| Ayurveda is one of the world's ancient medical systems. Ayurveda is a system of self-care that originated in India more than 5000 years ago. It originated in India & has evolved as a primary medical therapeutic system along the lines of the modern medical system. In other regions like Europe, North America, Ayurveda is becoming very popular, with hundreds of healers incorporating it into their practices and thousands of people using its well-tried principles and therapies to improve their well-being.
It is a qualitative, holistic science of health and longevity, a philosophy, a system healing the person as a whole (mind, and body).
Ayurveda consists of two words-Ayu & Veda, where, “ayu” means life, & “veda” means science. Thus Ayurveda is considered as a “science of life."
Meaning of “Ayu”
“Sharirendriya sattwa atma samyogo ayuhu” . Sharir means physical body; indriya means senses. Sattwa refers to the combination of mind and heart--overall psychological strength, and atma means soul or spirit. When all of these--body, senses, heart, mind and spirit--are in proper balance and function in a harmonious, coordinated manner, that is true life--"the living body."
Meaning of “Veda”
Veda means science of knowledge, built on “siddhantas”, fundamental unchanging principles tested over the years.
Ayurveda for Wellness through Balance
In ayurveda, health is defined as an active state of wellness--a state in which one truly lives, not merely exist. This active state of wellness, according to the ancient texts of “vedas”, extends beyond the physical body to the mind, heart, senses and spirit as one subject. In this "zone," a person experience physical vitality, mental alertness, emotional bliss, sensual balance and spiritual awareness, not just for a brief time but, day after day, and year after year.
The ayurvedic approach to health is comprehensive, extending to a person’s daily diet, work routine, and environment. This active healthy state is achieved thorough balance, changes-over-time, age, environmental factors, stress levels, lifestyle choices and dietary imbalances (excesses or deprivation). Any gap to either of them causes imbalance in our body’s physiology, leading to unhealthy body and mind, resulting in an illness/disease.
Ayurveda and Skin Care
According to Ayurveda, skin is a mirror to an individual's health. Skin gives clue to one's Ayurvedic constitution. This is usually understood by the type of skin that one has.Ayurveda description about normal skin
Even though skin harbors tri-doshas it is mainly dominated by vata. Vata is responsible for the perception of touch, secretions from glands (sweat, sebum) blood circulation and movement of nutrients between cells and interstitial fluids.
According to Acharya charaka, “Kupitastu khalu shareere shareeram nanavidhairvikaarairupatapati balavarnasukhaayushaamupaghaataaya”, which means- vata when aggravated afflicts the body with various types of diseases and affects the strength, complexion, happiness and span of life.
For a healthier skin the vata should be always in normal balanced condition. The balanced vata keeps all other tissues and remaining two doshas in healthy condition. The imbalanced vata vitiates the tissues of skin and leads numerous skin problems."
The Inner Physiological processes and Skin
The inner physiological processes like digestion, metabolism, elimination of waste products etc directly affect the beauty of skin. The process of digestion is carried out by agni or fire, which is present in our digestive system. Agni is the body fire, which is responsible for transformation of one substance to another. It breaks down the food substances, eliminates toxins and wastes, maintains body temperature, and resists the invasion of microbes by maintaining strong body immunity.
The body fire, which is assisted by balanced doshas, digests the food completely to form Pakwa Anna rasa (the liquid form of food which is completely digested by digestive enzymes), which is ready to get absorbed by body tissues. According to ayurveda Pakwa Anna Rasa nourishes the body and its components to keep the body devoid of diseases. But when body fire is impaired there will be an incomplete digestion of food forming Apakwa Rasa (indigested food). The indigested food fails to nourish the body components leading to lowered body resistance. Due to indigestion toxins start accumulating in body.
An unhealthy diet and life style imbalance doshas and the imbalanced doshas impair agni. Due to impaired agni toxins accumulate in body. These accumulated toxins affect the health of skin and the skin loses its luster and glow, acne and pimples start appearing, wrinkling of skin starts in an early age.
