Ayurveda is one of the most ancient medical traditions practiced in India. Atharvaveda, Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita are its main classics, giving detailed descriptions for management of aging and related conditions. The use of Ayurvedic herbs was not only directed towards developing an attractive external appearance, but towards achieving longevity with good health. The Sanskrit terms of anti-aging activity described in Ayurveda are Vayasthapana (age defying), Varnya (brighten skin-glow), Sandhaniya (cell regeneration), Vranaropana (healing), Tvachya (nurturing), Shothahara (anti-inflammatory), Tvachagnivardhani (strengthening skin metabolism) and Tvagrasayana (retarding aging). Many of these practices strongly depend on the season (Rutus) as well as daily routine (Dinacharya) has an subtle importance of its own.
Ayurveda considers Rasāyana as one of the foremost branches of Astānga Ayurveda. The word Rasāyana should not be mistaken as a therapy exclusively related to old age. It can be applied from pediatrics to geriatrics. Suśruta defies Rasāyana as a measure, which prolongs and provides positive health, improves mental faculties and provides resistance and immunity against diseases. Charaka states that the means of obtaining optimum nourishment to the Dhātus are called Rasāyanas. Hence Rasyanas are good to be adopted to stop as well as reverse the accelerating or triggering of an early onset of aging. Many rasayana plants such as Emblica officinalis (Amla) and Centella asiatica (Gotukola) are extensively used.
According to Ayurveda Human body functions through various channel systems called “Srotas”, containing both microscopic and macroscopic structures such as the respiratory system, lymphatic/circulatory system, reproductive system and nervous systems, among others. These channels function as innumerable psycho-biological processes such as enzyme production, neuro-transmitter secretion, hormonal intelligence, respiratory capacity and digestive assimilation/elimination, immune power etc and responsible for wellness and beauty. These act rhythmically and in concert with one another to perform complex decision-making regarding the supply of nutrients, filtration of toxins, excretion of wastes and much more. If waste materials are insufficiently metabolized, toxins or incompletely processed foods and experiences can become deposited in weak areas of the body. If unaddressed, these can become a disease. Weak zones occur in the body due genetic factors or more commonly, lifestyle factors, such as unhealthy food choices, stress or environmental influences. These toxins or unprocessed metabolic deposits can cloud the normal psycho-biological cellular intelligence and loss body luster and beauty.
Panchakarma therapy is both preventative for healthypeople to maintain and improve excellent cellular function, and curative for those experiencing disease. The Ama (toxic materials inside our body) make a person ugly and diseased and Sodhana/panchakarma (Purification) is the best therapeutic intervention to eliminate body toxins. It is a highly complex and sophisticated science of purification of the body/mind.
Water is a major component for keeping skin in good condition. Water originates in the deeper epidermal layers and moves upward to hydrate cells in the stratum corneum in the skin, eventually being lost to evaporation. Snehana and Swedana bring moisture to our skin. It gives our skin greater elasticity and rejuvenates skin tissues. As cells in our face make their way to the surface over their lifecycle, they die and become saturated with keratin, or skin debris. Keratin is important because it protects your skin from the elements but the shedding of that outer layer can unclog pores. Snehana and Swedan are believed to be inhibit trans-epidermal water loss, restoring the lipid barrier and restore the amino-lipid of the skin.
According to Ayurveda, a number of factors determine skin health and youthfulness. These include:
Proper moisture balance (Kapha in balance)
- Effective functioning of the metabolic mechanisms that coordinate all the various chemical and hormonal reactions of the skin (Pitta in balance)
- Efficient circulation of blood and nutrients to the different layers of the skin (Vata in balance)
The health of the following three dhatus (types of body tissue) are especially reflected in the skin: nutritional fluid (Rasa), blood (Rakta) and muscle (Mamsa). Rasa supports all the body tissues, particularly keeping the skin healthy, Rakta, in association with liver function, helps detoxify the skin of toxins, while Mamsa provides firmness to the skin. An effective Ayurvedic anti-aging cosmeceutical should provide support to all these three areas.
For vata skin to stay youthful, skin care products that can nourish and rehydrate the skin should be used, otherwise it may be susceptible to wrinkles and premature aging. Warm oil self-massage and all natural moisturizers may help.
For pitta skin, good sunscreens for protection from the sun, and good facial skin oils should be used daily. Tanning treatments and therapies that expose delicate sensitive skin for extended periods of time to steam/heat should be avoided.
For kapha skin, a daily warm oil massage and cleansing of skin with gentle exfoliant should be performed.
The aging process is a challenging human experience common to everyone, and the desire to look young prevails in the majority of us. The latest trends in beauty, health and wellness sectors are giving rise to new of possibilities by fusing anti-aging cosmeceuticals with traditional Indian medicine. Ayurveda offers vast amounts of information on principles of anti-aging activity, skin care and anti-aging herbs, helping in the exploration of possibilities of developing new anti-aging cosmeceuticals with natural ingredients for topical applications.
Ayurvedic Herbs like Centella asiatica (Gotu-Kola), sandalwood, vetiver, Indian madder, Indian sarsaparilla, Sensitive Plant, Silk Cotton Tree, Costus and Rose Petal, Gum resin, exudates of Boswellia serrata, Grapefruit extract and natural sources of Vitamins A, C and E, Rose petal, and Aloe Vera are commonly used herbs for anti aging.
Phyllanthus emblica (amalaki), a potent antioxidant, rich in Vitamin C, tannins and gallic acid, is foremost amongst the anti-aging drugs (vayasthaprana) or best amongst the rejuvenating herbs; it has properties like rasayana (adaptogenic), ajara (usefulness in aging), ayushprada (prolongs cell life), sandhaniya (improves cell migration and cell binding) and kantikara (improves complexion).