Pink Predators: Common carcinogens in your home

Breast cancer awareness - the pink ribbon walk
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Reading Time: 12 minutes

Update: Breast cancer rates are alarmingly on the rise and a few months ago, one of our close friends who is in her early 40s started 12 rounds of Chemo after detecting a tumerous lump in the left breast after a routine examination.

Krya regularly gets Cancer survivor customers who come to us for skin and hair products after the dreaded disease + even more dreaded treatment. Many of them have a simple question: “Why me”. Most of them are in good physical health, they exercise, take care of their diet and many dont even have a family history of this disease. Yet they contract it. Why is this so?

This post helps answer this question and looks at the extremely worrying effects of 3 possible carcinogenic chemicals which are commonly used in beauty, skin care, hair care and household cleaning products. Read on.

The dreaded “C” word:

In Oct 2014, I attended a meeting of women entrepreneurs. On the sidelines, we were invited to a breast cancer awareness campaign organized by one of the entrepreneurs who had been diagnosed and treated for breast cancer. This young lady is a passionate advocate of early diagnosis of breast cancer. As a part of the worldwide pink ribbon day, her team conducted awareness camps for women employed in the major IT parks in Chennai.

As she spoke, a palpable tremor ran through the women in the room. Many had some encounter with the dreaded “c” word, having watched a loved one suffer.

I lost a favourite aunt in 2009 to breast cancer, or perhaps the aggressive chemotherapy given to her. I watched my bright, active danseuse Aunt shrivel away, lose her hair, her energy and eventually her life after four repeated chemotherapy assaults on her body. Breast cancer is one of the most common and fast growing cancers in India today and forms nearly half of all the cancer detected in India . In 2012, 70,000 Indian women died due to breast cancer.

The Pink Ribbon movement

In 1985 in the US , the breast cancer awareness month (BCAM) was created as a partnership between American Cancer Society & a pharma company that is now part of Astra Zeneca. The main aim of the BCAM is to promote mammography as the weapon of choice to diagnose and fight breast cancer. Such partnerships are fraught with ethical dilemmas. Astra Zeneca is the manufacturer of the breast cancer blockbuster drugs Arimidex and Tamoxifen. Some have argued the overly visible and alarmist tone of breast cancer awareness pushes for over reporting and aggressive promotion of the treatment which are the drugs. Worse still, it is now understood that X-ray mammography to detect breast cancer is dangerous and is a carcinogen.

The breast cancer awareness movement came into its own in the early 1990’s with promotion of the pink ribbon as the symbol. In 1993, Evelyn Lauder, Senior Vice-president of Estee Lauder and a  breast cancer survivor herself founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and widely popularized the pink ribbon as its symbol. In that year, Estee Lauder make up counters handed out 1.5 million pink ribbons with a information card describing the steps to construct a self breast exam.

Pink marketing for Breast cancer awareness

Since then, the pink ribbon has become one of the most visible symbols of cause related marketing across the world. Research shows that given parity cost and quality, more than 50% of consumers would switch to a brand associated with a good cause. Going by the popularity of the pink ribbon, breast cancer certainly seems to be a popular and profitable cause for the brands piggybacking on this cause.

1Pinkmarketing.jpg

From NFL costumes to cosmetics, from shoe sellers to cricketers, the pink ribbon has engulfed them all during the awareness month. While many critics and naysayers tend to dismiss this as pink washing, there are positives. Millions of dollars have been raised from these campaigns due to which early warning signs are now part of the general lexicon.

But one critical issue continues to trouble the general public.

Despite the top management support, and marketing muscle thrown behind breast cancer awareness, several cosmetic companies who support this cause, continue to use ingredients that are suspected to be carcinogenic. In many cases these suspect ingredients have been found in breast cancer tissues.
Think about it.
The very brands that raise money for awareness continue to use suspected carcinogens in their products.

Pink washing?

In 2013, 15 beauty brands devoted to defeating breast cancer got together to start an offshoot campaign called “we are stronger together”. But according to EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetic database, 12 of these companies, including Aveda, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, and Estee Lauder & Origins sell a wide assortment of cosmetics that contain known carcinogens and other toxics.

The carcinogenic impact of these toxic ingredients is relevant to the study of what causes breast cancer. Research suggests that genetic causes form only 5 – 10 % to breast cancer develops. 90 – 95% of cancer exposure is thought to develop from a series of environmental causes including radiation exposure, excess alcohol consumption, and of course exposure to dozens of carcinogenic chemicals.

The Krya series on toxics

This Krya series on toxic chemicals in household products has been developed as a result of hundreds of queries from concerned users, very often in categories where Krya does not have any product yet. We are asked for our opinion on product categories on the potential hazards of chemicals and more importantly, recommendations for safer natural alternatives.

For the last 4 years on the krya blog, we have maintained our stand that the consumer products industry in India is dangerously under-regulated. Many products are sold widely with little understanding of long term human safety or environmental protection. In our personal experience, we have seen that R&D in global consumer products companies operates in silos, with a narrow focus on cost and immediate consumer gratification. Their safety standards are decades old. They continue to play with the boundaries of safety and often wait for a public outcry or a government order to cut back on toxic ingredients. This laissez-faire attitude has introduced to the trusting public a set of new, potentially dangerous, hydra headed monsters.

The Pink Predators

 Parabens : common possible carcinogen

Parabens are a big family of preservatives found widely in the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and food industries. and have been around for nearly 100 years. They are the industry standard for anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Parabens have been detected in urine, serum, breast milk and seminal fluid, but the most worrying fact has been their detection in breast tissue from patients with breast cancer. In one important north American study, it was calculated that the average person is exposed to 76 mg of parabens every day, with 50 mg from cosmetics, 25 mg from pharmaceuticals and 1 mg from food.

Research from the CDC’s National Centre for Environmental Health found that the blood of over 60% of the children surveyed during the National Health and Nutrition examination survey was contaminated with more than 8 toxins including significant levels of 3 kinds of parabens.

One alarming property of parabens is their ability to enter the body through the skin, something that most people are not aware of. This has been widely studied in underarm cosmetics like deodorants and whiteners. Breast cancer research shows a higher concentration of parabens in the upper lateral breast near the armpit corresponding to the use of deodorants which contain parabens.

3deo caution

After the work of many consumer awareness groups like EWG, Johnson & Johnson pledged to remove both parabens and formaldehyde from its baby care and adult skin care products by 2015 including brands like Aveeno & Neutrogena. But Johnson & Johnson continues to re-assert the safety of parabens and made this decision to eliminate parabens only to assuage certain consumer groups.

Globally most governments have not re-examined the safety of parabens. Some outliers are the Danish government which has banned the use of products for children below 3 years. In India,  parabens are commonly used in cosmetic and other applications.

While we can go back and forth on the safety of parabens , we certainly do not want to be learn 30 or 40 years later that the early researchers who warned against the use of parabens were absolutely right. This is exactly what happened in the global debate on smoking and lung cancer. While the debate raged, many were smoking their way to cancer hoping that the warnings would turn out to be false alarms.

On the other hand it is important to note that parabens do not have any beneficial or therapeutic whatsoever to humans. So the question to ask is this, are there safe alternatives to parabens ? The answer is YES! Paraben free products are available globally and are waiting for you to discover them.

Phthalates :

Phthalates are chemicals used as plasticizers, to make physical products pliant and flexible – they are widely found, in vinyl flooring, raincoats, adhesives, detergents, nail polishes, soaps, toys and skin care lotions. For example, DEHP, a common phthalate, is added to PVC at concentrations between 1 – 40% to make it soft and pliant. Unplasticized PVC without DEHP is hard and brittle.

Phthalates are physically bound into plastics using a heating process, which means that they are very easily released into the environment when this physical bond breaks. This happens in many innocuous ways when phthalate containing products are kept near heat or exposed to strong solvents. For example : when phthalate containing plastic dishes are washed with harsh chemical cleaners.

Phthalates are cheap and versatile: so they are found in products as diverse as children’s toys, and utensils, coatings in pills and nutritional supplements, emulsifying and suspending agents in lotions and shampoos, binders and gelling agents in liquid detergent and dishwash. Other personal care products that contain phthalates are liquid soap, perfumes, deodorant sprays, hair sprays, eye shadow, nail colours and moisturizers.

When used in vinyl flowing, phthalates like DEHP easily leach into the atmosphere, contaminating indoor household air. Once released this toxic air can be inhaled by babies crawling on the floor or pets. A 2008 Bulgarian study found that higher dust concentrations of DEHP was found in the homes of children with asthma and allergies compared to non- asthmatic children.

While a lot of the present phthalate research focuses on infants and children, it is believed women are at a much higher risk of phthalate exposure due to their higher consumption of cosmetic products and exposure to household cleaning products.

Recent (2010) in-vivo and observational studies show an association between phthalate exposure and breast cancer. Also, phthalates like many other endocrine disrupters are both bio-accumulative and additive – when mixed with other classes of chemicals like BPA or nonyl-phenols, they exhibit a deadly chemical synergistic effect. Essentially this means that all these toxic chemicals gang up against your body with a multiplier effect.

2Nail paints caution

A recent published study for the first time studied the positive correlation of DEP (diethyl phthalate), with breast cancer. DEP is found in a high proportion of perfume carrying products like deodorants, hair sprays and moisturizing lotions because of its ability to make fragrance “linger” for a long time. DEP is also used as denaturant in alcohol and is found worryingly in products like mouthwash.

Endocrine-disrupter effect of Phthalates

Why are phthalates dangerous to human health? Simply put, they are endocrine disruptors. Their behaviour can mimic endocrine hormones like estrogen , which really confuses our bodies , leading to disease.

In 2000, Puerto Rican scientists reported an association between DEHP & premature breast development in young girls signifying an early onset of puberty. At the same time the CDC in the United States tested blood samples of 289 Adult Americans and found phthalates in all of them. The levels of some phthalates, including DEHP in women of childbearing age far exceeded government mandated safe levels to prevent birth defects.

Two studies published in Environmental Health perspectives in 2003 found that pregnant women with phthalate exposure on average give birth one week earlier than those without significant phthalate exposure.

A 2006 study among Indian women with endometriosis showed a significantly high level of phthalates in their blood – this included phthalates which are restricted for use in the EU like DEHP, DBT, BBP and DnOP.

Regulations around Phthalates:

Most restriction around phthalates today focuses on children. The EU has restricted the use of certain phthalates like DEHP, DBP, in children’s toys from 1999. Phthalates like DINP, DIDP and DNOP are restricted in toys that can be put into a child’s mouth. The restriction allows these phthalates to be present only upto 0.1% of the plasticized mass of the toy.A similar act was passed in the United States in 2008.

5childrens toys post

Phthalates in the Cauvery river:

A study published this year studied water and sediment samples of the Cauvery River, one of South India’s major rivers. A two year soil sediment and water study found DEHP in 92% of the water samples and DEP and DMP in every water sample. Similarly 94% of soil sediment samples also contained DEHP. While the contamination percentage was said to be below USEPA guidelines for water, the soil concentration exceeded this guideline.

The Cauvery river basin covers Karnataka, Kerala , Tamilnadu and Pondicherry.  It is the source for both an extensive irrigation and hydroelectric system and also supplies drinking water for many towns and villages. Bangalore, Mysore and Mandya depend almost completely on the Cauvery for their drinking water. In this situation, the fact that some of the most toxic phthalates like DEHP have so comprehensively contaminated this river cannot be ignored.

Nonylphenols (NP ) and  Nonyl phenol ethoxylate (NPE) :

Nonyl phenols come from a class of chemicals called Alkyphenols. Alkylphenols, including nonyl phenol are precursors to chemical detergents , and are used as additive to fuels, lubricants and other polymers.

All alkylphenols including Nonylphenol ethoxylate are xenoestrogens. They mimic the effect of estrogen in the body and they can disrupt the normal process of reproduction. Xenoestrogens can increase the growth of the endometrium, leading to endometriosis, and can also increase breast cancer tissue in tissue culture studies.

Precocious puberty or puberty among young girls below 8 years is one of the effects of Xeno estrogens. Studies across America, Europe and Asia suggest that irrespective of race and economic conditions, the earlier onset of puberty is attributed to the environmental chemical exposure. Precocious puberty has been studied to lead to significant psychological distress, poor self image and poor self esteem in a young girl. It has also shown to lead to reduced adult height, paediatric & adult obesity, gynaecological disorders like endometriosis, poly cystic ovarian disorder and infertility.

