This is an updated (September 3rd, 2019) version of an article first published in August 2017.
It is festival season in India, and many of us have been celebrating Vinayaka / Ganesh Chaturti . This is a festival dedicated to Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed remover of obstacles, who ushers good beginnings and prosperity.
One of the 21 herbs used to worship Lord Ganesha is Durva Grass / Cynodon dactylon, an important Ayurvedic herb useful for skin care.
So today’s blog post will talk about this sacred herb and how we use it in Krya for our skin care oils.
The legend behind the use of Durva for Lord Ganesha:
The word Durva can be broken into 2 parts – Duhu + avam and the words can be translated to mean “ that which brings that which is far away, closer”.
Durva grass (arugampul) is probably familiar to those who worship Lord Ganesha. This sacred grass is used in the worship of many deities but is especially used when praying to Lord Ganesha.
Legend has it that the demon Analasura caused havoc in the 3 worlds and emitted fire from his eyes. The Gods prayed to Lord Ganesha and asked him to save them from Analasura. In the battlefield, Analasura attacked Lord Ganesha with fireballs. Lord Ganesha assumed his vishwaroopam and ate the demon in a single swallow.
Having eaten Analasura, Lord Ganesha’s body started to increase in heat and he became very uncomfortable. First the moon came to help Lord Ganesha and stood on his head. This was not enough to quench the heat emitted by Analasura. Then Lord Vishnu gave Lord Ganesha his sacred lotus to hold. Even this was not enough. Then Lord Shiva lent Lord Ganesha his snake and tied it around his belly to help release the excess heat. Even this did not help.
Finally a few Maha Rishis came to Lord Ganesha’s rescue with 21 sets of Durva Grass and placed it together on his head. The Durva Grass was able to do what the Moon, Vishnu’s sacred Lotus and Shiva’s sacred Cobra were not able to achieve together – it brought down the excess heat generated by the demon Analasura from Lord Ganesha’s body.
The Ayurvedic properties of Durva Grass & benefits for skin and hair:
Mythologically and in Ayurveda and Siddha lore, the Durva grass is revered for its spiritual and medicinal properties.
Acharya Charaka refers to Durva grass as one of the 10 great complexion promoters. Ayurvedic texts refer to Durva grass as “Sahasra virya” (1000 strengths) denoting its multi fold strengths and versatility in use. It is considered complexion enhancing, astringent, moisturizing, demulcent and cooling for the skin. Durva is also considered very good for the eyes and is therefore regarded as a good ophthalmic drug.
There are many sub species of Durva grass indicated in the texts like Shweta Durva, Nila Durva, Krishna Durva, etc. But the commonality of all Durva types is their strong benefit in reducing and balancing Pitta dosha, because of their kashaya (astringent) and madhura (sweet) rasa and sheetya (cooling) guna / nature.
The Ayurvedic texts recommend use of the Durva in many skin disorders like psoriasis, eczema and even pitta induced skin conditions like prickly heat, etc as a direct paste for skin.
Durva is also indicated as a good counter to excessive vomiting when used as a Swarasa (fresh pressed juice). It is a very good styptic: i.e checks bleeding from open cuts and wounds.
Durva is additionally indicated in disorders of the mind like epilepsy and insanity. It is also primarily indicated in Pitta based internal disorders like diarrhea, piles and conjunctivitis.
Because of this pitta reducing, wound healing and skin restoring property, Durva is the key ingredient in many classical Ayurvedic skin preparations like Durvadi Tailam which is used for external application in severe skin diseases and large wounds.
Durva at Krya:
We use Durva in our skin preparations like our face washes, bodywashes and also our skin oils and serums. Depending upon what problem the formulation is prepared for we harness the sheetya, kashaya, madhura, wound healing and pitta balancing properties of Durva grass.
We use Durva both in fresh and dry form. In fresh form, Durva goes into our skin serums and oils. In dry form it goes into our face washes, face masks, bodywashes and ubtans.
Durva in Skin Serums and Oils : Krya Classic skin oil
Durva swarasa is an important ingredient in the Krya Classic skin oil. This skin oil is formulated for pitta prakriti and pitta aggravated skin which is normal to oily.
Pitta type skin is extremely sensitive and reacts with breakouts when it is aggravated. This skin tends to be slightly oily and sweats easily. It also is easily flushed, and can get blotchy and reddish in the sun, when spicy food is eaten or when pitta is otherwise aggravated.
To control the oiliness, redness and tendency of this skin to breakout, we have to address the underlying cause: i.e out of control Pitta dosha. Hence here we use Durva Swarasa which balances Pitta due to its Sheetya guna (cooling nature) and Kashaya (astringent) and Madhura (Sweet) rasa (taste).
