial quantities in minute, controlled doses over time. If it is possible, it is excellent for the family, especially the mother to eat out of such a plate.

Vacha / Vekhand / Acorus calamus : a valuable herb to nurture a baby as per Ayurveda

We often write about Vacha / Vekhand on the Krya blog. Vekhand (vacha) is a critical herb for babies as per Ayurveda. This is why our baby ubtans, baby bodywashes, baby hair oils and baby massage oils all contain Vekhand. Vekhand improves both medhya and vaak (intelligence and speech) as per ayurveda. Hence we are advised to use it regularly for the baby.

Besides this, Vekhand is also a very good drishti and dosha nivvriti herb. It drives away fear and keeps negative energy at bay. Therefore the Ayurevdic Samhitas tell us that the baby’s nursery should always contain a herb potli (bag) with lots of vekhand (among other herbs).

The vekhand bracelet is also a good idea to incorporate the properties of Vekhand. Here we use a thread dipped in turmeric overnight to string together cured , even sized pieces of vekhand. This can be tied around the baby’s foot for older babies. In younger babies whose teeth have not yet developed, this can be tied securely around the wrist. As the baby explores and chews on this bracelet, some of the benefits of the vekhand will be absorbed internally. This is a traditional practice followed in Tamilnadu and other regions in the south. This bracelet is easy and safe to make at home, and makes a great gift for an infant.
ayurvedic baby care practices: vacha nurtures baby and strengthens immunity

Vekhand powder is another suggestion given by our acharyas to ensure that the baby’s routine incorporates this herb. We are asked to smear Vekhand powder after towel drying the baby after the daily Abhyanga-Snana and BEFORE Dhoopa / Fumigation. Vekhand on the chest increases valour and courage and also acts as an excellent immunity booster. As small babies are often subject to issues of kapha aggravation, Vekhand on the chest prevents the quick buildup of such problems.

Physical , Spiritual & Pranic cleansing of the Nursery: ayurvedic baby care practices that cleanse aura & ward off negative energies

The construction, care and protection of the child’s nursery is as an important subject that has been dealt at great length across the Samhitas. The Acharyas recommend cleansing on 3 levels: Earth, Air And space using a combination of herbs , water and sounds.

ayurvedic baby care practices: physical, etheric and auric cleansing

An important part of ayurvedic baby care practices is to clean the nursery floors with a specific mixture of herbs. The Samhitas suggest choosing a herb mixture containing rakshoghna (insecticidal and anti bacterial) herbs like Nimba (Neem), Mangalya herbs (herbs that contribute a positive aura like Benzoin, Tulasi) and Vekhand.

The Krya Sookshma floor cleaner is an excellent product for this purpose. While the Sugandha floor cleaner also fits most of these requirements, as it contains organic essential oils which are potent, we recommend using the Krya Sookshma floor cleaner instead in a home with babies.

Krya Sookshma floor cleaner is a 22 ingredient whole plant formulation that uses very powerful air and space cleansing plant resins like Benzoin , Edible camphor, and very powerful Rakshoghna herbs like Eucalyptus, Lemongrass and Mangalya herbs like Triphala, Tulasi, Soapberry, etc along with Vekhand.  We recommend that the room in which the post partum Mother and infant live , be swabbed twice a day with the Krya Sookshma floor cleaner. Use a slightly higher quantity than you would use in the rest of the home.

ayurvedic baby care practices: krya sookshma floor cleaner recommended to swab nursery floors

Medicinal Fumigation is part of ayurvedic baby care practices suggested in Ayurveda to cleanse Air and Space that surround the infant and the mother. Certain herbs are better suited to the medium of smoke, so we are able to absorb their properties better while doing Medicinal Fumigation.

As reliable products are not easily available for this purpose, we suggest that the nursery be regularly fumigated with well dried A2 cow dung cakes. If you can source good quality Medicinal Dhoops which do not have any added essential oils / fragrances and use only Ayurvedic herbs that are properly processed, this would be excellent.

