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Ayurvedic Advice for Dryness

posted Feb 27, 2017, 9:40 AM by Susan Bernhardt   [ updated Feb 27, 2017, 9:40 AM ]
A fundamental principle of Ayurveda is that like increases like and opposites lead to balance. When something is too dry, apply the opposite. With dryness, the opposite is lubrication, typically in the form of oil and moist foods, not just water.

Symptoms of excess dryness include the obvious, such as dry skin, chapped lips, and cracked heels. Signs that may seem less obvious but can be associated with dryness include anxiousness, cracking and popping joints, trouble sleeping, and constipation. 

Use Oils for Dryness
To counter any kind of dryness, opt for foods that are moist, soupy, creamy, saucy, and cooked with healthy oils, like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, or ghee. Avoid eating dry foods alone. In other words, if you are having tortilla chips, be sure to include some guacamole. 

Another effective strategy is to self-massage your body with oil before showering. If you tend to run hot, choose coconut oil or sunflower oil, both of which are cooling. If you run cool, sesame oil (be sure to get the untoasted kind) is a good choice because it is warming. Almond oil tends to be a little warming and so is a good, in-between choice. You can take anywhere from a minute to half an hour, applying oil to your skin and even your scalp. It is best to warm the oil up first. The oil dissolves dirt, so you won't need soap, except perhaps in the underarms and "private" parts. The oil will soak into your skin in the shower, leaving it silky but not greasy. To remove oil from your hair, apply shampoo
before wetting your hair. Be careful not to slip on your bathroom floor!

Oil pulling can help with dry lips and a dry mouth, and improve the health of your gums and teeth. Put about a tablespoon of sesame oil (again, untoasted) in your mouth and swish it around. Try to spend at least five minutes (it may take you a bit to build up to this). You can swish while doing other things, so it takes no extra time in your day. When done, spit the oil out and rinse with warm water. 

Ayurveda offers additional oil-based remedies for dryness, such as nasya (plain or medicated oils placed in the nose), oil in the ears, oil soaks on joints, basti (self-administered enema of herbal teas or oil, which are absorbed by the large intestine into the body), and more. Sometimes the oils are plain, other times I recommend oils that have herbs incorporated. 

If you'd like more information about any of these practices, I'll be happy to answer your questions.