Reduce Eye Strain with Ayurveda in Seven Steps

how ayurveda can help relieve eye fatigue and strain by Krya
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

Our series this week discusses 5 common problems that urban dwellers face and what Ayurveda recommends should be done to mitigate these problems. A common problem we face today is Eye strain and fatigue due to over use of laptops, computers and electronic devices. Today’s post will explore how you can easily & visibly reduce eye strain with Ayurveda .

 

5 comoon urban problems

The first in our series is eye fatigue and strain caused by over use of the laptop or smartphone: Computer vision syndrome. 

Do you have Eye Fatigue?

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

Eye strain is a real and wide-spread problem today, which affects both kids and adults. For several hours every day, we stare at electronic screens across phones, tablet, TV and computers. So we are all affected to varying degrees.

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

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

Causes for Eye Strain as per Ayurveda :

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

Imbalance of hot and cold ( Ushnabhitaptasya)

When the body heat is very high, there is a vasodilation of blood vessels to help excess heat to be transmitted outside. When this hot body steps into a cold environment, the dilated vessels suddenly have to constrict to ensure heat loss is minimal. When we constantly keep having this change in temperature, we over-work all blood vessels, including the ones in the eyes, leading to eye redness, weak muscles and poor circulation.

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

Doorekshanat :

This is when we repeatedly strain the eye muscles to see far away objects or to see fine and small objects (Sookshma vision) – This distorts the vision, over accustoming the eye muscle to only one kind of work

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

Krodha, Shoka & Bhaya (Anger, Grief and Fear) :

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

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

Vega vinigraha (suppression of natural urges) :

In many office goers, we observe suppression of urges like urination – this is especially common among women. This leads to disturbance in Apana vayu and aggravates vata dosha throughout the body when it is carried out for a long time. The urge to sleep (nidra) and the urge to cry (Ashru) are both urges which should not be suppressed as per Ayurveda. Working well beyond our bed time, suppression strong emotional responses, and not blinking often to help the production of tears to moisten the eyes, worsen the health of our eyes and increase eye strain.

Vriddhi Ahara (incompatible food) :

Ushna and Amla ahara (salty, spicy and sour tastes) aggravate eye strain. All 3 tastes aggravate Pitta dosha which increase the Agni in the eye, causing high eye strain and watering.

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

Ratri Jagarati – (Night vigil) :

In the texts, the Acharyas mention that certain occupations which require Night vigil (Ratri jagrati) are more prone to eye strain like soldiers, guards, etc. Today, Ratri Jagrati has become a common feature in many urban homes. Due to late night working, late dinners, and late television watching, we are all prone to eye strain due to use of the eyes at the wrong time.

 

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

 

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

In addition, here are 7 Ayurvedic recommendations on how we can reduce / prevent eye fatigue below.

Reduce Eye Strain with Ayurveda in Seven easy ways:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Alternate between “Sookshma” and far vision:

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

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

 

Do not suppress natural urges:

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

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

 

Reduce screen glare and over-bright light :

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

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

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

 

Re-set aggravated pitta and vata through regular abhyanga:

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

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

 

Practice Eye cooling measures:

Cool the agni in your eyes with the qualities of Soma (the moon). Overusing agni in the eyes leads to computer vision syndrome. Hence Ayurveda recommends increasing soma properties to the eyes. This can be done by doing the following:

Eating fresh, warm, nourishing foods:

Regulating Pitta dosha helps regulate Pitta aggravation in the eye. So addition of milk and ghee to the diet, using warming but not irritating spices like pepper, cumin and not red and green chillies, eating meals on time, and using cooling grains and vegetables like split mung, aged rice, and gourds all help in pitta regulation.

Night gazing:

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

Electronic cut off time:

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

Application of cooling substances like Ayurvedic Kajal to the eyes:

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

To conclude:

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

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

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

Krya Hair Oils to reduce Eye fatigue :

  1. For very high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Vibrant hair colour hair oil
  2. For moderate – high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Classic hair oil
    1. Note : If in doubt whether your Pitta aggravation is moderate or severe, start with the Krya Classic hair oil . If after a month you do not see good progress, crank it up a notch with the Krya vibrant hair oil
  3. For Vata aggravation due to high stress (difficult work atmosphere, frequent air travel / travel, long commute, missed / skipped meals, difficulty sleeping, long working hours AND dry and falling hair ) – chose the Krya harmony hair oil
  4. For Vata aggravation due to moderate stress, inherently dry scalp, hair full of static, hair that breaks easily and forms split ends and is dull, rough – choose the Krya conditioning hair oil
  5. For Vata and Pitta aggravation due to excessive chemical treatments (lots of heat treatments, re-bonding, perming, straightening, twisting treatments, hair colouring) – Hair is dull, frizzy, difficult to manage, rough and straw like with very poor hair growth – choose the Krya Damage repair hair oil
  6. For Fungal dandruff (thick, yellow, flakes of dandruff with scalp thickening and itching) – choose the Krya Anti dandruff hair oil

Krya Abhyanga Products to reduce Eye Strain & Fatigue:

  1. For Women – Krya Women’s abhyanga system
  2. For Men – Krya Men’s abhyanga system
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Fundamental Ayurvedic truths – Part 1

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

This is the first part of our 4-part series on fundamental Ayurvedic terms – that will help you navigate the wonderful world of Ayurveda with confidence rather than frustration or confusion

An important reason to know these terms is simply this: these are fundamental truths about how the human body functions and how it relates with the world around. These terms are NOT merely “theories” or the opinion of a group of scientists. So even if your minds doesn’t agree with these concepts at first, your body will continue to obey these fundamental truths ( more on this will be explained in great detail in part-3 of this series)

To get started, here are the first two Ayurvedic Axioms

  1. Everything on this planet earth, living and inanimate, is made up of the 5 basic elements, the Pancha Maha Bhutas. These are Air, fire, water, earth and Space ( Ether).
  2. These 5 elements combine in unique pairs to form the 3 Doshas which are Vata, Pitta & Kapha. These 3 doshas can be thought of as “mind-body” types or “energies” and the human body is made of these 3 doshas.