Otherwise using desi cow dung cakes is a very good start. This is a Mangalya dravya, purifies and sanctifies the air and also naturally repels mosquitoes. This should also ideally be done twice a day after the room is swabbed as suggested above.

ayurvedic baby care practices: fumigation using ayurevdic herbs and desi cow dung is an excellent practice to cleanse the air and space

Additionally, after cleaning, swabbing and smoking the Nursery, Ayurveda recommends keeping bags of raw herbs at the entrance of the nursery and tied to the baby’s cradle. A mix of Drishti and Dosha nivvriti herbs , Rakshoghna herbs and Mangalya herbs are usually suggested. A good mixture to start with is a mixture of freshly sourced, sun / shade dried and lightly crushed Vekhand, Nimba (neam leaf), Tulasi (buy a mixture of different varieties like Thiruneetrupachai, Krishna tulasi, etc) and Nochi (leaf). After sun / shade drying the herbs as is appropriate, lightly crush them using a rolling pin to release the fragrance. Make this into 2 bags and secure one at the entrance of the room, and the other on the cradle.

ayurvedic baby care practices: raw whole ayurvedic herbs should be hung in the nursery to cleanse teh aura, and attract positive energy

Sound based auric cleaning – ayurvedic baby care practices that clean Akash  and improve health & wellbeing

Sound based auric cleansing is also suggested in Ayurveda. This uses certain vibratory notes and chants to cleanse the auric energy of dwelling spaces. This is a very interesting subject that deserves many separate posts of its own, so we will limit ourselves to a simple introduction in this post.

ayurvedic baby care practices: sound based energy cleansing is particularly effective in boosting health and immunity

A ubiquitous stotram we hear in many homes is the Vishnu Sahasranama. Our Purvacharyas tell us that this Stotra is very powerful to cleanse illnesses and disease. This is therefore suggested to be played in hospitals, sick room wards, etc. This is also a good Sound cleanser for a baby’s nursery and can be played on loop atleast for 1 hour every day , AFTER the room is cleaned, swabbed and fumigated.

In the 40 Samskaras prescribed for children in Sanatana Dharma, one Samskara is the introduction of the infant to the Aalayam (temple) of God Skanda / Muruga. Shree Skanda is considered a patron god of infants and helps protect children from unexpected illness, diseases and also aids in their healthy growth. So mantras like the Subrahmanya Trishati can also be played in the Nursery.

While playing chants and music, please be aware that the baby’s hearing is extremely delicate and sookshma (subtle). Hence the best method of introducing such sounds is to actually have a human being chanting these mantras as often as possible so the vibrations and sounds can be received by the baby. This can be done by elders in the home / mother when she is stronger. The next best option is playing a physical CD / cassette on a very low volume. We do NOT recommend radiation based online / cell phone based music in the baby’s nursery.

Indian Style Cradle (Jhoola / Thooli) and its benefits: ayurvedic baby care practices to promote sound sleep and healthy weight gain­­­­

An interesting suggestion given by our Acharyas is to allow the baby to sleep in a rock-able cradle / jhoola atleast some part of the day. This is a suggestion that is also given to thin, under-nourished and emaciated adults. The Acharyas tell us that the gentle rocking of a jhoola / cradle is very beneficial for healthy weight gain and muscle development in babies. It is very calming, relaxing and soothing to the brain and helps promote good sleep and immunity. This is probably why so many olden Indian homes had an internal swing / Oonjal. This was often used to rest in or for short naps.

At my friend’s place where I went to visit her 3 month old, I was thrilled to see that she had made a Thooli / Jhoola for the baby instead on investing in an expensive infant cot which many of us are sold these days. For her jhoola, she removed the ceiling fan in one part of the hook and had got her carpenter to install sturdy hooks. She had used one of her own sarees to make the Thooli / Jhoola – so as a bonus, it smelt faintly of her, soothing the baby. The baby spent half the time in the Thooli / Jhoola and the other half in the bed with her mother- so it was a good compromise which also allowed the baby to experience skin to skin contact with the mother.

ayurvedic baby care practices: indian thooli or jhoola is a good alternative to a western cradle

If you have the space and the time, please consider using a Cloth based Jhoola for your baby, atleast partially as seen above.

Importance of daily Abhyanga Snana for babies:

As a skin care company, we have written and will continue to write about the benefits accorded by the daily abhyanga Snana for everyone. An abhyanga Snana is even more critical among young infants as it helps establish the health of their newly developing immune system, and also sets the ground for a healthy colonization of microbiota on the baby’s skin.

The Ayurvedic texts tells u that an Abhyanga Snana for babies is a health giving, immune system strengthening, sleep improving and digestion aiding practice and NOT a cosmetic practice. When done regularly with the correct set of products, the Abhyanga helps good weight gain, muscle development and improves baby’s strength and sense of well being. The Snana when done with the recommended herbs boosts immunity and the sense of well being.

A daily Abhyanga Snana is extremely beneficial when done until the age of 1.

ayurvedic baby care practices: regular abhyanga snana is very beneficial for baby

Krya’s baby products receive tremendous support, admiration and appreciation from our loyal band of parents. Most of them start using our products when the baby is around 2 weeks old and continue to use our baby products until the baby reaches 2 years of age.

