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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Pitta Balancing Diet Part 2: pitta channelizing Dravyas & Spices

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

A pitta imbalance is responsible for many skin and hair conditions we see today like premature greying, hair thinning, heat rashes, acne, etc. Pitta imbalance is also the cause behind gastritis, GERD, IBS and high Blood Pressure.

Pitta imbalance leads to agner management issues and other hair, skin & health issues

Whenever we see signs of dosha imbalance reflected in skin and hair, it makes sense to correct the diet so we do not further overload the body. When these diet modifications are adopted ALONG with good quality ayurvedic oils and choornas, and external products and Dinacharya practices are followed, we can see a good improvement in the skin and hair condition. It can also positively impact internal issues as well.

Dravyas and Spices which are pitta channelizing:

In the first part of this series on Balancing Pitta through food,  we saw how introducing certain Rasas (tastes) into the food, helped balance aggravated Pitta dosha. Apart from this, aggravated Pitta always means that Agni is not channelized properly in the body. Aggravated Pitta dosha can travel and irritate other organ systems like skin, hair etc, as the Fire in the body is TOO high.

Aggravated pitta flows through the body aggravating other organ systems

Therefore, an important part of keeping Pitta in check is to channelise the flow of Fire (Agni) in the body. This makes the difference between an out of control forest fire which how aggravated Pitta dosha can be visualised vs a steadily burning , lamp , which represents Pitta in balance.

Dravyas and spices that are pitta channelizing help rein in and control Agni, improving the ability of Pitta dosha to work in the body and enhance metabolism and nutrient extraction while eating.

When pitta is balanced, it regulates all organ systems and keeps teh body in health & harmony

 

This is why reining in Pitta is very tricky – we cannot abruptly cool, freeze or totally bring down Pitta in the body as it is vital for digestion, metabolism , warmth and life in the body. So controlling excess Pitta does not mean dousing our Fire. It means subtly altering the fire and controlling it by using fire subduing rasas (tastes) AND by channelizing the fire by using certain spices and cooking methods.

Pitta should not be doused or frozen.

We saw some of these dravyas when we read about how the use of Opposite rasas can pull down aggravated Pitta, like Ghee. But these Dravyas are so critical to a Pitta Shramana diet, that we have discussed them separately again here.

Dairy based Dravyas for pitta channelizing:

Milk, Ghee and Buttermilk prepared to be pitta channelizing (Well churned, non-sour, watered down) are 3 important agni balancing dravyas that should be a part of a Pitta shramana diet.

All 3 of these should be preferably made from non pasteurised, organic A2 cow’s milk at home and not bought outside. We will put up a separate post on how these 3 dravyas can be taken by different Prakriti based individuals for best effect.

Carefully sourced and processed dairy help channelize pitta well

Milk (Ksheera) for pitta channelizing:

Warm, freshly boiled milk sourced ethically from an Indian desi cow is considered an elixir. It is prana positive, ojas building and is “brhmana” or nutritive and nourishing to the body and is also pitta channelizing. Depending upon your capacity to digest milk, you can have one or 2 small glasses of Milk a day as a meal in itself.

Desi cow milk is an elixer

Milk should ideally be had on an empty stomach and considered a full meal in itself. Most of us are unused to drinking plain Milk. So we recommend starting with a small glass (50 ml) of Milk , first thing in the morning to start with.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions like Diabetes, please check with your health practitioner before starting on this.

Given below are milk processing techniques for different prakritis.

Milk for Kapha leaning prakriti:

If you are overweight or have a strong leaning towards Kapha prakriti (catches colds and coughs often, tendency to put on weight) or have been diagnosed with Kapha disorders like hypothyroidism, PCOD, etc, please try this Milk combination. for effective pitta channelizing.

Boil Milk with 25% water added until the water evaporates. This is the basic ayurvedic milk boiling technique. 

Flavour this milk with a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Drink warm and unsweetened. Drink this first thing in the morning after bowel movement, around 6 am – a small glass (50 – 75 ml) would do.

Turmeric and black pepper are ideal for milk for kapha prakriti

Give a gap of atleast 2 hours before eating breakfast and do your daily exercise in this time.

Milk for Vata leaning Prakriti:

If you are underweight, restless, prone to insomnia and are easily stressed, have panic attacks, etc, please try this Milk combination to channelize aggravated pitta.

Boil Milk in the ayurvedic way as given above.

To this Milk, please add a pinch of pepper, 1 – 2 roasted and powdered cardamom pods and organic mishri (sulpharless sugar). Start with 50 ml, and gradually build it up as you find your absorption level improving. You can drink upto 150 ml of Milk / day for this prakriti. however, Vata leaning individuals have varying digestive capacity – so the body must be gradually accustomed to this drink.

Cardamom and sugar should be used to spice milk for vata prakriti

Drink this milk after bowel movements, first thing in the morning. Gentle yogic exercises should follow, 30 minutes after this drink.

Milk for Pitta leaning Prakriti:

If you have stable body weight, are neither under / over weight and are generally Pitta prakriti prone, please try this Milk combination for pitta channelizing.

Boil Milk the ayurvedic way, as given above.

To this Milk, please add a small amount of sugar (sugar level in between Kapha and Vata Milk), and a powdered spice mix of 1 elaichi pod, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of pepper and 2 pinches of dhania (coriander seeds) powder, roasted and ground. Pitta leaning individuals can start with 75 ml and go upto 125 ml of Milk.

Dhania and pepper should be used to process milk for Pitta prakriti

Do light household chores after this Milk (if unused to Milk) like light sweeping, folding of clothes, clearing up, watering plants, etc. and then go onto yoga.

Ghee (Go Ghrita) to balance Pitta:

A2 organic ghee is an elixir to the body. Small amounts of melted ghee help rein in aggravated pitta, channelizes pitta better, help the body absorb nutrients better and improve metabolism. This view of Ghee is not shared by Allopaths and Western Medicine. If you have a pre-existing Medical condition that frowns upon the use of Ghee, please check with your health practitioner before starting on this.

For those in good health, Ayurveda advises adding ghee to every meal. 1 – 1.5 teaspoons of melted cow ghee can be added to every meal. This helps each meal to be absorbed and assimilated better by the body. This is especially useful when Pitta is aggravated.

We have a longer, more detailed post explaining how Ghee should be sourced, why it is important to source Desi, A2 cow ghee. Please go through this post.

Takra (well churned buttermilk) to channelize pitta:

Ayurveda lists many ways of preparing Takra (buttermilk). This varies depends upon the prakriti of the individual. However, to be on the safe side, and to ensure Takra can be had by all, we suggest making well churned, fat free Takra (buttermilk).

Curd is considered Pitta-kapha aggravating and abhisyandi (producing excessive mucous secretion) as per Ayurveda. Hence it is prohibited for everyone , except in certain health conditions. When eaten, it must be eaten only in certain seasons and only with the addition of certain dravyas in it to reduce some of its harmful effects. We will delve into this in a separate post.

Curd is pitta kapha aggravating as per ayurveda

But when we churn curd with water and extract butter from it, we get Takra or buttermilk. The ayurvedic qualities of Takra are very different from Curd. Takra is astringent to the body although it is also slightly “ushna” or hot in nature.

Hence, it is allowed only in measured quantities for Pitta aggravation, provided the curd it is made from is freshly made and not sour. This Takra can be had 2 – 3 times a week or even everyday if Pitta aggravation is not too high. It helps reduce inflammations, and is very useful in conditions like Hemorrhoids, which is a common Pitta complaint.

Buttermilk or takra is slightly hot, digetsive and astringent as per Ayurveda

How to make Takra:

Watered down Takra is made by adding 4 – 6 parts Water to freshly set, home made, full-fat, desi A2 curd and churning at slow speed in a mixer or using a hand blender. The butter that separates should be carefully strained and removed and can be stored aside to make ghee.

The churning is an important part of the ayurvedic process to transform Curd into Takra.

Churn curd until butter separates to make buttermilk

The strained Takra is seasoned with rock salt, roasted jeera powder, pepper, black salt, etc, depending upon the need, and then consumed. Do not drink chilled or ice cold Takra – it is better to allow curd to come to room temperature before making Takra.

Properly prepared and spiced Takra is extremely Pitta channelizing. It is digestive and carminative in nature without overloading Pitta dosha and sharply aggravating Pitta’s qualities.

Agni balancing spices:

In our earlier post on Pitta aggravating foods, we had discussed how certain spices like cayenne pepper, red and green chillies, etc severely aggravate Pitta as they are ”teekshna” (intense), “katu” (spicy) and “ushna” (hot) in nature.

However, spices are essential in cooking as per Ayurveda. They help enhance taste, cut down some of the undesirable qualities of food , and help kindle Agni and also help metabolise food better.

