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

Ayurveda and Elderly Health: A Detailed Analysis

Ayurveda is a charming and divine system of healing human beings. It states that aging is a natural process and with the help of Ayurveda, aging can always be a healthy aging making elderly people independent rather than depending others for fulfilling their routine tasks. Health is a comprehensive and of course a complicated term. According to Ayurveda, health is not just physical health or a body that is free of diseases, instead real health is the functioning of a healthy mind in a healthy body paving way for a healthy environment. Ayurvedic system of treating elderly health is termed as ‘Vridhopacharaneeyam’. The Sanskrit term ‘Geeryadi’ meaning degenerated has a close connection with the term Greek ‘Geriatric’ meaning elderly care (Geri- old age & latrics- care).

Ayurveda for the Senior citizens: Ayurveda pays special attention to the aged people as it aims in healthy aging and not mere longevity or extended life expectancy lacking robustness. Old age is known as Vardhakya in Ayurveda and one among the eight comprehensive branches that deals with the health of elderly people is known as Jara Chikitsa or Rasayana (also known as Geriatrics or Gerontology). This branch deals with stimulating, vitalizing, rejuvenating, fortifying and preventing the human body from aging symptoms. The basic objective of this Ayurvedic treatment is to improve quality of life rather than just extending the ‘quantitative number of years’. For this, Ayurveda recommends the use of powerful herbal medications, meditation, simple physical exercises, yoga, Ayurvedic essential oils and other natural remedies for improving the mental stability, physical strength, psychological power and supports a healthy skin.

Reasons behind the loss of strength during old age: Each individual has a unique body set up (dhatus or the constituents of human body according to Ayurveda) and his/her health depends upon the balance between the Ayurvedic body types or Doshas namely vata, pitta and kapha and the condition of Saptadhatu (seven dhatus). With aging, the vata constituent gets aggravated due to stress, strain, psychological weakness, imbalanced nutrition etc. Vata aggravation leads to inappropriate functioning of metabolism, respiration, digestion and the process of excretion, leading to health problems like heart disorders, musculoskeletal ailments, diabetes, hypertension, rheumatic illness, Parkinson’s disease, cardiac disabilities, Alzheimer’s syndrome, depression and much more.

Ayurvedic treatment for healthy aging: Ayurveda advises on a firm Ayurvedic routine, a nutritious diet, meditation, Rasayana treatment, utmost care, yoga, expert counseling and boundless love to grow old, hale and heartily with a strong immune system. Rasayana therapy is proven to revitalize the system of the aged person and gradually contribute to the progress of their mental and physical health. This treatment strengthens the immunity and increases the potential to tussle against diseases, interrupting its onset, trim down its rigorousness, speedup the period of recovery and fight against other symptoms and problems of aging. This effective Ayurvedic treatment along with Shirodhara, Abhyanga and Padabhyanga with Ayurvedic essential oils will recharge the aged individual and restore their lost energy due to aging. A renowned research article has proved that Ayurveda and Yoga has positive influence on self-rated sleep in geriatric population.

It is the most appropriate time to recollect a time-valued principle that says ‘Age is not a constant factor’ or you can never remain at Sweet 16 forever…………so love the elderly community and get ready as your 16 might soon turn 61 even before you realize it. As a symbol of your love for your aged Parents or your Grandparents, introduce them to the holistic world of Ayurveda for a healthy, happy and harmonized aging.

Thoughts for the day:

The old are in a second childhood. By Aristophanes

I truly believe that age — if you’re healthy — age is just a number. By Hugh Hefner

You may wonder that it is always ‘Thought for the day’ and why it is ‘Thoughts for the day’ today? It’s all because to signify that the elderly people need that extra care and love to keep them going on and on. Aging generally brings with it certain unavoidable things like loss of energy, loss of ability of the body for its regular functioning and a feel of insecurity and diffidence that life and the world needs them no more. Loving people above 60 is a great feeling and I’m sure that you will ‘live a perfect day’ by boosting their confidence to live for an extra day.