Krya’s Ayurvedic Abhyanga Snana products for babies:

Ayurvedic baby massage oils from Krya:

The Krya traditional baby massage oil is the cornerstone of our Krya baby care range. This is a special ayurvedic baby massage oil developed strictly as per Ayurvedic rules and includes the correct set of herbs recommended in Ayurveda to help baby’s healthy development. In case you are wondering why this is a better choice for baby’s skin over organic, virgin cold pressed coconut oil, please read our earlier post on this subject. 

The Krya traditional baby massage oil uses Varnya, Twachya, Jeevaniya and Brhamaneeya herbs which help healthy muscle development, improve immunity and natural health and aid in establishing good skin health. This is a 32 ingredient Ayurvedic formulation developed in-house which uses 27 herbs , fruits and fresh vegetables processed in the Tila Paka method in a set of 5 organic, cold pressed oils and butters.

ayurvedic baby care practices: krya traditional baby massage oil recommended for daily abhyanga for baby

The formulation uses traditional strength and muscle improvement herbs like Bala and Ashwagandha, traditional skin health improving herbs like Durva, Ela (cardamom), Kushta, Mangalya and immunity herbs like Nimba, Aswathha, Udumbura, Vekhand, etc.

This baby massage oil is suggested for baby boys and girls from the 1st week onwards, as long as the skin is healthy. If the skin is dry, eczematic, or has other such issues, we have 2 other oils available: the Krya Lemongrass nourishing baby massage oil & the Krya Rose & Palmarosa nourishing baby massage oil.

The Krya Lemongrass & Neem flower baby massage oil is designed for Pitta based skin abnormalities. Here the skin has redness,  warmth, and there is a lot of skin irritation and itching. The Krya Palmarosa & Rose baby massage oil is designed for Vata based skin abnormalities. Here the skin is dry, flaky, cool to touch and feels taut / tight in cold seasons.
ayurvedic baby care practices: krya nourishing baby massage oils are formulated for babies with sensitive skin

Both oils are 27 ingredient formulations made with 23 ayurvedic herbs, organic fruits and vegetables and processed in the Tila paka method in a set of 4 organic and cold pressed vegetable oils and plant butters.

Both these oils are used extensively by Krya parents across the world to manage sensitive skin in babies. Even in very cold and extreme climates, parents have been able to successively use these products as a better, safer alternative to corticosteroid creams suggested for these conditions.

A regular massage is extremely beneficial to baby, if done with the correct Ayurvedic herbs and oils. Here is an earlier post that explains the benefits of baby massage in  greater detail. 

Ayurvedic ubtans for newborns and babies from Krya

The Snana products for baby should also be chosen with care. The correct Snana products for babies use Astringent, Aura cleansing, Mangalya, Immunity improving, warming and skin health aiding herbs . When used along with the Abhyanga oil on a regular basis, baby’s skin and overall health is improved, body feels fresh and sweet smelling , sleep quality is good and a positive aura is maintained. To read in greater detail about the benefits of Ayurevdic Snana for your baby, please read our earlier post on this subject. 

Krya has 3 products for baby’s Abhyanga-Snana. The Krya traditional ubtan for babies is available as a variant separately for baby boys and baby girls and can be used along with the Krya traditional baby massage oil.

The Krya traditional ubtan for baby girls is a 20 ingredient formulation made using Mangalya herbs like Haridra, Vekhand, Vana Haridra, Amla, Nimba, Mushta, Daruharidra, etc. The Krya traditional ubtan for baby boys is a 19 ingredient formulation made using Ayurvedic herbs like Bala, Manjishta, Vekhand, Mushta, Kalmegh, etc. Both formulations are designed to be Mangalya (auspicious), Rakshoghna (anti bacterial), Jeevaniya (health giving), Balya (immune boosting & strength giving) and Twachya (skin health improving).
ayurvedic baby care practices: krya baby ubtans are a good choice for babys Snana

For children who have skin issues, we have formulated the Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder. It pairs with the Krya Lemongrass & Neemflower nourishing baby massage oil and the Krya Palmarosa & Rose nourishing baby massage oil.

This Gentle baby Bodywash formulation is a 19 ingredient formulation. In this formulation we have used a higher proportion of Vrana (wound healing) herbs and Twachya (skin health improving herbs) apart from our other herbs. So this formulation contains Indian Sarsaparilla, Babchi, Khadira, nimba, Amla, etc.

