There is no greater expression of self-love than lovingly anointing ourselves from head to toe with warm oil—this practice is called Abyanga. The Sanskrit word Sneha can be translated as both “oil” and “love.” It is believed that the effects of Abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, Abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth.
A daily Abyanga practice restores the balance of the doshas and enhances well-being and longevity. Regular Abyanga is especially grounding and relaxing for Vata dosha imbalances, but everyone can benefit from this practice.
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age”
Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
(One of the Great ancient texts of Ayurveda)
Nourishes the entire body—decreases the effects of aging
Imparts muscle tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
Imparts a firmness to the limbs
Lubricates the joints
Stimulates the internal organs of the body
Assists in elimination of impurities from the body
Moves the lymph, aiding in detoxification
Calms the nerves
Benefits sleep—better, deeper sleep
Makes hair (scalp) grow luxuriantly, thick, soft and glossy
Softens and smoothens skin; wrinkles are reduced and disappear
Pacifies Vata and Pitta and stimulates Kapha—to learn more about Doshas.
Abhyanga Routine and Oils
Massage your body with love and patience for 15-20 minutes. Here are the recommendations for frequency and oil type, based on the doshas:
Vata Dosha: 4-5 times a week using sesame, almond, or a Vata-balancing oil, such as the Relaxing Abhy Oil.
Pitta Dosha: 3-4 times a week using a coconut, sunflower, or a Pitta-balancing oil.
Kapha Dosha: 1-2 times a week using safflower or a Kapha-balancing oil.
Good for all Three Doshas: Jojoba oil
Steps to Follow for Self-Massage:
Warm the oil (pour approximately ¼ cup into a mug and warm using a coffee-cup warmer.) Test the temperature by putting a drop on your inner wrist, oil should be comfortably warm and not hot
Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room
Apply oil first to the crown of your head (adhipati marma) and work slowly out from there in circular strokes—spend a couple of minutes massaging your entire scalp (home to many other important marma points—points of concentrated vital energy)
Face: Massage in circular motion on your forehead, temples, cheeks, and jaws (always moving in a upward movement). Be sure to massage your ears, especially your ear-lobes—home to essential marma points and nerve endings
Use long strokes on the limbs (arms and legs) and circular strokes on the joints (elbows and knees). Always massage toward the direction of your heart
Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side
Finish the massage by spending at least a couple of minutes massaging your feet. Feet are a very important part of the body with the nerve endings of essential organs and vital marma points
Sit with the oil for 5-15 minutes if possible so that the oil can absorb and penetrate into the deeper layers of the body
Enjoy a warm bath or shower. You can use a mild soap on the “strategic” areas, avoid vigorously soaping and rubbing the body
When you get out of the bath, towel dry gently. Blot the towel on your body instead of rubbing vigorously
Enjoy the feeling of having nourished your body, mind, and spirit and carry that with you throughout your day.
Ashwagandha, also known as Indian ginseng, is an Ayurvedic herb commonly used in traditional Indian medicine. Investigations into the herb’s powerful effects on the body have sparked an explosion of interest, and research has reported exciting potential for human health, specifically its effects on mental, physical, and emotional health.
Benefits of Ashwagandha Root
Ashwagandha may enhance energy, support aging, and stimulate sex drive. Here are 7 benefits women may experience with ashwagandha.
1. Promotes Graceful Aging
Stress, both metabolic and emotional, dramatically affects aging. Cortisol, the body’s stress hormone, contributes to muscle loss and weakness, wrinkles, and cognitive impairment. Research has found that ashwagandha improves resistance to stress, possibly decreasing cortisol production. One study of 64 individuals observed a reduction in stress and a significant decrease in cortisol levels in individuals taking ashwagandha compared with placebo.
2. Menopausal Support
Ashwagandha acts on the endocrine system by encouraging hormone balance. A study involving 51 menopausal women supplementing with ashwagandha noted a significant reduction in symptoms such as hot flashes, anxiety, and mood.
3. Sexual Potency
The Kama Sutra, one of the oldest surviving texts on human sexuality, mentions ashwagandha in its literature as a potent sexual stimulant. Research indicates that the herb supports sexual health and vitality by increasing blood flow and reducing bodily tension. Women taking ashwagandha typically experience an increase in sexual desire and satisfaction.
4. Memory Support
Recent research has shown that ashwagandha reduces memory impairment in animal models. The herb may also protect the brain from the oxidative stress that leads to neurodegeneration. Relaxation, a benefit derived from the herb’s stress-fighting effects, also improves long-term visual memory.
