As we traverse through the cold weather prevalent in many parts of India, several seasonal issues, such as dry skin and cracked palms and feet, become prevalent. This is particularly common among individuals with dominant kapha and vata constitutions. Ayurveda notes an increase in rooksha (dry) and sheetha (cold) guna during the cold season, affecting those with similar qualities.
Understanding Twak (Skin) in Ayurveda
Twak represents the quality of rasa dhatu, the first metabolite after digestion, which further transforms into different tissues. Dry skin in the winter season (hemantha and shishira rithu in Ayurveda) can be associated with an imbalance in vata and kapha doshas. Correcting these imbalances is crucial in preventing such issues.
Hemantha and Shishira Rithu Charya (Winter Season Regimen)
During these seasons, the atmosphere is characterised by mist and cold breezes, leading to an increase in vata and internal heat. To counteract this, proper hydration and consumption of heavy-to-digest foods are recommended. External application of warm, medicated oils through abhyanga (oil massage) is advised, with oils such as nalpamaradi kera tailam, eladi kera tailam, and others proving beneficial.
Abhyanga—External Oil Application
Applying warm oil externally daily before bathing can effectively restore the skin’s lustre and smoothness, preventing dryness. Specific medicated oils may be recommended based on individual needs, such as nalpamaradi kera tailam, eladi kera tailam, lakshadi tailam, and dhanwantaram tailam. Common oils like sesame oil, coconut oil, and mustard oil can also be used, considering the nature, spatial, and seasonal variations.
To achieve optimal results, it’s advisable to gently warm the oil before application. Direct heating is generally avoided for best results. Instead, the oil can be heated by steaming it over boiling water or by preheating the vessel before pouring the oil. The application of oil should last for a minimum of 15-20 minutes and a maximum of 45 minutes to ensure an optimal response.
Intake of materials providing lubrication, such as ghee, clarified butter, and medicated milk, is recommended during winter. The quantity is determined by an individual’s agni (metabolic fire), typically around one tea spoon (five gm) per day for vata individuals and during bedtime for at least 12 hours for pitta individuals.
Foods with predominantly sweet, sour, and salty tastes are favoured. Heavier-to-digest items like tubers and meat can be included, along with special products from black gram, freshly harvested grains, and milk products.
Additional External Applications
For severe cracking of palms and feet, especially with painful discharges, boiling water infused with triphala churnam, nalpamra churnam, etc. can be employed under the guidance of a healthcare expert.
The author is a Professor at the Department of Panchakarma,
Ashtamgam Ayurveda Medical College, Kerala