Oils are fundamental in Āyurveda. They are used internally and externally to prevent, as well as treat, disease.
Used on the skin, or in the body’s orifices like the mouth, nostrils and ears, oil protects our bodies from outside stimulus, impurities and antigens (that may cause disease, stress, etc.). It also supports and nourishes its tissues.
Learn more about which oil is best for you below!
Sesame oil is the most widely used oil in Āyurveda. It is also considered to be the most nourishing.
The qualities of this oil are:
- Warming (uṣṇa)
- Sweet (madhura) and bitter (tikta) taste
- Penetrating (sūkṣma) as it gets deep into tissues and can be absorbed quickly by the body
Due to its warming qualities, it’s best used when vāta is present. Some examples are:
- Cracking joints
- Feeling depleted or in need of nourishment
- During the cold season
Āyurvedic Ritual: After cleaning your teeth and mouth, put one or two drops of sesame oil on clean fingers, and rub into your teeth and gums. Sesame oil strengthens the bones and teeth. This practice can support your overall oral health.
Those with pitta constitutions will likely find Sesame oil too warming, due to the amount of ‘fire’ already present in their systems. If someone is experiencing any kind of redness in the skin, excess heat, or anger, coconut oil would be the oil to utilize!
The qualities of coconut oil are:
- Cooling (śīta) and drying (rukṣana)
- Nourishing (saṁtarpaṇa), though less than sesame oil
- Slower to digest when compared to sesame oil
- You feel hot-headed, frequently irritated or overheated
- Sesame oil feels too warming
- You want to improve your hair growth
Āyurvedic Ritual: Coconut oil is excellent for supporting hair growth. Upon waking, or prior to heading to bed, apply coconut oil to the top of your head very gently. This will help cool the heat that naturally escapes through the top of your head, making for a chilled out disposition or a cool night of sleep.
Mustard oil is best used for kapha imbalances. This may look like fatigue, low energy, congestion, or general malaise.
This oil is not suitable for pitta as it is too stimulating and heating.
The qualities of Mustard oil are:
- Light (laghu), very warming (uṣṇa), and penetrating (sūkṣma)
- A pungent (kaṭu) mixed with sweet (madhura) taste
Āyurvedic Ritual: If you have a kapha constitution and feel tired when you wake up in the morning, rub some Mustard oil on your hands and feet when you wake up. This will help you feel energized!
Of course, as everywhere in Āyurveda, the same things that can support and nourish us can also aggravate and irritate us if used incorrectly. So it’s vital to use an oil that is supportive for your constitution or your current imbalanced state. This is ideally done with the help of an Āyurvedic Practitioner. (click here for a free 10 minute consult to find one near you)