Another benefit many women report after taking this herb is in regards to energy levels. This anecdotal evidence is supported by scientific investigation; a recent study reported ashwagandha’s benefits for improving energy while reducing stress-related disorders.
6. Mood Booster
Ashwagandha is a known mood-boosting herb, and research suggests that the therapeutic plant may play a potential role in fighting mood imbalance. Women battling mood swings may benefit from supplementing with ashwaghanda.
Stress, illness, hormone imbalance, and nutrient deficiencies — all of these issues threaten female reproductive health and make it difficult for a woman to conceive. Research shows that ashwagandha supports thyroid function, an organ responsible for regulating hormones. Also, by decreasing stress, ashwagandha may encourage a situation that is optimal for fertility. More research is needed to clarify whether or not ashwagandha is effective for helping infertile females struggling to conceive.
Honey’s often thought of as a healthier sweetener, but you might be surprised to learn that this ingredient has tons of skin and hair benefits, too. Made by the alchemy of bees collecting nectar, pollen, and resins from flowers, honey can help moisturize, fight aging, and fight bacteria. Plus, it’s loaded with nutrients, antioxidants, and healing compounds. Next time you’re browsing the grocery store shelves, look for raw honey, which hasn’t been heat-treated or pasteurized; it contains more active phytonutrient antioxidants and enzymes for enhanced benefits. Here are a few ways to put the ingredient to use (sometimes with the help of some other natural ingredients).
1. Moisturizing Mask
Honey is a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture from the air into the skin and ensures it’s retained it in the layers where it’s needed most for penetrating, long-lasting hydration.
Try it: Spread one teaspoon raw honey on clean, dry skin, and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse with tepid water.
2. Pore Cleanser
The enzymes in raw honey clarify skin and keep pores clear and clean. Plus, the antibacterial properties of honey and jojoba or coconut oil also prevent bacterial buildup that can lead to skin imbalances and breakouts.
Try it: Stir one tablespoon raw honey with two tablespoons jojoba oil or coconut oil until the mixture is spreadable consistency. Apply to clean, dry skin, and massage gently in a circular motion, avoiding your eye area. Rinse with tepid water.
3. Gentle Exfoliator
Honey is loaded with antioxidants, enzymes, and other nutrients that nourish, cleanse, and hydrate skin. Baking soda, meanwhile, is a gentle natural exfoliator that removes dead skin cells, allowing new cells to emerge for a radiant complexion.
Try it: Mix two tablespoons honey with one tablespoon baking soda. Splash your skin with water, then gently rub the concoction on your face or body in a circular motion. Rinse well.
4. Scar Fader
Honey is said to lighten skin, and its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial compounds help to decrease the appearances of scars and increase healing and tissue regeneration. The hydrating properties of honey and coconut oil or olive oil will also help revive skin cells, while regular, gentle massaging will increase circulation to aid skin recovery and cell turnover.
Try it: Mix one teaspoon raw honey with one teaspoon coconut oil or olive oil. Apply to the affected area, and massage with the tips of your fingers in a circular motion for one to two minutes. Place a hot washcloth over your skin, and let sit until cool. Repeat daily.
5. Acne Treatment
Honey contains antibacterial and antifungal properties that thwart bacteria that can lead to breakouts. Its anti-inflammatory properties will calm redness and irritation.
Try it: Apply a dab of raw honey to affected areas, and sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse with tepid water.
6. Bath Soak
Honey’s not just hydrating; its antioxidants will repair skin and protect it against oxidative and environmental damage.
Try it: Mix two heaping tablespoons raw honey with one cup hot water until dissolved. Add to a tub of warm water, and soak.
7. Cuticle Moisturizer
Raw honey is loaded with nutrients and enzymes to nourish and heal skin, and it’s a natural humectant, meaning it draws moisture into the skin. Coconut oil conditions and protects, while the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar softens hard skin and balances pH for healthy growth.
Try it: Mix one teaspoon honey with one teaspoon apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon coconut oil. Rub over each cuticle, and let sit five to 10 minutes, then rinse.
8. Hair Conditioner
The enzymes and nutrients in raw honey give dull hair shine without weighing it down. Coconut oil penetrates the hair shaft to condition and smooth the cuticle and give your strands the luster you crave.
Try it: Mix one tablespoon raw honey with two tablespoons coconut oil. Apply thoroughly to the bottom two-thirds of damp hair, starting at the ends and working up. Let sit for 20 minutes, and rinse well.
9. Shampoo Booster
The humectant properties of honey help regulate and retain moisture in hair, plus honey is said to strengthen hair follicles for healthy growth.
Try it: Mix one teaspoon honey with a dime-sized amount of your favorite shampoo. Wash and lather as normal, and rinse well.