2000px-Ayurveda_humors.svg

 

Vata Dosha:

Vayu + Akash (Air + Space) forms Vata dosha. When 2 great elemnts combine to form a Dosha, the qualities of both these elements are found in this Dosha. So Vata Dosha carries the speed and mobility of vayu and its dryness, and the vastness and emptiness of space.

vata dosha - vayu and akash

 

Pitta Dosha:

2 seemingly opposite elements, combine to form Pitta Dosha – Agni + Jala  (Fire + Water) . This gives Pitta dosha its ability to spread quickly, the copious water it secretes in the form of sweat, its intensity and sharpness and also its ability to subside as quickly as it started.

pitta dosha

 

Kapha dosha: 

Prithvi + Jala ( Earth + Water) forms Kapha dosha. Kapha dosha therefore carries the qualities of both elements – it carries stability, weight, hardness, oiliness, firmness and slowness.

kapha dosha

The 3 doshas in each of us:

Every person is made up of a combination of 3-doshas, which is determined at the time of birth and is known as a person’s prakriti. This is not static. As a person grows older and moves through life-stages, various doshas dominate that particular life phase. For example, childhood is dominated by Kapha, from puberty till about 50 years is dominated by Pitta & the old age is dominated by Vata dosha.

tridosha theory

 

The dosha –based understanding of the human body is unique to Ayurveda & this is what makes it so effective. For example, Kapha (Earth + Water) is the building block which builds the human body. So it makes sense that childhood is dominated by Kapha, so that a baby which is 3-4 kg at birth can grow and becomes 60-70 kg adult. If all life-stages were dominated by Kapha, we would continue to grow taller & bigger till the day we die.

 

Have you ever asked yourself why we stop growing taller after our teenage years? Why is there no answer to this question, based on first principles, in western medicine?

 

Further, now that we know that childhood is dominated by Kapha (Earth + Water) it is easier to understand why babies are so susceptible to colds , since Kapha already is a fundamentally “cool” or “cold” dosha.

 

Therefore the dosha concept is the fundamental method by which Ayurveda determines good health & disease. This is summarized in the following Axiom, (Reference Textbook: Ashtanga Hridayam)

 

“Vata, Pitta & Kapha are the three functional units of the body. They destroy or maintain the body, when vitiated (impaired) or not respectively. “

tridosha theory of health

This is a very important concept in understanding health & disease in Ayurveda. When the three-doshas in your body are in equilibrium (right quantity & in the right place) then you have good health. When they are vitiated, either in wrong quantities or wrong place, then it leads to disease. This also helps create the right practices or medicines to balance doshas and restore health.

 

For example, the creative part of the brain is driven by Vata and the ability to focus comes from Pitta dosha. An excessive use of creative brain force, like say an art director or excessive use of focus , like in project management , vitiates the respective doshas. So Ayurveda recommends specific herb-infused hair oils to be applied regularly to balance these excesses. The sense of touch when massaging the scalp and certain herbs like Brahmi & Jatamansi calms & pacifies Vata. So an Ayurvedic hair oil is both very specific to a person and also very powerful in its action despite being an external use product.

12.harmony hair oil

*Krya harmony hair oil – suggested for high mental activity + aggravated vata based hairfall

 

It is also important to note that the dosha theory extends also to times of the day – so at different times of the day, different doshas dominate. So at noon, with the sun at the zenith, Pitta dosha dominates the environment. Doshas also extend to foods and how they interact with doshas. For example dry, baked foods like breakfast cereal or biscuits will further aggravate Vata. So a person with joint pain (a Vata vitiated condition) will suffer more when they eat these dry foods.

like aggravates like
On the other hand, desi cow ghee is considered sacred because it is Tri-doshic (in small quantities) ,which means that it works well in different ways to pacify all 3-doshas , a very prized quality in Ayurveda. So this explains why a person may be lactose intolerant and allergic to milk but NOT to ghee, a concept only explained by Ayurveda.

This is the end of Part-1 of our 4 part series on Fundamental Ayurvedic Terms

At this point, many readers new to Ayurveda might find it overwhelming to choose products based on their Prakriti – so we have made it easy to choose krya products, suitable for your prakriti , be describing the typical symptoms. So if you can identify with these symptoms, you can easily select the appropriate hair-care system.

If you are still confused, or unsure please write to us or give us a call (0 – 75500-89090).

 

 

 

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5 Ayurvedic Resolutions for an Amazing 2018!

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

The twin goals of Ayurveda are Ayu (Long life) & Ayush (Good Health). Ayurveda is a practical science of everyday living and its principles pro-actively help you to prevent disease – which is obviously much better than trying to cure diseases.

Since Ayurveda is a vast ocean of concepts, principles and techniques, we have identified 5 very important concepts that are universal, easy to understand and will dramatically improve your life.

So here is our list of 5 important Ayurvedic concepts to help you create resolutions to have a great year in 2018

  1. Dinacharya (Daily Routine)

Ayurvedic Acharyas have identified that vital importance of a stable daily routine based on your biological clock, the season, your nature and of course the specific details of your life. The very act of a stable routine can bring balance to your life, improve physical health and mental clarity. A stable routine pacifies vata dosha, improves digestion, quality of sleep and brings peace and happiness. But there are specific rules to the Dinacharya – it is not random. In order to design a good Dinacharya for yourself, you must start by defining 2 points:

  • The time of waking up in the morning
  • The time of your last meal , i.e. dinner

Once you have defined these 2 points correctly, all the other activities will fall into place neatly. Using the concepts given later in this article, you can easily identify the good times to wake up and to eat your dinner.

