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Aromatherapy in Ayurveda

When our doshas are out of balance, it can cause chaos in ourselves. Mental afflictions, disease and emotional instability are symptoms of unbalanced doshas.  To balance our doshas, essential oils in the form of aromatherapy can help us.

Essential oils are highly concentrated essences of aromatic plants (mapi).  Ayurveda classifies essential oils based on their effect on body temperature, and effect on doha balance (mapi).  They can be either cold/warm/hot or dry and moist.  If an oil is moist, then the it will dissolve quickly when dropped into water.  If an oil is dry, then the oil will stay on the surface of the water.  There are also neutral essential oils which do a bit of both, and adapt to balance your body.  In order to absorb the most from essential oils, you should know your constitution and be aware of which doshas may be out of balance for you personally.

Ayurveda uses aromatherapy for protecting our life force (Prana), increasing resistance to disease (Ojas), and regulating digestion and metabolism (Agni).  You can mix different aromas together to create combination effects.  The sense of smell corresponds to the olfactory nerve, which is the only nerve in the body that connects directly to the brain from the environment.  This triggers the limbic system, which is connected to the zones of emotions, memories, desires and hormone regulation.  When we are in a calm state, we are creating a mental association with the aroma of the oils, and a tranquil and calm relationship builds over time with consistent use.  Here are some ways to balance your doshas through essential oils in aromatherapy:

Vata Vata holds the elements of Air and Ether, which is expressed by being dry and cold.  To balance the Vata dosha, it is best to use oils derived from sweet, sour and salty botanicals.  Core essential oils for Vata include warm oils such as cinnamon, eucalyptus, ginger, oregano, cumin, bergamot, calamus, ajwain, caraway, jasmine and sandalwood. These oils increase digestive fire (Agni), flush out toxins held in the body (Ama),and promote the building of Dhatus (tissues).  Vata oils should be used  followed up with the neutral oils. The carrier oils best mixed with Vata balancing essential oils are avocado or sesame.

Pitta Pitta people are Fire and Water, which translates into their fiery personalities and vigor for life. For balancing the Pitta dosha, use oils that promote calm and cooling effects.  Using botanicals that are from sweet, bitter and astringent plants will pacify Pitta. If you experience digestive issues due to aggravated Pitta, essential oils like coriander, dill, lime, neroli and peppermint will help. Other essential oils that balance Pitta are lemongrass, spearmint, jasmine and fennel. Carrier oils such as olive, coconut and sunflower are most compatible with Pitta pacifying essential oils.

Kapha  Kapha dominant people hold the qualities of Earth and Water, and is slow, cold, heavy and moist.  To combat this, use oils derived from plants that are bitter, astringent and especially pungent.  The oils to inspire and stimulate  Kapha people are ajwain, mustard, cayenne, oregano, thyme, turmeric, ginger and garlic.  If your Kapha dosha is out of balance, it can look like mucus accumulation in the body with a slow metabolism.  To combat this, use essential oils such as dill, lemongrass, parsley, juniper berry and cinnamon.

There are so many ways to use essential oils in your life, here are a few creative suggestions aside from ambient oil diffusing:

Bath: Baths combined with essential oils are perfect for relieving muscle soreness, and calm our emotions.  It is helpful to mix the essential oils with a carrier oil, bath salts or a cream to help with dispersal.

Facial Steam Bath: fill a bowl with hot water (2 liters suggested) and drop 1-2 drops of essential oils in.  Put your face over the water and breathe in. Having a towel covering your head will also increase the effects.

Mouthwash: add a few drops of essential oils with a small cup of water and swish in the mouth. Be careful not to swallow!


  1. Ayurveda Bankso

  2. Mapi

  3. Textbook of Ayurveda: Fundamental Principles by Vasant Lad

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