Nonylphenols are chemicals used in laundry and dish detergents, cleaners and emulsifiers, paints, pesticides and in personal wash products. Since the discovery of Nonyl phenol in 1940, its production has been growing every year – it is now a high production volume chemical, with 100 million- 500 million pounds of NPE being produced globally every year.

4synthetic dishwash

Nonylphenol persists in aquatic environments and can take months or longer to degrade in water and soil. Because Nonylphenol is used in so many cleaning products which “go down the drain” like dishwash products and detergent products, it is a ready contaminant into sewage and water supply. Nonyl phenol bio-accumulates inside the body, and is a potent endocrine disrupter.

Synergistic effect of Nonyl Phenol:

As already mentioned, one of the most troubling problems of ingredients like Nonyl phenol which are used as filler in pesticides for their “inert” properties is their ability to work synergistically with other chemicals and multiply their toxic effect on humans.

Current regulations around Nonyl Phenol:

The EU has eliminated the use of Nonyl Phenol and its ethoxylate in most industrial and product sectors. Canada has implemented a pollution prevention plant to drastically reduce the use of NP/NPE.  The US EPA plans to encourage voluntary phase of using NP/NPE in industrial laundry detergents.

In India this is not yet regulated.

Products that contain Nonyl Phenol & Nonyl Phenol Ethoxylate:

Used as a surfactant in shaving creams, detergents, dishwash, hair dyes, hair styling products and pesticides. It is difficult to ascertain if your brand contains this chemical as it is a feedstock chemical which is usually unlisted.

A quick Sum -up: 3 possible carcinogenic chemicals to avoid at home:

Pink could be the colour of happiness. But it is not , in the case of beauty or consumer products, especially those marketed with a pink ribbon to provide awareness and support for breast cancer.  Our article discusses just 3 kinds of toxic chemicals that are commonly found in Indian homes today in their cleaning, skin or hair care products. The US FDA lists over 100,000 industrial chemicals in use today!

Parabens, phthalates and Nonyl Phenol and its ethoxylate find their way into several of the products we use for ourselves, our children and in our home. The worrying problem behind these chemicals is that they come to us in innocuous and friendly looking products like that bottle of nail pain, our favourite brand of deodorant, or simply, our dishwashing liquid that promised to carry the power of 100 lemons in each drop.

As most of these formulations do not declare what exactly goes into them, we would never be able to tell if our favorite brand of synthetic shampoo is actually free from parabens and phthaltes or not. Hence in the spirit of extreme caution and avoiding adding any manner of toxicity to the body, we advise a through and deep detox of all synthetics from your personal and home care list.

Specifically for those trying to conceive, pregnant women, women with a family history of PCOD and endometriosis and breast cancer should avoid using synthetic deodorants, nail paints, synthetic shampoos, bodywashes and shower gels, and also industrial cleaning products like detergent and dishwash products. A wide variety of alternatives exist which are completely natural and avoid using such potentially dangerous synthetics.

Having read this post, you may be left with a deep feeling of “why”. Why do companies use these chemicals? Is it out of malice? Are they out to get us? Are they as unaware as we are? Our next post will look at common myths and facts when formulating household products. Hopefully some more answers will emerge there.

This article is a part of Krya’s series on toxics in household and personal care products. Through this series, we hope to inform, educate and inspire you to look around your home and detox it and yourself from the harmful action of more than 100,000 suspect industrial chemicals that surround human life today.

 

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ayurvedic baby care practices : part 1

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Reading Time: 15 minutes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ayurvedic baby care practices: gold improves rakta and medhya

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ayurvedic baby care practices: physical, etheric and auric cleansing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Importance of daily Abhyanga Snana for babies:

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

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

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

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

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

Krya’s Ayurvedic Abhyanga Snana products for babies:

Ayurvedic baby massage oils from Krya:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ayurvedic ubtans for newborns and babies from Krya

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

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

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

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

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

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

To sum up:

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

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

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

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

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

 

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A better , natural floor cleaner: a Krya launch update

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The term “natural floor cleaner” is a popular search on the Krya website. There used to be a time when households used plain water to mop the floor after thoroughly sweeping the floor. Sometimes if the season was particularly muddy, or if this was pre festive season, a canny housewife would sprinkle cow dung / dried cow dung cakes plus a handful of turmeric powder into this water, and use this solution to mop the floor. Cow dung was considered a sacred dravya, infusing pranic energy into the home and also an effective insect repellent and anti bacterial agent.

Cow dung was used in ancient India to cleanse homes and floors and infuse positive energy within the home

Slowly, to increase their share of business anti bacterial liquids began to advertise, extending their use to cleaning the floor. Evocative images of babies eating off the floors, pets sleeping on the floor would be used to illustrate that our floors (the horror!) were JUST not good enough to eat off .

Just when households started getting reluctantly used to the smell of a strong anti bacterial liquid on the floor, convincing their families that the hospital like odour was for their own good, someone finally launched a specialised floor cleaner. In several toxic fragrance options.

Concerns with synthetic floor cleaners:

At Krya, we have several concerns over the rampant use of synthetic floor and toilet cleaners. We have listed these below:

99% germ removal or 100% growth of Super bugs?

Urban Indians today already suffer from “too clean” homes which are almost sterile. Children rarely play outdoors and schools and homes are sterile, air conditioned environments already.

Urban children live in too-clean, sterile environments

In this scenario, using a strong floor cleaner encourages the growth of antibiotic and triclosan resistant “super bacteria”. This is already an issue in India. Using such strong cleaners in Urban homes is an overkill – and promotes the growth of resistant bacteria And does not stimulate our immune response enough

No transparency in declaring contents

Household cleaners constitute what is called “Household hazardous waste”. This means that they cannot be disposed WITHOUT risk to human , animal or plant life. An example is this: is you are trying to get rid of your old synthetic toilet cleaner, there is no safe way to dispose it. You cannot pour out the liquid, put it into a water body or pour it onto the ground either. All of these will pose a risk for any form of life that may accidentally ingest the product.

 

Given that almost all synthetic household cleansers are hazardous waste, it is surprising that there is no declaration of their ingredients or any attempt to educate customers on their proper disposal. This is worrying in a country like India where literacy levels are low and waste is picked and sorted down the line by possibly illiterate sanitary workers, rag pickers and children.

Economically backward children, rag pickers are at risk when we dispose toxic household cleaners

Highly toxic and unstable formulae

All floor , surface and toilet cleaners come with severe warnings to be kept out of reach of children, pets, etc. Accidental ingestion can seriously harm or even kill children and pets. Skin contact is also supposed to be avoided. Eye contact can make you blind potentially. Also the contents cannot be mixed with other common cleaners like acid, phenyl etc and can lead to volcanic reactions.

household cleaners are toxic to use & dispose

Given these issues, we would be tempted to question why we are using actual poisons to clean our floors. We may also be right in asking how using a toxic cleaner to clean the floor somehow makes it safe for babies and pets crawling / licking these floors? The answer is that it is of course not safe – we get away with the use of these cleaners because we use them in small concentrations. But they obviously pose many risks.

A better alternative: natural floor cleaner research by Krya

We have been researching, piloting, experimenting and tweaking with a Krya answer to a safe, natural floor cleaner for sometime now. This product has been LONG in the making.  While researching the formulation, we turned to the Ayurvedic Samhitas for ideas on the use of herbs and how they should be combined for best use.

Ayurvedic approach: cleansing both etheric and physical spaces in the home

Studying Ayurvedic pediatric care texts (Bala chikitsa) is very useful in understanding the role of herbs and how they can cleanse both the physical and spiritual energy in a home.

This is of very great importance in Ayurveda to maintain a spiritually charged, positive and prana forward energy in the home for a small baby / child.

 

Ayurveda believes that infants and young children are very easily influenced by negative energy. Hence we are advised to use spiritually charged, Prana positive herbs to keep up the positive energy of the home and counteract these negative forces.

Ayurveda recommends charging the home with positive pranic energy

Techniques like “Dhumapana” (herbal smoke on the baby and mother’s person),  “Rakshoghna Praksalana” (washing of baby’s linen with natural, herb infused detergent), burning of “Dhoopa “(herb infused incense), and “Rakshoghna Bhumi Swacchakara” (cleaning of floors with Prana positive herbs) are all used for this.

The use of herbal smoke cleanses Vayu (air) and Akash (space) within the home.

Dhoopa is an ayurvedic cleansing technique that uses herbal smoke to cleanse vayu and akash within the home

In addition, the home is further charged with bunches of herbs, placed in the direction of the wind, so herbal fragrance wafts through the home uplifting the senses and increasing the positive vibration within the home.

Working on improving the etheric energy within the home by using prana positive , aura altering herbs is an important role of a Bhumi Swacchakara (Floor cleaner).

The Krya natural floor cleaner: in 2 variants

The Krya floor cleaner comes in 2 variants.

The Krya Scented Floor Cleaner  is made using 20 powerful ayurvedic herbs, resins and essential oils including Citriodora Oil, Pine Oil & Tamanu Oil. The formulation is very effective at repelling crawling insects like cockroaches, ants , etc. It is a good , safe, broad spectrum anti bacterial and anti fungal formulation which is adaptogenic.

krya natural floor cleaners use powerful rakshoghna & kirmighna herbs

As we use pure plants and plant essential oils, there is no question of microorganisms learning from and developing resistance to the product as plants vary across seasons and weather conditions and are far more adaptogenic compared to bacteria and fungi.

The Unscented Krya floor cleaner is made from  24 Ayurvedic Rakshoghna (anti bacterial) and Krimighna (insect repelling) herbs and plant resins like Vacha, Shirisha, Khadira, etc. This formulation is suggested for homes with very small children , premature infants, patients,  sensitive geriatrics and those with respiratory allergies / issue s(asthma, wheezing, hayfever, etc).

 

Both Krya floor cleaners contain prana positive, spiritually uplifing herbs and dravyas as suggested in the Ayurevdic Samhitas to cleanse the spiritual and etheric energy of the home.

The all natural floor cleaner by Krya

Pet safety:

Pets are extremely sensitive to odours in fine concentrations. Tea tree oil for example is a powerful and very effective anti bacterial E.O. However it is poisonous to cats and dogs at high doses. This is why I am perplexed to see so many brands putting up tea tree oil scented pet grooming powders – this is NOT safe!

There are Ayurvedic Samhitas that focus on veterinary science, but only large animals (horses, elephants) are covered, not small household animals like dogs and cats. Because of this, and because we do not have any experience with living with 4 legged friends, we have stayed away from making Krya products for household animals – although we have many many pending requests.

But, for homes with 4 legged friends, it is imperative to have a safe floor cleansing solution. This solution has to be safe for pets themselves and also handle any organisms that could be transmitted by the pets indoors. This needs much more R&D from our end. However, we promise to work on this. Please give us time – we will come back with a separate option that has been tested to be effective and is also safe for 4 legged friends.

Until then, if you have pets, please do not use either Krya floor cleaner – as an alternative, you can mop the floor with Krya detergent / Krya floor cleaner (unscented) alone.

Using the Krya natural floor cleaner:

The Krya natural floor cleaner is an ayurvedic choorna (powder format). We provide a cloth pouch along with every pack of this product. The choorna can be used either in the pouch or directly in your mop bucket.

 

Add the suggested quantity of the product to the pouch / directly into the bucket and add water as required. Allow a few minutes for the product to percolate into the water well or manually squeeze the pouch or disperse the product into the water. Use this charged water to mop the floor.

Available from:

Both Krya floor cleaner variants will be available on Viajaydasami Day (October 19th 2018) on the Krya website.

 

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Is my shampoo truly natural: Krya’s perspective

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

When we describe our products and talk about how our products contain only purely natural, ayurvedic herbs, we often hear a counter: “But how can I tell if my shampoo is truly natural” (or face wash or body wash). This is an interesting and challenging question.

What makes a product “a truly natural product”? Do we go by the conventional easy definition which says that if a product’s main  ingredients are derived from renewable, plant based resources and not petroleum, a product is natural?

Is something a truly natural product? This is the modern dilemma

If we did follow the above definition, Krya would be a completely different company today and we would be selling loads and loads of shiny, water based products in bottles with pretty colours and scents. So, clearly, this is not Krya’s definition of a truly natural shampoo / face wash / face serum.