In the morning, after waking up , Ayurveda recommends that you must allocate time for meditation or prayer, exercise, Abhyanga & Snana (bath) , breakfast followed by the work-day. Similarly in the evening, after finishing work you must allot time for winding down, dinner and an electronic screen cut-off time before sleep.

Designing your Dinacharya is easy but the hard part is actually sticking to it. It requires discipline and support from your family. There are no “cheat days” – so even on Sunday you have to wake up at the same time – since your biological clock does not have a weekend.

The benefits from a Dinacharya are numerous and they accrue with time. The chaotic nature of urban living will throw many activities that will push you off your Dinacharya – but if you actually have a written down routine and remember its importance, you can always return back to your routine.

So in these last days of 2017, you could take a pen and paper and craft your ideal day and resolve to stick to it in 2018.

2. Brahma Muhurta – the sacred time

Ayurveda emphatically instructs us to wake up during Brahma Muhurta, which is a sacred time. A muhurta a time span of 48 minutes and the Brahma Muhurta starts 96 minutes before Sunrise. So the exact time of Brahma Muhurta depends on the time of sunrise in your city. If sun-rise is at 6:30 AM, then Brahma Muhurta starts at 4:54 AM and ends at 5:42 AM and you SHOULD wake-up during this time.

Acharya Vagabhata’s textbook , Ashtanga Hridayam , has the following sloka, translated as :

“If you wake up at Brahma Muhurtham, you can protect and regain your health & enjoy a long life”.

blog post 5 - ease into the day

Our Ayurvedic teacher gave us a very lucid explanation for the benefits of waking up at Brahma Muhurta – he called this time a “Re-set time”. He explained that being awake, alert AND active during Brahma Muhurtha helped the entire system to expel Ama through various means like breath, sweat, urine and faeces.  Since it is linked to Sunrise, it automatically has a perfect synergy with the seasons. The very act of being awake at this precious time helps your body balance doshas and re-set back to health.

Apart from physical health, the Brahma Muhurta is the ideal time for meditation &  reflection as we can access the highly positive , sattvic, subtle energies from the Universe. As the sun-rises and the day begins, these energies are no longer available and this is why the 48 minutes Brahma Muhurta is so precious.

This is such a wonderful tool at our disposal – costs nothing and yet bestows priceless benefits.

3. Ghee – the sacred ingredient

When Ayurveda talks about ghee, only natural, hormone-free desi-cow ghee (A2) is the universally accepted standard. (other types like buffalo –ghee are well known but have special uses)

At the outset, this is NOT a discussion about the ethics of consuming animal products like ghee – the only consideration here is good health. You will have to decide for yourself whether it is morally acceptable for you to consumer animal products – but the startling reality for many is that the ethical considerations may have to give way to the over-whelming health.

12.ghee for all ages

I speak from personal experience of leading a 100% vegan-life for 4 years – so in that time, I completely stopped eating all dairy products like milk, ghee and curd. I went vegan only to uphold the principle of Ahimsa – to avoid products from a factory-farming system built on extreme cruelty to cows & buffaloes.

In the first year of the vegan life, there were no problems whatsoever, possibly because my body had reserves from 30 + years of consuming ghee – but small problems started appearing in Year 2, which then took a disastrous turn in Year 3. I experienced alarming loss of weight, irritability, rage,  dry skin, cracked bleeding heels, chipped teeth, blinding pain in the knees and lower back – a condition called as “Vata Raktam” in Ayurveda.

After I endured this torture for nearly a year as a vegan, I was severely reprimanded by our Ayurvedic teacher for neglecting this serious disease. Her simple remedy was this – eat massive amounts of cow ghee for a few months & then continue at normal levels – but DO not try to lead a life without ghee. In just 2 months I experienced a magical reversal in my condition , ONLY with the addition of ghee back in my diet. To minimize the moral conflict, I sourced ghee from a  free-range, hormone –free, from organic farms where the cows were cared for by the farmer.

I understand that this example is specific to my body type and my life – but the important lesson that I want to leave you with here is this – If you want to understand the real importance of ghee , please take an opinion ONLY from a good Ayurvedic doctor. Do NOT depend on the internet or what your friend told you about ghee & cholesterol or ghee & diabetes etc. Ayurveda is the only system that has really understood the sacred role of ghee in our diet and its far-reaching impact.

Dr Janardana Hebbar , a leading Ayurvedic doctor says this “Ghee is probably the most sacred, spiritual and physically health benefiting substances that is ever known to human beings “

In 2018, please examine carefully the type & quantity of ghee in your diet , get an Ayurvedic opinion and you may observe magical changes to your health.

  1. Make friends with Ayurvedic oils

One of the Sanskrit words for oil is “Sneha” which also means love. This should give you a good idea of how important oils are to human health.

A healthy home should have the following oils ( apart from ghee)

  • Coconut based hair oil
  • Sesame based Abhyanga/Skin Oil
  • Cold-Pressed Sesame Oil & Castor Oil

(Note: Mustard oil is also an excellent oil, but only a small portion of the population can handle its pungent nature)

10. oil application

The benefits when you cook with cold-pressed oils are obvious. But beyond consumption, a healthy home must regularly apply a coconut-based hair oil for the hair and sesame based skin oil on the body for Abhyanga Snana. Finally both castor oil & sesame oil can be applied externally and internally to treat a number of simple ailments – since this requires more explanation , we will write about this in a separate newsletter.

So take a close-look at the oils in your home – avoid the RBD oils and choose native, cold-pressed oils for good health. I will refer to appropriate ancient Tamil proverb here, which is “ Vaidyarukku kudukaradu Vanniyarukku Kudu” –translated as : If you spend money buying oils,  you will not be spending money on  doctors and medicines.