Parents report that using these sensitive skin products have helped heal and control the manifestation of skin allergies and also reduce the incidence of eczema, dermatitis, etc. This has been achieved without using topical steroid creams, special soaps, excessive synthetic moisturizers, etc. Most importantly, they are relieved to see that the Baby is cheerful and smiling without feeling irritable and upset due to a painful skin condition.

To sum up:

This post aimed at educating new parents, parents to be, and grandparents to be on important ayurvedic baby care practices . These traditional practices are safe to use even in newborns, and work in a variety of ways. They improve baby’s health and well being, aid good muscle development, improve digestion, kindle the appetite, and aid in sound deep sleep.

Ayurveda is a broad and comprehensive Science. We have seen in this post how the Acharyas have taken care of various aspects of the baby’s health and used different techniques like herbal smoke, specific sounds, use of medicinal herbs and strengthening Dinacharya practices like regular Abhyanga Snana to boost the baby’s development.

It is a point of frustration for us at Krya that so much of this health giving, easy to do, practical and comprehensive Ayurvedic advise is lost to us. Many of us are simply not aware of these practices and are being misled about the correct set of baby AND post delivery Mother care practices to be followed.  It is an important part of our mission at Krya to help spread this knowledge. Through this, even if a few of the practices suggested in Ayurveda are adopted by you and you see a good improvement in yours / baby’s health, we would be happy.

This post is meant to inspire and not burden you. If you have not been able to follow these practices for your child, please do not feel frustrated / guilty. We are all living very fragmented lives with a great loss of knowledge. Whatever you are able to do for your baby with a loving heart is best for him / her. If you have the opportunity to help someone else with this knowledge, please do! Or you could keep this in mind for your next baby 😊

If you would like help choosing the correct Krya baby products for yourself or to gift to a new mother, please write to us or call us –(0)-75500-89090

 

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How to manage Atopic dermatitis (eczema) – an ayurvedic approach by Krya

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Reading Time: 14 minutes

Do you or your child suffer from Atopic dermatitis or dry, itchy, easily irritated skin? Have you been asked to use a special medicated soap or a lotion to help control the skin itchiness? Are you looking for natural remedies and safe skin care alternatives to manage this condition better? Read on for more information on Atopic dermatitis, the extent of the problem, possible causes and triggers and Ayurvedic advice on this condition.

What is Atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis is defined as a chronic condition where the skin is dry, itchy , sometimes reddish and irritable for a long period of time. Even when they subside, there is always a chance that the condition can flare up and trigger in the skin. The rash can sometimes inflame and then ooze clear fluid. If the skin is severely dry and cracked, it may also bleed.

Atopic dermatitis is a non contagious chronic skin condition with dry itchy irritable skin

Atopic dermatitis is not considered contagious. However western medical science is unable to pinpoint an exact cause / trigger. It is considered a genetically inherited condition. It is also linked to other allergic conditions like asthma, wheezing, allergic rhinitis. This condition also tends to flare up in the presence of environmental allergens like cosmetics, laundry products, perfumes, make up, pollen, dander, cold & dry weather, stress, etc. It can also flare up with high sweating, high stress and high physical exercise.

Common Atopic dermatitis triggers are stress, sweat, cold weather, etc

Western medicine suggests that atopic dermatitis cannot be completely cured. The skin can be managed with the aid of corticosteroid based topical application products. It usually manifests before 5 years in 90% of Adult sufferers.

How common is Atopic dermatitis in India?

The Indian journal of Dermatology estimates that Atopic dermatitis currently affects nearly 15% of the population in India and has been increasingly rising with time (earlier estimates pegged it at 5% of the population). Studies from developed countries indicate that treatment and management of Atopic dermatitis is a “significant burden on health care budgets”.  The condition almost always starts in childhood and can continue throughout adulthood flaring and subsiding on and off.

Researchers across the world have called Atopic dermatitis a “costly and expensive disease”, both emotionally and financially. An estimate in UK suggests that parents spent 47 million pounds to manage Atopic dermatitis among children between 1 – 5 in one year alone : 75% of this went towards OTC prescription creams, ointments and soaps to manage this condition.

Atopic dermatitis is a financially and emotionally draining skin care condition

Costs in India are also high. The Indian journal of Dermatology estimates that Atopic dermatitis is as expensive a disease as chronic Adult Diabetes with high recurring costs. A recent study in an OP department of a hospital estimated that parents spent Rs. 12000 annually to manage Atopic dermatitis – which was about 15% of their stated family income! This estimate increases with an increase in severity of the disease. In countries like Australia, severe Atopic dermatitis cost families nearly $1225 annually (close to 40, 000 Rs).

What are the trigger factors for Atopic dermatitis ?