What is a truly natural product: Krya’s standard

Krya follows a much more stringent and strict standard of what consists of a truly natural product. All our products are made only from 4 kinds of ingredients:

  • Whole Plant parts (  herbs, roots, shoots, leaves, fruits, flowers and seeds). When we say the word “Whole” we mean harvested fresh or dry plant parts , not extracts, distillates or essences.
  • Whole plant based, expeller pressed, organic Oils and Butters
  • Whole Plant pressed essential oils
  • Clays, Earth and Soils with specific healing characteristics

Any ingredients that does not meet the above 4 criteria is not used at Krya. So we do not use Plant based extracts, even if they are more potent and concentrated: as they do not fall into or “Whole Plant” definition. We do not use solvent extracted oils even if they are cheaper, as they are neither organic nor cold pressed.

The 4 ingredient types behind creating a truly natural krya product

And we do not use any ingredients that are DERIVED as a secondary or tertiary by product from plants. To us these are simply chemicals which have been extracted from Plants and are not truly natural. So we use no surfactants like Sodium Coco Beteine. Nor do we try and pass of Sodium Laureth sulphate as a natural, coconut based surfactant. Because we understand that even though these ingredients may have once formed a part of a plant, their extraction and isolation process have transformed them into something else- they can no longer be called “truly natural”.

Which brings me to the second important part of what makes a product, truly natural: the way it is processed.

What is a truly natural product: Krya’s processing standard

As we have seen from the above examples, ,today even harmful chemical surfactants like Sodium Laureth Sulphate are being passed off as natural. This is because the source this chemical compound was originally isolated from was a plant.

To keep our process truly natural, and ensure such chemicals do not pass muster at Krya, we follow a stringent processing standard in our factory:

  • We start production only with WHOLE herbs – we do not work with isolates, extracts or essences as many of them are made using chemical isolation techniques

How to craft a truly natuarl product : start with whole herbs

  • The herbs are bought WHOLE, cleaned and then processed in the correct manner and then sent for final manufacturing
    • The herbs are not altered with or tampered in any way – we do not change their colour, aroma, texture or any other properties deliberately
  • We use only solid formats which do not require any preservatives. By avoiding the use of water in our products, we are bale to ensure that not a single preservative, base, or any manner of manufactured ingredient goes into our products

krya truly natural procesisng technique: use solid formats that do not require preservatives

  • The herbs used in each of our products add up to 100% – there is no OTHER filler, base or any other synthetics used in our products
  • All fresh herbs, fruits and oils used are sourced only from organic sources, in season. We do not use out-of-season, chemically treated produce.

Krya's truly natural processing technique: use of seasonal organic produce

  • Oils are made from scratch using the ayurvedic tila paka method. This method of ayurvedic oil manufacturing helps extract botanical nutrients much more efficiently into oil. It also helps us avoid the use of fillers, colours, stabilisers and preservatives.

krya natural processing technique - oils

This definition of “100% natural” or “truly natural” is unique to Krya. This definition goes way beyond legal requirement or license guidelines. Even the strictest of natural product certifications allow some inclusion of synthetics to make up a format. But we, are proud to say, that our internal requirement is the strictest and most accurate definition of a truly natural product.

This definition of creating “truly natural” product imposes some restrictions and challenges for us as formulators. It is the solving of these restrictions and challenges that lead to the differences between how natural products look and feel compared to synthetics.

 Challenges faced when creating a truly natural product

One of the reasons large corporations gravitate towards making standardized chemical formulations is their ease of use and simplicity to manufacture. Because standardized chemical ingredients are used in the making of these products, the output we get is also standard.

So your synthetic detergent will always look , feel, and smell the same. You can literally close your eyes and smell its chemical fragrance and identify what you are using.

Mass market products are consistent because they are essentially synthetic

This simplistic consistency is not possible to achieve in a truly natural product due to a number of factors. This is possibly why many Krya consumers can  observe minor variations across our batches of cleansers, oils and lepas. Sometimes there is also a variation across seasons. why does this occur? We will explain this through today’s post.

Seasonal variation in produce : truly natural products

Krya uses fresh organic produce seasonally in each of our skin and hair oils. Our skin oils use varied organic produce like pomegranates, muskmelon, pineapple, mangoes, etc. These organic fruits go into the Krya Classic skin oil and the Krya Moisture Plus skin oil and the upcoming Krya After sun Skin oil and the Krya Dauhridini Body oil.

krya's products vary slightly depending upon the seasonal organic produce that goes into them

The selection of this set of organic fresh produce depends upon season, and the problem we are trying to solve. Every single fruit comes with its own inherent colour, taste, aroma and texture. So if the organic produce that goes into the oil changes, the oil will also subtly change, echoing the characteristics of the produce that goes into it.

So, it stands to reason that if a company says it is adding an organic mango into its product, you should not see this variant in february. It should only be available in the organic mango season!

Time to be suspicious?

 Availability of herbs : a challenge faced when creating truly natural products

The Ayurvedic Samhitas and Nighantus document several thousand herbs with many variations in sub species depending upon geography and climatic conditions. However, due to dwindling interest, urbanisation and lack of proper collection mechanisms, many of these herbs are not easily available to us.

But, as we expand our product base and widen our search, we stumble upon certain herb collectors or organisations who can source some of these herbs for us. Therefore, our formulations always have a small percentage kept aside for these kind of rare herbs. Whenever they become available to us, we add them into our formulations.

An example of this is “kaala haldi” or Curcuma caesia. This is a rare variety of Zeodary which is documented as being found in the eastern wetlands of Bengal and Assam.

Curcuma caesia is a renowned herb to help cure certain skin diseases, reduce vata aggravation and joint pain, etc due to its high camphoraceous content.

Black turmeric: renonwned ayurvedic herb for inflammation, skin cleaning, etc

We have been searching for reliable suppliers of Kali haldi for a few years now and have just stumbled on a source. So when we get access to herbs like this, they find their way into our formulations.

So formulae can also vary / change depending upon availability of herbs. This affects the way the final products looks / feels and smells.

The effect of regional and geographical differences on herbs:

The Ayurvedic Samhitas tell us that the “kala” (season) and “desha” (geography) from where a herb is harvested alters the properties of the herbs subtly. This is because of the climatic conditions under which the herb grows and also the richness and natural nutrients available in the soil.

An example of this is one variety of organic turmeric which we source from Meghalaya. This variety of turmeric is the same species of turmeric which is used across Indian households in cooking. But due to its cultivations in this hilly region, presence of abundant rain and relatively un-urbanized and pristine surroundings, the turmeric has a much higher percentage of Curcumin as is seen in the plains. This makes the turmeric slightly higher in oil content, and its colour is a distinct yellow-orange with a strong and rich aroma.

high curcumin turmeric is used in krya's skin care products for its potent skin healing properties

In this example, the herb is distinctively different from its counterpart that grows on the plains. But this does not make it superior to other varieties of organic turmeric – just different and more suitable to its “desha”.

We see subtle differences across many herbs depending upon “desha”. For example: the Sapindus trifoliatus (soapberry) we use across our products has regional differences when sourced from wet climates vs dryer climates – the colour of the fruit, aroma and foam head all differ depending upon geography.

 Seasonal variations in herbs

The Ashtanga hridayam tells us that herbs are less juicy, intense and more woody in Adana Kala and in seasons like Greeshma Ritu (summer season).  So when we make our hair and skin oils in Summer vs say Winter, there is a marked difference in the Swarasas (fresh juices) , Kashayas (deocotions) and Kwathas (herb infusions) we make as a prequel to making our final oil.

The Swarasas make in dry season is typically darker, more intense in its aroma and is much more concentrated. This makes the oils made in this season look darker and feel slightly thicker.

All these above reasons cause minor , subtle variations in truly natural products like Krya’s hair, skin and home care products. These differences do not affect how the products works for you, but it will affect the consistency of aesthetics you come to expect from a product.

The Krya “Signature” – what continues unchanging across all our batches

Someone reading this could very well ask what unites our products across batches despite minor changes in the formulations. Yes a truly natural product can expect to get perfect consistency across every single batch due to all the factors listed above. But, at Krya, we try and ensure there are a few uniting factors across our formulations:

Use of Signature Ingredients in Krya’s products:

In some of our products, we use certain “Signature Ingredients”. An example of this is Chamomile and Green Tea which go into the Krya Classic face wash formulation. Since our test launch of this product in January 2013, these signature ingredients go into almost every batch of the formulation.

Signature ingredients in Krya classic face wash: chamomile and green tea

We have, so far, made only one batch without the use of organic Chamomile due to lack of availability from our regular supplier. Regular customers were quick to pick up this difference and demanded to know why their facewash was not smelling the way it used to!

Signature Colours across Krya’s products / product categories:

Many Krya hair oils and skin oils have a signature colour or belong to a specific colour family. For example, the Krya traditional Baby massage oil usually has a reddish-brown colour due the use of Manjishta in the formulation.

Krya traditional baby massage oil - caries a signature colour, aroma and texture

Both the Krya Abhyanga Oils (classic and Intense) also have this reddish brown colour and a distinctive fragrance due to the use of certain herbs like bala, ashwagandha, nochi leaf, etc.

Signature properties across each batch

Notwithstanding the minor differences in formulation depending upon seasonality, herb availability, etc, obviously the one major uniting factor across each batch is the way each Krya product works for you.

We take care to ensure that the texture of the product is similar across batches. This is especially important in products meant for sensitive skin like the Krya toddler bodywash for Sensitive Skin and the Krya Sensitive Bodywash for Adults.  Here due to the dosha vitiation in skin, skin is particular sensitive to rough edges in the product and a small texture change can trigger a reaction like a rash.

Similarly, despite minor formulation changes, our skin products meant for Pitta prakriti skin like the Krya Classic range or the Krya After Sun range is always designed to cool, soothe and draw out excess Pitta from skin. So the products always feel refreshing during use and skin feels lighter and fresher after use.

Signature properties: krya's aftersun range always balances pitta and soothes skin

To Sum up:

Truly natural products are a minuscule minority. Most often , we have standardised commercial products hiding under the guise of a truly natural product. Therefore, when we do come across truly natural products, we are taken aback at their aesthetics and the textural and minor differences we see across batches.

I hope this post educated you on why these differences in texture, aroma or colour could exist in a truly natural product. I also hope this post helped you appreciate the many challenges behind creating a truly natural product.

If you too would like to try our truly natural range of skin, home and hair care goodies, please explore our offerings online. For product queries or doubts please write to us or call us on (0)75500-89090.

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Dry & sensitive skin in babies: an ayurvedic perspective

Dry & sensitive skin in babies - how you can help using herbs and natural oils
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Reading Time: 7 minutes

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My baby has dry & sensitive skin – how can I help her / him? – this is a question we often receive at Krya.

Dry & Sensitive skin: an alarmingly common problem in babies

One in 5 children in under the age of 5 years in India suffers from eczema , also called atopic dermatitis. It often occurs quite early ,before the baby is two years old. Eczema is different from cradle cap and can occur on any part of the skin, though it often occurs on the cheeks, joints of the arms and the legs. It is characterized by red, dry & sensitive skin that is often itchy and rough. This skin reacts quickly and aggressively to any change in cosmetic products, detergent brand, and sometimes even water hardness.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: 1 in 5 children experience this today

Allopathic treatments for dry & sensitive skin: where the cure is worse than the disease

Of grave concern to parents today are the common allopathic treatments given for infant eczema – which are topical steroid creams and in severe cases , oral anti-histamines. Steroid creams act on the skin by shutting down the immune cell in the skin and thereby hoping to reduce the skin inflammation caused by the eczema. This gives a temporary relief to the itching and redness produced in dry & sensitive skin. However, as the effect wears off, which is in 8 hours or so, the itching starts, sometimes with an increased vigor.

Dry & Sensitive skin in abbies: topical creams suggested to control the skin condition may aggravate the situation

However the steroid cream approach is terribly flawed and there is NO evidence that they provide any cure for the disease. On the other hand there is plenty of evidence for a number of alarming side-effects of steroid usage.

Depending on the strength and frequency of steroid usage , these are the side-effects – steroid addiction/dependence, skin thinning and atrophy, breakdown of skin barrier allowing easy entry of pathogens, unusual hair growth on skin, proliferation of visible skin blood cells (so skin appears flushed and red without any cause), discoloration of skin due to poor melanin production etc.