For pitta aggravation, Ayurveda recommends using the following spices: Rock salt, Pepper, Jeera, Curry Leaf, Dhania (leaf and seed). Additionally spices like Fennel ,Elaichi and Cardamom can also be used.

Certain spices like Jeera help channelise Pitta dosha very well

Rock Salt:

Rock salt (saindhav lavana) is considered to have a cooling effect on the body , which is unusual given its taste. Hence it is recommended by Acharya Charaka to be used everyday in meals. Rock Salt is much better for health than using refined, chemical salts which are commonly available in a super market. This is also available as Himalayan salt, Himalayan Pink salt, or plain Rock Salt.

Saindhava lavana is a pitta balancing salt

Ayurveda tells us that using the right salt , in quantities that are appropriate for our prakriti, aids digestion. Saindhava lavana improves digestion, aids metabolism, clears blocked channels, and aids nutrient absorption. Hence when Saindhav lavana is properly used it is pitta channelizing.

If we use too much of even Saindhava lavana we aggravate Pitta dosha. If we use iodized table salt, even in small amounts, we SEVERELY aggravate Pitta dosha. If we eat hotel food, which is often laced with high amounts of MSG, we are even MORE SEVERELY aggravating Pitta. If we eat food preserved in Vinegar and commercial salt like pickles, pickled vegetables and even so-called healthy foods like Kimchi, we are adding Petrol to the Forest Fire.

MSG laced foods aggravate Pitta severely

Mildly Ushna Spices:

Maricha (pepper) and Jeera (Cumin) are ushna  (hot), and digestive spices. However, they are considered essential for aiding digestion, taste and metabolism. When used in small amounts they help channelise Pitta and do not set it on edge. But spices like chillies, cayaenne pepper, commercial salt and vinegar all aggravate Pitta. Hence, “teekshna” or intense Pitta aggravating spices should be replaced with these Ushna, Pitta channelizing spices instead.

Digestive, Pitta balancing spices:

Certain spices like Dhania seeds, Fennel seeds, Elaichi are only mildly ushna and Pitta balancing in nature. These should be an essential part of a Pitta balancing diet and should be used to spice and season food as often as possible.

Spices like fennel should be used to make pitta balancing spice blends

For Pitta aggravation, it is worth replacing traditional masalas with specially made masalas that use the above spices. For example, Sambhar powder can be made using Mung dal(roasted) instead of Tuvar dal and pepper instead of red chilies to suit and balance Pitta aggravation.

To sum up – channelizing pitta through certain foods & spices:

In the second part of our Pitta balancing through food series, we explored the properties of Dairy based dravyas like Milk, Takra and Ghee and also looked at how they should be processed to suit various prakritis. We also looked at the benefits of a few Pitta balancing spices and seasoning substances like Rock Salt and understood their role in pitta channelizing restoring the body to a state of harmony.

Ahara niyama (food rules) are essential to maintain health and well being according to Ayurveda. The Samhitas tell us that these niyama should be subtly altered as per our individual prakriti to ensure that we what we eat support and heals our body, restoring it to a state f balance.

Pitta aggravation is a common aggravation we come across at Krya – this leads to certain skin and hair issues like premature greying, oily scalp, hair thinning, skin allergies, rashes, acne, etc. When this aggravation is tackled through food, lifestyle and external products, there is a much more holistic sense of balance achieved by the body. Therefore we are able to tackle skin and hair problems much faster.

In the 3rd part of this series, we will explore how controlling meal timings can greatly help control aggravated Pitta. We will also look at sample menu plans we could adopt if we would like to balance aggravated Pitta dosha.

For help choosing the right hair and skin products to control aggravated Pitta dosha, please call us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.

 

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Pitta balancing diet Part 1: Using specific Rasas (tastes) to balance Pitta

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If you are suffering from a visible Pitta imbalance like premature greying, acne outbreaks, then a Pitta balancing diet can help holistically heal your condition. Ayurveda believes in following a holistic approach to understanding skin and hair issues. Hair and skin reflects the body’s state of balance. Diet, emotional well being, quality of sleep, quality of daily Vyayama (exercise) all affect the body. These factors create changes in the subtle alignment of doshas in our body. This reflects in the quality of our skin or hair.

Pitta dosha: qualities and life stage

Pitta is “snigdha” (oily), “teekshna” (sharp), “ushna” (hot), “laghu” (light) “vishra” (mal-odourous), “sara“ ( flowing / laxative), and “drava” (liquid).

Hence when we have Pitta aggravation in our body, we could experience sharp discomfort in the abdomen, diarrhoea, gastritis, temper flares, strong body odour, high sweating, oiliness on hair and skin, etc. We could also develop acne flare ups, experience premature greying & also hair thinning.

Pitta aggravation can cause strong body odour

Ayurveda tells us that every lifestage is dominant in a certain dosha. Middle age, i.e. 30 – 60 years is considered Pitta dominant lifestage. In this age period, we naturally tend to harness and utilise Pitta’s qualities to help us focus on our career, manage our responsibilities, etc. Hence at this stage, we become even more sensitive to Pitta aggravation.

Pitta aggravating foods:

We had written earlier in detail about foods that trigger or aggravate Pitta in the body. This includes fermented foods, salty foods, spicy foods, and sour foods. We have a pretty detailed list of don’ts in the earlier blog post. This list includes commercial packaged RTE foods which are high in hidden salts and imported delicacies like Greek yoghurt, tahini sauce and hummus.

Consumption of these foods is tolerable when our doshas in balance. At this time, Pitta drayvyas help stimulate appetite, aid digestion and allow for appropriately timed digestion in the body. The problem occurs when we have already aggravated Pitta dosha.

In a Pitta aggravated person, a single helping of curd or 2 meals with idlis and dosas in them can act like a lit match on a petrol doused bundle. Pitta sharply flares up and you will notice an increase in rage issues, skin oiliness, breakouts and inability to switch off and sleep on time.

A single helping of curd can tip teh balance if you are already pitta aggravated

Basics of a Pitta balancing diet:

The Pitta balancing diet is based on 3 principles to help balance aggravated Pitta:

  • Introduce Tastes (Rasas) that are opposite to Pitta to bring Pitta down
  • Introduce Agni balancing dravyas and Spices
  • Ensure Pitta is not spiked by controlling meal timings

Each of these work in a slightly different way to harmonise aggravated Agni. In this post , we will explore the use of Rasa (tastes) to help balance aggravated Pitta dosha.

 

Using Opposing Tastes (Rasas) to balance Pitta:

A Pitta balancing diet uses “bitter”, “sweet” and “astringent” tastes that act like a countermeasure to Pitta which is “amla” (sour), “lavana” (salty) and “katu” (spicy) in taste. The tastes are added in this order: Bitter, Sweet and Astringent for best effect on aggravated Pitta.

 

Using Bitter taste “Tikta Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Bitter taste (Tikta rasa) is very pitta balancing. Bitter taste has the quality of “dryness”, coolness” and “lightness”. Hence it helps balance the oiliness and heat caused by aggravated Pitta dosha. Therefore, including foods, herbs and seasonings which are rich in Tikta rasa, is an essential part of a Pitta balancing diet.

Many local vegetables and greens are inherently “Tikta” in rasa. For example, parwal, lauki, ridge gourd, ash gourd are native gourds. All of these gourds have an inherent “tikta” or bitter rasa. These vegetables can be added to vegetable / dal dishes to impart a bitter taste to food.

Local gourds are naturally rich in Tikta rasa

 

“Shukto” and Vempampoo-rasam (Neem flower rasam) are also examples of bitter rasa found in traditional cuisine. Neem flower rasam is introduced in Indian cuisine at the beginning of the onset of Summer, when Pitta is high.

Traditional cooking also has included many tikta rasa rich dishes seasonally

Certain spices and seasonings also have a “tikta rasa”. An example is fenugreek seed which is recommended to be eaten by diabetics and pre-diabetics in Ayurveda. Bitter rasa in moderate amounts is useful to control Pitta aggravation and Kapha aggravation. Similarly, rosemary, oregano and parsley seasoning also has a mild Tikta rasa.

Tikta dravyas can aggravate Vata dosha when eaten in excess and cause dryness in the body. Hence, as always, please follow moderation when planning your meals.