5. Eat with the Sun

Our final recommendation for 2018 is : Eat with the Sun

The movement of the sun during the day controls the pitta prakriti in nature, which in turn in  human beings is the driving force behind appetite and digestion. This is the origin of the Ayurvedic term “digestive fire”. When you eat with the Sun, you automatically give your body the best chance for digestion, assimilation and elimination. So breakfast should be had before 9 AM, lunch, which is the biggest meal should be had from 12 Noon – 1 PM and the last meal of the day dinner should ideally be had around Sunset, if not, latest by 8 PM. This is an ideal time-schedule when followed, supports good assimilation of nutrients and at night , gives enough time to digest the last meal , thereby promoting sound sleep.  Like all of the earlier concepts, eating with the sun is also very easy to understand and implement yet is very profound in its impact on your health.

Appendix: How to identify & source the above mentioned ingredients

  • Ayurvedic Ghee: AVOID regular mass brands. Look for a brand with words like desi, native Indian cow breed (with hump), A2, free-range, organic, hormone-free, Vedic.
  • Sesame & Castor Oils : AVOID regular refined, chemically – extracted oils. Look for a brand with words like organic, cold-pressed & native process.
  • Ayurvedic Skin & Hair oils : Look for Krya !     (http://krya.in/index.php/shop/skincare.html)

We sincerely wish that our Top-5 Ayurvedic concepts inspire you to make 2018 your best year ever!

 

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Don’t kill the Dead Sea : on biological conservation & harvesting resources responsibly

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A crucial but unspoken part about running a Botanical company is displaying an appreciation for and sensitivity towards conservation. India contains literally thousands of medicinal herbs which are great for skin and hair. However, a few of these herbs are much more famous among consumers and therefore make a product easier to market or sell.

 

It will come as no surprise that the more famous a herb gets, the more vulnerable the plant becomes to over exploitation or stripping.

 

A case in point is Sandal and Red Sanders. Both these trees are very vulnerable to smuggling and over exploitation. Over exploitation means that there is simply too much careless logging happening of the trees without enough time and space being given to conserve the existing population. And when we continue to demand these trees, we permit unlicensed cutting, rampant smuggling and fuel a parallel economy where human rights are strongly affected.

 

This is why at Krya, despite easy availability of unlicensed Red Sandal, we refuse to use it in our products. We do not want our money and your money to support illegal trade and smuggling of this vulnerable plant.

 

We do use small amounts of Sandal in our products. This is purchased from a government authorised license holder who is permitted to log restricted amounts of Sandal. This means that we get Sandal only in small quantities and the costs that we get it at are extremely high. This also means that we get the genuine Sandal. Which has been logged responsibly under checks and balances. And given the Sandal is a rare and expensive herb, we learn as a company to use it judiciously, only in the appropriate formulations where Sandal is strongly required – therefore the system keeps everyone in check.

 

We have strongly resisted using imported materials in Krya, despite their obvious value for skin and hair. There was a time when Dead Sea minerals were a huge “in” resource to be used in skin and hair care formulations. It stands to reason that the Dead Sea is a finite resource. If every single person in the world wanted to treat their hair and skin with the minerals from there, we would not have a Dead Sea left.

 

Similar is the case with soil based products. Green French clay and Moroccan Rhassoul clay are both extremely nutrient rich soils that are beneficial for skin and hair and can be used for different complaints. However, this is soil that is endemic to a particular region and has been created by a unique set of factors that is specific to that region. For example, French green clay was first identified in rock quarries in southern France. Their unique green colour comes from iron oxides that occur naturally and decomposed kelp seaweed and algal plant matter giving the clay its natural tint. The process of forming this clay is extremely old – and the clay samples we get today could be tens of thousands of years old. IF we simply take this clay away, from across the world, we are depleting the local environment of this natural soil WITHOUT doing anything to add it back to the soil.

 

The same maxim holds for Moroccan Rhassoul clay too.

 

There are 4 principles that should be held onto when using natural resources:

 

  1. They should be harvested carefully with a view of ensuring that the plant / animal / mineral being harvested is not stripped and decimated from its natural surroundings. The harvesting technique should ensure rotation so that we give enough time for this resource to re-generate so we are not depleting it by our actions.
  2. They should be used carefully and not frivolously. Every ingredient must be used in the right quantity, not wasted and should go towards treating the ailment the ingredient helps cure.
  3. We should use easily renewable plat resources first – this list includes fruits and flowers which are meant for harvesting. This list also includes plants that are easy to cultivate, have a short life cycle and do not depend upon very strong environmental forces to form (erg: volcanic soil, dead sea minerals, Shilajit, etc)
  4. The use of ingredients must be LOCAL and SEASONAL. This is a maxim given in all the Ayurvedic texts which state that herbs which are LOCAL to you tend to work best for you. So even if “French green clay” or “Moroccan Argan oil” sounds great, what will probably work best for us in India are Coconut or Sesame Oil and any one of our medicinal herbs.

 

If we harvest and use herbs and resources as per the above 4 principles, we will not over exploit or drain our resources in one area.

 

The next time you shop for a skin / hair care product and it is advertised as containing imported ingredients like Dead Sea Minerals, Moroccans Argan Oil or rare Amazonian herbs, do consider buying something local instead. And when you are buying something local, and it advertised as containing extremely rare and expensive and hard to procure ingredients like Red Sandal, Shilajit or Saffron, check for its authenticity and legality as well.

 

Remember, we don’t just buy. We vote and send out a statement about the ethical, business and moral practices we would like to see around us. .

