Now, I know that many view oil as “too heavy” and “clogging” — I did too! I wouldn’t even put sunblock on because I was afraid it would make me break out — 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. So, I thought I would write about the beautifying and therapeutic properties of oiling your body for detoxification, rejuvenation and to combat dry, dry weather.
1. Oil as a facial moisturizer:
One traditional uses for oil is as a moisturizer. I use oil as my last step of moisturization
day and night. Actually, if I don’t, I start to break out. What I have tried to do at Pure + Simple
for many years is to educate people that oils actually 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 will cut down our sebum production – and an oil like hazelnut is particularly beneficial to do this with. But for something more general – Jojoba oil is the same consistency as our own skin’s sebum and it balances our our complexions nicely.
2. Oiling our extremities: In Ayurveda, oiling our extremities is so important that this Oleation is actually part of a recommended morning ritual. Oiling our hands and feet with a warming oil such as sesame oil, helps bring circulation to our outer body – and this is especially good in winter time. Foot massages nightly with Sesame oil also have been said to draw heat away from our eye area, improving eye sight. This is particularly good for those of us who touch a lot of people (massage therapists, nurses etc.) as we pick up the heat and inflammation of others easily.
The scalp is the gateway to our minds and 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 hair loss and preventing hair loss, as it combats the excess heat which travels through our scalps (According to Eastern Medicine, heat rises) 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 G.I tract and helping to loosen old, unmoving waste in our intestines. This helps with constipation – but for extreme cases, Ayurveda prescribes an uber oleation: an oil enema. During tummy massage, always massage in a clock-wise motion as this is the direction our bowels move in.
4. Oiling up your eyes, ears and nose: My mother and I love oil so much we often engage in the Ayurvedic traditions of oiling…well…everything. People think we’re being zany when we tell them that we oil our eyes. yes, we oil our eyes! You can do this with an eye cup (which is similar to the eye wash station in science class) or your can do a Netra Basti. This is the act of building a wall around your eye with dough and filling it with oil. This rejuvenates the eye area’s skin as well as detoxifies the eyes, improving vision. Because the oil loosens toxins behind the eye, sometimes you can see eye crud surface in the oil. Melted ghee is best for this treatment.
Putting oil in our ears is another unconventional practice we do. It can be as simple as a few drops a week in your ear with olive oil (which helps prevent wax build up), or what I do, and 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) from being acquired in our ears. Remember, the process of hearing is simply our dendrites (ear hairs) to pick up sound waves. If there is excess space and damaged dendrites, we cannot process sound.
And the best for our upcoming winter: nasal oiling. Putting drops up our noses moisturizes our nasal passages helping us breathe better and dislodging nasal congestion. My mother uses plain sesame oil, while I prefer getting a “Nasya” oil which is a preblended concoction which is specifically for your nasal pathways.
5. Gargling with oil (oil pulling): When examining our bodies, Eastern medicine doctors look at our tongues. This is because you can see the state of all our organs here. Gargling everyday for 10-15 minutes with sesame oil not only strengthens our teeth and gums, but detoxifies our bodies by drawing out toxins in the mouth. The first time I did this, I could only use a tablespoon of oil – the thought of more than this made me want to gag. But after about a week I was swishing mouthfuls of oil without a problem. Remember, if you do this, do not swallow the oil, it is full of unwanted toxins and sometimes parasites. For those of us who are doing it only for gum and teeth strengthening and healing, holding oil in our mouths for 1 minute is sufficient.