In Ayurveda, herbs and herbal oils know a wide variety of applications, such as cooking, raw consumption, massage, oil pulling, steaming, oil bathing, colonic flushing, and nasal treatments, to name some popular uses.
In Ayurvedic massages, the use of warm herbal and medicated oils, milks and butters is without doubt one of the most characteristic traits. In fact, and this sounds paradoxical, massage in Ayurveda is usually not a goal in itself, but a tool to help oils penetrate through the skin into the deeper located bodily tissues in order to work more effectively and provide health benefits.
Nevertheless, oils don’t only work on the deeper tissue layers to resolve a broad range of physical and mental illnesses or discomforts, but also on a more superficial body level to cure or enhance the skin, nails, and hair.
The use of oils is not random though. In Ayurvedic medicine, those oils are chosen that correct imbalances in the so-called Doshas. Depending on the receiver’s Dosha-type, their health problems, and the Dosha(s) that has/have been affected negatively, the right kind of herbal oil is selected.
Of course, this requires knowledge of Dosha theory (the Tridosha concept), correct diagnosis of which Doshas are affected in a certain person, and knowledge of the types of oils that corresponds with rebalancing certain Doshas.
Yet, even with little knowledge of Ayurvedic diagnosis or Dosha theory one can choose the right oil. A range of herbal oils has a more general working on certain problems, and naturally pacify or balance the three Doshas. As such they can be used safely and effectively, with taking into account possible allergies a receiver may have for specific herbal ingredients.
Some common multi-purpose oils used in Ayurvedic massages are Sesame oil, Coconut oil, Almond oil, Mustard oil, Neem oil, Sunflower oil, Castor oil, Mahanarayan oil (an ancient blend of a variety of oils and herbs), and Ashwagandha Bala oil (likewise a mix of herbs and oils).