The Indian Journal of Pediatrics cites several studies, white papers and discussions in various symposia on the phenomenon of Atopic dermatitis. While there is no conclusive “ONE” factor that contributes to this disease, we have several practical hypotheses to explain why Atopic dermatitis occurs.

Many of us know the standard theories behind the spread of these “idiopathic” conditions like Atopic dermatitis.

Hygiene theory as a cause for Atopic dermatitis:

Atopic dermatitis is much more common in urban , and relatively higher sanitary conditions. This is especially true of Western countries.  As the immune system is relatively “untested” due to clean surroundings , repeated use of strong cleansers, the immune system tends to aggressively respond to relatively harmless antigens leading to development of Atopic dermatitis.

Studies indicate that the severity of Atopic dermatitis is much higher in countries like U.K and U.S.A compared to India due to the above reason.

This and the hereditary theory are the main 2 theories behind skin conditions like Atopic dermatitis (eczema). Apart from the above, we would like to highlight, 2 very critical hypotheses behind the spread of Atopic Dermatitis.

IgE triggers -cause for Atopic dermatitis

IgE is Immunoglobulin E. This is an antibody produced by the body’s immune system in response to invasion of the skin by micro organisms or allergens. When the body is introduced to certain allergen triggers, IgE production along with Basophils and Activated Eosinophils leads to a hypersensitivity reaction.

Here the body responds to this allergen threat by doing 2 things to control the entry of the allergen into the body:

  • It seals off the skin by tightening the brick and mortar structure of the skin: so skin pebbles up and feels tighter
  • It contains the allergens inside a sealed closed off environment in the form of red, visible, external bumps / cysts
  • It restricts the airway passages restraining the amount of allergen filled air being breathed in: simultaneously, it triggers mucous formation, enabling the body to sneeze, cough and expel the allergens that have invaded, OUT of the body

The body's normal response to allergens is intelligent & well thought out.

This response is a well thought through, fantastic piece of intelligent and adaptive design in our body. But, it is designed for an obvious, temporary allergen dose. It is not designed for frequent, in-your-face , subtle allergen attacks.

The question will arise: where are these frequent, in-your-face, subtle allergen attacks to be found?

Enzyme based detergents & household products – trigger Atopic dermatitis

A common IgE triggers is the enzyme Der P1 analogous to Papain . Der P1 is an enzyme present in the feces of the house dust mite. Dust mites can breed in homes where there is limited sunlight, where there are food sources available for the dust mite (they prefer feeding on fungal dandruff flakes form your head!) and also where bed linen is not changed periodically.

Even if you do not have a dust mite infestation, you could still be triggering an IgE reaction. How?

By using enzyme based household products like laundry and dishwashing detergents, contact lens cleaners !

Enzymes can also be found in cosmetic face washes and cleansers, make up removal products, cleansing wipes and sometimes even in synthetic processed foods.

Industrial enzymes, a common trigger for Atopic dermatitis are ubiquitous in a modern home

Another known IgE triggering enzyme is Subtilisin , a bacteria derived enzyme. Subtilisin is a protease enzyme that is linked to both allergic rhinitis, allergy triggered asthma and atopic dermatitis. Subtilisin has been identified as a IgE trigger for both air and skin allergic reactions over the last 40 years.

Enzyme activism – strongly opposed by Industry

Any activism to sensitize users to the potential effects of using these enzymes always faces a strong backlash from the industry. Despite several studies linking the handling of industrial enzymes to contact allergies in workers and animal models, the Industry continues to state that industrial enzymes are safe for home use. They insist that at these doses, it is not possible to develop IgE triggers or allergic reactions.

Allergic reactions need only very minute doses of allergens to trigger the Immune response. Estimates suggest that the average pollen allergy sufferer is exposed to 1 millionth of a gram per year – however even this dose is enough to produce asthma, allergic rhinitis and even anaphylaxis in extreme cases.

The enzyme onslaught around is very high: they have even found their way into food and medical applications. Papain, is commonly used in meat processing to tenderize meat. Chymopapain, a closely linked variant, is used in medical sciatica procedures – one of the rare documented side effects of chymopapain is anaphylaxis!

Papain an industrial enzyme used in food and cosmetic applications can also trigger Atopic dermatitis

A1 dairy linked allergic pathway to Atopic dermatitis:

In the last few years there has been a tremendous amount of research work that has emerged on the inflammatory and allergy inducing properties of commercial dairy. A dairy allergy is fast emerging as a quick diagnosis after nuts and shellfish allergies. Medical practitioners and patients who see a quick reversal in allergic symptoms, reduction of atopic dermatitis and eczema and improvement in asthmatic conditions erroneously conclude that the fault lies in dairy as a whole.

