Depending on the constitution of the individual as well as the property the oil exhibits, Ayurved details the use of specific oils for abhyang. Depending upon the purpose of the massage, oils may be classified as base oils and essential oils.
For generic purposes, a carrier or base oil (sesame/coconut/mustard/olive) will suffice for a body massage. Base oils are usually mild and used in large quantities. However, when a massage is done to provide relief from certain ailments, base oils can be supplemented with essential oils. Essential oils are potent, and as such, they are used in small quantities. Specific results can also be obtained when certain oils are mixed or cooked with certain herbs and spices. Many oil formulae can easily be made at home thereby avoiding the use of chemicals and added preservatives that are usually found in commercial products.
To improve memory
Brahmi (gotu kola) oil and Brahmi-Amla oil are beneficial in improving one’s memory.
Brahmi oil can be made at home by boiling dried gotu kola leaves in water and adding same quantity of sesame oil to the evaporated mixture. A small quantity of almond oil can also be added to Brahmi oil.
To make Brahmi-Amla oil, the same process is followed as above, with the addition of amla juice which is extracted from the fresh amla fruit. Once this mixture is cooled, a small quantity of pumpkin oil is added, which helps control excessive hair fall.
Another formula that strengthens the brain and nervous system and promotes memory is a mixture of almond and sandalwood oil added to sesame oil.
To relieve colds
Mustard oil is warming in nature and is an ideal choice of massage oil for providing warmth during winters or in cold climate. To relieve chest colds, heat mustard oil with a few cloves of garlic and strain the mixture and use for massage. Garlic contains a compound called allicin which has antibiotic and anti-fungal properties.
Another oil remedy that combats colds is small quantities of cinnamon and eucalyptus oil added to sesame oil. Eucalyptus oil has antibacterial, antiseptic, antiviral and decongestant properties and when massaged onto the chest helps provide respiratory relief. It also reduces body temperature and is used to bring down fever.
To relieve excess body heat
Coconut oil is the preferred choice of oil for massage in summers as it is cooling in nature. To relieve excess body heat, massage with a mixture of coconut oil, pumpkin oil and sunflower oil and a few drops of rose essential oil. This combination of oils can also reduce high fever if massaged on the crown of the head and soles of the feet.
Alternatively, a combination of coconut and pumpkin seed oil with either coriander oil or essence of khus (derived from the kusha grass roots) can also be used. Khus oil provides relief from insect bites and all kinds of skin burns.
One can also combine sunflower oil with coriander oil and apply it to the hands and feet to cool the body.
To relieve insomnia
Pumpkin seed oil when massaged on the head before going to bed proves beneficial in inducing sleep. Kahu oil, extracted from the seeds of the Kahu tree, is also known to induce sleep. These two oils can either be used individually or mixed in equal proportions and then massaged with.
Another formula to relieve insomnia is a head massage with rose or sandalwood essential oil added to either coconut or sesame oil.
To relieve headaches
Sandalwood oil is relaxant and sedative in nature. It sedates fear, stress, anxiety and restlessness and induces relaxation and calmness. And as such, finds its use in providing relief from headaches.
Another extremely effective remedy to a headache is dipping your feet in a bath of warm water with few drops of eucalyptus oil.
To rejuvenate hair
Bhringraj oil is known to prevent dandruff and a dry scalp. A combination of bhringraj oil, shikakai oil and either sesame or coconut oil when massaged on the scalp improves hair lustre and promotes hair growth.
Please note. The above massage oil formulae are beneficial only when the oils and herbs used are procured organically. When the body massage is performed in tandem with holistic yogic practices like Sanatan Kriya under the guidance of a Guru, effects are miraculous.