10. Hair Highlighter
The enzyme glucose oxidase in honey slowly releases hydrogen peroxide, an ingredient known to lighten hair color.
Try it: Mix three tablespoons honey with two tablespoon water. Apply to clean, damp hair, and let sit for an hour. Rinse well. Apply weekly for best results.
11. Sunburn Treatment
Honey restores hydration to the deepest layers of sun-exposed skin—and both honey and aloe vera contain powerful anti-inflammatories to calm burned skin and aid recovery.
Try it: Mix one part raw honey with two parts pure aloe vera gel. Apply to sunburned skin.
For centuries the Neem tree has been known as the wonder tree of India. Traditionally used in ayurvedic remedies as an antiseptic to fight viruses and bacteria, it is also recommended for urinary disorders, diarrhea, fever, skin diseases, burns and inflammatory diseases. Because of its wide variety of applications it is commonly called the “Friend and Protector of the Indian Villager.”
Today modern research has verified the remarkable attributes of this tree. Neem is increasingly a key ingredient in modern cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Cracking the Secrets of Neem: Why is Neem such a wonder tree?
Modern research studies have discovered that it contains both alkaloids and liminoids, each with an array of medicinal properties. For instance, oneliminoid (azadirachitin) has been found to be 95% effective when used as a pesticide and insecticide.
Another liminoid found in Neem leaves (gedunin) has been used to treat malaria in tropical countries. It is administered as a tea or herbal infusion. Two other alkaloids (nimbin and nimbidin) have antiviral and antifungal properties.
While all parts of the tree are used in traditional ayurvedic formulas, there are three parts that are of particular benefit. These are the bark, the leaf and the oil.
Uses of Neem Bark
The Neem bark has cool, bitter, and astringent properties. It is traditionally used to treat tiredness, Kapha dosha imbalance, worms, fever and loss of appetite. Because of its antiseptic and astringent properties, it is especially helpful in healing wounds.
Probably the most common use of Neem bark is to clean the teeth. The traditional method is to snap off a twig of the tree and chew on it. The astringent qualities of the bark prevented bleeding gums, tooth decay and foul smell long before the advent of toothpaste.
The Magical Neem Leaf
Neem leaf is famous in ayurvedic texts for having an almost magical effect on the skin. It works as an antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory agent. It is effective in treating eczema, ringworm and acne. Traditional methods include crushing the leaves into a paste and applying directly to wounds, ulcers or skin diseases.
Neem leaf has both pungent and astringent tastes. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, the Neem leaf is especially useful in balancing Vata disorders. It removes ama and other toxins from the body, purifies the blood, and neutralizes damaging free radicals. It is nourishing to the hair (keshya).
Neem leaf is also revered for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. Even today in India, people sprinkle fresh Neem leaf near the beds of patients with flu or fever, and hang a cluster of leaves on the door outside. The air that crosses the neem leaf is purified of viruses and bacteria, helping to disinfect the room and prevent the spread of disease.
Traditional Uses of Neem Oil
The oil is derived by crushing the seeds. Like the leaves, Neem oil is used to treat skin problems. It is especially effective in treating head lice and dandruff, and creates a purifying effect when used in aromatherapy.
Fortunately, you can enjoy the benefits of Neem oil, bark and leaves even if you don’t have a Neem tree growing in your front yard! Here are some simple ways to use Neem for your teeth, skin and hair.
Neem Bark Toothpaste to Prevent Tooth Decay
Brush your teeth with Ayurdent, a completely natural, flouride-free ayurvedic toothpaste that contains Neem bark. It helps heal sore gums, prevents tooth decay by strengthening gums and teeth, and creates a fresh feeling in the mouth. Ayurdent cleanses deep toxins from the teeth and oral cavity and is especially effective when used right before bed.
Neem Soap for the Skin
Enjoy the magical effect of Neem leaves on your skin by bathing with Neem Aromatherapy Cleansing Bar. These natural soaps contain Neem leaves combined with other essential oils. Mild and healing, they smell delicious, too! Take Radiant Skin or Elim-Tox herbal supplements. Both Neem leaf and Neem bark are contained in these formulas, helping to purify the skin and flush out toxins from the sweat glands.
Neem Oil Lice Protector
Combine 10% Neem oil with 90% coconut or sesame oil. Apply to the hair and massage the oil into the scalp. Comb the oil through to make sure it is evenly distributed. Leave it on overnight. In the morning wash your hair with Herbal Flaky Scalp Shampoo. Repeat five to sixtimes, on alternate days, until the lice have disappeared. This formula also helps flaky scalp.