Ayurveda and traditional sciences teach us about the dhatu building and curative properties of carefully sourced dairy. The key point to note here is that “dairy: in Ayurveda and Siddha assumes dairy products sourced for the indigenous, humped Desi cow, which produces A2 milk. Unfortunately, a majority of us today consume commercially extracted, A1 milk. The milk is many times adulterated. The commercial dairy industry , like the commercial poultry industry is notorious with pumping hormones, weight enhancers, and antibiotics into dairy cattle – all of this trigger a wide ranging set of responses in the body.

Commercial dairy practices have spread antibiotics, hormones and synthetics into our dairy.

But apart from the commercialization of dairy and the consequences of drinking this milk, there is another critical issue with the dairy products we receive today: most of commercial dairy farming is sourced from cross bread Jersey / Holstein cattle which usually produce A1 milk or a mixture of A1 and A2 depending on the cross breeding.

 Histidine mutation in modern A1 milk – possible trigger to Atopic dermatitis

Casein is the main milk protein in milk forming about 80% of the protein constituent of milk. Casein is divided into 4 groups, which are represented in milk: S1 Alpha, S2 Alpha, Beta & Kappa type.  Beta Casein is a very important component of milk protein – it forms 30% of Milk’s total protein content.

Beta caesin has 13 variants of which A1 and A2 variant are the most common.  A2 Milk comes from pure bred Asian and African cattle. In this milk, a nucleotide called PROLINE is the 67th position of the amino acid chain. The nucleotide variation in this single position contributes to the difference between A1 and A2 milk.

Native indian cow - milk safe and nourishing for consumption

With the migration of cattle to Europe, a mutation developed in this 67th position in the amino acid chain in Beta Casein. Instead of Proline, European cattle mutated to HISTIDINE in the 67th position in the chain. Initially the entire bovine population contained only the A2 allele. The A1 allele developed after the histidine mutation when bovine cattle migrated to Europe. This is a mutation that did not occur in human or other animal species even though they too migrated to Europe.

European cattle have mutated to a special amino acid protein called histidine which affects human beings

With modern breeding techniques, European dairy cattle have developed further mutations along the 209-amino acid protein chain, but the most significant change from A2 native cattle is the presence of histidine.

Histidine and Proline are processed very differently in the human body. During digestion, Proline is much more stable compared to histidine . Histidine can cleave and break during digestion to release Beta Casomorphin (BCM) oppoid peptides including a variant called BCM-7.

While there has been research on Casomorphins for over 30 years, it was only post 2009 that researchers started focusing on the effect of CMs and BCM-7 release in the body after consuming A1 milk.

BCM 7 in particular and other variants of BCM do the following:

  • Reduce gastric motility increasing constipation:
  • Slows down time taken to digest food – leading to higher Ama buildup in the body
  • Interfere with nutritional uptake in the body by increasing mucous in the GI system
  • Alter the pattern and behavior of the Gut Immune system – leading to greater risk of inflammatory gut disease

Apart from these issues, consumption of A1 milk has also been linked to SIDS, autism, schizophrenia type 1 diabetes, etc. Most importantly, for this article, Beta Casomorphins trigger the IgE response, leading to increased wheezing, rhinitis and atopic eczema and Atopic dermatitis, particularly itchy, inflamed skin.

 Diet linked Allergen pathway to Atopic dermatitis:

We have already explored the correlation between enzyme exposure,  certain kinds of Dairy and allergy induced Atopic dermatitis. Apart from these triggers, natural triggers for Atopic dermatitis include the following:

  • Pollen allergy
  • Dust mites
  • Shell fish
  • Eggs,
  • Nuts and tree nuts (these allergens differ by country and exposure)

Causes for Atopic dermatitis from an Ayurvedic perspective

Ayurveda lists many causes / Hetu for development of Vicharchika (Atopic dermatitis / eczema) and other skin disease. Apart from these reasons, we can add the above to the already existing reasons of allergens and pollutants as a cause.

