Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Untold Anecdote


Most of us might have perceived Ayurveda and Aromatherapy as two different parts of the Complementary and Alternative medicine but I take great privilege in revealing the fact that Aromatherapy is an innate or in-built part of Ayurveda, the 5000 years old ancient healing methodology. Ayurveda is proudly celebrated as the Mother of all healing sciences as it has given birth to numerous traditional healing methodologies like Unani, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Herbalism, Siddha, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional European Medicine and much more.

Aromatherapy is not a separate branch of Ayurveda but it is a vital part or an incredible way of treating illness in Ayurveda through the use of ‘aromatics’ and later given a separate name by Rene Maurice Gattefosse, known as the father of aromatherapy. It’s high time to put an end to this endless myth whether Ayurveda and Aromatherapy are the two poles apart? Let’s analyze.

Holistic approach: Ayurveda is a holistic healing approach that considers an individual as an entity and as a ‘Whole person’. This ancient science considers the physical, mental, emotional, environmental and sociological reasons contributing to a particular illness of an individual. While prescribing medications, Ayurveda does not stop with giving herbs or oils as remedies for a disease instead it suggests regular practice of yoga, meditation, taking an Ayurvedic diet, an Ayurvedic routine and certain other lifestyle changes according to an individual’s body type (doshas) and the unique constitution known as Prakriti. On the other hand, Aromatherapy is also a holistic method that considers the connection between mind, body and spirit.

Use of aromatics: Ayurveda makes use of aromatics to prevent and treat various health conditions. This is because it believes that the strengthening of the five human senses promotes healthy living. Inhalation of the aroma of plants and the essential oils extracted from those plants is trusted to enhance the sense of smell and directly contributes to mental health and treats hormonal imbalances.

This is the basic reason behind the use of incense sticks and other aromatic herbs and oils like sandalwood and tulasi in religious rituals and prayers for instilling the spiritual feeling. When it comes to Aromatherapy, this attribute of using aromatics needs no explanation as Aromatherapy makes use of Ayurvedic essential oils and trusts that the aromatic compounds and therapeutic properties present in these oils helps in healing illnesses invariably.

Abhyanga or the Ayurvedic massage therapy: Ayurvedic massage therapy involves the use of remedial oils like sesame oil, coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil and few other vegetable oils along with effective essential oils. It is a vital part of Panchakarma or the detoxification therapy, where the toxic substances of the body are removed and it inhibits the growth of harmful bodies through systematic massage.

Marguerite Maury, pioneer of Aromatherapy and the celebrated French Aromatherapist, in the traditional British Aromatherapy has talked on the benefits of using essential oils on dermal application through effective    massage techniques, where the concept of massaging itself is indigenous to Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic essential oils: Ayurveda is the oldest of the existing medicinal practices in the world and has a recorded use of herbal plants for more than 5000 years ago. Essential oils are nothing but the highly concentrated liquids extracted from plants and are often known as the essence of the herbal plants. Aromatherapy makes use of these essential oils to reiterate the fact that we are a part of nature and it is safe and secure to treat our illnesses in a natural manner. Dr. Light Miller in her famous book ‘Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom’ talks about the importance of doshas and the perfect essential oils for each dosha.

For Vata Dosha: Lemon, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Basil, Ginger, Angelica, Cajeput, Anise and Rosewood.

For Pitta Dosha: Sandalwood, Lime, Peppermint, Chamomile, Yarrow and Coriander.

For Kapha Dosha: Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Niaouli, Sage, Basil, Savory, Clove and Hyssop.

Vata, Pitta and Kapha is not Greek or Latin in the world of Aromatherapy but it just indicates the predominance existing in an individual’s constitution and these essential oils are said to treat the dosha imbalances with their healing properties.

Limbic System: According to Ayurveda, the sense of smell is connected with the limbic system. This helps in recollecting the memories of a place or a person associated with an aroma. Limbic system is a vital part of the brain that stimulates the function of the nervous system, determines the body temperature and blood sugar level, enables the process of respiration, and controls sexual feelings, sleep and awake responses and much more.

The underlying principle behind limbic system and Ayurveda is that the inhalation of aromatic essential oils with healing properties fosters the essential oil molecule to pass through the nasal passage and reaches the limbic system ultimately as nerve impulses following which, the hypothalamus passes the message to other parts of the body to rejoice, relax, control hunger, hormonal imbalances, thirst and many other feelings. Even Aromatherapy indicates the same mechanism of aroma through the limbic system in healing illnesses.

Hope this information is more than enough to prove that the concept of Aromatherapy has been a part and parcel of Ayurvedic healing methodology since ages till it was given birth under a new name ‘Aromatherapy’ by its father Rene Maurice Gattefosse. Nothing to wrestle or protest but I end this post with the pride of finding something unique and exceptional in all the healing sciences that is nothing but ‘Human beings are special naturally’.