 

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Eating for Good Health – An Ayurvedic Perspective : Part 1

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Reading Time: 11 minutes

I am often asked what Ayurveda prescribes as a healthy diet. I hesitate to write down a fixed diet plan for many reasons: there are many diet fads these days which have become accepted as healthy diets (for example the vegan diet, keto diet, millets diet, etc). Most of this is contrarian to the principles espoused in the texts.

1. universally healthy

The second is that Ayurveda is the ultimate customised medicine. The texts opine that health, regimen and medicine should all be customised to the individual, and what works for one individual is especially unique to him / her. Therefore, what works for you is a customised blend of your food culture, what you are used to your prakriti, and where you live.

2. customised approach
The third is a very interesting reason: Ayurveda recognises the importance of “patterns and habits” in the way we eat, behave and live. The Acharyas tell us that even a great diet. Or a set of behaviours considered universally healthy cannot be suddenly introduced to the system, as the system, which has reached a sense of balance with whatever it is doing, will rebel in shock. So for someone who has persisted on a diet of fried bacon, bread and no vegetables, cannot be suddenly asked to substitute fish for fried bacon and introduced to a whole lot of vegetables. The Acharyas tell us that for the system that has been used to food which we consider unhealthy will react to healthy food (if introduced suddenly) like it would react to poison!

3. gradual is better

Obviously our notion of what is healthy food ad not healthy food will have to vary by region, season and availability of food. So if you live in a dry, hot desert I cannot tell you to eat broccoli all the time, despite the fact that it is considered a nutritional superfood.

 

So rather than speak about specific foods to eat, we focus our posts on how to eat. We saw a post this week on eight Ayurvedic eating techniques, and how chewing food well, eating on time, eating when hungry, etc are timeless principles of healthy living. We saw how even the right foods eaten wrongly can cause distress to the body.

 

Speaking further on foods to eat, here is our 2 part series on Ayurvedic eating for good health. Again, these posts are in the form of eating principles, and cover aspects of eating like ethical diets (vegan / vegetarian), eating timings etc. These are atleast as important as what you eat, so do read on.

 

As with all new information, please read this with an open mind. The science of Ayurveda has evolved over thousands of years and is extremely sophisticated in its understanding of both food and its effect on human beings. Many of the things I have written down may seem contrarian to what we believe in now – but the system has survived and thrived for thousands of years

  1. Timing is everything (in health, food & life)

The time of eating is at least as important as what you eat and depending upon your body’s condition, it is sometimes more important than what you eat.

Every organ system is said to have a particular time to cleanse itself and do necessary repairs. For example, the liver, the seat of pitta in our body, cleanses itself around midnight. Cleansing of organ systems occurs ONLY after digestion is through, nutrients have been extracted and toxins have been removed from the body. So if you are eating dinner at 11 pm, your organ systems will NOT cleanse themselves, and will wait until the next available time slot to do so. Which means your body will feel dull and sluggish the next morning (especially if you are consistently eating late).

This does not mean you can get away with eating junk food like a burger everyday at 7 pm for dinner. Do read point 2.

This is corroborated by many systems of traditional medicine. TCM opines that the window to eat breakfast is between 7 am – 9 am. When you consistently eat breakfast after this window, your chi energy or stomach fire energy gets weak and dampened. This in TCM is said to lead to digestive disorders, high production of gas in the system and an inability to digest foods leading to a high accumulation of toxins.

4.damp agni

 

  1. Ideal food is local, freshly cooked, lightly spiced and eaten warm. No spoiled food should be eaten. And no food should be stored, re-heated and eaten.

Ayurveda frowns upon the wonders of modern food preservation. In fact, the Charaka Samhita specifically says that for good health one should not eat too much of pickles, traditional papads or even traditionally salted and preserved vegetables (like vadagam and vathal).These references are to HOME MADE preserved vegetables, lentils and fruits. So this definitely rules OUT eating preserved, commercially processed foods like biscuits, sauces, etc which have a shelf life of 1 year or more (so most of the time we are eating stuff that has been made at-least 6 months ago in a factory and would contain several harmful chemical preservatives).
5. processed food
Local in Ayurveda means something that not only grows naturally within 100 miles of where you live. It also means eating foods you and your digestive system are accustomed to. So if you have grown up eating rice, rice will suit your system the most. Not quinoa. And not even millets. Any new food must be slowly introduced to your digestive system. (This does not take away from your responsibility of sourcing high quality food. Most of us grew up eating untainted, pesticide-free food – so this naturally means you should source the same now. And not just buy the first available pesticide sprayed pack of rice you find in the supermarket).

6. local food
The point about spoiled food is an interesting nuance and goes to our food culture. For example cheese eating is not a practice that is universal to many parts of India. It is usually common only in cold and hilly regions. In hot and humid regions, fermenting a dairy based food will quickly lead to rot, mildew and fungus. However the same food is very well preserved in a cold, hilly region.

Cheese, especially aged cheese, tends to be very salty, sharp and concentrated. In Ayurveda, this has all the makings of a pitta food group. So it makes sense to eat this food, if it is eaten traditionally, in a cold, hilly region where the atmosphere is low in pitta dosha. The pitta in the food is welcome to stimulate digestion.

7.cheese

However in a hot, humid city like Chennai or Hyderabad, where the atmosphere is full of Pitta, the pitta dosha from the cheese would over stimulate pitta dosha. Which is probably why in practice, it does not form a part of traditional food.

If you live in the city of your childhood, it is probably best to stick to your traditional food practice. If you live in a foreign city, it is still better to stock to your traditional food unless the weather and climate is dramatically different from what you are used to. If you are living in an utterly foreign land, it makes sense to slowly acclimatise and add foods and eating practices local to where you live, while continuing to eat traditionally most of the time.

 

  1. An ideal food for you is something that is digested quickly by you and puts the least amount of stress on your digestive system. This can differ from person to person.

