Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ayurveda Cosmetology

Herbs in Cosmetics

Dated ages back, in the famous fairy tale of the snow white and Seven Dwarfs, the wish of the wicked step-mother to be the most beautiful woman on earth, even today strikes the chord that being beautiful irrespective of age, sex and color is not a thing desired just today.

As ayurveda the concept of beauty has an age-old origin. Whether in fairy tales it was the wicked mother or the fairy that beautified Cinderella on the ball night, creating beauty by magic potions or herbs proves that beauty, its concepts and cosmetics go hand in hand. Especially for females, the desire to look beautiful, charming and young by different beauty ways, using various herbs are things known by the world since centuries.

Ancient scriptures like Abhijnana Shakuntalam and Meghadootam of Kalidasa and many mythological epics encompass the reference of cosmetics like: Tilak, Kajal, Alita and Agaru (Aquilaria agalbeha) that were used as body decorative and to create beauty spots on the chin and cheeks in the era ruled by gods and their deities.

In fact, the concept of beauty and cosmetics is as old as mankind and civilization. The famous depictions in the Ajanta and Ellora caves, Khajurao prove that not only women but men also adorned themselves with jewelry, scents and cosmetics. Enscripted in history is the Aryan period that witnessed the use of turmeric- haridra, (curcuma long, linn), saffron, alkanet, agaru, chlorophyll green from nettle plants and indigo for bodily-decorations apart from using Raktachandan (Pterocarpus Santalinus Linn), Chandan (Santalum Album) for beautification. Using Mehendi (henna) for dying hair in different colors and conditioning was aslo practiced in the olden times.

Medicinal Herbs as cosmetics

The medicinal herb mentioned in ayurveda by experienced sages basically state that the function of ayurvedic herbs is to purify blood and eliminate vitiated doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) from the body as they are mainly responsible for skin disorders and other diseases.

Among the written information on ayurveda also, like in Charakh Samhita, the sage Charakh stated numerous medicinal plants in Varnya Kashaya. The herbs mentioned can be used to obtain glowing complexion. Various herbs for which description and usage can be found in ayurvedic inscriptions are mentioned below:

  • Chandana
  • Nagkeshara
  • Padmak
  • Khus
  • Yashtimadhu
  • Manjistha
  • Sariva
  • Payasya
  • Seta (shweta durva)
  • Lata (shyama durva)

There is also the mention of various herbs from Kushthagna Mahakashaya that are effective curatives for skin disorders. Few such herbs are:

  • Khadira
  • Abhaya
  • Amalaki
  • Haridra
  • Bhallataka
  • Saptaparna
  • Aragvadha
  • Karavira
  • Vidanga
  • Jati

Like the notifications of charakh and other sages, Sushrut said that Eladi Gana contains:

Ela, tagar, kusstha, jatamansi, tvak, dhmamaka, patra, nagkeshar, priyangu, harenuka, vyaghranakha, shukti, stouneyaka, choraka, shriveshta, khus, goggol, sarjarasa, turushka, kundaru, agaru, ushira, devdaru, keshara, and padmakeshara. All these herbs can eliminate toxins from the body, clear the complexion that leads to a glow on the skin and alleviates puritus, kusstha and boils.

Common herbs used as cosmetics

According to ayurveda there are certain herbs that have their mention in the old ages also, such as:

Being blue in color it was used as a bindi / tika (dot) on the forehead and chin.

Madder Root
Being available in color that suits the lips this was utilized as to beautify lips and cheeks.

Hibiscus Rosa Cynensis (Jaswand or Shoe Flower)
With dark color of its own this was used to blacken and maintain hair color.

This was another natural component available in attractive color and hence was used as fresh, red bindi / tika (dot) on the forehead.

Aloe Vera
With the traits that prevent aging and regenerate growth of cells this was used as a essential component to keep oneself fit and young and protect the skin and prevents and heals skin irritations.

Chandan and Vertiver (Usheer)
It was used as scrubs and face packs that were applied on face and whole body to remove dead cells, regenerate growth of new cells and give a young look.

Haldi (Turmeric)
It was used as a face pack along with usher (vertiver) and also as an antiseptic

Skin care and Ayurveda

It is not possible to get away with the process of aging and getting old but letting it not come very early is possible with ayurveda and its medicinal herbs. According to ayurveda healthy skin is the result of overall health condition of individuals and prescribes numerous skin care treatments that need to be pursued at every stage of life.

It is necessary to know about one's skin, whether it is oily, normal or dry and subsequently about its needs and necessities. Medically skin is a sensory organ that responds to reflexes and is a protective system that shields the entire living body. As ayurveda believes that all living beings have the panchamahabhoota as it is components, same is for skin. It is formed of the Pancha Mahabhootas and is the seat of sparshan indriya (a tactile sensory organ). Apart from perceiving sensations such as cold, warm, heavy, light, rough, smooth, etc. skin is also an excretory agent for Sweda (sweat). Skin is also the dwelling of Bhrajaka pitta and regulates the temperature of the living body and absorbs all local medicinal applications. The complexion and luster of our skin is also conferred to the skin. According to the sage Sushrut: "As the heating of milk forms a layer of cream on the milk surface, in a similar manner in the embryonic stage, dhatus (seven basic elements described in Ayurveda which compose the human body) form the different layers of the skin on our body."

According to Ayurveda skin is made up of seven layers and every successive layer is thicker than the previous one and can be affected by various disorders.

Following are the various layers of the skin:

  • Avabhhasini
    Being the thinnest skin of the skin that provides five different chhayas (shades) and kanti (glow) to the skin. As the skin layer has the capacity to retain water Charaka has described this layer as udakadhara. On being bruised, lasika, a watery substance flows out of it but if the skin is ehalthythis layer holds on to lasika and does not allow it to flow out immediately.

    The two disorders that effect this layer are:
    • Sidmha
    • Padmakantaka.

  • Lohita
    The two disorders that effect this layer are called
    • Nyaccha
    • Tilkalaka vyanga

  • Shweta
    The disorders that are found in this layer of skin are:
    • Charmadala
    • Ajagalli
    • Mashaka

  • Tamra
    The disorders effecting this skin layer are:
    • Kilasa
    • Kushta

  • Vedini
    The disorder that effects the skin's this particular layer are:
    • Kustha
    • Visarpa

  • Rohini
    The disorders that disease this layer of skin are:
    • Granthi
    • Apachi
    • Arbuda
    • Galaganda

  • Mamsadhara
    The disorders found in this skin layer are called:
    • Bhagandara
    • vidradhi

1 comment:

Ayurvedic said...

informative post, Herbs like aloe vera and rosemarry is very useful in prevention of acne vulgaris, Once again I would like to say thank you to the blog owner