Posts Tagged ‘Ayurveda’

AYURVEDA AND SKIN CARE

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An occasional attack of dry skin, rash or pimples – although frustrating – is a normal part of the flux of life. As the temperatures change, so does our skin’s constitution. As hormone levels rise and fall in the course of a month and as our diet and activity vary from day to day, the subtle balance of the body chemistry naturally shifts as well, creating shifts in our mood and even changes in our physical appearance.

Ayurveda recognizes these subtle imbalances and gives us the tools to correct them before they are out of control or turn into a full-blown disease. To be sure, imbalance does not necessarily mean disease, we can be quite healthy and still experience symptoms of imbalance. However, perpetual imbalance can lead to disease if it is not corrected in its early stages.

Ayurveda supports the belief that skin and health problems are affected or caused by our behavior. “Undigested” emotions, tension, and stress, can create hormonal imbalance and weaken the immune system. We now know common stressors are leading factors of body toxins and of skin disease. For example, psoriasis is exacerbated by worry and anxiety; acne/ rosacea, by anger and frustration; eczema, by a variety of stresses, depending upon the person’s constitution; and cystic acne, by depression, “holding on” to upsets, and emotional attachments in general. Other significant factors in skin disorders include the overconsumption of refined, canned, and processed foods like sugar, sweets, chocolate, fatty and fried foods, salt, seafood, and red meat. Consuming too many processed foods can result in digestive disorders and poor elimination (constipation). Lack of exercise and rest; and improper external cleansing and skin care will further create skin and health problems.

Of course, we all seek external remedies for the most common skin problems as soon as they develop. But please be aware, even a topical ointment or detoxification treatment is only a temporary remedy. If you continue with unhealthy lifestyle choices, new toxins will soon appear.

One of Ayurveda’s fundamental concepts is that health and disease are holistic-that is, whatever happens in one part of the body happens to the whole body. There are no isolated health problems. Any physical or psychological symptom of imbalance indicates an imbalance in the body-mind unit. Keep this holistic picture in mind as you look to remedy common skin problems with ointments and expensive treatments and try to treat the whole person you are – your emotions, your diet, your lifestyle choices – not just your face.

Ayurvedic imbalances and doshas

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Ayurvedic skin care is derived from medicinal practices that began over 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda practices the belief that there are three basic principles (or humors) born out of five basic elements that exist in nature. These principles are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These principles are believed to work together in harmony to make up the entire body. For each dosha (or physical type), symptoms tend to appear in groups, because the body-mind responds to imbalance as a whole:

Ayurveda Remedies

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Listed below are external remedies for the most common skin problems. (Several of them are the contribution of Dr. Kirit Pandya, one of India’s foremost Ayurvedic physicians specializing in skin disease.) But please be aware, even a topical ointment or detoxification treatment is only a temporary remedy. If you continue with unhealthy lifestyle choices, new toxins will soon appear.

One of Ayurveda’s fundamental concepts is that health and disease are holistic-that is, whatever happens in one part of the body happens to the whole body. There are no isolated health problems. Any physical or psychological symptom of imbalance indicates an imbalance in the body-mind unit. Keep this holistic picture in mind as you look over the common skin problems below.

FROWN LINES and FOREHEAD LINES

Imbalance: Vata & Pitta. (The habit of frowning will produce lines even when there is no imbalance.)
Aggravated by: Anxiety, worry, excessive dehydration, too much sugar or protein, habitual frowning, alcohol-based astringents, excessive use oflemon, tomato, or cucumber juice.
Treatment:
• Mix 3 drops Bindi or Tej Vata essential oil in water and use as a daily mist to hydrate.
• Make a hydrating massage oil using a base of apricot kernel, avocado, sesame or almond oil + 2 drops each of sandalwood and geranium + 1 drop each of lemon and cardamom. With your fingers, massage the oil on forehead using a horizontal stroke.
• Do daily facial exercise: Alternately stretch and tighten forehead muscles; hold and release 3 times.
• Twice weekly, make a firming herbal mask using a paste of 1 tsp cornstarch or potato starch + 2 tsp aloe vera juice or egg white. Apply mask and lie down for 30-40 minutes. Cleanse, nourish, and moisturize as usual.
• Weekly, do an exfoliating enzyme mask: Apply pineapple or papaya pulp to face and lie down for 10 minutes. Cleanse, nourish, and moisturize as usual.