Some examples of Tikta Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Bitter gourd
    • Methi greens
    • Parwal
    • Lauki (Bottle gourd)
    • Ash gourd (white pumpkin)
    • Ridge gourd
    • Non sour locally available greens
  • Spices & seasonings
    • Turmeric
    • Fenugreek seed
    • Rosemary
    • Oregano
    • Thyme

Turmeric is rich in Tikta rasa and is highly nutritious

  • Ayurvedic Tikta Herbs used in Krya products
    • Neem
    • Neem flower
    • Kalmegh
    • Vetiver
    • Sandalwood

Sandal is cleansing and good for skin and high in tikta rasa

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Tikta (bitter) foods  to craft a Pitta balancing diet :

  • Local gourds added to liquid / gravy dishes in a rotational basis like Lauki, Parwal, etc
  • Use of Tikta herbs in cooking to season food like turmeric, Fenugreek, etc
  • Occasional use of Tikta dried herbs to flavour food like Rosemary, Thyme, etc wherever appropriate

Include seasonal local gourds into your cuisine

Using Sweet taste “Madhura Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Madhura Rasa is “guru” (heavy), “sheetya” (cold), “snigdha” (oily) and is nourishing and grounding due to the predominance of Prithvi Panchamahabootha. Hence it helps calm down and ground aggravated Pitta. This does not mean that we should gorge on desserts and sweets. These are artificially sweet due to the presence of sugar in them. In Ayurveda, when we say “Sweet” or “Madhura rasa”, we mean that the tongue recognises the substance as “sweet” (Rasa) and that its taste post digestion in the body (Vipaka) is also sweet.

An example of this is Milk. A2 cows milk when freshly boiled has Madhura Rasa (tongue taste) and Madhura vipaka (taste post digestion). Hence it is used to balance Pitta aggravation in the diet.

As Madhura Rasa is also “snigdha”, eating too much of this can trigger excess oiliness and heaviness in the body. Hence do not eat artificially sweet substances, or eat too much of Madhura rasa.

Some other examples of Madhura dravya / Substances are the following:

  • Cereals
    • Aged rice
    • Aged Wheat
  • Sweeteners
    • Mishri (unprocessed sugar candy)
    • Guda (jaggery)
  • Vegetables
    • Fresh coconut pulp, milk and water
    • Naturally sweet Vegetables like sweet potato, beetroot, Kaddu (yellow pumpkin), carrot

Beets and naturally sweet vegetables are rich in Madhura rasa

  • Fruits
    • Dried Black Raisins (draksha) – Munakka variety
    • Seasonal Sweet, juicy fruits
  • Dairy
    • Freshly boiled , unpasteurised A2 cow milk
    • A2 ghee
  • Ayurvedic Madhura Herbs used in Krya products
    • Liquorice
    • Guda (Jaggery)
    • Guduchi (Madhura vipaka only)

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Madhura (sweet) foods in our diet to help balance aggravated Pitta.

  • Melted A2 cow ghee – across all meals in small amounts
  • A2 cows milk – unpasteurised and freshly boiled – one small glass everyday

 

A2 Cows milk is nourishing and madhura in nature

  • Seasonal sweet, juicy fruits
  • Rotation of Natural sweet vegetables
  • Carefully sourced Aged organic Rice and wheat
  • 2 – 3 soaked Munakka (large black grape) raisins 3 – 4 times a week

Dried raisin is an excellent pitta balancing dry fruit

 

Using Astringent taste “Kashaya Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Kashaya rasa is a taste that is most often missing in modern-day foods. This is an important rasa which is vital to our health. Foods rich in Kashaya rasa usually have a lekhaniya (scraping effect) and are very useful in healing the body of excess fat, fluid collection, inflammation, etc. Kashaya rasa has “rooksha” (drying), “sheetya” (cold) and “laghu” (light) qualities- hence it helps balance Pitta dosha.

Kashaya rasa is wound healing, absorbs excess secretions and clears mucous. It helps clarify the tongue and skin and is calming and healing to the body. It is also a good blood clarifier.

In excess, Kashaya rasa can be excessively drying and vata aggravating on the body. Please do not overindulge in this taste.

 

Some examples of Kashaya Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Lettuce
    • Fennel
    • Banana flower

Banana flower is naturally kashaya in nature

  • Fruits
    • Amla (Indian gooseberry)
    • Pomegranates (choose well ripened, sweet fruits and not sour)

Pomegranate is a medicinal fruit which has strong Kashaya rasa

  • Sweeteners
    • Honey
    • Indian Date – Kharik

Indian date is Kashaya in nature

  • Herbs & seasonings
    • Parsley
    • Coriander
    • Basil
  • Ayurvedic Kashaya herbs used in Krya products
    • Amla
    • Haritaki
    • Vibhitaki
    • Triphala(combination of above 3 herbs)
    • Khadira
    • Arjuna Twak (bark)
    • Lodhra Twak (bark)
    • Sappanwood

 

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Astringent (sweet) foods in our diet to create a Pitta balancing diet .

  • Amla made in different methods 2 – 3 times a week: Can be made as a raita (using buttermilk or thin curd), Chutney, Preserve, or as a souring agent into Dal / Sambhar

Include Amla in your diet frequently

  • Pomegranates – 2 times a week – choose sweet fruits only
  • Chutneys / Dips / Pesto made from Basil / Coriander – twice a week
  • Overnight soaked Khajoora eaten once / twice a week

 

To sum up:

In part 1 of our post describing the Pitta balancing diet, we explored how using specific Rasas (tastes) in your meals can help bring down aggravated Pitta.  Using rasas which have opposing qualities as that of Pitta help balance spiked Pitta levels and also bring in better nourishment and satiety to the body, improving health.

In the next part of our blog post, we will explore how using specific dravyas and spices like milk, ghee, coriander seeds, etc help counter excess Agni in the body. In the case of certain dravyas, we will also explore how different prakritis (body types) should have these dravyas for optimal health. Part 3 of our post will have detailed daily meal plan suggestions that can help you plan a Pitta balancing diet.

 

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Treating open pores with ayurveda

Oily food aggravates pitta dosha clogging pores from within
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Reading Time: 11 minutes

Email 1:

“Dear Team Krya

I have large visible open pores, oily looking skin and craters and blemishes which are remnants of my acne filled youth.

Can you help with this?”

 

Email 2:

“Dear Team Krya,

I am 35. My skin tends to be normal – oily and has a tendency to break out around my periods. My pores are generally large and oily looking. And this is made extra obvious to me when I visit my parlour, and I am told to try chemical peels or microdermabrasion to minimise this.

Is there any natural, non invasive way to get better skin?”

What are open pores?

Have you been “expertly diagnosed” by your parlour facialist as having open pores? Or has a quick perusal of a beauty magazine suggested this term to you? Does your make-up look cake-y on application ? Has a makeup expert suggested that this is because of your open pores?

blog 1 - magazine

Open pores are our chief complaint at Krya as well, and the reason why so many women write to us asking for a better solution to their skincare woes.

Open pores are a mysterious animal though. While commonly experienced and often self diagnosed by many of us, there is no strict definition from a Dermatology point of view, as to what might constitute an open pore. Neither is there a precise definition of when the pilosebaceous ostia (sweat and sebum expelling openings) are enlarged enough to call them an open / magnified pore.

Clinical dermatological Research on open pores:

A study published in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology journal in 2015 gives us some clues about these open pores. This study analysed responses from a multi ethnic group of women (Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Brazilian, French etc) of 2400+ women from the age group of 18 – 80.

Some of the conclusions this study drew were as follows:

  • There is no one definition of what is a common open pore. Pore sizes varied across ethnicity, age and region
  • The lowest variation in pore size was seen in Chinese and Japanese women
  • There is a slight increase in pore size from the age of 18 to the age of 40 across all ethnicities and regions. This increase was the most marked among Indians and Brazilians (this increase was not statistically significant nor was it rigorously tested having a reasonable sample size of the full age spectrum in each ethnicity).

Despite not reaching too many statistically significant conclusions, the study concluded that aging affected pore size in some way, and there were differences in pore size across ethnicities. Cultural conditioning and expectations of beauty largely determined each ethnic groups focus on open pores.

Unsurprisingly, the Brazilians and Indians were extremely concerned by their open pores.

blog 2 open pores

Current aesthetic beliefs and practices around open pores:

Pore shrinking is a very common beauty service offered at beauty parlours and dermatologists’ practice. This service exists despite the fact that open pores are not a serious part of any dermatology text. There is also no clear cut acceptable research to show what causes their enlargement to take place.

Opinions among dermatologists vary about the origin of these open pores. Some believe that we are simply referring to old acne scars and pits as open pores. This is explained by the fact that every open pore contains the openings to several pilosebaceous ostia (pores). So what we call an open pore is simply the unevenness of skin.

blog 3 pitting
Dermatologists attached to beauty companies have a different take on this. Many beauty companies say that open pores are a natural result of skin cells being clogged with dead cells, sebum and cosmetic products. As the ostia are clogged by these toxins, the opening of the ostia widens to help the skin perform its excretory function properly. This explains the slowly expanding nature of the open pore.
blog 4 activated charcoal

Depending upon whose explanation you choose to believe, different kinds of beauty products and services are now available to tackle open pores.

