Ask the Ayurvedic Expert: Skin
I'm interested in ayurvedic procedures for acne. What causes adult acne and how can I get rid of it?
- If the skin is too oily, it aggravates moisture balance (Shleshaka Kapha).
- The pores clog up, which aggravates circulation (Vyana Vata).
- Aggravated circulation (Vyana Vata) dries out the moisture balance (Shleshaka Kapha).
- The drying effect clogs the pores permanently.
- Impurities accumulate, which pollute the blood and manifest as acne.
In rare cases acne is related to a Pitta imbalance. But it's usually related to Kapha and Vata as described above.
Diet and lifestyle tips:
- Avoid touching the acne, which could cause a secondary infection by contact.
- Use cumin, turmeric and ginger in cooking.
- Reduce heavy, very oily and cold foods.
- Favor fresh, light, warm foods.
- Radiant Skin tablets promote pure, healthy blood.
Bags Under the Eyes
I have bags underneath my eyes. This condition gets worse with my monthly cleansing cycle. Can you recommend anything to help me?
Bags under the eyes suggest a buildup of impurities. The monthly cycle is an opportunity for the body to cleanse and rejuvenate itself. But after age 40, the body's natural ability to detoxify becomes weaker.
Since bags under the eyes are often due to digestive impurities, which is caused by a sluggish digestion, the main organ involved is the liver. Maharishi Ayurveda Liver Balance is a unique blend of herbs to help balance the liver and helps the assimilation and filtration of impurities that can end up causing under-eye bags.
Diet and lifestyle tips:
- Try to avoid stress and get extra rest, especially during menstrual discomfort.
- Drink plenty of warm water. Avoid ice-cold and carbonated drinks.
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol.
- Add coconuts, raisins, papaya and sweet juicy fruits to your diet.
- Take only a moderate amount of sugar (or use agave nectar).
- Avoid red meat and heavy fried foods.
- Avoid drinking fluids before bed.
- Favor only natural beauty products.
- Do not smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Place a washcloth dipped in warm water over your eyes for 5 minutes once or twice daily.
- Make sure you are laughing every day — it gives exercise to facial muscles.
- For puffy and swollen eyes, make facial steam or facial wash with warm, salty water.
- For tired eyes, use a silk eye pillow.
- For Pitta-inflamed baggy eyes, soak cotton pads in cold milk with Organic Rose Water and place over closed eyes for five to ten minutes.
Food Items to Avoid
Avoid frozen, cold, leftover, and greasy foods. Also avoid foods that contain the following ingredients:
- Aspartame (synthetic sweetener and neurotoxin)
- MSG - monosodium glutamate
- Food grown using pesticides
- Genetically modified food
- Sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, chocolate and other foods containing similar concentrated sweeteners
- Refined oils
- Baking powder
- Hard and dry bovine milk cheese
- Junk foods (hamburgers, pizza, hotdogs, nachos, etc.)
- Smoked, grilled barbecued food
Foods Items to Favor
- Unrefined sea salt
- Vegetable juices - juicing
- Fats - monosaturated. Use ghee for cooking.
- Turbinado, stevia, maple syrup, raw honey, agave nectar
- Essential fatty acids
- Calcium, iron, minerals
- Trace minerals
- Organic foods
- Flaxseed oil
- Whole grains, nuts and seeds
- Fresh fruits
What causes cellulite, that ugly ripply condition of fat? How can you get rid of it?
- J.N., Wisconsin
A condition such as cellulite is more than the simple accumulation of fat.
The ancient ayurvedic surgeon, Shushruta, identified a heavy, saturated type of fat tissue he called vasa. When this saturated fat interacts with digestive impurities (ama), the result is cellulite.
Cellulite is a localized effect. It's a heavy, sticky substance that sits in the fat cells and is very difficult to eliminate. The longer it sits there, the harder it is to remove.
The key is to break down the link between the vasa fat and the ama impurities. At my clinic in India I developed a special cellulite regimen that includes a steam treatment with the herb gotu kola, massage and an herbal mud pack. Within 21 days patients see results. Now we're doing research on how we can make this program available to you in your own home. In the meantime, the following tips will help.
Diet and lifestyle tips:
- Exercise the legs, thighs and any affected areas.
- Give yourself a daily dry Garshan massage on the affected areas. Raw silk gloves for this massage are available.