  • Ahara Hetu – Food based causes
    • Viruddha ahara – incompatible food combinations – radish + curd, sour fruits + milk / curd, honey + hot water, eating new cereals and pulses, excessive intake of sesame and jaggery, etc

Eating incompatible foods is a primary cause for Atopic dermatitis as per Ayurveda

  • Vihara Hetu (Habits / Lifestyle based causes)
    • Exercising and sun exposure after meals
    • Day sleep
    • Withholding natural urges (like the urge to go to the toilet due to fear of contamination, etc)

Withholding natural urges like teh urge to use a washroom is an important trigger for Atopic dermatitis

  • Achara Hetu (Mental conduct / thinking based causes)
    • Earing money by adharmic means
    • Behaving badly towards good people
    • Being disrespectful of Guru / Acharya and Wise and learned men

Ayurvedic Line of treatment suggested for Atopic dermatitis:

Ayurveda recommends the use of herb infused bath steeps, Lepas, Oils and bathing powders that are based on skin health improving herbs to manage Atopic dermatitis and eczema. Panchakarma treatment to correct deranged Kapha and Pitta are also recommended to correct the dosha imbalances in the body.

Ayurveda recommends the use of ayurvedic herbs, medicated bath steeps, lepas and oils to improve skin in Atopic dermatitis.

Apart from this, as a high percentage of Atopic dermatitis is linked to environmental allergens and food allergens, necessary changes are advised to ensure exposure to these allergens are limited.

Ayurvedic diet (pathya) & herbs to manage Atopic dermatitis

Ayurvedic pathya (diet) for Kushta (skin diseases) is also very strict and asks the patient to avoid certain standard skin disease triggering foods. These include:

  • Pitta-Kapha aggravating foods like Sesame seeds, Jaggery, Eggs, Curd, Cheese, Paneer, Cashew (all nuts in general trigger Pitta and Kapha unless processed properly, eaten in the right season and chosen as per body type)
  • Kushta (skin disease) triggering foods like brinjal, eggs, commercial poultry, fish

A pathya diet is recommended in Ayurveda to avoid triggering skin diseases

  • Reduction of extremely sour, salty and spicy food
  • Eating native gourds, aged grains and cereals,
  • Eating grains like wheat, barley, etc is also considered pathya for these skin conditions

Some of the herbs recommended for Atopic dermatitis are:

  • Khadira
  • Manjishta
  • Karanja
  • Kusta
  • Daruharidra
  • Haridra
  • Guduchi
  • Nannari, etc.

Specific skin healing herbs are used in Ayurveda to treat Atopic dermatitis like Nannari (Indian sarsaparilla).

The choice of herbs will depend upon age of the patient, season and symptoms . For example, if the presentation involves a higher Pitta based reaction like redness, inflammation, burning sensation, warmth, Pitta balancing herbs should be chosen over other herbs like Nimba, Khadira, etc.

If the presentation is Kapha based, for example scaling, thickening or oozing, Kapha balancing herbs should be chosen like Kushta, Haridra, Daruharidra etc. Such cases can also benefit by using herb based dusting powders to dry up the area.

Krya’s range of products for Atopic dermatitis, & psoriasis in Adults

Krya has a good range of products designed to help manage skin conditions. Our Sensitive skin line for Adults has a Sensitive skin cleanser and a Sensitive Skin Oil to help manage Atopic dermatitis, Dry eczema and Psoriasis in adults. We use a broad spectrum range of Ayurvedic herbs and skin healing oils like Chaulmoogra oil, Tamanu Oil, Babchi Oil and Neem oil in our range.

The Krya sensitive line of skin care products for adults with atopic dermatitis, psoriaisis, etc

Adults with such challenging skin conditions greatly benefit by following an Ayurvedic Pathya diet and in severe cases benefit greatly by getting a proper Panchakarma process done. It is important to do this under the auspices of a well qualified Vaidya who has good experience in treating these disorders.

 

Adults should also follow the 3 pronged approach of examining their Ahara (food), Vihara (lifestyle) and Achara (mental conduct) and eliminate any skin disease inducing patterns. Many modern food diets and “health practices” fall under the list of Vriddha Ahara – like the practices of eating fruit and vegetable smoothies with curd, over dependence on jaggery and high use of nuts like sesame, cashew, etc.

 

Achara (mental conduct) is extremely critical in managing chronic skin conditions. There is a strong link between dosha aggravation and mental states as described in Ayurveda. Our diet influences our thinking and our moods and vice versa. So if you have strong rage issues, anger management issues , envy, jealousy, etc, these are all manifestations of unchecked Pitta dosha working on your mental and emotional state. Such mental states and ways of thinking WILL contribute to flaring up of conditions like Atopic dermatitis.

Krya’s range of Sensitive skin products for children with Atopic dermatitis:

A simple shift from a  commercial skin cleanser and moisturizing lotion to Krya’s baby cleansers and baby oils greatly helps young babies with itchy, irritable , Atopic dermatitis prone skin. A further important step would be to “detox” your home and remove all potential allergens like enzyme based synthetic cleansers, aerosols, cosmetic wipes, baby wipes, etc and adopt clean , non allergenic food.

