While attending the Ayurvedic Health Counselor training program at the Himalayan Institute, I learned how to make herbal oils in the ayurvedic tradition. From that point forward, I was fascinated and humbled by the process and I began to make my own oils at home.
There are a variety of ways one can infuse the potent healing power of an herb into an oil. One fairly common practice in western traditions is a cold infusion over a long period of time, allowing the herbs to slowly steep directly in the oil base. The way that I learned, however, is to use heat and water.
Sparing the super technical details, the process of crafting an oil in this manner happens in 2 phases: water decoction phase and oil phase. Basically, I start by simmering the herbs in water until the formula has reduced considerably. After straining the herbs from the water, I then simmer the water decoction with the base oil until all the water has boiled out, leaving a beautifully infused clarified oil.
Why heat? In ayurvedic tradition, the fire element (agni) is a crucial element which wields the power of transformation. Exposing the herbs to water and fire begins the process of transforming and transferring the specific attributes (gunas) and actions (karmas) of the herb into the water base. By reducing the water, it becomes quite concentrated and this in itself is considered a form of herbal medicine. When this water is then boiled together with the oil, the appropriate gunas and karmas from the herb are then transferred to the oil. The power of agni is the catalyst for this process of transformation and assimilation, just as it is for our own digestion.
Depending on the batch size, this process may take me at minimum a few hours and up to 2 days. As I tend to the phases of this process, I chant the mantras taught to me by my teachers to further infuse the oil with intention and prana.
All in all, this process is surely a labor of love. Connecting with the herbs and elements in this way helps connect me to my sense of purpose, source, and inspiration, as well as to the lineage of my teachers and the greater tradition of ayurveda. In many ways, it is a version of personal practice, much like meditation, prayer, or contemplation.
I am grateful and honored to do this work and share it with you. I hope the benefits of these products support your path of wellness, growth, and embodiment.