Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ayurvedic Therapies - Part 3: Gharshana (Ayurvedic Dry Skin Brushing)

Dr. Leena Athparia, ND, AAWC

Ayurvedic Therapies Series: 
What is Ayurveda and What Can it Treat?
Part 1 - Nasya (Nasal Herbal Oil Application) 
Part 2 - Kati Basti (Herbal Oil Treatment for Back Issues)

Next in this series of Ayurvedic Therapies, we will explore Part 3: Gharshana, a traditional Ayurvedic form of dry skin brushing, suitable for this spring season.

Gharshana (or Garshana) Treatment:

Gharshana involves massaging the body vigorously with gloves or herbs to stimulate blood & lymphatic circulation, tonify the skin and release accumulated toxins. It is often used in conjunction with weight loss or detox plans, as the skin is one of the routes of natural detoxification.

According to Ayurveda, friction on the skin increases agni. Agni can be described as a spark of fire (Sanskrit origin of the word "ignite") which is the source of metabolic activity. In the cold winter months, agni is often at it's lowest. You may experience fatigue, dullness, low motivation and sluggish digestion. The metabolism is slower, and needs agni to kickstart things. Agni can be boosted with certain herbs, daily lifestyle practices, exercise, yoga as well as therapies like abhyanga or gharshana.

In Ayurvedic medicine, the skin is used as a method to apply therapeutic herbs and oils to reach into the deeper layers of the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the body which expels waste products (such as sweat) and absorbs products such as creams, lotions or oils. Gharshana is a way of stimulating the skin to detox, while providing a route for medicinal herbs to do their work.

How to do Gharshana:

A simple form of Gharshana can be done at home on your own (known as dry skin brushing), prior to showering. Instructions on how to do dry skin brushing: http://www.naturopathicfoundations.ca/files/7513/7088/0736/NF13_Dry_Skin_Brushing.pdf

Gharshana traditionally was done with raw silk gloves as a therapeutic treatment (part of the 5-fold detox program known as Panchakarma) by an Ayurvedic practitioner. Therapeutic herbs can also be used for their exfoliating and medicinal qualities. This can help stimulate weight loss by removing toxins from the body and stimulating fat tissue. Gharshana is very beneficial in Kapha body types as it stimulates agni and warms skin that generally tends to be cool and moist. Gharshana therapy can be done in other constitutions as well; Vata type may benefit from an abhyanga (oil massage) prior to gharshana exfoliation, and Pitta types may benefit from skin & blood cleansing herbs such as neem and manjistha.

Speak with your Ayurvedic practitioner for more details on Gharshana treatment customized for you and your health concerns.

Benefits of Gharshana:

  • Promotes weight loss 
  • Supports detoxification 
  • Improves lymphatic circulation 
  • Tones the skin 
  • Enhances circulation 
  • Reduces cellulite 

Gharshana treatments can be done regularly. Self-care Gharshana may take 5-10 minutes, and a treatment done by a practitioner may last up to an hour if combined with abhyanga oil massage. For best benefits, it is recommended to work with a practitioner to tailor a detox treatment with diet, herbs and other recommendations.

If you are wanting to detox or already taking detox herbs, Gharshana may be just what you need to support your skin's natural detoxification! Spring is the perfect time for a detox, inside and out!

All Ayurvedic therapies are customized according to your constitution and health concerns. It is advised to have an initial naturopathic consultation with Dr. Leena Athparia, ND before proceeding to ayurvedic therapies so that the treatments can be customized according to your needs. To book an appointment, contact Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

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