Thought for the day:

‘Healing,’ Papa would tell me, ‘is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature.’
-W. H. Auden

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ayurveda & Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing By Dr. Light Miller, Dr. Bryan Miller
  2. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils By Gabriel Mojay
  3. The Aromatherapy Companion: Medicinal Uses/Ayurvedic Healing/Body-Care Blends/Perfumes & Scents/Emotional Health & Well-Being (Herbal Body) By Victoria H. Edwards

Reference Links:

  1. Aromatherapy from Ayurveda’s Perspective by Yayoi Stavish
  2. Ayurveda and Aromatherapy by AllHealthyFamily News
  3. The Limbic System by Suzanne Bovenizer CMT, CST

Importance of Ayurveda in the West


Modern world has gifted us with enormous innovative tools and techniques that have made life easier to live. But an explicit insight on the pros and cons of this massive technological development instinctively fills our mind with a wide range of chaos! The more the world progresses technically, the more the human life steps ahead in stress, ailments and an innate mechanical progress. Thus life becomes so insensible that one is always deemed with worries and stress. What could be the apt antidote to this malady? Ayurveda stands distinct as the most holistic remedy to end this mechanical life and mark the start of a natural way of living filled with eternal bliss! This is the reason why Ayurveda is widely recognized in the west in recent times.

Ayurveda serves as the root for Traditional European Medicine (TEM), Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Unani – a natural system of healing of the Middle Eastern world. This is the strong reason why Ayurveda is rightly called as the ‘Mother of Natural Healing’. With its genesis in ancient India, the essence of Ayurveda spread to the west with the advent of many foreigners who translated the Ayurvedic encyclopedias namely Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita to Arabic, Latin, German and English.

It is a well known fact that the first major plastic surgery in the western world was performed in 1815 by Carpue who spent 20 years in India to study the Ayurvedic surgery methods. Amazing right!!! This is just a single piece of information that is known to the world and there are much more Ayurvedic secrets to be revealed and relived.

Importance of Ayurveda in the West: Western Culture is more secured with massive man-made technologies that are strong enough to weaken the resources of nature of which human resource forms a major part. Decrease in physical efforts makes life more involuntary thus increasing the mental stress. Apart from this, the modern medical system deals only with the ailments rather than their root causes, resulting in a temporary relief with more side effects that make the ailments permanent and vulnerable. Thus, people are drawn towards the most dependable holistic approach that has a unique gift of a meaningful, mentally strong life with eternal peace for every individual.

To add more life to the fact that Ayurveda has found its place in the west, down comes the sturdy list of causes that has made the western world to feel the importance of Ayurveda.

  • Self-Realization for a Divine Living: Ayurvedic healing methodology includes a wide range of techniques of which Yoga, Meditation and Rejuvenation of the body and mind with effective Ayurvedic oils have gained wide attention in the West. These forms of practice leads to self-realization thus making one to realize the true purpose of living, paving way to eternal satisfaction and ecstasy of leading a meaningful life. Ayurveda serves its sole purpose of making one to realize self and live in harmony with self and nature thus giving comprehensiveness to human existence.
  • Good for All: Unlike modern medical system, Ayurveda is good for all individuals irrespective of their status of health. With its elegant regime, Ayurveda dignifies the diseased and strengthens the stronger ones leading to health and longevity.

Apart from this, Ayurveda remains as the most natural, less expensive medical system with homemade remedies of defensive nature. Effective utilization of Ayurvedic natural herbs, spices, vegetables and natural Ayurvedic Essential oils in your day to day living will support longevity and help you in the long run.

Ayurveda can be made more efficacious if its real essence is absorbed and utilized effectively. Studies have proved that Ayurveda is effective in the treatment of acute chronic diseases like diabetes and the integration of Ayurvedic Healing system with Modern therapy can pave way for finding a solution for some of the life threatening diseases like cancer.

One final yet valid reason that makes the West fascinated towards Ayurveda is its approach towards the patients that is lifted high with a sense of personal touch and care that is often missing in the western medical system.

As a true believer and benefiter of Ayurveda, I take this opportunity to thank all those strenuous efforts of the invaluable immortals who strived a lot in  bringing the knowledge of Ayurveda to the west that has served numerous people in the past and will continue to serve in the future as well!!!

Thought for the day:

“Natural forces within us are the true healers of disease.” –Hippocrates

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ayurveda: A Comprehensive Guide to Traditional Indian Medicine for the West by Frank John, M.D. Ninivaggi
  2. Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life: Achieving Optimal Health and Wellness through Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine, and Western Science by Claudia Welch
  3. Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners: Familiar Western Food Prepared with Ayurvedic Principles by Amadea Morningstar

Reference Links:

  1. Ayurveda by Wikipedia
  2. Meditation by National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  3. Differences between Ayurveda and Modern Medicine (Allopathy) by LuzySalud

Five Vital Elements of Ayurveda


The universe by itself is interrelated in some or the other way. Everything in this world is bound by five unique elements of life and has gradually become the five vital elements of Ayurveda, rightly known as the science of life. I often think that my 2 eyes are just not enough to admire the magnificence of nature and enjoy its excellence in each of its significant existence. One such immeasurable quantum of nature’s solace is the presence of the five essential elements namely Water, Earth, Space, Fire and Air in every survival of this globe. With such importance, the heavenly science of Ayurveda calls these elements as the building blocks of life, comprising human beings as the major part.

