Hippocrates, one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine was once asked what the secret of his good health was. He answered that it was his bathing routine and consumption of honey. Our ancestors were all hale and lived longer and for this they didn’t do anything extra special. They toiled hard, had their meals on time and more importantly took their bathing rituals quite seriously. And this always, without fail began with an elaborate oil massage session. Most often the oil was made lovingly in their homes. An oil bath has been proven to be the best known remedy for a number of ailments that otherwise cannot not be cured by medicines.
How to bathe
Bathing should essentially be done only after an oil massage. Oil should be first applied on the head, the epicenter of all the nerve points of the body. Both water and oil are absorbed into the body through the head. Swelling is often a result of excess water being pulled in through the head. There used to be a time when the monsoons were not the 'fever' season. Earlier they used to strictly follow the practice of rubbing oil on the head before bathing and due to this water or sweat would not pass through the head to cause colds , fever or swelling.
Cold compressed coconut oil
The best oil to apply on the scalp is the one without any water content. Cold compressed coconut oil may have some amount of water and hence there are possibilities of catching a cold or lymph node swelling. Oil should ideally be made hot by leaving it out in the sun for sometime or by heating it with a concoction of small onions, tulsi leaves or other herbs. Such oil is beneficial to reduce water retention in parts of the body, or as a cure for consistent colds, headache, sinusitis, tonsillitis, asthma, allergy or even joint pain.
The best time to bathe
Though Keralites are super smart when it comes their bath rituals, bathing at unusual times is a sure shot way to welcome ailments. Morning, evening or dusk are the best times to have a bath. Morning baths have a way of improving one's health, energizing and extending longevity. Noon and midnight baths should be avoided and bathing soon after a meal is also not advisable. The water should be first poured on the head. Always use only cold water for the head. You may use hot water for the body after pouring cold water on the head. Bathing the body first may lead to the body heat getting transferred to the head and this will result in hair loss, headaches or other diseases. Pouring hot water on the head is bad for the hair and the eyes. The last mug of cold water should be poured on the head and feet just before you end your bath.
Applying oil on the body
Massaging the body with oil is great for general well-being and to get rid of fatigue. There is no harm in doing this everyday. You should apply oil on the scalp, the ears and under your feet. Applying oil on your ears helps to cool the legs and applying it under your feet can keep your eyes healthy. Applying oil on the eyelids can help maintain dental health. Light massaging of the body is good for blood circulation once the oil is applied. Gingerly or sesame oil is the best oil for the body.
(The author is the Chief Medical Officer, Govt. Ayurveda Hospital, Paravur, Kollam)