Why Our Herbal Oils Are Unique
Regular self-massage (abhyanga) is practically synonymous with an Ayurvedic lifestyle, especially when done with herbal oils that can address everything from healthy hair to comfortable joints, a calm mind, sound sleep, and so much more.
As our customers begin the transformative practice of self-massage and learn about herbal oils, we’re often asked what makes our herbal oils so unique.
The answer? It’s all about the process!
The Ayurvedic tradition takes the creation of herbal oils to another level by pouring time, energy, and love into every step of the process, which takes days to complete. Banyan honors this lengthy and involved process, and while we do use some machines to expedite the process, our method of preparing herbal oils is still an Ayurvedic tradition at heart.
What Is an Herbal Oil?
Creating an herbal oil is no haphazard, random selection of ingredients—it’s a careful selection of herbs paired with the right base oils to cook into the perfect finished product, often with a specific healing property or intent in mind.
Ayurveda recognizes that everything comes with its own set of energetics, and understanding the energetics of the herbs and oils and how they will interplay is key. When the right combination of ingredients are chosen, they interact synergistically, enhancing the power and benefit of the herbal oil.
Oils are also considered anupans, or carrier substances, meaning that when they are infused with the qualities of the herbs, they will carry those qualities deep into the tissue layers.
Making Herbal Oils
Traditionally, making herbal oils could take days to complete. It took time to prepare the herbs that would eventually go into the oil. Herbs had to be chosen, cooked, drained, added to water, boiled down, cooled overnight, drained again—all before the carrier oil came into play.
All cooking happened over a low flame, which demanded constant supervision. Oil makers would devote their full attention to the process, often chanting over the mixture as it brewed. This careful attention and devotion to the process added to the energetics of the final product.
“Ayurveda is all about slow cooking.”
The Sanskrit word for oil is sneha, which also translates as love. Ayurveda considers oil as the ultimate carrier of love, and the daily practice of self-massage with oil as one of the best ways to nourish and love your own body, mind, and spirit. Ancient oil makers knew they were creating important vessels for self-love, so it is no surprise that they devoted their utmost care and attentiveness to the process.
Banyan oils are made in much the same way: we continue the tradition of crafting Ayurvedic herbal oils with love, care, patience, and slow cooking.
To make an herbal oil infusion, we start by preparing the key ingredients, which include herbal powders, leaves, and sometimes other plant parts. These ingredients are then turned into what is referred to as a “decoction” or “tea.”
We set aside part of the herbs for later use, and the rest goes into a large industrial kettle and soaks in water for several hours. Then we turn on the heat, boiling the mixture until almost all of the water has cooked off. We have made our own measuring sticks to help determine when enough of the water has evaporated, but it is safe to say that this part of the process usually takes the rest of the day to complete.
Once it’s ready, we remove the tea and let it cool for the night.
Now it is almost time to add the tea to the carrier oil or oils. But first we check to make sure that no sediments or extra water particles will wind up in the finished product.
This step would have traditionally taken several hours of picking out sediments and cooking off more water, but this is one area where our own methods differ, thanks to technology. With the help of a simple but effective hydraulic wine press, we are able to complete this portion of the oil creation with speed and efficiency, filtering out any lingering excess water and sediments.
Then it’s back to the kettle with our mixture of herbs, which will now be mixed with the carrier oils. They will cook slowly for approximately twelve hours—sometimes longer, depending on the kettle.
“Every kettle behaves differently. Some are slower than others, but that’s okay. It isn’t a race.”
While the oil cooks, our specialists stir the mixture with a big spoon, removing any last dregs and sediment that may have snuck past the wine press. The sediment isn’t harmful, but it can alter the relaxing experience of using your massage oil!
One last check for sediment happens before we apply the finishing touches. Depending on the blend, this might involve adding special ingredients like extra hints of flowers or natural essential oils.
After these last refinements, the oil is finally ready for us to bottle, package, and ship to you!
With oil as the ultimate carrier of love, we are proud to honor ancient traditions as we pour our time, energy, and love into every batch of oil. May the love we put into the making of our herbal oils enhance your own experience as you welcome in their many benefits.