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Some common oils and their uses

Almond oil, like the nut, is good for Vata. Usually, however, it is
more commonly used as a massage rather than cooking oil; the same is
true of its relative, apricot.
Both are good demulcent and expectorant oils for cough and
wasting diseases of the lungs and kidneys. They have a soothing
effect upon the skin and muscles, being good for muscle tension and
pain. Almond makes a good massage oil as it is absorbed well and does
not leave the skin greasy like sesame oil. Almond oil has many of the
tonic usages of the nut.

Avocado oil is sweet, astringent, and slightly warm. It
decreases Vata and increases Kapha. It does not overly increase
Pitta. It strengthens the liver and nourishes the skin and is a good
massage oil. It also strengthens the muscles. It goes well with
salads. The flesh of the avocado has the same properties but is more
generally nutritive.

Canola is a light oil that reduces Kapha and Pitta but
aggravates Vata. Its low cholesterol content makes it good for high
cholesterol and obesity but it is not good for debility or dryness

Castor oil is bitter, sweet, warming and pungent in post-
digestive effect. It decreases Vata but increases Pitta and Kapha. It
is an effective purgative for chronic or severe constipation and can
be used on children; Care should be given here as it can cause sever
cramping. It is a good antispasmodic and analgesic for nervous
system disorders like epilepsy and or pain conditions like arthritis.
Externally, as in castor oil packs, it promotes the healing
of sores, wounds, sprains and injuries. It also draws out toxins and
helps reduce tumors and swellings. It is good externally for
abdominal pain, including menstrual cramps. Edgar Casey was a big
advocate of castor oil packs for tumors.
A teaspoon of castor oil in a cup of warm milk with a half
teaspoon of dry ginger taken before sleep is a strong remedy for
clearing the channels (Srotas) and cleansing Ama (toxins).

Corn oil has some drying properties and hence is one of the
better oils for Kapha, though it still tends to increase it. It
increases Vata and decreases Pitta; it can be used by Pitta types
with high cholesterol who cannot use such anti-Pitta oils as coconut
or other palm oils because of their high cholesterol content. Corn
oil is demulcent and diuretic and good for difficult urination and
nourishes the skin.

Coconut is sweet and cool. It decreases Pitta and Vata but
increases Kapha. It is specific for Pitta. It is tonic, emollient and
It nourishes and softens the skin and helps counter
inflammatory skin diseases, psoriasis, eczema, sunburn and burns,
chapped lips. It is also good for dry cough with fever or burning
sensations in the lungs. It increases the reproductive tissue and is
one of the easier oils to digest. However, it can increase high
cholesterol, particularly for Kapha types,

Linseed oil is pungent, sweet and warm in post-digestive
effect; it decreases Kapha and Vata but increases Pitta. It is a good
expectorant for the lungs and helps stop cough. It is also a good
lubricating laxative. It serves to loosen congestion or phlegm and
pull mucus out of the system.

Margarine is made by combining various vegetable oils. It is
better for Kapha and Pitta but may aggravate Vata. It usually only
slightly increases Kapha. It depends upon the oils that compose it,
but is often of a low quality. Soy margarine is usually better and is
particularly good for Kapha.

Mustard oil is pungent, and warm in post-digestive effect. It
decreases Kapha and Vata and increases Pitta. It is specific for
Kapha and is their best cooking oil.
It is stimulant, demulcent and anti-cough and helps loosen
mucus from the lungs, for which purpose it can be rubbed in
externally also. It is good for congestion, cold and feelings of
heaviness in the joints and can be used for arthritic pain and
abdominal pain.

Olive is sweet and neutral. It decreases Vata and Pitta and
increases Kapha. It works primarily on the liver and helps soften
gall stones and congested bile, and is a mild laxative. It also
nourishes the skin and hair.
It is a useful massage oil like sesame but is less heavy and
less sedative and so often better for general use or usage during the
day. It is commonly used in salads.

Peanut is sweet and slightly warm. It decreases Vata but
increases Pitta and Kapha. It is a commonly used inexpensive cooking
oil and often used to adulterate other oils but does not have the
nutritive quality of sesame oil. It is laxative, demulcent and
diuretic and is a little greasy.

Safflower is sweet, pungent and warming. It decreases Kapha
and Vata but increases Pitta. It is a lighter oil and so better for
Kapha. It helps promote circulation, nourishes the heart and blood
and is a good laxative and emmenagogue for difficult or delayed

Sesame oil is sweet and slightly warm. It decreases Vata and
increases Pitta and Kapha. It is tonic, rejuvenative, sedative and
laxative. It is highly nutritious and strengthens all seven tissues
and all seven layers of the skin.
It strengthens the lungs, kidneys, liver and brain. It is
excellent for debility, convalescence and rejuvenation. It calms the
nerves, relieves muscle tension and spasms and allays pain. It helps
relieve anxiety, tremors, insomnia and convulsions. It is also good
for dry cough and chronic constipation and improves voice and vision.
It aids in the growth of hair, nails, teeth and bones. It is good for
children and the elderly. It is the most deeply penetrating of all
the oils. Sesame is the best general oil for Vata and the most
nourishing of the vegetable oils. It is highly Sattvic (pure) and the
best oil for the yogic diet.

Soy is astringent, slightly cool and sweet. It is one of the
better oils for Pitta and Kapha but may aggravate Vata. It is
demulcent, diuretic and nourishes the skin.

Sunflower is sweet, slightly cool and sweet. It is one of the
better oils for pitta and Kapha and will not aggravate Vata. It is
good for cough and heat in the lungs and nourishes the skin.
It is much like coconut oil in its external usage. It is good
for sunburn, burns, skin rashes, wound and sores.

Sesame oil is the preferred oil in Ayurveda unless you have a Pitta
or kapha problem… hope this was helpful…


  1. This is a great breakdown of common oils and there ayurvedic applications. I have found coconut oil to be very helpful both externally and internally. If you are looking for additional information on healthy oils check out Udo Erasmus's books.

  2. this is amazing..they use a wide variety of oils ...and they are very effective I guess.

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  4. Avocado oil amazing works. I used it.