Ayurveda believes the more effort the body has to take in digesting your food, the more energy is diverted away from your organ systems. Also, depending upon your state of health, if your food is difficult to digest, there is a possibility that your body will not complete the job of digestion within the allotted time. The longer your food sits in your body without being processed, the more poisonous it becomes to your body.

8.putrefecation

 

Food that is undigested and sits around in your body becomes “Ama” or undigested waste + toxin. Ama prevents the healthy functioning of your organ systems and leads to faster aging and illness. Ama can accumulate across every organ system, but is linked primarily to an improperly functioning digestive system, brought on by eating improper food.

Now how your digestive system will respond to your food group is completely unique. Some of us can easily digest fried food, and can eat copious quantities of this without losing sleep or productivity. Others are extremely sensitive to certain food groups: a single Chinese meal can set us back by 2 – 3 days when we feel dull and sluggish.

9.digestive ability
These digestion patterns tend to change as we age, and by season. They also change when we are under a high amount of stress. So it is important to listen carefully to your body and develop a sense of what works for you. Limit food experimentation to a window where you can take the consequences, and always plan for “cheat” or “treat” days.

  1. Many foods we think are healthy and should be eaten in copious quantities are considered unhealthy in Ayurveda

Many foods that we now consider healthy and are eating a lot of are considered difficult to digest in Ayurveda or are considered unbalanced as they are very high in one particular dosha: these include raw vegetables (yes salads!), raw sprouts, millets, brown rice or cereals with a high amount of husk on them, fermented foods like idly and dosa, cheese, curd, milkshakes. These must be eaten with the proper preparation and caution and at times when the body is capable of digesting them.

Example 1: Fermented foods like idly and dosa are considered high in pitta as they are sour foods. Eating them every day for breakfast will mean your pitta will increase. It is important to balance them with something like a coconut based dish as coconut is both cooling (and high in kapha) and will balance the pitta in the idly / dosa. (Please note that this does not apply if you spike your coconut chutney with an impossibly high amount of green chillies). Eating a fermented food with another pitta heavy dish like a Sambhar high in tamarind or acidic tomato based chutney will not be balanced.

10.idly

 

In this there is obviously a gradation. Freshly fermented idlis are lower in pitta dosha than 3 day old batter. Batter made at home is obviously superior to something bought from outside, because we can guarantee that no other additives like baking soda have been added. Idlis eaten in cold winter season are better for the body compared to idlis eaten in summer.

 

This is because in winter, the heat of the Idlis through Pitta dosha is opposite to the cold produced by the winter – so the load on the body is less. But an idly eaten is summer is far more stimulating to Pitta dosha.

 

When you are suffering from an intense imbalance of Pitta dosha, eating an idly everyday for breakfast can throw you out of gear and is not advisable.  The key, as always is finding balance.

 

Example 2: Raw foods are considered “lekhaniya” (scraping quality), and depending upon what kind of raw foods we are describing, they may be “rooksha” (dry), rough, and “guru” or difficult to digest.

 

An example of a “guru” raw food is raw beetroot. An example of a “rooksha” and “guru” raw food are raw sprouts. From a western, raw food perspective, eating raw food is considered healthy as we get access to many nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are destroyed when cooking. So eating the raw food as a juice, smoothie or as a salad is considered health boosting.

11.raw
Ayurveda however says that the process of digesting this raw food dampens or weakens Agni, hence this food is not properly digested (especially when consumed in quantities that are much higher than what we are used to). So despite eating healthy foods, we could be increasing the ama in our body as the act of digesting this healthy food has weakened Agni.

 

Seasonal fruits and fruit juices are not necessarily a part of this list. But even here, temperance is advised – you cannot suddenly force the body to eat, digest properly and assimilate a very large quantity of fruit juice of fruit salad. Depending upon your constitution this can aggravate Agni, leading to diarrhoea, or leave you feeling sluggish and listless.

12.fruits
Example 3: Millets are now extremely popular across South India as a healthy replacement to rice. Ayurveda however considers many Millets as dry and difficult to digest, which makes sense as they are traditionally dry land crop. Substituting rice completely with Millets will mean that your vata dosha will increase. This is welcome if you have a health condition like diabetes where kapha dosha is high – so here the vata of the Millets will balance excess Kapha. In fact, millet is prescribed in diabetes for just this reason instead of rice. But if you have no such health conditions and have decided to substitute rice completely with Millets, you will be drying out your body, especially if you do this very suddenly.

13.millets
The benefits of Millets must of course be experienced by you. But this should form a part of your experimentative 10% and must be prepared using the correct format and in doses where your body does not rebel or where other symptoms like aggravated vata dosha develop.

 

Here are some of the ways you can experiment with Millets:

Changing the format of the cereal changes how your body digests it – In millets, flour is easier to digest as you have broken down the cereal physically and are not depending upon your digestive system to do this job. So if you would like to introduce Millets into your diet, perhaps Millet flour is a better first step instead of the millet grains.

13.millet flour
The timing of eating is everything, especially for a difficult to digest food. Noon time, when the sun is at its peak, is considered the time when your digestive system is the strongest. So this is the time your body can handle the rigors of digesting a difficult to digest food. Like millets. OR Quinoa. (After preparing it properly).

14.lunch
This list which I have compiled is by no means complete or a prescription in itself. This merely represents a starting point to think about your diet and your health. As with everything, your body and your health are unique and what works for you is something you will have to evolve with time and experimentation.

Part 2 of this post will tackle more of what Ayurveda says about food. In the meantime, do remember, there are no shortcuts to good health and good looking skin and hair. It is built meal by meal, and choice by choice.


