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

Types of Ayurveda: 2 Major Divisions of the Ayurveda Family


The history of Ayurveda is as old as the history of Neem trees that can be marked back to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization of India. Generally, old traditions, out-of-date cultures and old-fashioned practices turn obsolete in due course of time but think if something is spreading its divine power all around the world even after 5000 solid years, what could be the authentic reason lying behind it? The concrete single word answer for this question is just ‘TRUTH’ and truth only in its way of healing humanity wholly.

Each solitary website on Ayurveda and Ayurvedic treatment will have its own way of defining Ayurveda. Apart from its real meaning ‘the knowledge of life’, few may call it as a holistic approach, magical science of healing, best way to treat human illness, natural way of curing mankind and many more. I’d like to remember Ayurveda with the term Ssshh…….. Yes! Let’s call it as the supreme system for superior healing holistically and the silent system as well. Looks easy for you too… to remember this heavenly science, right!!!

Many confuse the types of Ayurveda with Ayurvedic body types also known as doshas i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha but to signify unmistakably, the science of Ayurveda can be put into two major classifications namely the Traditional Ayurveda and Maharishi Ayurveda. These two types of Ayurveda work based on the individual Ayurvedic body types, which says that each individual is distinctive and have a discrete structure of energy compiling mental, physical, behavioral and environmental uniqueness.

  • Traditional Ayurveda: Ayurveda is trusted to have its root from two of the prominent religions in India namely Hinduism and Buddhism. This ancient structured method of healing has its traditional concepts listed in the sacred books known as Vedas. Few other sources say that this conventional system is received from Indian God Brahma by the blessed God of medicine known as Dhanvantari. Traditional Ayurvedic theory emphasizes on good metabolism supported by problem-free digestion and apt excretion that guides to vivacity along with meditation, yoga and other physical exercises.
  • Maharishi Ayurveda:  Maharishi Ayurveda is a contemporary resurgence of traditional Ayurveda system projected by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1980s based upon his interest in fortifying the ancient Ayurvedic science in the late 1970s. Maharishi Ayur Veda insists on Transcendental Meditation technique (TM) that presents an all-inclusive knowledge for experiencing the untainted realization of this world by slowing down the aging process through prompt treatment and prevention of diseases. This type of Ayurveda talks about the impact of optimistic feelings for balancing your life with accordance to the natural pace of your body.

Traditional as well as Maharishi Ayurveda believes that health conditions are a result of disparity of the doshas. Both these methods try to treat the whole system by enhancing the inner intelligence for striking balance between these doshas with the help of herbal medicines and Ayurvedic essential oils. To end with, the most remarkable fact is that this great medicinal science is recognized by WHO (World Health Organization) as the effectual and refined way of natural healing.

References:

  1. Ayurveda by Wikipedia
  2. Maharishi Vedic Approach To Health by eNotes
  3. Ayurveda by University of Maryland Medical Center