PREMATURE WRINKLES

Imbalance: Vata & Pitta.
Aggravated by: Dryness (less oil), dehydration (less water), stress, sun, wind, extreme temperatures, excessive exercise, travel, alcohol, coffee, tobacco, sweets, spicy foods, hot or cold water, sudden weight loss, water pills, hormone medication, diabetes, lack of purpose, lack of loving relationships, hereditary factors.
Treatment:
• Twice weekly, do a facial mask using a paste of 1 Tbsp sandalwood powder + 1 drop camphor oil + 3-4 drops lotus oil + 2 tsp water. With ring finger, gently massage a few drops of face oil made with sandalwood + rose oil directly under eyes for protection, then apply paste to rest of face. Cover eyes with wet cotton pads dipped in rosewater and lie down for 10-15 minutes. Cleanse, nourish, and moisturize as usual.
• Make a decoction of 1 Tbsp dry geranium in ?4 cup water, then apply to face using a cotton ball.
• Do natural face-lift and face exercises
• Supplements: Take recommended daily dosage of vitamin E and evening primrose oil capsules. Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily.

CROW’S-FEET, DRY EYES, AND EYE STRAIN

Imbalance: Pitta.
Aggravated by: Age, stress, worry, insomnia, alcohol, dehydration, squinting.
Treatment:
• Avoid chemical makeup removers and heavy eye creams. Use cotton dipped in plain vegetable oil to remove eye makeup.
• Wear sunglasses in daylight and avoid reading in the dark. Never look directly at sun.
• Twice daily, pinch the skin between your eyebrows, starting at the bridge of the nose and moving outward. Repeat 3-4 times.

DARK UNDER EYE CIRCLES
Imbalance: Brown circles: Vata; green-gray circles: Pitta.
Aggravated by: Anemia, ill health, lack of sleep, poor circulation, anxiety; hormonal imbalance, menstrual disorders, too many fried, frozen, and canned foods, beans, peanuts, salads.
Treatment:
• Lie down on slant board with feet raised for 5-10 minutes.
• Soak cotton pads in cold milk, rosewater, fig juice, or crushed mint juice, and place over closed eyes for 5-10 minutes.
• Apply crushed mint leaves around eyes for 5-10 minutes.
• Before bed, gently massage around eyes with saffron or almond oil
• Do daily blinking and palming exercises
• Supplements:Take 2-4 gms ashwangandha, shatavari, or ginseng herbal tablets or powder before lunch and dinner.

PUFFY EYES

Imbalance: Kapha.
Aggravated by: Hypertension, liver and kidney problems, poor elimination, low digestive fire, water retention, lack of sleep, hormonal changes.
Treatment:
• Make eyepads using either black tea bags soaked in warm water, cotton puffs dipped in witch hazel or celeryjuice, or gauze squares stuffed with 1 tsp grated raw potato. Place on closed eyes for 20 minutes.
• With your ring finger, press gently underneath the eye one point at a time from the inside corner to the outside corner to help drain the lymphatic fluids.
• Supplements: Take 1 tsp triphala every night; take 1,000 mg vitamin C, and eat black raisins and figs every day.

DRY, LINED, OR CRACKED LIPS

Imbalance: Vata.
Aggravated by: Smoking, drugs, cold, dryness, dehydration, age, excessive talking, licking lips. (Tradition states vertical lines above lip indicate unfulfilled sexual desire.)
Treatment:
• As often as you like, apply vitamin E oil, unsalted butter, or ghee directly to lips. Or, use a mixture of 5 drops each rose and sandalwood oil in 1 oz avocado oil.
• Melt in a double boiler 9 tsp lanolin + 1 tsp castor oil. Remove from heat, add 3-5 drops rose oil, and let it solidify. Apply over lipstick to seal, moisturize, and add gloss.
• Massage lips nightly with 1 oz sesame oil + 2-3 drops glycerin
• Take a mouthful of water and slosh around the inside of the lip area for 1 minute. I

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