What is Ayurvedic Aromatherapy?

The word Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Ayu’ meaning ‘Life’ and ‘Veda’ meaning ‘Knowledge’. Ayurveda, meaning the science of life, originated in India some 6,000 years ago. It’s a whole body, or holistic, healing modality that holds the belief that health and wellness comes from having a balanced mind, body, and spirit. Ayurveda is believed to be the oldest form of medicine and has been referred to as “The Mother of All Healing”. While many healing modalities look at fighting disease, Ayurveda looks at promoting health and wellness, but can still have treatments directed at fighting various health concerns.

Ayurveda is based upon three distinct functional principles called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha which are combinations of the ancient elements of earth, air, fire, and water.

Vata is composed of air. It’s associated with movement within the body such as muscle movement, breathing, the beating of the heart, and blinking. When Vata is balanced, flexibility is the result. Out of balance, Vata brings fear and anxiety.

Pitta is made up of fire and water and is associated with the body’s metabolism. Beyond metabolism, Pitta influences digestion processes and body temperature. When in balance, Pitta produces understanding, wisdom, and intelligence. When it’s out of balance, Pitta promotes anger and jealousy.

The final dosha, Kapha, is made up of earth and water. It’s associated with the movement and hydration of different bodily structures including moisturizing the skin, lubricating joints, and helping to maintain the immune system. When in balance, Kapha promotes love and forgiveness, while out of balance it expresses greed and attachment issues.

Aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils to promote health and well-being, has also been used since ancient times. Essential oils can be used topically and/or aromatically to support body systems and treat a variety of health and wellness concerns, the main use of essential oils in Ayurveda is through inhalation.

In Ayurvedic medicine, essential oils are thought of as the fire of the plant. The element of fire, in this case from plant material, is what causes them to be therapeutic.

Ayurveda and Aromatherapy are very complimentary to one another. Essential oils can help balance Vata, Pitta, and Kapha and help the body to return to, or stay, in a state of balance. Below is a list of oils that can help balance each of the elements.

Vata – clove, cinnamon, Roman chamomile, geranium, sandalwood frankincense.

Pitta – rose, fennel, sandalwood, ylang ylang, lemon, peppermint, frankincense.

Kapha – rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, spearmint, basil, frankincense.

The above essential oils can be put in a diffuser, made into a personal inhaler blend, or made into incense to obtain the balancing properties. It is best to use the oils on a consistent basis to keep the doshas in harmony.

“Aromatherapy is a caring, hands on therapy which seeks to induce relaxation, to increase energy, to reduce the effects of stress and to restore lost balance to mind, body, and soul.”

-Robert Tisserand