- Add a little Organic Kapha Tea, Organic Kapha Churna Seasoning, fenugreek, cumin, black pepper and ginger to your diet. These help reduce ama, but don't overdo it. Too many hot spices can aggravate your Pitta.
Why are my lips dry in the winter?
Dry lips and dry skin are signs of a Vata imbalance. Other symptoms that too much Vata has accumulated could be anxiety, dry skin, constipation, insomnia, headaches, undue fatigue, intestinal gas, menstrual cramps, lower back pain, or aching joints.
Recently I moved to California. I am noticing that with windy and sunny weather my skin dries more. What do you recommend to keep my skin moisturized and youthful?
- M.K., California
The dry skin is due to a Vata imbalance. It's probably related to the dry climate, heat and wind. It's important to create balance from the inside out.
Diet and lifestyle tips:
- Give yourself an oil massage before you jump in the shower. Moisturizing or Soothing massage oil would be good.
- When you're doing the massage, dip your finger tips in the oil. Also use more oil on the soles of your feet and palms of your hands.
- Avoid spicy, dry foods. Favor sweet, light and heavier foods to balance both Vata and Pitta (because of the hot climate).
- Eat lots of sweet, juicy fruits.
- A little ghee in the diet is a must. Use it when cooking. Also cook with coriander, cumin and turmeric.
- Drink lots of room-temperature water.
- Avoid or reduce direct exposure to the sun.
- Try to reduce the amount of stress in your life.
- Establish a regular daily routine. Go to bed as early as possible.
- Treat your face to one of our herbal moisturizers.
I suffered from an itchy rash on my upper body for 12 years. When I moved to Hawaii for nine years, there was no rash. Now that I'm living in the Pacific Northwest, it has flared up again. I've been told it's an allergic reaction. Can you help me?
The rash is related to the damp, rainy climate in Washington. The three doshas — Vata, Pitta and Kapha — are composed of five primordial elements, or Mahabhutas. They are earth, water, fire, air and space. In Washington the water element is dominant, which results in more Kapha allergies.
Hawaii is hot and sunny. The fire element is prevalent, not only in the temperature, but also in the food, water, air and people who live there. The fire element reduces the build-up of digestive impurities (ama) which can lead to allergies and rashes. That's why you didn't have a rash in Hawaii.
In Washington, there is less fire and more of the water and earth elements. This allows more ama to accumulate. When the ama interacts with the skin (Bhrajaka Pitta), it causes a toxic reaction called amavisha. In your case, the toxins produce a rash.
When the ama reacts with the eyes, sinuses or lungs, it can cause other allergy symptoms such as red, itchy eyes or a runny nose.
Dietary and lifestyle tips:
- Take Aller-Defense and the cleansing formula Elim-Tox.
- Eat more sweet, juicy fruits and seasonal fruits.
- Add more turmeric to your cooking. It's dry and bitter, which helps decrease Kapha and ama.
- Slightly increase the amount of hot, pungent foods and spices. Don't overdo it. Too much heat will aggravate your skin allergy (Bhrajaka Pitta).
- Sip warm, not hot, water. This helps keep the microcirculatory channels (shrotas) free from an ama build-up.
How do you convince a 13-year-old that it's just as important to treat the skin from the inside out?
Clear skin doesn't appear magically on the surface. It begins inside. The key is to reduce digestive impurities (ama) which can disrupt the complexion. Follow the simple diet and lifestyle tips below to help the body improve its digestion and therefore improve the skin.
Diet and lifestyle tips:
- Add sweet juicy fruits to the diet.
- Prepare his or her vegetables with this ama-reducing spice mixture. Cook 1 tsp. of turmeric, 1 slice of fresh ginger and ½ tsp. of cumin in ghee (clarified butter). Add salt to taste.
- Reduce milk and dairy products.
- Take the herbal supplement Radiant Skin.
How can I cure warts around the nails? In the past I had laser surgery. But they are back and this time I would prefer an ayurvedic solution.
There are four factors that contribute: lubrication (Shleshaka Kapha), muscle tissue (Mamsa Dhatu), fat tissue (Meda Dhatu) and circulation/skin (Vyana Vata).
When digestive impurities (ama) combine with these four factors, they create a toxic reaction (amavisha) that produces the warts.
Another approach is to pacify circulation/skin (Vyana Vata) externally. The Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil will help with this. Besides massaging the whole body before you shower, you can soak the finger tips in the oil.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.