Suggested Reading:

  1. The Ayurveda Encyclopedia: Natural Secrets to Healing, Prevention, & Longevity by Swami Sadashiva Tirtha
  2. Aging & Blood Stasis: A New TCM Approach to Geriatrics
    By Yan De-Xin
  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. Rasayana by Maharshi Charak Ayurveda
  2. Influence of Yoga & Ayurveda on self-rated sleep in a geriatric population.
  3. Ayurveda for Geriatric Care by Internaturalhealth

Holistic Healing Methodologies of Ayurveda

Purity is one exemplary attribute of anything on this earth, which when accomplished is bestowed with undying veracity. Purity at home escorts a perfect place of peace to live in; Purity of self ends in an indigenous dwelling source of pure thoughts & actions; Purity at nature escorts a perfect ecosystem and so on. One which attains this purest form of existence will have its presence carved for ages!!! Ayurveda, the purest form of an ancient holistic healing methodology serves as a perfect paradigm to illustrate this fact.

Ayurveda – The perfect striker of balance: Every human being will find himself/herself in the quest to acquire skillful mind, solid physique free from ailments and stress free soul in some part of his/her life. This never ending mission of mankind results in ending up with a wide variety of options, most of which serve to be temporarily fruitful instead of a unrelenting voyage in search of a pure, holistic healing system of medicine. Ayurveda is that one complete approach of therapeutic handling, which focuses on Cure & Prevention with equivalent importance. Ayurvedic healing methodologies include a wide variety of techniques that aim at bringing just the right balance between the human mind, body & spirit.

Holistic Healing approach of Ayurveda: Ayurveda claims that the human body is manifested by the five building blocks of nature, which when convenes with an imbalance due to external forces results in ailments. In Ayurveda, prior to detecting the deformity a perfect study of the individual is done to analyze his/her body type as defined by his/her doshas. Based on this study, the Ayurvedic practitioner proceeds with Panchakarma, which is the process of treating ailments through purification of toxins in the body. This treatment varies with an individual’s unique constitution.

Ayurvedic treatments are provided using Yoga, Aromatherapy, Marma therapy, Nasya therapy, meditation, adherence to a healthy Ayurvedic diet, Abhyanga or Massage therapy with Ayurvedic essential oils that deals with the sensitive points on the body called Marmas. Natural Ayurvedic supplements that encompass intrinsic Ayurvedic oils & herbs play a vital role in treating the patients. All these methodologies of holistic Ayurvedic rejuvenation are used in a well organized manner with respect to the unique attributes of the individuals thus making each one of them distinctively revived with nature. Thus Ayurveda makes itself the most distinct medical methodology when compared to the other existing modern ones.

One more descriptive fact to be shared!!!! Ayurveda is not meant just for those who suffer from ailments; even the healthy individuals can follow an Ayurvedic way of living which includes a healthy diet, holistic meditation, highly beneficial exercise patterns & high end spiritual well being practices to remain fit throughout their lifetime.

I can sense some of your sigh of grief for not practicing this holistic healing approach, as well as some of your sigh of relief for choosing the right mode of treatment well before in hand. Kudos for those who follow this spiritual healing approach in their life and for those who are yet to start incorporating this invaluable essence of nature – ‘No time is a bad time’.

Ayurveda makes you holistic & wholesome when taken whole-heartedly!!!

Thought for the day:

To keep the body in good health is a duty… otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.  Buddha

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ayurveda and Panchakarma: The Science of Healing and Rejuvenation by Dr. Sunhil, M.D. Joshi
  2. Panchakarma (The Five Cleansing Therapies) of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic Medicine By C. Scott Ryan
  3. Rasayana: Ayurvedic Herbs for Longevity and Rejuvenation (Traditional Herbal Medicines for Modern Times) by Har Sharnjit Singh Puri

Reference Links:

  1. Ayurvedic Healing Methods-Panchakarma by Liane Angerman
  2. Ayurvedic Healing Methods by KarunaShala
  3. Rasayana: Rejuvenation by Ayurvedic Healing