Krya baby ubtans are ideal to cleanse sensitive itchy skin

Babies respond very quickly to these changes and there is a good improvement in their skin condition without having to use medicated corticosteroid based creams, special soaps and cleansers.

For babies with itchy , irritable and sensitive skin, parents can use the Krya gentle baby bodywash powder (unisex) OR the Krya baby girl ubtan OR the Krya baby boy ubtan to cleanse baby’s skin instead  of a soap / liquid bodywash.

A regular abhyanga (pre bath skin massage) also greatly nourishes and help’s heal dry, itchy, sensitive skin. Krya Palmarosa &Rose nourishing baby massage oil is recommended for dry , non oozing skin conditions like dermatitis, dry eczema. It is not recommended for oozing skin conditions.

Krya Lemongrass & Grapefruit nourishing baby massage oil is Recommended for dry , non oozing skin conditions like dermatitis, dry eczema (sensitive skin). This product is not recommended for oozing skin conditions. It can also be be used from the time a baby is 1-2 days old.

Krya’s sensitive skin products for toddlers and older children:

As skin conditions like Atopic dermatitis fully manifest around 18-24 months or so, we have a special cleansing product designed for toddlers to help manage this condition better. The Krya Toddler bodywash – sensitive variant is a herbal bodywash powder formulated with 23 ayurvedic skin healing and health restoring herbs and 3 ayurvedic cold pressed plant oils.  We have formulated this product with powerful skin healing ayurvedic herbs like Kalmegh, Neem flower, Indian Banyan, Peepul, Kushta bark and cold pressed skin healing oils like Karanja Oil & Neem Oil.

When children are bathed everyday with this special herbal bodywash powder, there is an excellent reduction in itchy irritable skin. Skin is calmer, and the severity of skin irritation reduces. Long term use of this product can greatly help control the severity of Atopic dermatitis.

A weekly abhyanga with one of the Krya baby massage oils recommended above also helps improve skin health considerably.

When parents follow the dietary recommendations for kushta and also take the effort to remove environmental and food based allergens, the effect is further enhanced. The biggest and best change you can do for food is to switch to unpasteurized, indigenous A2 cow’s milk for the family. This has excellent health, nutritive and skin benefits. Please ensure you also follow the relevant changes in Vihara suggested below to help your child.

Vihara (lifestyle) modifications & changes to help reduce flare up of Atopic dermatitis:

  • Avoid bathing in very hot water – luke warm water is best
  • Sun all bed linen thoroughly every fortnight to reduce incidence of dust mites
  • Choose your detergent and cleaning products very carefully. Avoid any products which focus on high stain removal and these are likely to contain industrial enzymes.
  • Avoid using fragrance based cleaning products, even if choosing natural products. Unscented products are based
  • Switch to carefully sourced genuine, unpasteurized A2 milk. Avoid commercial dairy preparations like cheese, paneer, Greek yoghurt, milkshakes, ice creams, etc
  • Avoid synthetic cosmetic products especially soaps and moisturizing lotions. Use a home made ubtan or a genuine ayurvedic ubtan. A regular abhyanga with the correct ayurvedic oil will also help the skin condition.
  • In summer, high pitta aggravation can cause the sweat secretion in the body to be extremely acidic, which in turn provokes atopic dermatitis. Ensure you follow the correct ayurvedic diet in Summer to avoid spiking Pitta. A natural ubtan will also help cleanse skin and Srotas thoroughly to avoid this problem.
  • For adults, a gentle exercise programme helps better with Atopic dermatitis. Avoid very strenuous and intensive exercise regimens.
  • Manage stress by doing less, regular hair oiling , nourishing food and sufficient time out to “stop and stare”. Stress is a strong trigger for Atopic dermatitis.

 

To sum up: Understanding & managing Atopic dermatitis naturally

We hope this article was able to help you understand how Ayurveda analyses, diagnoses and treats chronic skin conditions like Atopic dermatitis. By adopting safe, natural, tried and tested ayurvedic herbs and oils, many of our consumers have been able to control the severity and incidence of chronic skin conditions like Atopic dermatitis.

As with all ayurvedic advice, following a multi pronged approach of internal medication, the right diet, positive and uplifting thinking helps work on such chronic skin conditions more holistically and effectively. Ayurveda is a thorough and detailed science. For all internal treatment, we advise going to experienced and renowned Ayurvedic physicians who can diagnose your condition correctly and suggest the right treatment that can help you.

If you need any help on choosing the right Krya products to manage Atopic dermatitis, please call us or email us.

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