As the cold winter descends, I thought I would write about the beautifying and therapeutic properties of oiling your body for detoxification, rejuvenation and to combat the dry weather. Many of us view oil as “too heavy” or “clogging”, but in fact, oils are restorative for our skin as well as cleansing. Some oils are even used in Ayurveda to kill parasites internally and externally. It is also important to understand that each oil is unique: some oils stimulate, some oils calm, some oils rebuild tissue and some oils are anti-microbials.
1. Oil as a facial moisturizer: I use oil as my last step of moisturization day and night. If I don’t, I actually start to break out. Oils help regulate our own skin’s oil production. When our skin is dehydrated, it produces more oil to compensate for this lack of protection. So the more we dry out our skin, the more oil we produce. This is why applying an oil on our skin, particularly hazelnut oil, will cut down our sebum production. For something more general, Jojoba oil is the same consistency as our own skin’s sebum and it balances our complexions nicely.
2. Oiling our extremities: Oiling the extremities is part of a recommended morning ritual in Ayurveda. Oiling our hands and feet with a warming oil, such as sesame oil, helps bring circulation to our outer body –especially good in wintertime. Foot massages nightly with sesame oil also have been said to draw heat away from our eye area, improving eyesight.
Since the scalp is the gateway to our minds, oils have a therapeutic effect on our mental state. For most neurological issues, Ayurveda prescribes oiling our heads with sesame oil as it is Vata decreasing. But for heated, Pitta thoughts, coconut oil is best. This cooling oil is also great for preventing hair loss, as it combats excess heat which can rise to our scalps causing dried out, brittle hair follicles. Coconut oil is conveniently one of the lightest oils available, making it the easiest to rinse out.
3. Oiling our tummies: Stomach oiling is excellent for lubricating our GI tract and helping to loosen old, unmoving waste in our intestines. During tummy massage, always massage in a clockwise motion as this is the direction our bowels move in.
4. Oiling your eyes, ears and nose: Yes, you can oil your eyes! You can do this with an eye cup (available at drugstores) or you can do a Netra Basti: build a wall around your eye with dough and fill it with oil. This rejuvenates the skin around the eyes as well as detoxifying the eyes and improving vision. Melted ghee is best for this treatment.
You can place a few drops of olive oil in your ear every week (which helps prevent wax buildup). Or you can fill your ear with sesame oil and leave it for a few minutes. This helps maintain our hearing as it protects from excess Vata (space). If there is excess space and damaged dendrites in our ears, they cannot process sound.
Putting drops of oil up your nose moisturizes your nasal passages, helping you breathe better and dislodging nasal congestion. You can use plain sesame oil, or a “Nasya” oil preblended specifically for use in the nose.
5. Gargling with oil: To strengthen and heal your gums and teeth, you can hold oil in your mouth for one minute daily. Alternately, gargling every day for 10-15 minutes with sesame oil not only strengthens your teeth and gums, but detoxifies your body by drawing out toxins in the mouth. You may need a week or so to build up to feeling comfortable with more than a tablespoon of oil. Do not swallow the oil after gargling with it. It will contain unwanted toxins and sometimes parasites.
Kristen Ma is the co-owner of Pure + Simple Inc., a group of Holistic Spas with its own line of Natural Skincare and Mineral Make-up. She is an Ayurvedic Practitioner who has studied in Canada, the United States and India. She is also a Certified Esthetician with eight years of practical experience, having worked in Canada as well as Australia. Most recently, Kristen has authored “Beauty: Pure + Simple” which was published by Mc Arthur and Company. Kristen has written on the subject of Holistic Beauty for Vitality Magazine, Blink and Jasmine. She is also a regular contributor to B Magazine, Tonic and Sweat Equity Magazine.