For those who believe in the “clogged pore” theory, products and services designed to “unclog” skin exist. Hence you have exfoliating scrubs, toners, and foaming / non foaming face washes being sold with claim ingredients as varied as tea tree ,rosemary to activated charcoal.

For dermatologists who are still on the fence about the cause behind open pores, services to peel or sandpaper away the top layer of skin are the treatments of choice. Hence chemical peels and micro dermabrasion are suggested to literally sand paper the skin and remove its outer layer and encourage a new and smoother layer of skin to grow back.

blog 5 peel

The Ayurvedic point of view on open pores:

Let’s start with the most obvious point: Ayurveda does NOT have any point of view on open pores. What Ayurveda does have, is a very strong, well researched point of view on skin health, and several rational explanations to make us understand why our skin texture and nature changes with age. Ayurveda also focusses heavily on health of Srotas. Through various practices and products, Srotas are supposed to be kept pliable and clean in order to function well.

The Rise of Pitta dosha in middle age:

First, Ayurveda says that “pitta” strikes us at 2 phases in our life. The first is at puberty, when it is triggered by hormonal changes in the body. The second time Pitta strikes is in middle age (defined in Ayurveda and Siddha as the age between 30 – 60). The increase in Pitta in middle age is due to the increase in responsibilities that we face in this period, necessitating the gifts that enhanced Pitta dosha gives us.

blog post 6 teenage pitta
Pitta dosha is the dosha responsible for decisiveness, an ability to complete things, the ability to lead. In short the ability to lead your family, shoulder responsibilities, make financial decisions , plan your career, etc. When we enter Ayurvedic middle age, we throw away the carefree nature of childhood and become responsible . We get married, perhaps start a family, shoulder responsibilities for our parents, take charge of our careers, etc. It is therefore no wonder that we draw upon the qualities of Pitta dosha to see us through this time.

blog post 7 middle age

However, high use or over use of a dosha, leaves the body vulnerable to the effects of that particular dosha being aggravated. Also, as per Ayurveda, like attracts like. So when we are overusing a particular Dosha, we tend to aggravate it further by eating Pitta stimulating foods or doing Pitta increasing activities.

So in our Pitta phase of life, we may see ourselves gravitating towards sharp, spicy, tangy foods (Chinese hot and sour anyone?). We may also became more impatient, get stressed out more, and become less tolerant to things not proceeding as per our plan.

blog post 8 eating pitta
When this mixture of life phase, foods and behaviour all overload Pitta dosha, we see its effects on the way our body functions and the way our skin and hair looks.

Pitta aggravated skin and hair symptoms:

We have seen the basic nature of Pitta dosha before: Ayurveda terms Pitta dosha as “sara” or liquid, “teekshna” or intense, dravya (oily and spreading nature), foul smelling, hot and quick to spread.

If we interpret this in skin terms: we see that Pitta afflicted skin is oily, sweats easily, reacts quickly to disturbances in pitta (quick skin rash), is usually warm to touch or flushed looking, and can have a foul odour .

blog post 9 pitta skin
On hair and scalp we see something similar: pitta afflicted hair has an oily scalp, can sweat easily, and hair is usually prematurely grey, and has reddish tints in it naturally (like Agni / fire). Pitta aggravated hair thins easily especially in the parting and the hair is usually fine and not very thick.

blog post 10 pitta hair

How pitta aggravation enlarges and worsens open pores:

High pitta in the body dilates the blood vessels, and heats up skin. In this scenario, you will have a greater amount of sebum being secreted. This excessive sebum attracts the invasion of micro organisms. As they multiply, they fill the skin surface with debris and dead cells.

When pitta is aggravated, we are repetitively drawn to eating Pitta aggravating food. If you respond to this call and eat junk food, and sharp and spicy food, you are also reducing the body’s ability to metabolise food properly . As metabolism is impaired, there is an internal build up of Ama / toxins.

Oily food aggravates pitta dosha clogging pores from within

This internal toxin build up and external clogging affects Srotas at both ends. Without enough free space to perform their normal functions, they are forced to expand further resulting in larger and more visible open pores. The excess material in the srotas is ejected improperly onto skin in the form of whiteheads and black heads and acne.

This can make your scars and pits look larger, and generate a lot of excess material which should be removed gently from skin.

How is Pitta aggravated skin treated in Ayurveda?

All Ayurvedic skin and hair care starts with the right diet and regimen. So, there is no point in treating pitta aggravated skin without correcting the underlying diet or behaviors.

Once we have tackled the diet, and adopted the right lifestyle practices to control excess Pitta, we look at specific herbs and products that Ayurveda recommends for Pitta aggravated skin.

Pitta aggravated skin is treated extremely gently in Ayurveda. This is because pitta reactions start very fast and spread in an uncontrolled manner through the skin (imagine a forest fire raging out of control, and you will get this analogy). So Ayurvedic skin care for pitta problems (open pores, oiliness and acne) has a very gentle approach.

blog post 11 treat gently

Ayurvedic Srota cleansing

The original Ayurvedic equivalent of ostia is the Srota. We have seen how Srota are present all over skin and help in heat exchange, excretion of sweat and toxins and also produce minute amounts of sebum to help skin stay at the right pH and well moisturised. Ayurveda says it is critical to cleanse these Srotas properly to ensure they are debris and clog free and open to doing their job well. This cleansing has to be done WITHOUT drying out the srotas. When Srotas are dry, they do not expand and contract properly, so the skin’s job of toxin removal and heat regulation is not done properly.

Srotas have to be cleansed with the adsorption and pressure method as per Ayurveda. As Ayurveda says each Srota is like a tube, we have to scoop out debris and dirt from inside the tube (think of cleaning a slim plastic straw). Soaps and face washes use surfactants that only clean the opening of the srotas.  But, because of their drying nature, they also suck out moisture from skin. So the dirt and debris lodged in the srotas still remain and the srotas lose their elasticity.

So a mixture of grains and lentils and herbs that are ground and sifted to a very small particle size are used. By the gentle pressure they exert on the skin surface, the Srotas are encouraged to open up and dislodge dirt trapped inside. The cleansing base adheres to this dirt and excess sebum and sponges off the dirt and debris by skin.

As there is no surfactant use, there is no stripping of sebum from skin.

blog post 12 srota cleansing

Use of pitta balancing, cooling herbs

To counter excessive pitta, Ayurveda suggests using specific, pitta balancing herbs. These herbs counterbalance Pitta in the skin surface by using sweet and bitter qualities to pacify aggravated Pitta. Therefore herbs famously used for Pitta aggravated skin are Usheera (Vetiver), Chandana (Sandal), Sariva (Indian Sarsaparilla), Avartaki (Cassia auriculata), Bilwa, etc.

blog post 13 pitta balancing

These herbs counter the warm and hot nature of Pitta aggravated skin and bring a soothing, cooling effect on skin, besides balancing Pitta and improving the complexion.

Use of bitter, anti bacterial and anti fungal herbs

Because of the nature of Pitta to generate so much liquid (sweat and sebum), it tends to create an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.  Hence all Ayurvedic formulations for pitta prone skin use bitter, anti bacterial herbs to help keep invasive micro organisms out of skin. Obviously, these herbs do not work like standard synthetic anti bacterial ingredients like Triclosan do.

Instead, Ayurvedic herbs work along with the body’s microbiome layer and helps keep invading organisms out by boosting conditions for friendly organisms, and working on keeping out only harmful micro organisms. Most importantly, we do not develop resistance to anti bacterial herbs – like we often do to ingredients like Triclosan.

Some of these herbs include Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Bhui nimba (Kalmegh), Triphala (blend of 3 Ayurvedic fruits), Bakuchi (Psoralea cordifolia), etc.
blog post 14 bitters

Use of complexion improving and blemish correcting herbs

Ayurveda classifies many herbs as “Kantivardhaka” herbs, which means complexion improving. When we use the word Kanthi vardhaka, we mean something that is very different from “fairness”.

Ayurveda does not especially value “fair skin”. Skin is only measured for its health aspects and ability to function well. So smoothness, quality and evenness of complexion, etc are all ways of understanding the underlying balance of skin.

Kantivardhaka herbs work to improve micro circulation of the skin and boost cellular repair. They therefore promote an even skin tone, good texture and good elasticity in skin. Some of these herbs include Kushta , Punarnava , Durva, Ashwagandha, etc.

blog post 15 even out

Judicious use of skin balancing facial oils to maintain elasticity of Srotas :

Ayurveda suggests a 2 pronged approach to skin care. The first is cleansing with live, whole grains and herbs. This ensures the srotas are thorough cleaned and that skin is not stripped of its natural protective oils. The second is to augment the skin’s natural facial oils by a carefully prepared botanical oil.