Parents should rightly be very very wary of using steroid creams on their child’s skin.

Factors that determine whether your baby can develop dry & sensitive skin:

Babies are prone to dry & sensitive skin condition through genetic factors – like the parents’s prakriti and the time, season and place of conception . A baby with this genetic pre-disposition develops the actual skin condition due to a number of factors that can trigger the eczema. It is a condition that many times settles down as baby grows up. But we can control and eliminate baby’s discomfort, by preventing a number of modern day factors that contribute to this skin condition.

Dry & sensitive skin in babies: skin condition is influenced by many internal factors

To understand this skin condition better, we must first remember that the human skin is the host to a fantastic micro-ecosystem of microbes called the microbiome. The typical skin microbiome can contain around 1 trillion microorganisms, both helpful and pathogenic. This delicately balanced microbiome is vital to the healthy functioning of the skin – there is a clear difference in the micro-biome of healthy skin and the micro-biome of a person suffering from eczema.

A person builds the skin microbiome ( and the many other microbiomes in the body like the gut flora) over time , starting from the colony inherited from the mother during birth. So c-section babies and formula-fed babies will have a less diverse and different micro-biome from the babies that were born via a normal delivery and were breast-fed exclusively in their first few months. However these are large factors over which many mothers have little control after the event, so what can be done now ?

Building baby’s skin health: steps for concerned parents

This is why we introduced the concept of the skin micro-biome and its vital importance in maintaining healthy skin. The baby’s microbiome is intelligently built by the skin over hundreds of happy accidental acts everyday like contact with the parent , food intake , touching clothes, toys , books, the very air in the home, playing in the sand. So the best approach for a parent is to create an atmosphere that supports the creation of a healthy micro-biome.

Avoid creating an excessively sterile environment

The first step here is to avoid creating an excessively sterile environment – like the usage of a/c for long periods. Another common factor in a new baby household is the excessive use of anti-bacterial wipes and anti-bacterial hand-wash to prevent infections. An excessively sterile environment tends to reward disease causing micro organisms and encourages the growth of super bugs – a case in point is the super bug growth in hospitals across the world.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: avoid creating an excessively sterile environment

While the worry is understandable, these chemical sanitizing products are broad-spectrum and kill all bacteria – both good and bad. This creates a hyper-sterile environment, preventing the growth of a healthy microbiome and stunts the baby’s progress in building general immunity by interacting with the environment.

Avoid using bacteria killing and pH altering foaming synthetic soaps and petrochemical cosmetic lotions and creams :

All foaming baby soaps and body washes are harsh on baby’s skin and are broad-spectrum , killing all the bacteria on the skin. They also alter the skin’s pH , disturbing the delicate balance of the microbiome. Read more about what goes into a typical baby soap in our previous post. 

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: avoid using soaps and synthetic foaming bodywash to cleanse baby's skin

Another common skincare mistake perpetrated by the baby cosmetic brands is the use of mineral oil based lotions and creams, after baby’s bath. This is flawed on 2 levels – one is the use of harmful petrochemical derived ingredients which cannot nourish the skin and also clog the fine channels.

The second error is the application of a oil or cream after the bath. This clogs the pores of skin and does not allow the Srotas of the skin to perform properly.  Hence when baby has dry and sensitive skin, using a petrochemical moisturiser will give skin temporary relief. With the passage of time, heat will build in skin surface and trigger higher itchiness and skin irritation causing baby a lot of discomfort.

Dry & Sensitive skin - clogging moisturisers can aggravate heat in baby's skin

The correct procedure as per Ayurveda is to massage the baby FIRST with a  good herb-infused vegetable oil and then give baby a bath with a herb & grain based cleanser. The pre-bath oil massage keeps skin soft, moisturized and supple.

These intelligent ,rakshogana herbs in the bath powder ( unlike a soap) cleanse baby’s skin gently, do NOT alter the pH, repair minor skin blemishes, kill pathogens and yet allows the healthy bacteria to function -thereby providing the ideal atmosphere for the skin microbiome to develop. You can read more about what goes into the Krya baby ubtans in our previous post here.

Dry & Sensitive skin in babies: intelligent rakshoghna herbs used in baby ubtans cleanse skin intelligently and protect it

The choice of pre-massage oil is very critical for baby’s skin health. Many parents mistakenly believe that pure coconut oil is the right oil to be applied to relieve dry and sensitive skin. Read more about why we DO NOT recommend this practice here. 

The microbiome of a baby is an important subject. we have an ongoing miniseries on the subject, of which the first part can be found here.

For a detailed step-by-step description of an ideal Ayurvedic baby care routine and how to maintain a healthy baby nursery , please read our previous blog post on this subject.  :

To sum up:

There are many internal causes for a baby developing dry & sensitive skin. We will explore some of these in our upcoming posts. However, this sudden rise in skin conditions like eczema, atopic dermatitis and other special skin conditions among babies whose parents have perfectly healthy skin is due to other, external, avoidable factors.

Our microbiome colony is what gives us immunity, good gut health, the ability to digest food and extract nutrients and keeps our skin healthy. It is presented to us as a gift from our maternal line – many of us may have remnants of microbiota which are thousands of years old, passed on from mother to mother, and finally to us.

Unfortunately, this generation old microbiota is in short supply for our babies today – mostly due to the fear driven, poor choices we are making as parents.

We hope this post helped you understand the link between dry & sensitive skin in babies and the effect of some of our cleaning and cosmetic choices. Our upcoming posts will delve more into the establishment of a healthy microbiome in baby and explore more on the subject of sensitive skin condition in baby.

Krya baby products for dry and sensitive skin in Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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Cold pressed virgin coconut oil or Krya baby oil – which is better for baby?

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Concerned parents often ask us which is better for baby’s skin and hair: cold pressed virgin coconut oil or the Krya baby skin oil and the Krya baby hair oil? What is the rationale behind using a herb infused oil that is specific to skin or hair? Given the high interest around cold pressed virgin coconut oil and the number of queries we get on this subject, we thought we would do a short post on this subject today.

Which si better for baby? Cold pressed virgin coconut oil or Krya baby oil

 

The series that is ongoing on the Krya blog is a series on Ayurvedic baby skin and hair. We have been exploring different facets to Ayurvedic baby care last month and this month on the blog. Our last post explored the important topic of the baby’s microbiome and how critical it is to baby’s health and well being to ensure baby’s micro biome is not wiped out. The use of synthetic soaps and bodywashes can completely wipe out a nascent microbiome colony. This is why Ayurveda recommends using edible, food grade organic lentils and grains and Ayurvedic herbs to cleanse skin. Specifically, we are supposed to oil baby’s skin FIRST and then cleanse skin with a specially prepared ubtan.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: edible oils and grains are healthier for baby's skin

When a pure natural oil and pure natural ubtan is used for baby’s skin, it contains material to feed the existing healthy microbiota on baby’s skin. When there is a sufficient number of healthy, well fed microbiota, they strongly keep away invasive micro organisms from skin. Besides feeding the microbiota, using edible, food grade skin products has other advantages.

 

A good quality vegetable oil has the capacity to penetrate skin. This is not the case with oils that are made using Liquid Paraffin (most commercial baby oils). Liquid paraffin does not penetrate or feed skin. Instead, it forms an occlusive barrier on skin. This interferes with the skin interacting with the environment. It also slowly kills healthy microbiota on the skin as it cuts off their oxygen supply.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Commercial baby oils contain large doses of Mineral oil

So the question remains: can we use a vegetable oil like cold pressed virgin coconut oil instead on baby’s skin? Let us explore the pros and cons of this.

Benefits of cold pressed virgin coconut oil:

After many decades of persecution and being made into a villain, coconut oil has finally begun to see a renaissance. As always, Indian doctors are much later than their Western counterparts in promoting coconut oil.

There are many obvious benefits to using cold pressed coconut oil. All vegetable oils are rich in nutrients and coconut oil is no exception to this rule. Coconut oil contains important medium chain fatty acids like lauric acid, capric acid and Caprylic acid. Together this set of triglycerides has anti microbial and anti bacterial properties that are intelligent. This means they can boost growth of useful microbiota and bring down growth of invasive organisms.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut oil has many health benefits. It is not the villain it is made out to be

As it is a vegetable oil, it is capable of penetrating deep into skin. Studies show that coconut oil penetrates must faster and more effectively into skin unlike mineral oil. Once in skin, it encourages regeneration of damaged cells, helping healing skin faster, again compared to synthetic oils.

These benefits are much more if we take the purest form of coconut oil – cold pressed virgin coconut oil. Solvent extracted coconut oil made from chemically farmed coconuts is obviously not as beneficial to skin.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Traditional extraction methods gives a more nutrient rich oil

So if we find a good source of cold pressed virgin coconut oil, should we begin slathering it immediately on our and baby’s skin? Hold on to your bottle of coconut oil. Let us see what Ayurveda says about the properties of coconut oil.

Ayurvedic properties of Narikela (Coconut):

Narikela (coconut) is described in Madanapala Nighantu as “Maha phala” – the great fruit and “Maha vriksha”, the great tree.

The same Nighantu describes the properties of Narikela Phala, Coconut fruit as “Sheetya” (cooling), “Brmhana” (nourishes ,firms, increases weight / size) and “Vrishya” (promotes vigor).

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut oil is nourishing, weight promoting and vigour giving

Narikela is also described as having “Vasti shodana” property, i.e. it cleanses the bladder, which is why Coconut water is prescribed in UTI and bladder infections. Due to its “Daha samaka” (thirst quenching) property, it is given in peak summer in heat strokes, and excessive thirst and sunstroke.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut is bladder cleansing

Narikela is also described as “durjara”, which can be interpreted as “difficult to digest”. This could be due to is weight giving and nourishing or “Brmhana” property and also because of its “Sheetya” (coolant) property.

Coconut water, on the other hand has different properties from the fruit pulp from which we extract oil. Coconut water is “Deepana” or digestion promoting and “laghu” or light in nature.

Implications for eating and application of Coconut oil based on Ayurveda:

Even though Coconut oil is Vrishya (aphrodisiac) and Brmhana (strength promoting), it is “durjara” or difficult to digest. Hence it cannot be freely consumed by everyone. Those with high digestive strength and people who are very strong physically can certainly take it.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut is cold and hard to digest. so must be consumed at right level only

For others, it should not be taken in very high quantities. If used, it should be used along with warming and light foods which can balance its cooling and heavy properties.

Issues with application of Cold pressed virgin coconut oil – as per Ayurvedic properties

Similar issues arise when we apply cold pressed virgin coconut oil on skin. On one hand it is “Brmhana” and “Vrishya” which means it can potentially nourish skin. But as it is “Sheetya” and “durjara”, it is heavy and thick and does not penetrate skin quickly.

Even in scalp applications, we cannot use only Coconut oil directly. To be able to penetrate scalp, the oil must have some amount of warmth. a purely cooling oil is not very efficient at penetrating scalp quickly and nourishing it.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Coconut needs warming herbs to make it more efficient

If you compare this with another vegetable oil like sesame oil, Sesame oil is much more lighter and penetrates skin much faster compared to Coconut oil as it is ushna in nature. This is why in the ancient Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita, Sesame oil is generally referred to as the base Taila for all oil based preparations.

In the Kerala Ayurveda tradition, as coconut oil is native and much more easily available, it is used over Sesame oil in most formulations. However, care is taken in all Kerala Ayurvedic formulations to make coconut oil lighter and increase its warmth and skin penetrative ability by using the correct warming herbs in it.

So to answer the first question of concerned parents: Yes cold pressed virgin coconut oil is an excellent vegetable oil. But it should not be used directly on either baby or adult skin and hair. This is because unless it is processed with the right herbs it is too heavy and cold to penetrate skin and scalp properly and deliver nourishment deep within.

How should cold-pressed virgin Coconut oil be processed: some examples from Krya’s baby range of skin and hair oils

Krya uses cold pressed Organic coconut oil in its adult and baby skin and hair formulations. But as we have seen, to improve the efficiency of the oil, we need to process the oil correctly.

We have seen that Ayurveda recommends that Baby formulations should be made slightly more warming than adult formulations. The balance is very subtle – if we make the product too warming it can cause heat rashes and irritate the baby. On the other hand, if it is too cooling, it brings down baby’s core temperature down much more rapidly. This can spread infections and also cause mucous clogging in the baby.

Coconut oil being cooling and heavy by nature, has the potential to quickly increase mucous build up in baby.