Hence a well nourished diet, a healthy lifestyle and regular detoxification is very important to keep skin healthy.
Skin Types according to Ayurvedic system
Ayurvedic Skin Care for “Space” Predominant Skin :
The fundamental element “Space” reflects the impact of the environment on your skin. Space predominant skin is thinner than other skin types, and dull in luster, and prone to flaking, bruising and getting scratched. The pores are also very small. As this type of skin ages, it becomes even thinner. This type of skin receives great benefit from soft massage and soft touch. Space predominant skin is very delicate and therefore susceptible to too much exposure to the wind or sun. Facial skin of this type, in particular, is very sensitive to electromagnetic vibrations and negative energy in the environment.
Ayurvedic Skin Care for “Air” Predominant Skin :
The fundamental element “Air” imparts lightness and delicacy to the skin. Air predominant skin tends to be dry and is almost always very dry during the winter season. This skin type also tends to be dry during the summer time. The pores are a little larger than those of the space predominant skin type.
Air predominant skin is particularly sensitive to cold and windy weather. This skin type is delicate, but not as delicate as space predominant skin. Like space predominant skin, air predominant skin is prone to flaking, bruising and getting scratched.
Ayurvedic Skin Care for “Fire” Predominant Skin
The fundamental element “Fire” gives the skin, its natural glow and luminosity. In Fire predominant skin, skin has a pinkish tone and also warm to touch. This type of skin has medium pores.
Fire predominant skin is susceptible to the impact of emotional trauma. Also, people with this skin type tend to have almost zero tolerance to the sun and hot foods such as long hot red peppers and cayenne pepper etc.
Ayurvedic Skin Care for “Water” Predominant Skin
The fundamental element “Water” gives the skin its suppleness and a dewy look. If the skin is pale, relatively thick, that feels cool to the touch; water is the element most predominant in the skin. Skin of this type has a tendency to be a little dull, overly hydrated and is semi-thick. Pores are semi-dilated and can become clogged easily. The skin tends to hold toxins. This type of skin is prone to breakouts and more serious problems such as eczema. This type of skin is more resistant to light or, any negative vibrational impact from the environment in comparison to space, air and fire predominant skin.
Ayurvedic Skin Care for “Earth” Predominant Skin
The fundamental element “Earth” imparts firmness and thickness to the skin, giving it form and structure. If the skin is typically greasy, accumulates toxins easily, then earth is the predominant element in the skin.
Skin of this type looks rather dull if not meticulously cleansed and exfoliated regularly. This is the thickest of all skin types, with large pores. But if kept properly cleansed, earth predominant skin doesn't show the usual signs of aging, such as wrinkles or sags. Earth predominant skin tends to retain toxins more than any other skin type. Because of its inherent oiliness, without proper cleansing, there is a tendency to develop more serious skin problems.
Oily Skin and its Care
Causes of Oily Skin:
Hormonal imbalances in adolescence cause oily skin. This type of skin is common in teenagers. The oil secretion in skin increases during teen age and decreases as age advances. Hormonal imbalance may appear during pregnancy and menopause, which lead to increase secretion of oil from oil glands of skin. Contraceptive pills and cosmetics also tend to increase the oil secretion. Humidity and Hot weather naturally increase oil secretion from oil glands of skin. The oil producing glands of skin is overactive and produces more oil. The excess oil, which oozes out gives the skin a greasy shine and the enlarged pores make the skin look coarse.
Ayurveda description about oily skin:
The qualities of skin are determined by tri-doshas. The Dosha, which is dominant in skin, determines the type and quality of the skin. When Kapha dosha is dominant the skin will be oily, shiny and soft. The skin will have a glowing complexion. Wrinkles develop much later in life. When Kapha dosha gets imbalanced in body and skin. Skin pores get enlarged and acne pimples start appearing.
