After a hot, sticky summer, you'd think those of us with oily kapha skin would welcome an Arctic blast. But the coldness, dryness, and windiness of the vata season (November to February) combined with indoor heat can wreak havoc on all skin types. Some find their skin itching and flaking, while others find that persistent conditions like dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis grow worse. If you are one of those people, check out these soothing <a href="/health/ayurveda">Ayurvedic solutions.
Fight the flakes. Begin by drinking tea brewed from coriander, bringraj, or dashamula (which can be found at Ayurvedic and Indian stores) to balance the doshas, says Cynthia Copple, director of the Lotus Holistic Health Institute in Capitola, California. Coriander and bringraj have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which can help fight dandruff flare-ups. Dashamula is called the aspirin of Ayurveda; it comes in a tea made from 10 different roots. You can make coriander tea by combining one cup of hot water with one teaspoon of coriander.
Copple also recommends shampooing your hair with an infusion of the herb amala. Add two cups of boiling water to one tablespoon of amala. Let the mixture cool, then strain it through a paper coffee filter. Massage the infusion into your scalp, then rinse. This is best for brown or black tresses, because amala can darken hair color.
Blondes can try this treatment from Pratima Raichur, author of Absolute Beauty (HarperPerennial, 1997): Mix one egg yolk with one-half teaspoon of lemon juice plus two drops of camphor tincture (an anti-inflammatory antiseptic). Apply to your scalp, leave on for 10 minutes, then rinse out with lukewarm water.
Double trouble: psoriasis and eczema. People who suffer from psoriasis (silvery flakes on the scalp or body) and eczema (dry, scaly patches around the joints) often have erratic eating patterns, delaying or often skipping meals. This aggravates the digestive fire, which can result in skin problems, says Copple. Eat at regular intervals and consume easy-to-digest foods, such as basmati rice, soup, mung beans, and nonacidic cooked vegetables. Use spices like cumin, turmeric, and coriander, which help balance the doshas. You can also try a digestive tea made of one-quarter teaspoon each of coriander, turmeric, and red sandalwood combined with one-eighth teaspoon of cumin and one cup of hot water.
For eczema, you can use a paste of one teaspoon of sandalwood, one teaspoon of turmeric, and just enough water to make the paste spreadable. Apply it to the affected area and leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse it off with cool water.