In the Krya traditional baby massage oil, our base oil is much more heavily weighted towards Sesame oil than Coconut oil. This base oil is processed with 17 other herb juices and decoctions like Daruharidra (tree turmeric), Ashwagandha, Bala (Sida cordifolia), Manjishta, etc. In addition to these 17 herbs, as is recommended by Ayurveda, we also add a very mild decoction of dried ginger, black pepper and jeera. The use of these warming spices plus other herbs, completely alters the property of the coconut oil in the mix. The final oil is light, warming, penetrates very quickly and is extremely beneficial in good muscle development and nourishes skin greatly.

Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala and Ashwagandha nourishes baby's skin and aids healthy bone and joint development.

In the Krya nourishing skin massage oils, we have 2 variants: Palmarosa and Rose and Lemongrass and Neem flower. Palmarosa and Rose variant is generally suggested for babies with much drier skin or with conditions like dermatitis. Lemongrass and Neem flower is suggested for other babies.

Again in this Baby skin oil, we use warming herb juices like Vitex Negundo (Nochi), fresh organic vegetables like Carrot which is a slightly “hot” vegetable, and herbs like Ela (Cardamom) and Vacha (Acorus calamus) which are warming and vata balancing. This combination ensures that the cold, heavy properties of Coconut are transformed. The final oil is deeply nourishing to skin, and continues to be warm and soothing for the baby.

Cold pressed virgin coconut oil analysis: Krya uses warming herbs like ela to change the nature of Coconut oil

The Krya Baby hair oil uses a good amount of Brahmi, similar to the Krya Kids hair oil and the Krya harmony hair oil formulation. Brahmi is suggested in Ayurveda to be used in all hair oils for children. This is because it actively aids brain development and helps support the rapid development of the brain that is seen in children and relieves stress ad pressure during this phase.

Here, the use of pitta balancing and vata balancing herbs like Organic Amla, Organic Bhringaraj, Organic Balloon vine, Organic Bottle Gourd, Khadira, Triphala, etc, ensure that the base oils are made much more nourishing. The transformation that coconut oil undergoes in this process, makes it highly penetrative, helping it deliver nutrient packed goodness to baby’s scalp. This is why so many parents swear by the Krya Baby Hair oil and the Krya Kids hair oil as it promotes healthy , good quality hair growth WITHOUT aggravating Kapha dosha.

To sum up:

We attempted to answer a popular question: is cold pressed virgin coconut oil good to use for skin and hair. We hope our post educated you on the benefits behind this wonderful oil, and also some potential drawbacks.

There is no universal panacea in Ayurveda. Even in the case of a hoary herb like Amla, there are strict specifications on how each kind of person should eat this to derive maximum benefits from it.

Similarly, cold-pressed, virgin coconut oil is an excellent vegetable oil. But it has to be consumed correctly and in the correct way by people of different types. In skin and hair application, it is better to choose an Ayurvedic oil, where the base oil has been worked on and processed and transformed using different kinds of herbs. This brings the properties of the oil close to what we seek and gives us much better results without as many side effects.

If you have any questions on this, please write to us.

Krya Skin & Hair products recommended for Baby:

Hair:

  • Krya Gentle Baby Hairwash powder – made with 16 richly nourishing Ayurvedic herbs . Formulated for New borns, Infants & Toddlers . Cleanses scalp gently, relieves itching & dryness, soothes cradle cap, promotes healthy hair growth . Completely Free from SLS, SLeS, Other Sulphates, Parabens & Other Chemicals
  • Krya Baby Hair Oil –  made with 8 richly nourishing Ayurvedic herbs , organic cold pressed coconut & sesame oil . Formulated for New borns, Infants & Toddlers. Soothes and clears cradle cap, nourishes scalp, promotes healthy hair growth.  Free from Mineral Oil, Parabens, Silicones, Fragrances, & Other Chemicals

IS cold pressed virgin coconut oil better for baby: Krya Baby hair oil

Skin

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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Baby Microbiome basics – Part 1

The human microbiome - sites
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Reading Time: 9 minutes

We are in an interesting and contradictory world today. One the one hand, the rise of Western science has taken basic hygiene to unimaginable levels. So household products can successfully wipe out every last germ in our clothes or our hands. But on the other hand, this increasingly sterile world has many fall outs. Our immunity levels are lower than what they used to be and our children are weaker, less healthy and perpetually fall sick. How do we balance this seeming contraindication? This is the first in Krya’s 3 part series on the Baby microbiome. This series will explain the current body of research on the Baby microbiome, share Ayurvedic insights on the same and leave you with solid recommendations to boost baby’s immunity and health.

Baby microbiome basics: a highly sanitised world is creating new health complications for us.

Joshua Lederberg first coined the term “Microbiota” to distinguish the bacteria that colonize, populate and symbiotically live on us. The current world view lies in seeing ourselves as separate from the “germs or bacteria” that live on us, and treat them as opportunistic parasites that feed off us and have to be therefore be removed or eradicate.

However the growing body of research is instead choosing to view human beings and indeed living beings as the “Holobiont”. The Holobiont is the host body + all the associated micro organisms that co-exist and live on the body of the host. The Holobiont is being postulated as the evolutionary edge for living organisms and species: and it is the composition of Microbiota AND host organism that presents the unique evolutionary edge and not the host body alone.

The Human Microbiota includes fungi, bacteria and archea. This does not include opportunistic micro animals like head lice which weaken the Holobiont and are purely parasitic. Research indicates that the human Holobiont is made up of 37 trillion cells: of these ¾ belong to our Human Microbiota, and only ¼ of these 37 trillion cells are contributed directly by us.

Baby Microbiome basics: Microbiota colonise us throughout the body

How a healthy colony of micro flora helps keep us strong & healthy

On a cell to cell comparison, we are more Micro flora than human. Our body is made up of cells of which the human part is only 10%. The balance 90% is our microbiome which colonizes various parts of us: our skin, nose, ears, reproductive organs and inside our body. Each area of our body has different species of micro flora. Microflora form a unique fingerprint for each of us: our colonies are not exactly the same, even for twins born and raised together.

A large portion of our microbiome lives in our gut. This colony decides many things about our health. They decide how healthy we are going to be and how much immunity we have. It defends us against invasive and predatory micro organisms. They help our body with digestion, assimilation and nutrient absorption. Our friendly Microbiota also boosts our brain function and helps mood regulation as well.

Baby microbiome basics: teh quality of your microbiota determine the nutrient absorption from your food

The human body hosts different sets of colonies in various parts of the body. Every set of microbes has its own role to play, depending on where they live. The oral microbiome acts as a gatekeeper, guarding what enters the GI tract. If the colony in your mouth is in good health and shape, they can block the entry of potentially invasive organisms into our body.

On skin, the microbiome forms a very important gatekeeper role as well. The skin micro flora prevents entry of predators into the blood and lymph. These predators if allowed, can cause huge harm as they can bypass our acid containing gut and enter the circulatory system directly , through which they can spread rapidly.

Baby microbiome basics: Skin hosts innumerable microflora that imporves immunity and protects health

The skin microbiome helps guard this, if we take care to ensure our skin microbiome population is not unnecessary washed away. The human microbiome also bring down small inflammations in the body, help produce vitamins and digestive enzymes. In short , they support and extend healthy life for us. This is an example of a symbiotic and synergistic partnership.

 

Why is a healthy microbiome critical in a baby?

Human babies are born vulnerable and helpless. Their microbial colony begins to be established during pregnancy, and continues well until they are around 3 – 4 years. The successful establishment of a healthy microbial colony depends upon many factors. These include the health of the mother, the mode of delivery of the baby, feeding choices, weaning food choices, and the availability of a healthy microbiome colony in the baby’s surroundings. Some of our choices can also destroy a healthy available microbiome , for example the choice to raise baby in over sanitary surroundings.

The GI tract of the baby is especially unformed and vulnerable in the first 6 months. For example, in the first 6 months, a baby’s intestinal tract has spaces between the intestinal cells. This gap is filled as the baby grows. But in the first 6 months, the baby’s gut flora microbiome plug these intestinal gaps themselves. If these gaps are not properly plugged, undesirable molecules and invaders can squeeze through the intestine and directly enter the baby’s bloodstream.

Baby microbiome basics: healthy microflora reduces baby's vulnerability to disease

It is safe to say that the baby’s first 3 years sets the foundation for the future health and well being of the baby. Our choices as parents can greatly impact the health and well being of our child, way into the future. This is why we are writing this series on the Krya blog this week.

Our posts this week in this series will discuss the stages of microbial colonization in the baby and some choices you can make to provide positive intervention at each stage. We will also discuss various do’s and don’t s and how Ayurveda tells us to raise baby and improve immunity. However, until the next 2 posts, here are 3 thought-starters we would like to end this post with. Each of these will impact your baby’s microbiome and therefore her health.

3 baby microbiome thought-starters:

Give baby plenty of thoughtful skin to skin contact with skin that is not over-sanitized:

Microbiome colonies spread from living organisms. So Ayurveda encourages thoughtful, selective skin to skin contact in young infants. Our microbial colonies are incredibly selective and unique. For example your right hand and left hand host a different microbial signature! For these colonies to be healthy and survive, we must ensure their surroundings are healthy as well. In an over sanitary environment, we kill off all our good bacteria – instead these environments breed super-bugs and very dangerous predators, which can thrive in this environment.

Ayurveda recommends that baby be handled and touched by the Mother and one –two selectively chosen caregivers.

Baby microbiome basics: thoughtful loving skin contact improves healthy microflora

The mother and “Dhatri” (nurse or additional caregiver or a nanny), must use the correct Ayurvedic herbs to bathe in. The Nursery must be kept well ventilated, yet cosy and facing in the right direction. Baby’s linen must be washed with Rakshoghna herbs.

Baby microbiome basics: Mother an dDhatri should bathe in rakshogha herbs and wash all linen with these. This helps spread good quality microflora

In this environment, the use of these herbs keeps down the spread of dangerous micro organisms. This gives healthy Microbiota a chance to flourish. So, when baby is touched and handled lovingly by such caregivers, the healthy Microbiota are transferred onto baby’s skin and can colonize it.

If the Mother is breastfeeding, Ayurveda recommends proper cleansing of the breasts and mother’s skin with warming, vata pacifying, Rakshoghna herbs. When this is done, the baby absorbs the right micro flora through mouth-to-skin contact during breastfeeding.

Avoid: Cleansing mother’s skin and baby’s skin with a synthetic soap or bodywash. This wipes out all the friendly colonies of bacteria, leaving baby vulnerable to infection and disease. Use a completely natural grain and herb based Ayurvedic ubtan instead.

Reduction of electronic stress and other stress around mother & baby:

One of the key impediments to the growth of friendly bacteria is stress. When we are stressed, the pitta dosha in the body increases. This creates a high heat and acidic medicum in the body. This tends to reduce our gut bacterial colony. Also, the nature of skin and scalp secretions change in high Pitta conditions. Sweat becomes much more acidic, foul smelling and the composition of sebum also changes. This again brings down growth of friendly bacteria and instead attracts unhealthy organisms.

Baby microbiome basics: high stress impacts the quality of microflora

High use of electronic devices like Mobile, Wi-Fi, I-Pads, etc, increase subtle Vata vibrations in the air. This changes the dosha balance in the body, again leading to an unhealthy condition. Subtle electronic vibrations also thrown off our sleep cycles. When sleep is disturbed, our Microbiota are also harmed.

If the Mother is stressed, her bacterial colony is affected. Which in turn affects the baby. So Ayurveda advises a time of rest, reduction in physical work and focus on the Mother at least in the first 6 months after delivery. If this is extended upto one year this is ideal.

This post is not meant to discourage working mothers or criticize them for their choices. But, we echo Ayurveda’s emphasis on the important of rest and recovery for mothers. If this period is adhered to, we can avoid many health issues that may crop up later.

Fresh, organic home made food

Ayurveda tells us that all health begins in our gut. All Disease can be traced back to overloading the digestive system, eating improper food combinations and at the wrong timing. At the time many of the original texts were written, here was no practice of chemical farming followed. So obviously we have no explicit mentions of pesticide grown food.

But from all the available research today, we know how toxic , eating chemically farmed food is. From the Microbiome perspective, this is like consuming frequent doses of poison to the system. This harms everything in the body including your Micro biota.