The problems of Oily skin:
Ayurveda tips for Oily skin condition
1. Wash skin with plenty of warm water (2-3 times a day) and mild soap or herbal scrub to prevent clogging of
2. Avoid using harsh chemicals to remove oil, as some amount of natural oil is needed to maintain the texture of skin.
3. Avoid too much washing of skin as it leads to overproduction of oil to compensate the loss.
4. Always use hot water to wash face as it dissolves clogged oil and also balances Kapha.
5. Use a moisturizer free of oil.
6. Avoid sticky make up, which clogs the pores.
7. Apply half spoon of lemon juice mixed with half spoon of cucumber juice to face half an hour before taking bath.
8. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and water. Apply this mixture on the face and rinse it first with warm water and then
Followed by cold water after it dries.
9. Avoid heavy, fried fatty food.
10. Avoid cheese and sugar rich deserts.
11. Consume light, well-spiced food as they balance kapha.
12. Avoid constipating foods.
13. Include ginger, pepper, and long pepper in diet.
14. Exercise regularly.
15. Take plenty of leafy green vegetables and fresh fruits.
16. Avoid excessive consumption of soft drinks, alcohol, tea, coffee and chocolates.
Dry Skin and its Care
The skin loses its capacity to retain moisture, as we grow old. The extreme climatic conditions to which we get exposed, as we grow old worsen the condition and skin becomes more dry.
Ayurveda description about dry skin: The type of skin is determined by tri-doshas. The Dosha, which is dominant in skin, determines the type and quality of the skin. When vata dosha is dominant, the skin will be dry, thin, delicate, and cold to touch. When vata dosha becomes imbalanced in body, a nd skin, the skin becomes rough, scaly, and wrinkled.
The problems of dry skin:
Ayurveda tips for dry skin condition
General Recommendations for the healthy skin
The key to skin care is matching the diet-regime and skin care routine to the specific skin type one has. Meanwhile, there are some valuable recommendations for lustrous skin, regardless of skin type.
1 . Diet: Without adequate nourishment, collagen layer thins and a kind of wasting takes place. Over time, the skin can shrivel up from lack of nourishment. To keep your skin plump and glowing:
A . Eat fresh, whole organic foods that are freshly prepared.
Avoid packaged, canned, frozen, processed foods and leftovers. These foods have little nutritional value and also they are often poorly digested which creates impurities that localize in the skin. The resulting buildup of toxins causes irritation and blocks circulation depriving the skin of further nourishment and natural cleansing processes.
B . Favor skin nourishing foods.
1 . Leafy green vegetables contain vitamins, minerals (especially iron and calcium) and are high in antioxidant properties. They nourish the skin and protect it from premature aging.
2 . Sweet juicy fruits like grapes, melons, pears, plums and stewed apples at breakfast are excellent for the skin in almost everyone.
3 . Eat a wide variety of grains over different meals and try mixed grain servings at breakfast and lunch. Include amaranth, quinoa, cous -cous, millet and barley to the wheat and rice to the food.
4 . Favor light, easy to digest proteins like legume soups (especially yellow split mung dhal), whole milk, paneer (cheese made from boiling milk, adding lemon and straining solids) and lassi (diluted yogurt and spice drinks).
5 . Oils like ghee (clarified butter) and organic, extra virgin olive oil should be included in the diet as they lubricate, nourish and add luster to the skin.
6 . Use of spices like turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper to improve digestion, nourishment and cleansing of the skin from impurities.
7 . Avoid microwaving and boiling your vegetables, as it causes loss of about 85% of the antioxidant content. Thus, steaming and sautéing are best.
The Importance of Ayurveda as a Therapeutic System
It is an often-repeated question. It is a fact that among all methods of treatment, Ayurveda stands out as the most holistic and significant form of treatment. As on now, many countries like America and Japan are getting more and more interested in Ayurveda, and lot of research work is going on in these countries, regarding the use of 'bhasmas' prepared from heavy metals like mercury and how these medicines, if properly used can be effective and without any side effects.
However, more research should be carried out in India to raise the global acceptance and recognition of Ayurveda as a complete therapeutic system.
Dr. Devender K. Bhalla