An ayurvedic botanical oil judiciously adds nourishment to skin and srotas leaving teh skin system healthy, supple, elastic and well nourished.

When we apply herb, flower and fruit infused botanical oils on skin, we help improve the elasticity of the srotas. We also selectively encourage the growth of a healthy microbiome.  Balance and health are restored to skin.

To sum up:

We have discussed open pores, and seen the differences between how they are treated by Western Cosmetic ‘Science’ and Ayurveda.

Ayurveda focuses on holistic living and looks at the sum of everything an individual is doing to treat problems that may arise. Therefore, this post discussed how the right diet, right lifestyle practices combined with the right herbs and skin care routine can help look after pitta prone skin.

One of the biggest differences in how Ayurveda treats skin lies in the ayurvedic concept of Srotas. This post saw how Srota health = Skin health . We also discussed why Ayurveda recommends the use of special facial cleansers made of grains , lentils and herbs to cleanse and care for skin.

This is why chemical peels or microdermabrasion are not a long lasting holistic solution to open pores, breakouts and oily skin. Unless we tackle oily skin both internally and externally, we cannot reverse the appearance of oily pores or blemishes.

We hope this post gave you good insights into your skin and explained how to care for skin. Please do try the methods we have recommended to cleanse and care for oily, pitta-prone skin.

If you have any queries on the above, please write to us. 

Krya Products suggested for Pitta prakriti Skin :

Visibly reduce open pores, heal oily skin and improve skin functioning, appearance and texture:

 

 

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Krya formulation Tuesdays – Krya classic skin oil with Manjishta & Chandana for oily skin

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I recently received an email from a consumer asking for help to choose the right skin care products for her. She is a 21 year old girl who lives in a very hot and dry climate where temperatures are usually between 37 – 40 deg centigrade. She found that her skin was going dry in summer, so she opted for a reputed brand of moisturizing face wash (synthetic).

At first, her skin responded well and the sense of dryness was gone. Within a few weeks of continuing to use the face wash, this young girl found that her skin started to get much oilier than normal, and whiteheads and blackheads started to crop up.

Here’s where Ayurveda’s subtle nuances on diagnosing exactly which dosha is unbalanced can help us. Regular cosmetic science simply diagnoses dry skin as well, dry skin. So skin is simply subjected to an oilier lotion with a higher number of humectants. As all synthetic creams and lotions are made from a base that is derived from petroleum, we see that the product tends to be comedogenic (pore clogging) and is also not absorbed by the skin.

1.when dry skin isnt really dry skin

So any difference we see is surface, and we are not helping the skin at a deeper level. Also, because of the pore clogging nature of the products themselves, we are interfering with or impairing the normal functioning of the skin underneath.

 

Prakriti (individual constitution): a valuable tool to identify the correct dosha imbalance in skin

Ayurveda classifies our prakriti as the unique mixture of doshas that make up who we are. This is made unique by taking in factors like our age, the season, the climatic conditions where we live, the current stresses we go through, our life stage, etc.

Each of these factors contribute to our prakriti at any point in time. Depending upon where we live, season, age, etc, our natural prakriti may see an increase in specific doshas or a decrease in specific doshas. This can cause an imbalance which can lead to skin, hair or other health issues.

 

Example 1: Life stage and diet affecting prakriti

Take the case of a Vata-Pitta prakriti individual. She is around 30, and has just delivered a baby 2 months ago. She is not following standard pathiyam diet and is instead eating a lot of sour and spicy food. Her hair is greying and is also looking very dry, with brittleness and snapping of the hair when ebbing combed.

 

In Ayurveda, we would analyse her condition thus:

Being a Vata-Pitta prakriti individual, she is already subject to the drying, mobile influence of Vata and heating influence of Pitta. As she is in her 30s, age-wise she is in Pitta dominant stage of her life. As she has just given birth and has not followed proper pathiyam and post partum abhyanga, her Vata dosha will be in excess. As she is now eating Pitta increasing foods, pitta prakriti will also be in excess.

2.post partum greying

 

So we see vata and pitta vitiated condition in hair like premature greying, drying of scalp, and brittleness of hair. If we further question her, we may also see dryness and redness in skin, presence of youvana pidaka (acne on back and skin), aches and pains in the back and hips and IBS or constipation depending upon what is being eaten.

For this lady, we should give pitta and vata pacifying (shramana) measures. Her diet must be corrected, eating timings must be regulated, and vata pacifying measures like Abhyanga should be adopted. Hair oiling must be done with a pitta reducing oil and ghee intake and stomach and back exercises must be done to regulate both doshas and promote strength and vitality in the body.

 

How is skin diagnosed in Ayurveda: an example

Taking the example of the young girl who had written to us about her skin. She is 21, and lives in a hot and dry climate. In this age, pitta is generally dominant. Pitta may have gotten worse by the pitta in the environment because of high temperature.

Skin can go dry in Ayurveda because of 2 reasons: Vata dosha dominant climate so in peak winter, due to cold weather, we see “rooksha” or roughness in the skin.

Skin can also go dry in hot sum. So when we spend a day at the beach, or stay outside in very hot weather, we see that the skin goes dry and parched when the sun removes moisture from the skin. Tanned skin is also dry due to high heat. However, it does not crack like skin does in cold and dry weather. Instead it burns and becomes tight and uncomfortable due to excess pitta.

3. sun aggravated dryness

 

The herbs and anupana used for vata related dryness and pitta related dryness will therefore be completely different. For vata related dryness, we use moisture-rich herbs and seeds like almonds, charoli, and sweet herbs like Yashti (Liquorice) and damage repairing herbs like Ashwagandha.

The herbs and anupana used for pitta related dryness are quite different. We use pitta balancing herbs like Neem, Durva, Sariva, etc. All these herbs suck out excess Pitta and improve the skin pigmentation and darkening brought in by excess pitta. We use circulation and rakta rejuvenating herbs like Manjishta and Daru haridra. We also use rejuvenatory and skin improving herbs and fruits like Brahmi, Mangoes, etc.

4. neem

 

 

Facial care in Ayurveda: cleansing rules

Skin cleansing is done following a rigid set of rules in Ayurveda. Skin is always cleansed with a well thought out combination of herbs, grains and lentils. This ensures that the skin’s pH and barrier function is well maintained. Depending upon the prakriti of the individual and ritukala (season), specific herbs are added to the base.

When cleansed this way, the sebum levels in the skin are never suddenly depleted or added to. Skin remains soft and does not feel parched and tight. Most importantly, the cleansing is strongly functional and removes clogs and toxins from the cells leaving the skin free to continue its normal functioning.

5. gentle ayurevdic clenaisng

Facial skin is always cleansed in cool or luke warm water. The cleansing is done using gentle circulatory movements and is done after yogic exercise or any sort of movement to help flush out toxins from the skin pores.

 

The role of lepas (creams), oils and leave on masks in Ayurveda:

Try as we might we do not see references to leave on skin products in Ayurveda. Certain lepas (creams) are formulated specifically for diseased skin conditions like burns where the skin requires the healing effect of herbs and cannot be left open and unprotected.

Masks or short leave on products are routinely referenced too and used in Ayurveda. Sometimes this could be a part of the bathing routine itself where the ubtan / bathing powder is itself used like a mask. Sometimes, a specially formulated mask is used to transfer the healing and repairing properties of the herbs to skin.

6. lepas and masks

 

The concept of emulsions is very well known in Ayurveda: so many ancient recipes for Ayurvedic creams exist. However, lotions are not a common skin care format in Ayurveda. For skin application, different kinds of oils are routinely used.

 

Many specific facial oils are referred to in Ayurveda: kumkumadi tailam is one such formulation, which has now become extremely well known (we will do a separate post on this later on the Krya blog). This is a very ancient formulation said to have been developed by the Ashwini Kumaras. Kumkumadi tailam is generally used for youvana pidaka (Acne) or skin which has hyper pigmentation, blemishes and darkening due to excess pitta or sun exposure.

7. kumkumadi tailam

Generally even these facial oils are used pre-bath. The texts also allow for application at night on damp skin in very minute quantity. When doing a leave on application of any skin care product, we must take great care to understand the right dosage of the product for our skin. The product must be easily absorbed by the skin and should not persist, and clog its pores.

 

How does very dry skin occur as per Ayurveda:

I often receive emails from consumers stating that their skin is very dry and literally “drinks up” moisturiser. So they are dismayed when I tell them I have no natural substitute to their leave on moisturiser. Being used to routinely applying a leave on moisturiser, our no-moisturiser-on-skin policy is received with dismay.