For a breast feeding mother, eating fresh, organic, seasonal, home made food promotes better nutrient absorption and produce better quality breast milk as well.

Baby microbiome basics: high quality organic seasonal food boosts healthy microbiota

Also, seasonally grown organic produce has a healthier colony of micro flora. So when we handle and cook this produce, we are enriching our own bacterial colony.

To sum up:

Through this post, we hoped to provide you a glimpse of the fascinating world that lies on our skin and in our bodies. It is not an exaggeration to say that without friendly Microbiota, human life would not exist.

Conserving, nurturing and protecting our friendly Microbiome becomes even more critical in babies. Babies’ microbiome is under developed and the choices we make for them in the first 3 years of their life has long lasting impact on their health and their Microbiota.

We also looked at 3 simple methods you can start with to encourage proper colonization of Micro biota in baby. In our next 2 posts, we will look at Microbiota colonization in baby stage by stage and also explore Ayurvedic interventions in each stage to strengthen baby’s micro biota. Stay tuned.

Krya Products recommended to encourage healthy skin colonization in Babies and Moms:

For Moms:

  • Strongly recommended: Krya Women’s Abhyanga system (Krya Women’s Ubtan + Krya Abhyanga oil) – helps balance vata dosha and encourages the growth of friendly Microbiota while discouraging predatory microbes

Krya Products Recommended for Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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3 Krya baby ubtans to choose from + Benefits behind a traditional ayurvedic baby bath

Krya bbaby ubtans: teh alternative to a synthetic baby soap
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

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Our wide range of hair and skin products can sometimes confuse people who are not sure what they are choosing. The same confusion occurs in Krya’s range of baby products. Choosing a Krya hair product for your baby is quite easy – we have a single herbal hair wash / shampoo powder and baby hair oil. But choosing a Krya baby ubtan or Krya baby oil becomes trickier. We have 3 Krya baby ubtans / bodywash powders and 3 Krya baby massage oils.  This post is to explain the differences between the 3 Krya baby ubtans and bodywashes today and the formulation philosophy behind them.

Krya baby ubtans: Important to choose teh right Krya ubtan for your needs

Benefits behind traditional Abhyanga-Snana for baby:

Krya advises following the Ayurvedic principle of skin cleansing. In this, we FIRST oil and massage baby’s skin well with a correctly prepared Ayurvedic massage oil. The baby is then bathed using a herbal Snana powder (Ubtan) which has been formulated as per season.

Krya baby ubtans: Ayurveda says massage baby well before bath

 

This oil massage practice is especially beneficial in the case of babies where the skin structure is yet to be completely formed. The oil massages improves circulation in baby’s body and creates warmth. As skin structure is not yet completely formed, it helps the movement of toxins to the surface of skin, from where it can be removed. It delivers powerful herbs through the oil which work on various functions in the skin. We will see these functions of the baby massage oil in a separate post.

Krya baby ubtans: Oil massage imporves cicrulation, eliminates toxins and is beneficial for baby's health

 

A Snana with a herbal baby ubtan works on a much deeper level than using synthetic baby soap. Our previous post spoke about the hazards of baby soap. Apart from being much safer to use compared to a baby soap, a herbal baby ubtan through cleanses skin. As baby’s skin is underdeveloped, the Srotas do not perform as efficiently as they do in adults. Hence the use of a herbal baby ubtan helps suck out hidden dirt, dead cells and toxins more efficiently from baby’s skin. Remember, soap works SUPERFICIALLY, but an ubtan works holistically and DEEPLY.

Krya baby ubtans: Bath with a herbal baby ubtan works on a deeper and more holistic level than a synthetic baby soap

 

Ayurveda tells us that a daily oil massage + Snana (bath) using correct set of herbs is very beneficial to both babies and post partum Mothers. For babies, this practice improves complexion, strengthens bones and muscles, and encourages proper growth and development. Because it assists in removing Ama (toxins) so efficiently, the baby’s appetite and hunger levels are good and well adjusted. Elimination takes place properly in the body. Therefore nutrient metabolism is good, so baby receives the correct dose of nutrients as the system is able to extract this efficiently from food.

Krya baby ubtans : a good abhyanga-snana helps baby digest food and metabolize nutrients better

So, the Abhyanga-Snana in a baby assists not just in the baby’s external appearance and skin health. It works at deeper and fundamental levels and helps improve baby’s health and immunity.

Principles behind Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes:

All Krya baby ubtans are formulated and manufactured as per Ayurvedic principles. The Krya baby ubtans are made up of 2 kinds of basic ingredients.

Proprietary blend of lentils and grains:

The first set of ingredients is a proprietary blend of lentils and grains. We use organically grown, desi grains and lentils in all Krya products. For the Krya baby ubtans, we also add a set of medicated grains and lentils. These base grains soak for 24 hours in a specially prepared medicated herb decoction. This process softens the grains giving us a much finer powder. It also transfers the base properties of the herbs into the grains, so we have a much more powerful set of base grains.

Krya baby ubtans : Krya uses a proprietary set of desi grains and medicated grains that help cleanse skin well and eliminate toxins

These base grains and lentils have slight variations as per season. We generally use a mixture of Desi Mung bean, Himalayan Adzuki bean and Himalayan Navrangi bean in the Krya baby ubtans. To this, we also add a small proportion of heritage, desi Rice (typically we add Rajmudi Rice or Kavuni Rice, as is seasonally available). Heritage rice is extremely beneficial for baby’s skin AT THE RIGHT LEVEL – it is sweet, nourishing and gently cleansing.

Proprietary blend of Herbs:

The second set of ingredients we use in the Krya baby ubtans is our proprietary blend of herbs. This set needs to be at the correct level and the right herbs must be chosen. If we add too much of these herbs, they can be astringent and slightly harsh on baby’s skin. If we add too little, we have a formulation that is inefficient at ama removal and does not work too deeply.

In our herb set, one of the things we monitor is the synergistic action of these herbs along with our proprietary blend of base lentils and grains. Ayurveda advises that the overall formula must be slightly “ushna” in veerya or warming. Again here the balance is delicate. If the formula is too ushna, it can cause heat rashes and itching in baby’s skin. If it is too “Sheetya” (cold), the baby is prone to catching colds. The balance must be mildly warming without irritating skin.

Krya baby ubtans : Krya baby ubtans strike teh right balance and are warm and soothing for baby, not hot and irritating

 

Ayurveda also suggests that baby ubtans use a special set of Rakshoghna herbs. The word “Rakshoghna” can be interpreted in many ways – these are herbs which give “Raksha” or protection. At one level Rakshoghna herbs give protection at a physical level. So they have krimihara properties and help keep away disease causing microorganisms. However, at a deeper, emotional level, they drive away mental agitation and anxiety by calming down the baby and keeping vata dosha at the correct level.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya uses teh correct set of Rakshoghna herbs that protect baby at many levels

 

We use a special set of herbs for the Krya baby girl ubtan. These herbs help in naturally lightening excess hair growth and are also considered auspicious for women. Apart from aesthetic reasons, Ayurvedic Acharyas recommend that we use specific Divya oushadi herbs for women (and baby girls) to bring about upliftment of mood, and increase positive energy.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya also uses many divya oushadi (divine herbs) in its baby ubtans

Seasonal variations in formulation:

Ayurveda tells us that herbs must be chosen according to “Desha” (place), and “Kala” (time or season). So what is appropriate in hot and humid weather is inappropriate in winter.

For example, Badam (almonds) are often advertised as being present in certain Baby ubtans. Ayurveda tells us that the skin of Almond (badam) is full of Pitta and is highly irritating both when eaten and when applied. So traditionally, we are ALWAYS supposed to soak Badam overnight, and then rinse it in the morning, peel the skin and then only consume. This overnight soaking brings down the heat in the nut and removing the skin brings down its irritating effect. Unless Badam is pre-processed this way, it is not suitable for either internal or external use.

Krya baby ubtans: Every herb must be pre-processed properly to avoid irriitation. Almonds are a case in point

We use Badam in the Krya Intense hair oil. But even in our Hair oil, we pre-process the Badam in the same way described above. This takes us much more time, but we are sure that Badam will not irritate.

The high heat of Badam is very welcome in cold climate. So it is appropriate to use in a product meant to be used in cold countries or in cold seasons. But in hot weather, if the bay ubtan contains other warming ingredients, using Badam may make the entire product extremely “Ushna”.

Therefore Krya baby ubtans are always appropriately researched and formulated to ensure they are pleasant and comfortable for the baby to use in each season.

3 Krya baby ubtans and differences between them:

Krya has 3 baby ubtan products: the Krya Ubtan for Baby girls, the Krya Ubtan for Baby boys and the Krya Gentle Baby Bodywash   powder.

 The differences between the Krya Ubtans by gender are quite obvious. The Krya Baby ubtan for baby girls is designed to also mildly thin down excessive hair growth in babies. So it contains natural hair thinning herbs which also help improve the complexion.  We use 3 kinds of turmeric in the Krya Baby Ubtan for baby girls – Turmeric is a “mangalya” (auspicious) Divya oushadi (divine herb). It is considered especially beneficial for Women, and is recommended to be used in any product meant for girls / Women.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya baby ubtans for baby girls contain many hair thinning and auspicious herbs

 

While differences between gender are quite low in babies (apart from the hair thinning requirement), we also have a Krya baby ubtan for baby boys to complete our range logically. This ubtan uses a different combination of herbs from the Krya baby ubtan for baby girls. In this ubtan, we use safe, Rakshoghna herbs and skin nourishing herbs like Daruharidra (Tree turmeric), Rosemary, Kacholam (south Indian Zeodary), etc. This combination gently yet thoroughly cleanses and uplifts tender skin.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya baby ubtan for baby boys contains many soothing, uplifting herbs like Rosemary

 

Many of our customers buy the Krya baby products during the last month of pregnancy. They want to ensure that there is no chance of running out of time and having to depend on synthetic baby products. Who can blame them? This IS a wise choice. Obviously at this time of purchase, the gender of the baby is not known. So we advise that they use the Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder. This is a unisex formulation, so it does not contain our set of hair lightening and hair thinning herbs. However, it can be used if you do not know the gender of your baby, have 2 babies that are close in age, or if you have twins and want to economize.

 The Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder uses protective Rakshoghna herbs like Neem flower, Ram tulsi and Forest Tulasi. We also use skin nurturing and circulation improving herbs like Babchi, Khadira, Manjishta and Mulethi. In addition to keep the baby’s mood cheerful and calm baby down, we use Divya oushadi herbs like Vacha and Amla.

Krya baby ubtans: Krya gentle baby bodywash contains skin soothing and nurturing herbs like Liquorice

 

 To complement these 3 Krya baby ubtans, we also have 3 Krya baby massage oils. We will speak about these oils in a separate post.

 To sum up:

We hope this post gave you an understanding of the traditional practice of Abhyanga-Snana and how much it benefits a baby if done regularly. An abhyanga Snana must always be done with products carefully chosen for babies as their skin is unformed and they are very vulnerable to imbalanced products.

We also hope that this post helped you understand the differences between the 3 Krya baby ubtans, so you could choose the appropriate one for your baby.

If you have any questions on the Krya baby ubtans or any of our Krya baby products, please write to us.

Krya Products Recommended for Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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What are the ingredients in a baby soap: Krya Baby 101 series

ingredients in a baby soap: avoid all soaps
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Reading Time: 13 minutes

“What are the ingredients in a baby soap and why do you recommend we use a baby ubtan instead?”

This is a common question we receive at Krya. My curiosity about this question prompted me to do a search. Google tells me that common searches made around baby soaps include: “best soap for newborn skin”, “newborn baby soap”, and “natural soap”, and “homemade soap for baby”. Interestingly, all these come under the larger umbrella of parents seeking information on exactly what goes into a baby soap.

Sadly, if you type the search term “ingredients in a baby soap”, all you get are product advertisements for baby soaps. Nowhere do you get any information on what goes into a baby soap and whether these ingredients are safe. So as a part of the Krya Baby Skin 101 series, we decided to do a post on this subject. Once you have found out the ingredients in a baby soap, would you even consider using one on your baby? We hope not and hope this post will explain why. Read on.

ingredients in a baby soap: truly horrifying to contemplate

What are the ingredients of a soap?

