What's with All the Oils in Ayurveda? [video]

Welcome to our AskBanyan series, where we answer the most popular questions about living an Ayurvedic lifestyle.

Well the Sanskrit word for oil is the same word for love—sneha. When you compare these side-by-side—sneha, love, oil—you start to understand why self-massage is so important in Ayurveda and is even revered.

Oil most closely mimics the natural layer of your outer skin, which makes it a superior moisturizer. That also means that it helps bring balance and draw out impurities.

Oil acts as a carrier, or an anupan, so in herbal oils, the oil is what helps carry the herbs deeper into the tissues. Your skin is porous so whatever you apply externally can be absorbed into the body.

Another use for oil is known as snehana. If you're even thinking about considering this practice we really recommend working with a practitioner.

In the traditional Ayurvedic cleanse, panchakarma, snehana involves drinking oil. It's really important to think about comparing your digestion to a fire—so if you pour oil on a fire, a ton of it, you're going to put that fire out. But by drinking it in small amounts it's meant to boost your digestion. Again we really recommend working with a practitioner.

 

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