 

Here are some points where Ayurveda differs when it comes to slathering skin with moisturiser:

  • Skin is supposed to perspire and do heat exchange with the atmosphere keeping the rest of the body cool
  • Sweda (sweat) is an important vehicle to remove excess salts, and toxins which are excreted form the body. The proper production of Sweda supports other excretory organs like the kidneys which can get overloaded if your skin does not do its work
  • Therefore the goal of Ayurvedic skin care is to properly moisturise the skin and all its layers and then cleanse it well so the minor srotas (circulatory channels) are open and functioning well to do their job of heat regulation and cleansing.

8. Sweda

This leads me to the main reason many of us like using a moisturiser: dehydration due to the AC at home / work.

 

Skin dehydration due to high usage of the air conditioner:

If we work in an air conditioned environment, we are subjecting our skin and body to microbes which are constantly being circulated in the stale air, low humidity and temperatures which are not ideal for the body. Living and working in an air conditioned environment sharply increases vata in the body so skin becomes dry, and aches and pains increase. When vata aggravating food is added to this (tea, coffee, crisp, and dry food, junk food), the vata aggravates even more.

10.ac and coffee

In this environment, it is good to eat a meal which is rich in good fats like ghee, avoiding dehydrating drinks like tea and coffee and taking breaks from the ac environment to give your body a break. It is also important to stay hydrated and ensure you drink a minimum amount of clean water (preferably warm) to keep vata from being unbalanced.

 

The use of Ayurvedic facial oils to supplement skin healing, nourishment and moisture retention:

When you eat right, cleanse right, and broadly live right and either avoid the ac or supplement for the AC, you will find that your skin is able to generate enough sebum to protect it.  A weekly Abhyanga is a very important health giving practice that is extremely beneficial to skin and hair health as well. Once this is done, skin requires only small amounts of external moisturisation to aid it during difficult seasons like winter or to overall boost its radiance and lustre.

 

Therefore a popular Krya recommendation is the use of appropriate facial oil, in very small doses to help the skin balance and heal itself. The facial oil is usually applied in very small quantities before a bath and left on for 15 minutes before cleansing, if the skin is very dry to begin with. This helps protect the skin until its health is restored and it is able to help itself.

9. moisture plus skin oil

 

Another very beneficial way to use facial oil is at night. Here we use even smaller quantities of oil, as a little oil goes a very long way o skin. Facial oil is applied 1 hour before sleeping on clean, damp skin. The slight amount of dampness on skin helps take up the oil being applied. Precisely 3 – 4 drops of facial oil are used and very gently and lightly massaged onto damp skin using the ring finger. The oil is left on at night.

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The needs of different kinds of skin vary, and skin also needs sometime getting used to a new routine. We advise that you start slowly (application before bath) and then graduate to night time use. When in doubt, use less product and not more.

 

The Krya Classic skin oil with Papaya and Jatamamsi:

We have been working and re-working our formulation with the classic range for some time now. This variant has been in existence at Krya for more than 1.5 years now, and with every successive batch, we have made minor tweaks to the formulation based on our growing body of research and consumer feedback.

 

The Krya Classic skin oil with Manjishta and Chandana has been formulated with 22 nourishing, oil balancing and pitta balancing herbs and fruits like Manjishta, Chandana (Sandal), Lodhra, Brahmi, Neem. We also add complexion enhancing and blemish reducing seasonal fruits like papaya into the oil.

11. Krya classic skin oil resized

The oil also uses sneha (oils) like Neem and Tamanu which classically help balance sebum secretion and are useful for pitta prakriti skin.

 

As we have seen in the example shared above, even Pitta prakriti skin can go dry in certain conditions. This is a dryness which comes with excess heat, so a skin moisturising product that works with skin without disturbing Pitta and adding excess oiliness will suit this skin. Continued use of the product helps work on minor skin blemishes, scars and evens out skin tore and lustre. The anti bacterial nature of many of the herbs and oils used also helps preventing microbial infection and the occurrence of cystic acne with regular use.

 

To sum up:

On Formulation Tuesdays, we generally focus a lot on how we make the formulations we discuss for that day, and our philosophy behind the herbs, oils and manufacturing process followed. As I re-read my post, I notice that the post discusses the concept of Ayurvedic skin care in much greater detail than the formulation itself.

I hope this background was useful to you and you were able to understand, appreciate and resonate with the differences between how Ayurveda cares for your skin (vs. modern cosmetic products). Our ongoing Formulation Tuesday series is designed to improve transparency and give you a greater understanding into how we think about, design and manufacture our products. We believe that greater transparency promotes better choices and helps you make better decisions on what you apply o yourself or use around you in your home.

 

If you have any questions on our products, the philosophy behind our products, or a specific question on skin and hair, please do get in touch with us.
Krya’s skin oils can be explored here:

 

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Ayurvedic herbs: Properties of Durva (Cynodon dactylon)

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This is an updated (September 3rd, 2019) version of an article first published in August 2017.

It is festival season in India, and many of us have been celebrating Vinayaka / Ganesh Chaturti . This is a festival dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed remover of obstacles, who ushers good beginnings and prosperity.

One of the 21 herbs used to worship Lord Ganesha  is Durva Grass / Cynodon dactylon, an important Ayurvedic herb useful for skin care.

Durva: a divine herb used in ayurvedic skin care

So today’s blog post will talk about this sacred herb and how we use it in Krya for our skin care oils.

The legend behind the use of Durva for Lord Ganesha:

The word Durva can be broken into 2 parts – Duhu + avam and the words can be translated to mean “ that which brings that which is far away, closer”.

Durva grass (arugampul) is probably familiar to those who worship Lord Ganesha. This sacred grass is used in the worship of many deities but is especially used when praying to Lord Ganesha.

Legend has it that the demon Analasura caused havoc in the 3 worlds and emitted fire from his eyes. The Gods prayed to Lord Ganesha and asked him to save them from Analasura. In the battlefield, Analasura attacked Lord Ganesha with fireballs. Lord Ganesha assumed his vishwaroopam and ate the demon in a single swallow.

Having eaten Analasura, Lord Ganesha’s body started to increase in heat and he became very uncomfortable. First the moon came to help Lord Ganesha and stood on his head. This was not enough to quench the heat emitted by Analasura. Then Lord Vishnu gave Lord Ganesha his sacred lotus to hold. Even this was not enough. Then Lord Shiva lent Lord Ganesha his snake and tied it around his belly to help release the excess heat. Even this did not help.

2.restless ganesha

Finally a few Maha Rishis came to Lord Ganesha’s rescue with 21 sets of Durva Grass and placed it together on his head. The Durva Grass was able to do what the Moon, Vishnu’s sacred Lotus and Shiva’s sacred Cobra were not able to achieve together – it brought down the excess heat generated by the demon Analasura from Lord Ganesha’s body.

Durva when applied on Lord Ganesha instantly cooled and relaxed him

The Ayurvedic properties of Durva Grass & benefits for skin and hair:

Mythologically and in Ayurveda and Siddha lore, the Durva grass is revered for its spiritual and medicinal properties.

Acharya Charaka refers to Durva grass as one of the 10 great complexion promoters. Ayurvedic texts refer to Durva grass as “Sahasra virya”  (1000 strengths) denoting its multi fold strengths and versatility in use. It is considered complexion enhancing, astringent, moisturizing, demulcent and cooling for the skin. Durva is also considered very good for the eyes and is therefore regarded as a good ophthalmic drug.

Durva: the sacred ayurvedic skin care herb

There are many sub species of Durva grass indicated in the texts like Shweta Durva, Nila Durva, Krishna Durva, etc. But the commonality of all Durva types is their strong benefit in reducing and balancing Pitta dosha, because of their kashaya (astringent) and madhura (sweet) rasa and sheetya (cooling) guna / nature.

The Ayurvedic texts recommend use of the Durva in many skin disorders like psoriasis, eczema and even pitta induced skin conditions like prickly heat, etc as a direct paste for skin.

Durva is also indicated as a good counter to excessive vomiting when used as a Swarasa (fresh pressed juice). It is a very good styptic: i.e checks bleeding from open cuts and wounds.

Durva is additionally indicated in disorders of the mind like epilepsy and insanity. It is also primarily indicated in Pitta based internal disorders like diarrhea, piles and conjunctivitis.

Durva is also used in other pitta conditions like conjunctivitis, diarrhea, piles.

Because of this pitta reducing, wound healing and skin restoring property, Durva is the key ingredient in many classical Ayurvedic skin preparations like Durvadi Tailam which is used for external application in severe skin diseases and large wounds.

Durva at Krya:

We use Durva in our skin preparations like our face washes, bodywashes and also our skin oils and serums. Depending upon what problem the formulation is prepared for we harness the sheetya, kashaya, madhura, wound healing and pitta balancing properties of Durva grass.

We use Durva both in fresh and dry form. In fresh form, Durva goes into our skin serums and oils. In dry form it goes into our face washes, face masks, bodywashes and ubtans.