Historically, soaps were used only to clean laundry and fabric. Their discovery was accidental. Atleast 5000 years ago, it was discovered that when rain water mixed with wood ash, a highly alkaline, caustic substance called Lye was made. When Lye was poured on dirty fabric, it bleached and removed stains on fabric.

ingredients in a baby soap : soap is a historical invention used only to clean fabric

However, Lye was extremely caustic and corrosive. It could make you blind and burn your skin off. So, the ancients learn to bring down the caustic properties of Lye, by making a salt. When Lye and vegetable oil were mixed together, soap was made, which is chemically a salt.

This new salt, contained the same alkaline properties of Lye, but it was slightly milder compared to using plain Lye. However, even this milder soap was still quite corrosive. Therefore, it was used to wash the dirtiest fabric and linen to remove pre-historic dirt and stains.

So historically, the ingredients in a soap were just 2: Natural Lye and Natural vegetable oil. These 2 ingredients were combined and made into a soft paste initially and used to wash fabric.

How did soap make the transition from laundry to skin?

Soap started being used to clean skin in medieval Europe. This was a regressive move, when you consider how evolved skin care had gotten in ancient India, Greece and even Medieval Islamic countries. With the spread of Ayurveda and herbal knowledge from India, the utilization of herbs, oils, clays and special herbal mixtures had become very advanced in all these regions. Floral extracts and essential oil production techniques had also filtered from India to regions like Damascus, and Syria and these techniques and skin care methods were adopted.

Meanwhile in the rest of Medieval Europe, because of the colder conditions and medical techniques practiced, there was a fear around the use of water. From the 10th century to well beyond the Elizabethan Era, there was a rising fear around water and frequent baths.

This was compounded by cold conditions and very low temperature of water and lack of indoor plumbing or heated water systems. The result: baths were taken very infrequently. The nobility bathed once a month or less. Poorer people bathed once a year, and this year was a designated holiday.

ingredients in a baby soap: In medieval europe , bathing was rare due to lack of indoor plumbing, easy access to hot water and fear around bathing

As people were bathing very rarely, a very strong, harsh and alkaline soap become popular to remove accumulated dirt and dead cells. The easy availability of tallow due to animal husbandry practices, meant that soap could be easily made at farmsteads and manor homes. The poor people made do with a simple lye-tallow soap. Richer people and gentry were able to add perfumed oils into the mix and also after bath to give bathing a better experience.

Soap in modern India – killing traditional practices

The practice of bathing with soap is a post-Independence phenomenon in India. Until the 1950s, village industries flourished and the joint family set up ensured traditional practices were followed. Soaps and shampoos were not available. Once multinational companies began making their appearance in India, they started promoting “modern” soaps and shampoos to Indians, deriding our traditional practices.

Heavy advertising, the use of celebrities to promote the practices, the rise of beauty pageants with multinational sponsorship and heavy use of cheap, industrial fragrances, all helped cement soaps firmly in India’s mind.

An example of racist MNC soap advertising - Soap advt in 1890ingredients in a baby soap : Soap was thrust down upon Indians by MNCs using heavy advertising, celebrities and deriding our traditional practices

Traditional bathing utilized seasonal herbs, grains and clays. Recipes could be tailormade by season and availability of fresh herbs. Recipes were also tailormade for different groups of people. Baby ubtans were lovingly made by the women in the family using the best available ingredients. Ubtans for post-partum women included warming, vata reducing, mood uplifting herbs. Men who went out frequently and subjected to high sun exposure were given cooling herbs and rich clays to bathe in. The traditional bathing practice had something for everyone. Skin health, dosha balance and mood upliftment were all neatly taken care of.

ingredients in a baby soap : Tradiioally India relied on Ayurvedic wisdom to create well researched, holistic skin and hair care products

As soaps became more and more popular, the whole ecosystem behind traditional bathing practices began to collapse one by one. First with the loss in joint family set up, we lost family knowledge about herbs. With lack of interest in these products, there was no economic opportunity for the collectors of herbs. As herb processors found their machines rusting due to lack of use, the small village industries which locally processed these products went out of business.

As MNCs began aggressively spending behind retail space and advertising, retail stores stopped promoting these traditional products. When people started moving to nuclear and urban set-ups, the only place they could remember these practices became the kirana and retail stores. With no retail store promoting traditional skin and hair care products, the urban consumer fully became ensnared with chemical soaps and shampoos.

Thus a 5000+ year old wonderful, eco-friendly, healthy tradition of complete skin and hair care was lost to us. So today, we have to write blog posts at Krya explaining how a soap is dangerous for you and an ubtan is better!

What are the ingredients in a baby soap?

Let us analyze the most popular brand of synthetic baby soap. The ingredients listed on the pack are as follows:

  1. Sodium Palm Kernelate
  2. Sodium Palmate
  3. Water
  4. Mineral Oil
  5. Sodium Chloride
  6. Fragrance
  7. Glycerin
  8. Titanium dioxide
  9. Dimethicone
  10. C12-C15 Alkyl Benzoate
  11. Disodium EDTA
  12. Stearoxytrimethylysilane
  13. Stearyl Alcohol
  14. Disodium Etidronate
  15. Tocopherol Acetate
  16. Hydrolysed Milk Protein

As per Drug & Cosmetic guidelines, the ingredients should be listed from largest to smallest. The 15th ingredient is a synthetic compound which resembles the chemical structure of Vitamin E. The 16th ingredient is a synthetic extract of Casein. Casein is commonly found in Milk. These 2 ingredients are what the company heavily advertises as going into its soap.

This misleads parents into believing that this synthetic baby soap is full of Milk. Milk was also traditionally used in baby ubtans to make a paste. Parents conclude that this chemical soap is similar to a traditional baby ubtan with milk for their baby. The could not be more wrong.

As per Drugs & Cosmetics guidelines, Tocopherol and Casein form the smallest part of this chemical baby soap. How small? We can only make a guess as percentages are not listed on the pack. But as per our experience, these 2 ingredients can be as small as under 0.25% in the final product. Therefore, this is DEFINITELY not the same as a traditional baby ubtan mixed in milk.

All soaps need to be made with some form of oil / fat. Historically beef tallow was in use. We can also make soaps using edible vegetable oils like coconut oil, sesame oil, etc. if we wish. BUT, a mass-produced soap which costs around Rs.10 in the smallest size cannot afford to use edible vegetable oils.

So chemical soaps are made into a slurry, which is cement-like using synthetic cleansing agents, water, salt, fragrance and synthetics which give a soft feel on skin. This whole mass is churned into a slurry and then poured into moulds to set quickly. The presence of binding agents like Sodium Chloride help “set” the soap and form a hard mass.

The 1st two ingredients in the listing are Sodium Palm Kernelate & Sodium Palmate.  Sodium Palm Kernelate is a detergent surfactant. It is chemically a salt of Palm oil – so it is a synthetic version of a soap. However, it is much harsher on skin, as it is chemically very close to a detergent. It strips natural oils quickly and aggressively from skin.

Apart from being an aggressive surfactant, Sodium Palm Kernelate is also an emulsifying agent. So, in the presence of water it forms a thick, soft dispersion which feels moisturizing on skin. However, this only “feels” moisturizing, as in reality it is a simple detergent.

Disodium EDTA & Disodium Etidronate are both preservatives. This is essential as water is the 3rd largest ingredient by volume in this product. Disodium EDTA can worsen sensitive skin conditions – so if your baby has dermatitis or eczema, using this soap will worsen it.

Titanium dioxide (ingredient no 8 in the list) is used to bleach and whiten the final soap. It is a mineral used in Nano particle size which can clog baby’s delicate skin.

Stearoxytrimethylysilane is another chemical salt. It has a coating effect on skin, so skin temporarily feels smooth. This is only temporary and not real, but this chemical blocks the Srotas in skin from doing their job.

Stearyl alcohol is similar in its effects as Stearoxytrimethylysilane. It is a common coating agent which is added to moisturizing lotions, hair conditioners and synthetic soap to mimic the effect of a moisturizer on skin. Just like Stearoxytrimethylysilane, Stearyl alcohol coats and blocks skin. It is a commonly used evaporation suppressing monolayer which is used in some applications to prevent water from evaporating. Imagine the effect this evaporation suppressing monolayer can have on tender, unformed, highly vulnerable baby skin!

We have analyzed the ingredients in a commonly used, very famous brand of baby soap. It is a toxic overload of skin blocking, unnecessary, highly synthetic, lab made ingredients. The combined action of these ingredients is harmful for vulnerable skin. This product can do NO GOOD for skin.

We can safely assume that NO parent reading and understanding this, would ever consider applying this toxic product or any similar product on their child’s skin. So, what is the alternative?

ingredients in a baby soap: would you now, knowingly use a baby soap on your baby?

Herbal Baby ubtans: a safe, natural, non-toxic alternative to toxic baby soaps

We started this post with a lament on the dying traditional bathing practices in India. It was our sense of loss around these, and our growing alarm on the increasingly toxic personal care products now available that led us to start Krya.

The best and safest way to bathe a newborn, a baby with sensitive skin, for that matter, any baby, is with a good ayurvedic, herbal ubtan.

HOWEVER: all baby ubtans are not necessarily good for your baby. In our work, we have seen the following issues with the few other brands that offer baby ubtans:

  • High use of drying astringent herbs like Turmeric – While turmeric is an excellent herb, it cannot be used in high proportion in baby ubtans as it is very drying on skin

ingredients in a baby soap : Too much turmeric can be counter-productive in a baby ubtan

  • High use of potentially allergy inducing lentils: Many people are now developing allergies to commonly used lentils like Besan and Channa Dal. We estimate atleast 5% of the population could be allergic to these lentils. These lentils are also quite drying on skin. So, it is wise to completely avoid it in a baby ubtan – BUT many companies persistently use these lentils without doing proper research on their effects on skin
  • Formulation which is not properly balanced between “Ushna” and “Sheetya” ingredients: Ayurveda teaches us that every herb has a “Veerya” – which is a heating or cooling effect. It is important to reach the right balance for babies as they are very vulnerable to drops in their core temperature. Many baby ubtans we have seen are much more cooling than they should be – this is not good overall for the baby.

ingredients in a baby soap : important to make teh right balance of hot and cool ingredients in a baby ubtan

  • No Seasonal variation practiced in formulation: Ayurveda teaches us that herbs should be used seasonally. We cannot use highly cooling herbs in Winter and vice versa. However, many brands of baby ubtan do not vary their formulation properly by season. This can also affect baby adversely.
  • No use of organically grown lentils and grains: The dependence on chemical pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides are abnormally high in conventional farming. So, grains sourced from such chemical farming are NOT IDEAL for Baby. We are yet to come across any company which uses organically grown grains and lentils in their formulations.

ingredients in a baby soap : Lentils & grains sourced through chemicalfarming are used in many baby ubtan products. This can increase toxic overload in baby's skin

Krya Baby Ubtans & Body wash powders: Ideal, traditional product for Baby’s skin

Obviously when we search for “ingredients in a baby soap” online, we expect two things. First we expect an answer on just what are these mysterious ingredients in a baby soap. Second, if we do not want to use these toxic, chemical laden products, we need an alternative.

We saw both what goes into a regular baby soap and some problems we have seen in baby ubtans. So here is why we feel Krya baby ubtans and baby bodywash powders are ideal products for your baby’s skin.

Krya offers 3 baby skin cleansing traditional powders: Krya baby girl ubtan, Krya baby boy ubtan and Krya gentle baby bodywash powder (a unisex product).

ingredients in a baby soap : Krya baby products are teh ideal partner for your baby's skin

If you are looking for a special product by gender, we recommend using the Krya baby boy / girl ubtans. If you have twins, or would like a unisex product, you can choose the Krya Gentle baby bodywash powder. All 3 products can be used from one week of the baby’s birth.

Traditionally, a newborn baby is massaged with a traditional ayurvedic oil from the first day of birth. For one week, we use only herbal water to wash the baby. From one week onwards, we may use any of the Krya baby ubtans / bodywash products.

All Krya baby ubtans / body washes MUST be used along with one of Krya’s baby oils. This is the recommended ayurvedic practice. Oiling before bath helps nourish baby’s skin, tone and support healthy muscle growth and relieves fatigue.

ingredients in a baby soap: a pre-bath oil massage is a must before baby's bath to nourish skin and support healthy muscle growth

We looked at some of the drawbacks of other baby ubtans in the market. Here are the plus points behind all of Krya’s baby ubtans and bodywash powders.