Krya’s range of skin care products for pitta prone, normal to oily skin can be found here. Our skin range for vata prone, normal to dry skin can be found here. Our anti acne skin care products can be found here.   Apart from this, we have a range of products for Sensitive Skin (skin that is eczema, dermatitis & psoriasis prone) and for Sun Tanned skin . We also have a large range of Abhyanga-Snana products. 

9-ubtan

Our products are inspired by Ayurveda. completely natural, toxin free and extremely effective. If you would like help choosing the right Krya product for your skin, please call us (075500-89090) or write to us.


 

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Treating open pores with ayurveda

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

Email 1:

“Dear Team Krya

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

Can you help with this?”

 

Email 2:

“Dear Team Krya,

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

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

What are open pores?

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

blog 1 - magazine

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

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

Clinical dermatological Research on open pores:

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

Some of the conclusions this study drew were as follows:

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

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

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

blog 2 open pores

Current aesthetic beliefs and practices around open pores:

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

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

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

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

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

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

blog 5 peel

The Ayurvedic point of view on open pores:

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

The Rise of Pitta dosha in middle age:

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

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

blog post 7 middle age

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

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

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

Pitta aggravated skin and hair symptoms:

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

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

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

blog post 10 pitta hair

How pitta aggravation enlarges and worsens open pores:

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

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

Oily food aggravates pitta dosha clogging pores from within

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

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

How is Pitta aggravated skin treated in Ayurveda?

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

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

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

blog post 11 treat gently

Ayurvedic Srota cleansing

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

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

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

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

blog post 12 srota cleansing

Use of pitta balancing, cooling herbs

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

blog post 13 pitta balancing

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

Use of bitter, anti bacterial and anti fungal herbs

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

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

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

Use of complexion improving and blemish correcting herbs

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

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

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

blog post 15 even out

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

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

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

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

To sum up:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Krya Products suggested for Pitta prakriti Skin :

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

 

 

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The role of sweat & sebum in healthy skin – the Krya Ayurvedic skincare series

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Reading Time: 8 minutes

Our new series on Ayurvedic skin care and how to look after your skin well this winter will run all this month on Krya. We ran a short poll earlier last week asking for suggestions for this week’s series. Unsurprisingly, 2 topics were very popular: winter skin care and suggestions on improving hair length and volume.

25 years ago, many parts of India would have laughed at the very idea of “winter skin care”, especially cites in the deep South like Chennai, which enjoyed warm, sunny weather through the year. But a combination of reasons has made winter come even to Chennai. Global warming, change in rain and seasonal patterns and most importantly, winter like conditions throughout the year, courtesy the freezing temperatures at work.

If you live in a humid 40 degree Celsius climate and go to work in a cold, dry 16 degree office, your body is going to get confused. And when the weather outside changes from 4 degrees to 25 degrees, and your office is still cranking the temperature to 16 degrees, your skin is certainly going to suffer.

It would come as no surprise to any of you, that the Ayurvedic skin care regimen in winter is surprisingly effective. And it involves the regular use of just 2 products: skin oil and a facial cleaner. For those inclined, a facial mask that is applied occasionally (once a week / once a fortnight), can further improve skin quality.

1. surprisingly effective

For those of us used to reading about a 7 step or a 11 step skin care routine involving many expensive serums and different kinds of products, hearing about how Ayurveda recommends using just a skin oil and a grain based wash may leave us feeling deflated. However, as we have written about before, the recommendations from Ayurveda come from a well researched, extensively documented, tried and tested 5000 year old system – and most of us who use Ayurvedic products know how effective they are.

We start the Ayurvedic skin care series with today’s post on sweat and sebum: read on to find out just why sweat and sebum are such important health and skin markers and why Ayurveda recommends such a simple skin care regimen.

 

Ayurveda on skin:

Western science tells us that skin has 3 layers. Acharya Charaka and Sushruta have magnified this further and tell us that skin has 7 layers, as per Ayurveda. The classical texts tell us that just as cream rises to the surface and covers milk when it is being boiled, so also, the 6 layers of “Tvacha” or “Twak” (human skin, rise from the fertilised zygote and form a layer similar to cream, covering the surface of the body.

2. skin and cream

The skin is our largest excretory and heat exchange organ system (second to the kidneys). Skin also contains a very large number of Srotas (minute openings / pores), through which the body understands external temperature and humidity, and also waste products are passed out.

The skin also plays host to a very large set of micro flora. These organisms act as our first line of defence. When this microflora barrier is strong, the entry of hostile micro organisms is prevented, so we do not fall ill easily, no matter the provocation.

 

The sweating mechanism of skin and the srotas:

Sweat is a combination of discarded water and salts that arise through the normal excretory functions of the body. Just like the kidneys filter out toxins and waste materials through urine, the skin filters out waste materials and salts from the circulatory and lymph systems and eliminates it through the Srotas (minute openings / pores ) found on the surface of skin.

Sweat is an important mechanism to filter out impurities or unwanted materials from the blood and lymph system. It is also a heat exchange mechanism, and helps cool the body through evaporation.

3. sweat

Fro the sweating mechanism to function properly, the srotas of the skin need to be completely clean, unclogged, at the right pH and with the right level of natural oils to do their job.

The Acharyas describe each Srota as a slim, minute tubular structure with a mouth like opening. If the Srota is not oiled and cleansed properly, the structure loses its elasticity and its ability to draw out impurities from the blood and move it to the surface of the skin.

What impairs sweat production in our skin?

Our actions and our lifestyle choices can hamper the production of sweat. In a normal, healthy human being, sweat production is balanced. However, when your dosha balance is impaired, you are eating food that accumulates ama, or your digestive system is out of balance, the body accumulates a high amount of toxins and the sweating mechanism struggles under the weight of this.

So if you are sweating too much or too little, it is a sign of imbalance. The odour of sweat also gives us a sense of the level of toxins in the body. Excessive body odour usually indicates imbalanced pitta or high levels of Ama (toxins) in the body.