Every single thing in this world, be it a living being or a non-living object is exclusive and unique in its own because of a differing ratio of the five elements of life.  Even the Ayurvedic remedies like herbs, Ayurvedic essential oils, yoga, meditation and other natural remedies aim at nurturing the values of these five elements. Ayurveda identifies human body as a combination of the five vital elements in varying proportions, making an individual unique from his fellow being. Every object in nature follows an orderly mechanism that would make us speechless in awe. We rise on Earth and finally rest on Earth only. In between, all the five elements play a significant role in our daily lives, determining our physical, biological, psychological, social and environmental attributes. They are indivisible and together they are known as Panchamahabhutas in Sanskrit.

The theory of five vital elements and human system: Let’s now have a look at the way that these five elements lead, rule and influence the personality traits and attributes of mankind.

1. Water (Jala, Apa, and Neer): Most of us know that the Earth comprises of 70% of water and just 30% of land, similarly the human body is also made up of about 70% water, but for which the human system would stop functioning. The presence of water in our body is witnessed through trouble-free movement of various parts of the body and governs various fluids like blood, saliva, plasma, mucus etc.

In short, our body is supplied with the necessary energy only with the presence of this predominant element that regulates our body temperature as well. All the liquid items that we drink are all various forms of water and intake of water enhances suppleness, coolness, softness and the moisture of the skin. On an emotional perspective, water can be compared to a loving, gentle and compassionate personality with kindness and consideration.

2. Earth (Dhara and Prithvi): Anything that is stable and solid can be represented as a form of earth. The nourishing solid food items that we ingest are from earth. Earth represents strength, durability, firmness and might.  The muscles, tissues, bones, hair, fat, skin, cells, nails and teeth of the human body are governed by this dominant element. Mentally, earth stands for braveness, steadiness, vigor, constancy and the attributes of a warrior at heart, essential for a healthy and hearty life filled with challenges.

3. Space (Akash): The ever-present dominant force encircling the Globe is the space also known as ether. What comes to your mind when you just look at the clear sky in the early hours of the day? This sight brings utmost joy, humbleness, openness, liberty and an immaculate ray of hope and light to me. Space is everywhere and it is this space in the human heart that accepts and gives love without boundaries and in the body, it is considered as the container that accepts all kinds of impressions. This element is said to be present in the human system, wherever cavity and emptiness is present like stomach, intestines, nostrils, lungs, bladder, ears, throat, blood vessels and mouth. Light and hollow food items like wafers, corn flakes etc, are examples of foods with the presence of ether element.

4. Air (Vayu): This vital energy is forceful and itinerant. Without air the entire world would stop breathing and would look lifeless. The oxygen that helps us survive is just a part of air and acts as the foundation for all the positive reactions in the human body. The functioning of the major parts of the body like intestines, heart, lungs, joints and stomach are supported by air. The intake of air enhances circulation, coolness and movement. Physically, air is attributed to light, weightless, dry and movable characteristics and mentally, it is related to an active, vibrant, full-of-life and energetic personality that can influence and stay optimistic.

5. Fire (Agni): Fire grants the essential power that the body needs to digest and react to all metabolic, nervous, perspiring and challenging activities. It is only the fire in you that can help you withstand difficulties and win over the most critical situations in your life. This energy element converts food to fat and transfers the necessary energy to bones and muscles. The presence of fire determines your intelligence and the body temperature. It augments digestion, color and glow of the skin and metabolism. Hot, rough, sharp and clever traits are associated with fire.

Just like the five fingers in our palms, these five elements are highly important and form an integral part of every human being according to Ayurveda. Each of these building blocks play an imperative role in different phases of our life like Earth and Water elements are predominant during the childhood, when the body attains growth physically, whereas the element of Fire rules during adulthood when the body undergoes a drastic change. When we attain old age, the body tends to lose its flexibility and there is the predominance of Air and Space elements. I trust that this fundamental knowledge about the five vital elements of Ayurveda helps us realize that our body that is blended with nature, naturally.

Thought for the day:

“Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind and intellect and also ego-sense; these are the eight-fold division of my nature. This is inferior. Know my mother nature, the higher, Oh Mighty-Armed, the life-element by which the universe is upheld”. (7:4-5)                                                        – Bhagavad Gita

Suggested Reading:

  1. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity By Swami Sadashiva Tirtha
  2. The Subtle Energy Body: The Complete Guide By Maureen Lockhart Ph.D.
  3. Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume One: Fundamental Principles By Vasant Lad

Reference Links:

  1. The Five Elements Part I: Ether by California College of Ayurveda
  2. Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Comparative Overview by NCBI
  3. Ayurved, the science of life by Richfield