Why Krya’s baby ubtans are a better choice for your baby

Balanced, well researched, authentic, proprietary formula:

The Krya baby ubtans follow a traditional, well researched formula. We take care to ensure the formula judiciously uses drying herbs like turmeric (it is present in the correct quantity). We also ensure the correct balance of Ushna and Sheetya Veerya herbs to make sure baby remains warm and does not carry a chill.

We specially use excellent divya oushadi herbs which are warming like Ram Tulasi, Krishna Tulasi, Siva Tulsi and Indian borage (Karpooravalli) in our formulations. Some of these herbs are not very widely available commercially – we take care to source these herbs to ensure our formulation is good for babies.

ingredients in a baby soap : Krya's baby ubtans and bodywashes contain many rare medicinal herbs

No allergy / rash inducing lentils and grains:

Although Besan and Channa dal are relatively cheaper and help cleanse skin, we do not use these lentils in Krya’s formulations to ensure that there are no allergic reactions on babies. Similarly, common allergens like peanuts and associated products are not used at Krya. However, despite all these precautions, it is always wise to do a patch test on baby’s skin before starting to use any product. This is a practice we recommend at Krya as well.

ingredients in a baby soap: Krya's baby products contain no allergy inducing lentils.

Krya’s baby ubtans have seasonal formulation variations:

All Krya’s formulations undergo seasonal variations. This ensures that baby does not develop any chills or colds from using a product that contains cooling ingredients in cold season. In Winter, our formulation is usually slightly more “warming” to account for seasonal changes.

Krya ‘s baby ubtans use organically grown lentils, grains and herbs:

All of Krya’s grains and lentils are organically grown. We source our grains from known, trusted, authentic farmers, and farming co-operatives. Many of our herbs are forest collected, which ensure that pesticide run off and contamination is minimal. The oils we use in our Baby oils are organic AND Cold pressed – ensuring very high nutrition. All fresh herbs, leaves and fruits going into our oils are ONLY ORGANICALLY grown.

This makes our supply chain process complex and demanding. Our average costs are also atleast two or three times higher because of our insistence on high quality organic produce. But, this means that your baby gets only the best and safest products on his / her skin, which makes the effort worth it.

To sum up:

We started this post with an innocent question: what are the ingredients in a baby soap. The exploration to this answer took us through the murky world of personal care, explored our traditional bathing practices. We also looked at the history behind the invention of soaps, and how they have taken over our minds today.

Our post ended with an analysis of Baby ubtans and what makes Krya’s baby ubtans and bodywash products so unique and good for baby.

We hope this post inspired you to replace your current baby soap with the Krya baby ubtan. We also hope this post sparked off a desire to know more about what goes into products you use on yourself and in your home.

Our collective choices are very very expensive today. We are flooding our planet and our bodies with unnecessary, toxic and hazardous ingredients. We do not yet know the long-term consequence of any of these ingredients on our collective health.

We hope our post gave you a thought starter on these lines. If you have any question on our baby products, please call us or write to us.

Krya Products Recommended for Baby:

  • Krya baby ubtans & bodywashes – made from organic or forest collected herbs, grains and lentils . Cleans thoroughly yet is extremely soothing and gentle on baby’s skin. Can be used everyday from the 1st day of baby’s birth.
  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
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Krya Baby Skin 101 series : 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin and improve immunity
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

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Caring for baby’s skin the right way is a challenge. Every single day, media reports tell us yet another company is making unsafe products. For confused parents looking for holistic, completely safe and natural baby products, Ayurveda provides many answers.  In this post, we will discuss 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin. These 5 skin care practices also help boost baby’s immunity and overall health.

Pregnancy: a time to take stock and re-evaluate choices

Most of our consumers tend to discover Krya when there is a particular problem they have not been able to find answers to like persistent hairfall, or when there is a new and wonderful change in their life (pregnancy or the birth of a child).

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : pregnancy is a time to re-evaluate our existing product choices

Most of us adults tend to bludgeon through life, and are willing to experiment quite widely with our health, skin and hair. Nothing else can explain how, despite all the evidence to the contrary, we continue to eat pesticide ridden foods and hormone and antibiotic filled dairy. However, when we see the fragility and delicate nature of an infant, we are forced to re-examine our choices and we make much better and more informed choices.

Why is it critical to treat baby’s skin and hair with care and reverence?

Human skin is the largest sense organ in our body. It is considered the seat of the Indriyas / sense organs and is literally the seat of sight, sense, touch, feeling and hearing. It is our first barrier layer and helps protect our internal organs from damage and bacteria. It is a marvel of bio engineering and hosts a massive colony of micro organisms which work along with us to ensure a constant pH of 5.5, with an acidic mantle that keeps harmful organisms away from us.

The skin and hair structure in children is one of the last major systems to be formed. The sweat glands which help regulate temperature, eliminate toxins from our body and help maintain the skin’s natural acid mantle takes upto 3 years to form. This means that babies stay sweet smelling longer, but this also means that their body does not have the mechanism to readily eliminate toxins like adults do.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : baby's skin is extremely under developed and therefore vulnerable

This means that they can handle far smaller toxic loads than adults – so it makes NO sense to keep on massaging them and washing them with toxin filled synthetic oils, lotions, creams and soaps. Even if the label says that it is “gentle” and will not make your baby cry.

How should we be protecting and caring for baby’s skin instead? Read on below for 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin

1. Follow the 3 step ayurvedic fabric washing routine for baby’s linen and clothing

Baby’s skin is under-developed and fragile. It lacks the ability to resist attacks by micro-organisms, fungal organisms and small insects and bugs. Therefore Ayurveda recommends that baby’s skin is to be cleansed with suitable herbs.

Step 1: Wash with a natural detergent

Ayurveda also recommends that all fabric coming into contact with baby’s skin is cleansed thoroughly in natural, non irritating, anti bacterial, “Rakshoghna” herbs like Shikakai, soapberry, Triphala, Vacha, Neem, etc.

To prevent rashes, contact dermatitis, we recommend double rinsing baby’s linen, cloth diapers and clothing using only a gentle natural detergent.

When we use the words “gentle, natural detergent” we mean a completely plant based herbal detergent. Any other detergent which uses either castille soap or SLS is too harsh for baby’s skin. If using a synthetic detergent, consider switching to a completely natural detergent.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : always wash baby's clothing in a pure, plant based detergent

Step 2: Line dry in hot sun

After washing baby’s clothing in a completely natural detergent, line dry it in the hot sun (forenoon sun is recommended).

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : line dry baby's clothing for natural anti bacterial effect

Step 3: Fumigate with natural herbs

Additional fumigation of dried clothing is recommended in very young or delicate infants or in humid and wet weather. Fumigation can be done in pure sambrani (benzoin resin) or Guggulu resin.5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : additional natural fumigation is excellent for premature or very young babies

Why is a 3 step washing routine a part of a post that is titled “5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin”?  In our experience at Krya, synthetic detergents are the culprit for a huge host of skin related issues for baby.

Many parents who are told that their baby has contact dermatitis and are pained to see baby suffering with a constant itchy skin rash find that it vanishes when the detergent is changed. Switching to a good ayurvedic fabric washing routine can do wonders for baby’s skin health.

2. Massage baby everyday before bath with a nourishing botanical oil

As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sebaceous glands are not fully formed. Therefore there is a decreased production of natural oils to coat the skin. In adult skin, the natural sebum also forms the skin’s barrier function. So in the absence of this, the baby’s skin has to be assisted through daily massage using a mildly acidic, herb infused botanical oils.

Oil application of the skin has a twofold effect: the herb infused vegetable oil is able to penetrate the skin easily and nourish it, ensuring baby’s skin does not go dry.

It also has the ability to work with the skin to boost its barrier function. This increases the baby’s immune response and improves the body’s ability to protect itself from harmful micro organisms.5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : daily oil massage with a good botanical oil supports baby's skin health

Krya recommends daily oil massage of the baby 15 minutes before the bath to boost the skin’s natural oils and improve skin’s barrier function. This everyday oil massage with a good botanical oil is a critical part of the 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin. This oil massage ensures that baby’s skin is well hydrated, and well supported and the right synergistic bacteria are encouraged to colonize.

3. Cleanse baby’s skin with right products

As baby’s skin is still under-developed, the sweating mechanism is not present. Therefore it is important to assist the skin in its thermoregulatory function.

For thermoregulation, the srotas (minor channels of the skin) need to be massaged, detoxified and cleaned well every day. The massage of the skin every day helps deep cleanse the srotas.

Snana (bath) that follows should be done using a mixture of grains, lentils and Ayurvedic herbs. This mixture has the capacity to gently massage the srotas, and remove toxins along with excess oil. When the srotas are active and clean, they can do the job of thermo regulation properly.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Baby should be bathed with the right herbal ubtan

As per Ayurveda (unless you live in a very cold climate), the srotas should not be masked or covered after a bath with any moisturising substance. This brings down their activity. This is why Taila abhyanga (oil massage) is done in Ayurveda before the Snana.

Many parents write to us asking for the best moisturizing lotion that can be used on babies. They are surprised when we ask them to do a pre-bath oil massage and use a Krya baby ubtan instead. When we cleanse skin correctly, there is NO NEED to apply any post bath moisturisation. Also this application blocks the skin and impairs its functioning. This is why correct cleansing is an important part of our post on 5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin.

4. Keep baby warm

Because of the unformed nature of baby’s skin, infants are very sensitive to temperature and changes in humidity. Because of their growing nature and diet which is high in liquids, they are prone to kapha dosha imbalances. Hence Ayurveda suggests the following:

Keep infants well covered and slightly warmer than you would keep yourself. Protect all vata based organs like skin, feet and ears, especially when taking baby out in the open.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Always protect baby's core temperature

Babies must be bathed in warm, and not hot water. Check the temperature before bathing baby.

Baby’s nursery should be kept slightly warm, and draughts of wind must not be allowed inside. Fumigation with rakshoghna herbs atleast once a day, especially in late evenings is advised to keep infection at bay.

5. Bathe baby with a special herb infused water

To boost baby’s immunity, support skin and keep micro organisms and diseases causing germs at bay, Ayurveda recommends adding s special herb mixture to baby’s bath. A simple herbal decoction can be made at home using either Neem or Tulsi leaf. Neem leaves is used when the weather is hot and Tulsi leaves when the weather is cold. The leaves can be added in the following manner:

How to make a bath steep for baby’s bath:

Mild decoction: Boil 4 – 5 Neem / tulsi leaves in 1 glass of clean water. Boil until the water reduces in half. Strain and add to baby’s bath water. Ensure the temperature of the water is suitable for baby’s skin before bathing her.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : It is a good idea to add ayurvedic herbs everyday to baby's bath water

The same decoction can also be done with dried Neem leaf or Dried Tulsi leaf powder. In this case, boil the decoction until it reaches ¾ the original volume, strain and use.

To sum up:

Baby’s skin is fragile and vulnerable. As the skin system is under developed, the products we apply on baby’s skin must protect and support its healthy growth.

Ayurveda offers worried parents many wonderful solutions to holistically nurture and care for baby’s skin. These solutions are specific and range from how baby’s linen must be washed to how baby must be bathed.

We hope you found these 5 simple Ayurvedic tips to care for baby’s skin useful and easy to follow. Please do try them out yourself or forward the same to a friend in need.

If you have any questions or queries on the same, please write to us.

Krya products recommended for baby:

  • Krya baby massage oils – made using authentic ayurvedic herbs, and organic cold pressed vegetable oils processed through a rigorous ayurvedic manufacturing process. Can be used from the time a baby is 1 week old
    • Krya traditional baby massage oil with Bala & ashwagandha – traditional formula that aids baby’s muscle development . Can be used from the time a baby is 1-2 days old. Not recommended for babies with sensitive skin, dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis. For these conditions, see below.

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin - Use the Krya traditional baby massage oil everyday

5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Use Krya baby ubtans to gently yet thoroughly cleanse baby's skin. does not irritate sensitive skin.

  • Krya detergent – completely natural, plant based herbal detergents to cleanse baby’s linen without irritating baby’s skin
    • Krya Classic Detergent – made from forest collected soapberries. Recommended for premature babies and infants with skin conditions5 simple ayurvedic tips to care for baby's skin : Use the Krya natural plant detergent to wash baby's clothing and linen
    • Krya Lemon detergent – Made from forest collected soapberries, lemongrass and lemon – for all other infants

 

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