The Krya Classic skin oil is a very balancing and clarifying skin oil. Regular use evens out the complexion, provides balanced hydration to skin , and gives even tone and lustre to skin without any redness, sensitivity and blotchiness. It also brings down breakouts in skin. the complexion, makes the skin supple and soft and evens out skin tone.
Durva in Skin Serums and Oils: Krya Moisture Plus skin oil
Durva Swarasa is also an important ingredient in the Krya Moisture Plus skin oil. The Krya Moisture plus skin oil has been formulated for vata prakriti or vata aggravated skin.
This skin tends to be generally normal to dry and can feel tight, dry and uncomfortable in cold and low humid weather. It tends to look dull and feel rough and lacks brightness and lustre. This worsens in Vata heavy weather (windy, cold weather), with high exposure to air conditioned environment (which simulates Vata like weather) and with the high use of Vata aggravated drinks and foods like cola, tea, breakfast cereal, granola, etc.
To control the dry, cold and bitter nature of Vata dosha, we use the Madhura rasa of Durva grass. To control the minor breaks and cracks in skin due to lack of moisture and lubrication, we use the wound healing and health restoring properties of Durva grass.
The oil uses a combination of rasayana, complexion enhancing and demulcent herbs. Durva and Dadima (the pomegranate fruit) are the lead ingredients in this oil and they are supported by other skin regenerative and repair herbs like Kushta, Ashwagandha and Brahmi.
The Krya Moisture plus Skin oil is a very skin nourishing and moisturizing oil. Our consumers also use this oil as a night cream and a regenerative face serum before they go to sleep at night. Regular use enhances the complexion, makes the skin supple and soft and evens out skin tone.
Durva in Krya nourishing baby massage oils (Lemongrass variant and Palmarosa variant)
Durva is also a key herb used in the Krya nourishing baby massage oil – in both variants. These 2 baby oils were developed specifically for children with chronically dry (vata type) or irritation prone (pitta type) skin. Such children would not be initially able to use the Krya traditional Baby Massage oil because of the high use of stimulating and warming herbs with the product.
The Krya nourishing baby massage oils (both variants) use 19, powerful, skin rejuvenating Ayurvedic herbs including Vata (Sacred Banyan), Udumbura (Sacred Indian Fig), and Ashwattha (Sacred Peepul). This is apart from the prominent use of fresh Durva grass Swarasa (juice) and Durva grass kalpa (fresh herb paste). The herbs are extracted using the Tila Paka method into 3 organic oils ( Sesame, Coconut & Mahua ) and Organic Kokum butter.
The use of these healing sacred herbs has a very soothing and nourishing effect on tender, irritable, sensitive skin. Parents find that skin health is improved, the flare-up skin episodes reduce in volume and intensity, and baby’s skin is overall much healthier and balanced.
For children with itchy, reddish and irritable sensitive skin that flares, we suggest using the Lemongrass & Neem flower variant; for children with chronically dry, peeling, whitish skin, we suggest the Palmarosa and rose variant.
Durva in Krya Sensitive Skin Oil
Durva also goes into the Krya Sensitive skin Oil with Cardamom & Neem. This oil forms a part of the Krya Sensitive Skin range for adults and children separately, designed for skin that has a tendency to develop conditions like contact dermatitis, eczema or psoriasis. In this oil we use a mixture of skin healing, cell regenerative, pitta and kapha balancing herbs like Ashwagandha, Kushta, Lodhra, Yashtimadhu and Manjishta.
Here Durva grass is used for its styptic , wound healing and skin health restoring properties.
The Lead ingredients of Durva grass, Neem and Cardamom support these skin healing and regenerative herbs by balancing excess Pitta, enhancing the complexion , reducing the growth of fungal and bacterial organisms and improving skin health.
With regular use of the Krya sensitive skin oil, consumers report a reduction in skin thickening, skin itchiness and gradual regaining of skin health. It is suggested for dermatitis, eczema, and psoriatic (non oozing) lesions.
To sum up: the benefits of Durva Grass for skin care
So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties of Cynodon dactylon / Durva which goes into Krya’s skin care products. Durva is a potent pitta balancing, wound healing and skin restoring Ayurevdic herb that has been discussed in the Brhat Trayee texts and across other Ayurvedic texts.
We harness Durva’s potent skin healing properties across a wide range of skin care products at Krya, specifically our healing and restoring skin serums and oils.
A word of caution: although this post discusses several ways that Durva can be consumed internally, all Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution. Do not attempt to self medicate. If you feel internal consumption of Durva could help you, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your condition and prescribe Durva in the right dose and right format for you.
We do herb posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful. Do leave your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you would like us to write about a specific herb , do leave that in your comments as well.
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