4. odour

 

Elasticity of Srotas through oiling

Even if your eating is healthy and your doshas are in a reasonable state of balance, your choice of skin regimen can also affect the health of the srotas. To be able to contract and expand properly in order to push out Ama, Srotas need to be well nourished and retain their elasticity.

If oil application to skin is negligible or non-existent, the srotas struggle to expand and contract properly without losing their structural integrity.

5. dried srotas

Cleanliness of Srotas

Similarly, if the srotas have an accumulation of dead skin and foreign matter, they are unable to properly expel waste material. This is often the case when Skin is cleansed with a synthetic soap or body wash.

The Ayurvedic texts list out the large and small orifices in the body in great detail and also enumerate the mala (impurities) that accumulate as a part of normal wear and tear from the dhatus in these orifices. Moisture of the tongue, eyes, mouth, excretions of the eyes, ears tongue, teeth, axilla, genitals, pimples, greasiness of facial skin, sweda (sweat) , sebum secretions of kesha (hair) are all mala from the dhatus (tissues).

If this mala is not removed periodically, especially in seasons where the mala can increase, the body loses its health and appearance of well being. It is only by thorough cleaning these minute pores, and removing debris and dead cells that could clog these channels, can the body be truly clean.

The Mala or toxins from many organ systems find their way to our Skin. From the skin, they are released outside through the outpouring of Sweda or sweat. Sweda contains Mala from the body in the form of oil, debris, dead cells, vapour or gases and debris of micro flora or the small organisms that live on us. This is generated everyday as we sleep through the normal process of cell and organ system repair and regeneration.

 

To cleanse this Mala from the Skin, the Ayurvedic texts recommend using a specific combination of lentils, grains and specific herbs that suit each kind of prakriti. The action of this cleansing product is extremely subtle – unlike a synthetic soap, the Ayurvedic Snana product opens up the pores of the skin, encouraging the removal of Mala through the srotas of the skin. The most minute pores of the skin are gently encouraged to open up and this opening action helps suck out Mala which adheres to the Ayurvedic ubtan as it cleanses the skin. Finally when the skin is rinsed with water, the entire body is left feeling refreshed, lighter, deep cleansed and ready for the new day.

6. cleanser

Sebum and its use on skin:

When we were growing up, every anti acne commercial talked about “oil on skin” and how, this was the cause of the large, pus filled pimples we got with distressing regularity. So many of us spent our teenage years over washing and using stronger and stronger surfactants on skin in an attempt to dry out this oil.

However, despite what the commercials tell you, sebum has a very important role to play in skin and body health.

Natural sebum performs 2 functions. Because of its thick and sticky texture, it adheres to dirt, bacteria and their foreign micro organisms and prevents them from invading our internal body. By forming these agglomerations, sebum helps these substances get easily removed from our body.

7. sebum on dirt

Sebum also helps maintain the elasticity and pliability of the various layers of skin. It also acts as a bonding layer keeping the layers of skin attached to each other. When it is in the right amount, and is in balance, skin has a smooth, pliant and elastic structure. The skin is also clear and radiant and functions in a healthy and normal manner.

The same sebum is present on our scalp as well. Here it is present in a slightly thicker and more copious amount. Here the sebum helps cool the scalp and also allows the hair to be deep rooted and strong, when present in the correct amount.

 

What impairs the sebum production in our skin?

Internal reasons

Just like we saw with sweat production, the choices we make can impair the production of sebum on our skin and scalp leaving us with either too much or too little sebum for our skin.

When we eat greasy, sweet and clogging food, we encourage both the production of ama and impair the functioning of sebum so too much sebum is produced. This excessive sebum tends to clog the srotas, and can also form pockets of trapped dirt and bacterial organisms on our skin which are called blackheads, whiteheads or acne.

8. greasy food

 

When we eat plenty of drying, crisp food, do not hydrate our bodies adequately and consume foods or drinks that remove biological water from our bodies like tea, coffee and cola, we impact the normal production of sebum. The body is unable to produce the right amount of sebum for our skin’s needs, so we find that our skin is dry in patches, has cracked, has started forming wrinkles and is coarse and dehydrated.

9. dehydrating

 


External reasons

When we frequently wash our skin with the wrong products, we find that our sebum dries out much quicker than our skin can replenish it. This is especially true when we use foaming, surfactant based cleansers on skin. These substances can literally suck our skin dry of sebum and “bubble out oil” from our skin.
10. cleansers

When skin is subjected to such an aggressive cleansing routine, it retaliates by hiking up the sebum levels unevenly through the skin. So you will find that the skin is oily and shiny in patches and in these places, you are likely to have breakouts or acne.

Ironically, when skin is cleansed right, with gentle, non-dehydrating substances, the sebum production balances automatically. You do not need to worry about shiny or patchy looking skin, or breakouts.

 

The Ayurvedic skin care routine: Nourish & cleanse for proper sebum and Sweat production

We are going to, over the course of this month, discuss how you can care for your skin much better using what Ayurveda recommends. We have seen consistently, that when these simple guidelines are adhered to, even the most problematic of skin calms down and looks better. Skin develops good health and its functioning is much improved. The external mechanisms of sweat and sebum work properly. And skin looks naturally radiant and healthy.

So here is a thought we would like to leave you with for today: for your skin to look its best, you must nourish it (with the right skin oil) and cleanse it (with a non foaming, herb and grain based cleanser). This simple routine when followed religiously will help your skin stay in good health.

Krya has a range of skin nourishing facial oils and a wide range of facial and body cleansers that work with skin and not against it.

Explore our skin oils here . 

Explore all our facial skin cleansers and masks here . 

Explore all our body skin cleansers here . 

 

 

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