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Ayurveda and The Elemental Qualities of Essential Oils

“Just like foods, essential oils have qualities that are either suited for an individual or contribute to an imbalance. Every scent is made up of some combinations of the five elements. As a result, they have their own unique combinations of the ten pairs of opposite qualities. Knowing the major qualities of the aroma will tell you a lot about its effects on the mind. Clues to the elemental makeup of an aromatic scent and its qualities are found in an oil’s taste and also in the part of the plant used to make the essential oil. Each of the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, astringent) can be identified in certain aromas. While we don’t physically taste the aroma, we use the same terminology of the six tastes to describe the aromatic experience. 

All aromas have a generally subtle, light and flowing quality. This is because the element ether predominates in all aromas. The etheric qualities of aromas allow them to waft through the air, expanding their influence outward until their aromatic qualities dissipate. Since ether is predominant in all aromas, to some degree, all aromas increase the vata dosha. This is particularly true when aromatic qualities are very strong. While aromas exist within a field of ether, other elements and their qualities mix with ether to create the overall effect.”

Excerpt from “Healing Your Life, Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda,” by Dr. Marc Halpern, Founder of the California College of Ayurveda.

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