15 Ayurvedic Massage Oil Choices Based On Your Dosha

Herbs are processed with oils to prepare Ayurvedic oils. Most of these oils are used for massage, as ear drops, nasal drops, eye drops etc.  Some are used even for oral intake – for example Ksheerabala taila 101

Oil base as per Dosha

Massage oil bases and Doshas –
Sesame oil
– Slightly hot. Ideal for Vata Dosha, can also be used in Kapha.  Read Sesame oil benefits
Coconut oil – Coolant – Ideal for Pitta dosha (or during summer or in high temperature and humid places such as Kerala, India. Not good for Kapha. Read Coconut oil benefits

Castor oil – Slightly hot. Has deep penetrating activity. Useful in Vata and also in Kapha. Read Castor oil benefits
Mustard oil – Very hot. Ideal for Kapha Dosha, okay for Vata Dosha. But not good in high Pitta. Read Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Mustard Oil – Comparison

It makes sense for Pitta person or in summer or for people living in high temperature climates to choose herbal oils prepared with coconut oil. These kinds of oils usually have kera tailam as their last name.
Example –
Ayyappala Keratailam – used in tinea infection, psoriasis etc.
Kayyanyadi Keratailam – used in the treatment of split hairs, grey hairs, hair fall, eye and teeth disorders.

Except for Pitta, for rest of the people, sesame oil based herbal oils are beneficial.

Massage oils for Vata Prakriti

Ideal Ayurvedic massage oils for Vata persons –
High Vata means rough skin, weak muscles, nerves, joints and bones. 
Ksheerabala taila – a very good nerves soothing oil
Balaswagandhadi taila – a very good oil for nerve, muscle, bone strength
Lakshadi taila – for bone and joint care
Mahamasha taila – usually Vata persons will be very weak. This oil is useful to improve muscle strength and bulk.
Read related: Diet And Lifestyle Advice For Vata Dosha Body Type

Massage oils for Pitta Prakriti

Ideal Ayurvedic massage oils for Pitta persons –
Usually suffer with excess body heat, burning sensation, skin disorders 
All oils with coconut oil base.
All skin disease oils such as Manjishtadi taila, Eladi taila, Ayyappala Kera tailam etc are very good for high Pitta people to use for daily massage.
Read related: Ideal Time Duration For Oil Massage – Abhyanga Kaala

Massage oils for Kapha Prakriti

Ideal Ayurvedic massage oils for Kapha persons –
Oils made with castor oil, sesame oil, mustard oil bases suit Kapha persons.
High Kapha may lead to joint and muscle stiffness.
Sahacharadi taila is very useful.
Ginger and such other spice containing oils such as
Marichadi taila
Karpooradi taila
Karpasathyadi taila
Lavana taila etc are very useful in high Kapha persons / disorders.

Massage oils for Tridoshas

Ideal oils for balancing all the three Doshas –
Narayana taila
Mahanarayana taila
Dhanwantaram taila
Read related: Foot massage: Ayurvedic Benefits, How To Do, Importance

Amount of oil

Amount of oil used for different Doshas –
For high Vata patients, usually large quantity of oil is used for massage.
For Pitta, medium and for Kapha, less quantity of oil is used.

Heating of oil

Heating the oil before massage –
Hotness is against Vata and Kapha doshas. Hence, for these two Doshas, oil is taken in a bowl, heated on a water bed to just above room temperature and then used for massage.

Steam therapy

Steam therapy after massage –
For Vata and Kapha patients, usually strong steam therapy is given for longer periods, 10 minutes or so.
For Pitta persons, mild steam therapy for only a few minutes is administered.

Bath after massage

Hot or cold water bath after massage – 
For Vata and Kapha, hot water bath is good. For Pitta, lukewarm water.
Read related: Hot water bath or cold water bath?

Usage of Oils in Various Treatments

Sesame vs Coconut oil

Fundamental difference between the effect of coconut oil and sesame oil on skin  
Most of the herbal oils described in Ayurveda are prepared with sesame oil base. 
In Kerala, coconut oil is used as a base in preparing many oils. Such oils are suffixed with kera tailam. Such as Eladi kera tailam, Nalpamaradi keram etc. 

The basic difference between sesame and coconut oil is – 

Sesame oil is hot and unctuous (oily) and 
Coconut oil is cold and unctuous. 
Read: Sesame and Sesame Oil Benefits, Qualities, Remedies

For Vata Dosha – aches, pains, neurological conditions such as paralysis. 
Sesame oil is the universal oil for the Vata dosha. This is mentioned in the first chapter of the first section of Ashtanga Hrudayam. 
Sesame oil is the default oil to be considered in a formulation, if the type of oil is not specified. 

taile anukte tilodbhavam – Sharangdhara Samhita, Prathama Khanda, 1st chapter. 

From cooking to preparing oil medicines for oral intake and for external application, sesame oil is good. 
Herbal oils for oral intake – such as below, are prepared with sesame oil base. 
Gandha tailam – for the bone and joint health, injury 
Mahanarayana taila, Dhanwantharam taila – for rheumatoid complaints
Ksheerabala taila – for neurological complaints 
Read: Coconut Oil- Bad Or Good, Benefits, Ayurvedic And Contemporary Views

Sesame oil based oils such as Bala Ashwagandhadi taila, Lakshadi taila etc. penetrate deep into the tissues, up to the level of bones. This is because sesame oil is hot and unctuous. Hotness enables the sesame oil to go deep into the bones, muscles and ligaments. 
Read: Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Mustard Oil – Comparison

One small problem with sesame oil is, it is not very suitable for skin diseases. Most of the skin diseases are Pitta dominant. Sesame oil is hot and can increase Pitta dosha. 

This is where coconut oil comes into picture. The coconut oil is moisturizing, skin soothing and it spreads wide on the skin and is more suitable to act on the superficial layers of skin. This is the reason why most of the keram tailams are used in various skin diseases. 

Eg: Ayyapala keratailam – Used for dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema etc. 
Aranyatulasyadi Keratailam – used in fungal infections 
Kayyanyadi Keratailam – hair and scalp skin diseases 
Durvadi keratailam – itching, wound healing 
Dinesavalyadi Keram – for wound healing 
Eladi keram, Nalpamaradi coconut oil etc.
Read: Why Sesame Oil Is Better For Hair Than Coconut Oil

So, on the skin, if you want the oil to penetrate deep and reach muscles and bones, then sesame oil base is good. 
If the oil needs to stay on the skin and for treating skin diseases, coconut oil is good. 
However, there are exceptions on both sides for this theory. 

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