Herbal Body Oiling 101

If you are invested in practicing self care, finding moments of stillness and gratitude, and connecting more deeply to yourself and healing plants, then herbal body oiling might just become your new best friend.  It is one of the simplest and oh-so-satisfying practices you can add to your daily life, and once you begin you will wonder how you lived for so long without it!

Why Body Oiling?

Body oiling not only nourishes your skin and keeps it soft and supple, but it also calms your mind and soothes your nervous system.  You see, our skin has a powerful influence on our nervous system - all of our little nerve endings end in our skin!  So when we soothe our skin we soothe our nerves.  It does this in two ways:

Protection: Oil provides a protective layer that helps keep the elements out and water in, so we don't get dehydrated.  When our skin is dehydrated, it sets our nerves on edge.  It makes us dry, anxious and irritable.  The act of body oiling soothes and hydrates our skin, and literally helps weigh us down so we become more grounded.  It sooths and calms the nervous system. 

Touch: If you have ever experienced a warm embrace in a time of sorrow or received a massage in a time of stress, you have first hand experience in the power of touch on the nervous system.  Touch is an absolutely essential part of the human experience and many studies have shown the importance of touch on our health and wellbeing.  And the good news is you don't always have to depend on your massage therapist!  When you practice body oiling you are essentially giving yourself a massage, and you will find your body craves the touch, even if it's from your own hands.

Aside from calming your nervous system, gently but firmly massaging oil into your skin helps promote circulation and helps move your lymph to keep your immune system strong.  It can also help relax your muscles and lubricate your joints, easing minor aches and pains.  

Herbal Oils

For thousands of years, humans have infused herbs into oil to extract their beneficial properties.  Once infused, this oil can be applied to the body so that the qualities of the herbs can be absorbed through the skin.  Whether using these oils for spiritual practice, ritual, or medicinal purposes, this is not just a new trendy idea; it is deeply ingrained in the human experience and is practiced across the world in traditional culture and medicine.

Herbal oils are a beautiful way to customize your body oiling practice.  Every day your body and mind are in flux, and in a different state than the day before.  Herbs each have their own unique set of beneficial properties and energetics that you can take advantage of.  For example, some herbs are cooling and some are warming.  Some are moistening and some are drying.  Some calm the nervous system, some stimulate it.  And so on and so forth.  We can choose herbal oils based on our needs for the time of day, our personal state and the season to help bring us closer to a state of balance.

When I talk about herbal oils, I am not talking about essential oils. I am talking about whole plants infused into organic oils, a process which captures a much more broad and synergistic range of the herbs' beneficial compounds than the essential oil distillation process does.  Aside from being a more holistic product, it is insanely more sustainable and herbal oils are safer to use for the whole family and much less likely to cause adverse reactions.  (Unless you have an allergy to a specific plant inside the oil.)

How To

Body oiling can be practiced with any good quality oil you have in your cupboard, such as olive, coconut or raw sesame, etc.  Get started with what you have!  If you would like to make the practice more powerful and specific to your needs, you might choose to use herbal oils.

All you do is massage oil onto your skin.  It's really that simple!

If you've never done this before, let's break it down.  A great time to oil your skin is right after a warm shower when your pores are open and your skin is still damp, making it very easy for the oil to be absorbed into your skin.  You can focus on one small area of the body (like your feet), or your body as a whole.  Get a small amount of oil, decide where you want to use it, and gently but firmly rub it in until your skin has soaked it up.  Some oils take longer to soak in (sesame) and some absorb quickly (coconut MCT).  If you have a little too much on you can towel off or sit and relax a while while you wait for it to soak in. 

The first time I tried it I decided I was just going to do a small area around my neck and shoulders.  But it felt so good the rest of my body started to get jealous and I ended up oiling my whole body!  Honestly, this is what almost always happens to me.

You don't have to be dripping in oil.  I hate being oily!  Start with a small amount, massage it in until it is fully absorbed, then add more if needed.  

Other Herbal Oiling Ideas

Your practice can be as simple or as intricate as you like, and it might change from day to day.  Other ideas include massaging your feet after a long day standing or just before bed, massaging your hands and forearms after hours on the computer, massaging your scalp and neck when you have a headache, and even massaging your ears.  (You should try it - it's amazing!)  In fact, hands, feet and ears are covered in nerve endings and acupressure points and are great places to massage to make a larger impact on the whole body!  

Finally, if you are looking for more specific, detailed practices, I recommend reading up on the Ayurvedic practice of abhyanga and giving it a try or looking up self lymphatic massage techniques on You Tube!

Want to give herbal body oiling a try?

Check out our line of herbal infused body oils here.  They are made with love in small batches from sustainably harvested and ethically sourced plants from around the world.  They have a base of organic coconut MCT oil to help them absorb quickly and leave you without that greasy feel, and they come in a convenient dropper bottle so you can easily measure out just the right amount.

Have you tried herbal body oiling?  Let us know what you think!

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