Durva in Skin Serums and Oils : Krya Classic skin oil

Durva swarasa is an important ingredient in the Krya Classic skin oil. This skin oil is formulated for pitta prakriti and pitta aggravated skin which is normal to oily.
Durva is a key ingredient in krya classic skin oil

Pitta type skin is extremely sensitive and reacts with breakouts when it is aggravated. This skin tends to be slightly oily and sweats easily. It also is easily flushed, and can get blotchy and reddish in the sun, when spicy food is eaten or when pitta is otherwise aggravated.

To control the oiliness, redness and tendency of this skin to breakout, we have to address the underlying cause: i.e out of control Pitta dosha. Hence here we use Durva Swarasa which balances Pitta due to its Sheetya guna (cooling nature) and Kashaya (astringent) and Madhura (Sweet) rasa (taste).

Pitta skin is easily flushed, irritable, oily and breakout prone

The Krya Classic skin oil is a very balancing and clarifying skin oil. Regular use evens out the complexion, provides balanced hydration to skin , and gives even tone and lustre to skin without any redness, sensitivity and blotchiness. It also brings down breakouts in skin.  the complexion, makes the skin supple and soft and evens out skin tone.

Durva in Skin Serums and Oils: Krya Moisture Plus skin oil

Durva Swarasa is also an important ingredient in the Krya Moisture Plus skin oil. The Krya Moisture plus skin oil has been formulated for vata prakriti  or vata aggravated skin.

Durva is a key ingredient in Krya Moisture plus skin oil

This skin tends to be generally normal to dry and can feel tight, dry and uncomfortable in cold and low humid weather. It tends to look dull and feel rough and lacks brightness and lustre. This worsens in Vata heavy weather (windy, cold weather), with high exposure to air conditioned environment (which simulates Vata like weather) and with the high use of Vata aggravated drinks and foods like cola, tea, breakfast cereal, granola, etc.

Vata skin is dry, rough , taut with inadequate moisture

To control the dry, cold and bitter nature of Vata dosha, we use the Madhura rasa of Durva grass. To control the minor breaks and cracks in skin due to lack of moisture and lubrication, we use the wound healing and health restoring properties of Durva grass.

The oil uses a combination of rasayana, complexion enhancing and demulcent herbs. Durva and Dadima (the pomegranate fruit) are the lead ingredients in this oil and they are supported by other skin regenerative and repair herbs like Kushta, Ashwagandha and Brahmi.

The Krya Moisture plus Skin oil is a very skin nourishing and moisturizing oil. Our consumers also use this oil as a night cream and a regenerative face serum before they go to sleep at night. Regular use enhances the complexion, makes the skin supple and soft and evens out skin tone.

Durva in Krya nourishing baby massage oils (Lemongrass variant and Palmarosa variant)

Durva is also a key herb used in the Krya nourishing baby massage oil – in both variants. These 2 baby oils were developed specifically for children with chronically dry  (vata type) or irritation prone (pitta type) skin. Such children would not be initially able to use the Krya traditional Baby Massage oil because of the high use of stimulating and warming herbs with the product.

The Krya nourishing baby massage oils (both variants) use 19, powerful, skin rejuvenating Ayurvedic herbs including Vata (Sacred Banyan), Udumbura (Sacred Indian Fig), and Ashwattha (Sacred Peepul). This is apart from the prominent use of fresh Durva grass Swarasa (juice) and Durva grass kalpa (fresh herb paste). The herbs are extracted using the Tila Paka method into 3 organic oils ( Sesame, Coconut & Mahua ) and Organic Kokum butter.

The use of these healing sacred herbs has a very soothing and nourishing effect on tender, irritable, sensitive skin. Parents find that skin health is improved, the flare-up skin episodes reduce in volume and intensity, and baby’s skin is overall much healthier and balanced.

For children with itchy, reddish and irritable sensitive skin that flares, we suggest using the Lemongrass & Neem flower variant; for children with chronically dry, peeling, whitish skin, we suggest the Palmarosa and rose variant.

Durva in Krya Sensitive Skin Oil

Durva also goes into the Krya Sensitive skin Oil with Cardamom & Neem. This oil forms a part of the Krya Sensitive Skin range for adults and children separately, designed for skin that has a tendency to develop conditions like contact dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis. In this oil we use a mixture of skin healing, cell regenerative, pitta and kapha balancing herbs like Ashwagandha, Kushta, Lodhra, Yashtimadhu and Manjishta.

Durva grass also goes into Krya Sensitive skin oil

Here Durva grass is used for its styptic , wound healing and skin health restoring properties.

The Lead ingredients of Durva grass, Neem and Cardamom support these skin healing and regenerative herbs by balancing excess Pitta, enhancing the complexion , reducing the growth of fungal and bacterial organisms and improving skin health.

With regular use of the Krya sensitive skin oil, consumers report a reduction in skin thickening, skin itchiness and gradual regaining of skin health. It is suggested for dermatitis, eczema, and psoriatic (non oozing) lesions.

To sum up: the benefits of Durva Grass for skin care

So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties of Cynodon dactylon /  Durva which goes into Krya’s skin care products. Durva is a potent pitta balancing, wound healing and skin restoring Ayurevdic herb that has been discussed in the Brhat Trayee texts and across other Ayurvedic texts.

We harness Durva’s potent skin healing properties across a wide range of skin care products at Krya, specifically our healing and restoring skin serums and oils.

A word of caution: although this post discusses several ways that Durva can be consumed internally, all Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution. Do not attempt to self medicate. If you feel internal consumption of Durva could help you, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your condition and prescribe Durva in the right dose and right format for you.

We do herb posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful. Do leave your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you would like us to write about a specific herb , do leave that in your comments as well.

For any questions related to this post , or any of our products, please email us or give us a call / message us on WhatsApp (0-75500-89090)

 

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9 things to do to help you stay cool this summer with Ayurveda– Krya shares insights and suggestions

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We speak often on the Krya blog about traditional wisdom and cultural practices which flow from Ayurveda and our understanding of how the body functions and how we must take care of ourselves. We saw yet another interesting deity yesterday at the Parthasarathy temple of Triplicane yesterday. The temple contains a shrine to Yoga Narasimhar, one of the 9 forms of Lord Narasimha, who is himself one of the dasavataras (10 avatars) of Maha Vishnu.

 

Lord Narasimha and Yoga Narasimha:

Many of us would be familiar with the story behind Lord Narasimha. Prahalad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu continued to worship him, much to the dismay of his father, the Asura King Hiranyakashipu. One day, when answering Hiranyakashipu’s taunt of where Maha Vishnu would be found, little Prahalad answered that he would be found in both the “thoon and the thurumbu” (both in pillars and specks of dust. Incensed, Hiranyakashipu pointed to one of the pillars in his palace and mockingly taunted his son asking if Maha Vishnu would be found here. Answering the prayers f his devotee, Lord Mahavishnu burst out of the pillar in the form of Narasimha, half man, half Lion.

1. Lord Narasimha

 

The anger and heat of Lord Narasimha:

Lord Narasimha as an avatar is always considered an “Ugra” avatar or a fierce and angry avatar.  Everytime he manifests, his anger and therefore heat is so high, that it stimulates Lord Agni to manifests as forest fires everywhere. As a result, water evaporates and steam and heat rise from the surface of the earth, heating it up. The heat of Lord Narasimha is so powerful and intense that it spreads not just in our world, but throughout all the galaxies, .

2. Ugra Narasimha

 

To pacify the anger of Lord Narasimha, our scriptures tell us that all human beings, trees, flowers, all animals and all the celestial beings requested Prahlada, Lord Narasimha’s staunch devotee to pacify him.  When Prahlada started to sing devotional hymns in praise of Lord Narasimha,  the Lord’s anger cooled slightly. Then the Lord’s consort, Goddess Mahalakshmi took the form of “Goddess Narasingavalli” and manifested either on his chest or in his lap.

As soon as the Goddess appeared, the Lord’s anger cooled and he assumed the form of Yoga Narasimha where he sits in Padmasana and is seen doing Pranayama to cool his anger.

3. Yoga Narasimha

 

In the Kal Azhagar temple just of Madurai, there is another famous depiction of Sri Yoga Narasimha.  Here too the Lord sits in his yogic pose, and the ceiling of the sanctum above his idol has a circular hole just above eth crown of his head.

Interestingly, in this temple, the Lord is given frequent thirumanjanam (holy baths) using sesame oil as abhyanga oil before the bath with a specially prepared herbal powder. It is believed that the ushna (heat) emanating after this bath is released through the crown of the head of Lord Yoga Narasimha, which then is released through the special opening in the ceiling in the sanctum.

4. thirumanjanam

 

Excess Pitta dosha and Ushna (heat) and its effects on the body:

Pitta dosha is the dosha in our body that controls “Agni” or heat and is responsible for digestion of food, metabolizing nutrients form food, for the quality of blood in our body, for our intellect, focus, vision and complexion.

In our body, the main seat of Pitta dosha is the stomach. The second seat of Pitta dosha is the eyes, where Pitta dosha and Kapha dosha together are responsible for vision and clarity. Every process in our body generates Agni / heat, and to keep our body in a state of balance, we should have heat that is “just right” – not too much or too little.

5. Agni

 

The activity of the brain and eyes together generates tremendous heat, and Ayurveda says that this heat is continuously released through the crown of the head as vapour.

When the excess Pitta generated in our body continues to stay trapped in the body without being released, Ayurveda tell us that there are many health issues that can form and accumulate in the body. These include excessive hair greying, hair thinning, development of acne, rashes that can develop on skin on sun exposure, and even diseases like high blood pressure, poor vision, improper digestion, diarrhoea, etc.

6. rashes

In seasons like summer when Agni in the atmosphere is already very high, the excess Pitta in our body can build up much more. So in today’s post, we are going to look at 9 cooling practices to adopt this summer. These practices will help regular Pitta dosha in our body, check excess heat, and keep our hair, skin and body in good shape during the summer.

 

9 Pitta balancing and heat releasing practices for the summer:

1.Head to toe Abhyanga within the first hour of sunrise (before heat sets in) with sesame based abhyanga oil like the Krya abhyanga oil for the body, and a cooling; Amla based hair oil for the hair. This Abhyanga should be done twice a week.

  • Sesame Oil for the body balances vata and also helps open up the pores, allows the oil to penetrate deeply and helps the dissipation of heat through the skin
  • Amla based hair oil cools the scalp and brain roughly, helps release excess pitta accumulated in the eyes and head through the crown, improves hair growth and reduces hair greying and thinning
  • The abhyanga, if done properly and regularly, intensively removes excess heat through sweat , urine and bowel movements in the body, corrects impaired vata dosha, and leaves you feeling fresh, full of energy and sharp through the day

7. abhyanga

2.Hair Oiling the scalp with a pure, traditional Amla based hair oil every evening atleast 45 minutes before dinner or 2 hours after dinner, atleast 30 minutes before sleeping.

  • This hair oiling helps release excess heat accumulated during the day
  • This hair oiling also nourishes the scalp and promotes healthy hair growth
  • If done before dinner, it helps settle pitta in the body ensure the digestive fire is not too high or too low. If done after dinner, just before sleeping, it ensures restful sleep.
  • Only a small quantity of hair oil needs to be used – ½ teaspoon of hair oil is sufficient

8. hair oiling

3.Preferentially eat split Mung dal over other Dals this summer

  • Most lentils are considered high in pitta dosha, some are considered high in kapha dosha. All lentils are considered high in vata dosha
  • Lentils like Tuvar dal are generally considered high in Pitta, so are traditionally boiled or pressure-cooked with cooling fats like castor oil or ghee to ensure both pitta and vata is balanced.
  • Lentils like Rajma and Channa are considered very difficult to digest – they are best avoided in Summer where the high heat in the atmosphere unbalances the normal digestive process leaving us less able to eat tough-to-digest foods.
  • Mung Dal is considered, light, tridoshic and the least vata aggravating lentil. It is considered very soothing and cooling to the stomach and is normally fed to those with impaired Pitta dosha or digestive disorders.
  • It is an ideal lentil base in summer to ensure Pitta is not aggravated, and your digestive system is not taxed by difficult to digest lentils.

9.split mung dal

 

4.Add melted cow ghee to your diet; avoid other dairy products like curd, cheese, yoghurt, and milk based sweets

  • Most dairy products are unsuitable for this season as they may be difficult to digest: curd is an absolute no, as is cheese because they are both high in pitta and kapha. consumption of these 2 dairy products will build up heaviness and sluggishness sin the system in this season
  • Milk based sweets and consumption of high quantities f milk based drinks like tea and coffee (except advised to for a specific medical condition) also create ama and sluggishness in the system.
  • If you must drink some form of fermented dairy, then thin, Ayurvedic buttermilk is ok on occasion.
  • The safest dairy product to consume, which will actually help you this summer is melted cow ghee. Add to all meals to improve digestive ability.

10.no sweets

 

5.Use a grain based body wash powder or ubtan with cooling herbs for your bath everyday

  • In summer, as the sweat secretion from the body increases, there is also a proliferation of debris, dead cells and micro organisms which may grow on the skin, blocking the minor srotas.
  • These small micro organisms tend to feed on the small sebum secretions that come along with sweat.
  • These increases body odour in summer and also tends to block off the minor srotas of the skin, impairing proper functioning of the sweat glands, blocks healthy perspiration and also causes small bumps, rashes and minor inflammation o skin
  • Using a well formulated grain and lentil based ubtan with the right cooling herbs micro polishes the skin, opens up the minor srotas and cleans them well, and facilitates healthy perspiration and removal of ama from the body. This practice keeps skin free of pitta clogged reactions like rashes, acne, etc.

11.summer cleanser

 

6.Eat your meals on time and eat dinner as close to sunset as possible

  • In summer, as Pitta dosha is naturally aggravated, digestion becomes slightly impaired.
  • So eating late and at odd times strains the entire body and interferes with proper nutrient absorption.
  • Eating your meals on time, helps keep the appetite steady, helps nutrient absorption and keeps the body light and active

12.eat on time

 

7.Drink naturally cooled water and not fridge-cooled water whenever thirsty. Supplement with natural tender coconut water. AVOID all other fruit juices, colas, iced teas, granitas and synthetic drinks.

  • Fridge cooled water tends to be vata promoting and leaves the mouth and body dry
  • Naturally cooled water (water stored in earthen ware) is refreshing for the body, promotes natural heat exchange and allows for excess pitta to leave the body through urine and sweat.
  • Coconut water is an excellent electrolyte restoring , nutrient rich, cooling summer drink
  • Eating seasonal fruit is preferable over drinking the juice (even if it is made at home without added sugar) as chewing stimulates the digestive system, ensures you eat there right quantity of fruit (and not too much) and that your system is not overloaded.
  • Colas, iced tea and iced coffee are very vata aggravating, water and nutrient depleting and acidic and bone weakening. Avoid in all seasons, especially summer.

13.clay pots

 

8.Avoid the peak sun. Stay indoors between 10 am – 3 pm if possible.

  • Go out only if you must and cover your head and arms with protective clothing.
  • After coming back from high sun exposure, give yourself atleast 10 minutes of rest before drinking water. Do not drink cold water immediately after sun exposure.
  • Do not have a bath / cold shower immediately after sun exposure as it sends your system into shock.

14.sun protection

 

9. Eat bitter foods and avoid extremely sour or spicy foods to control pitta aggravation

  • Eat a small quantity of bitters regularly through the season like bitter gourd, local greens. These bitters help balance pitta
  • Control the amount of sour and spicy food you eat as both aggravate pitta dosha. Very mildly spiced food is best for this season.

15.sour and spicy food

To conclude:

A part of Ayurveda gives us detailed information, diets and practices for each season, called “Ritucharya”. By following the appropriate Ritucharya for Summer, we can avoid many of the health issues that plague us, and continue to lead a life of good health, balance and harmony.

We hope you enjoyed this post on 9 cooling practices and diet changes for the Summer. If you would like us to cover any specific topics on health which are appropriate for the Krya blog, do write to us.


Krya products recommended for this season:

  • The KryaAbhyanga system for Men and Women (consists of the Krya Abhyanga oil and either a Women’s ubtan or a Men’s ubtan. ) The system is designed to balance aggravated vata and pitta dosha. Most urban dwellers additionally have aggravated vata dosha due to their long commutes, nature of work, uncertain eating timings, etc. This together pushes vata dosha along with pitta dosha out of balance
  • The Krya Abhyanga skin oil with Vacha and Ashwagandhanoticeably brings down aggravated vata and pitta. Users report seeing a reduction in vata related aches and pains and balancing of excess pitta through the body with regular use.
  • The Krya Abhyanga bath powder for Women with Lotus Leaf and Lodhra – formulated to cleanse skin after an abhyanga. Helps remove excess oil, dead cells, debris for the skin without stripping it of moisture. Prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors as a natural soap substitute.
  • The Krya Abhyanga bath powder for Men with Vetiver & Van Tulsi– formulated to cleanse skin after an abhyanga. Helps remove excess oil, dead cells, debris for the skin without stripping it of moisture.

 

Bodywashes for adults: meant to replace soap; can be used even if you have not oiled your skin

 

Hair Oils for different hair types:

 

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