top of page

6 Best Ayurvedic Massage Oils to Ease Your Common Complaints

Updated: Jan 4

Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old science that comes to us from India, uses oils infused with herbs to help bring balance to the body. This post will explore the best massage oils to ease your common complaints. Mahanarayan Oil, Kshirabala Oil, Anu Oil, Dhanvwantharam Oil, Kumkumadi Oil, and Cheriya Bhringamalakadi Oil are all oils used for different conditions and complaints.

Kottakkal Ayurveda ad

Kottakkal is the company that I recommend for purchasing these oils. Their oils are based on traditional formulas, prepared in India, and distributed from upstate NY. I use these oils often in my treatments with clients and on my own body. If you purchase through the links on this page, I will receive a commission from the sale.

How are Ayurvedic Oils Made?

The process of making Ayurvedic herbal oils is quite beautiful. Herbs are first cooked in water based on a specific time for each herb depending on the part of the plant that is used. Roots take a longer time to cook and flowers take much less time to cook. The stamen of a flower, like saffron, takes very little time to cook. Some traditional formulas use 40-50 different substances to make one oil. The herbs are strained out of the water and then added to the sesame oil (in most cases, but other oils are sometimes used). At this point in the process, cow's milk, goat's milk, or other unique ingredients like a kalka, or paste of herbs, may be added. This mixture will then cook until all of the water evaporates out with the end product being herb-infused oil.

dried herbs used in best Ayurvedic oils
Dried herbs like those used in the best Ayurvedic oils at a shop in Kathmandu, Nepal

Hopefully, you can now understand all of the time and effort that goes into making Ayurvedic oils, and why they feel so rich and luxurious on your skin.

Ayurvedic oils are very different from essential oils, which are made from distilling plant matter down to its essence.

How to Use the 6 Best Massage Oils

Ayurveda recommends daily self-massage with these warm, herb-infused oils. Daily oiling of the body helps to reduce vata dosha. When vata dosha goes out of balance, the body becomes dry, there's excess movement, and there may be feelings of anxiety, worry, fear, insecurity, and loneliness (read more about Vata Dosha Characteristics). Read Self-Love with Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Massage to learn more about how to massage your body with Ayurvedic herb-infused oils.

self-massage with Ayurvedic oils

1. Mahanarayan Oil: Best Massage Oil for Pain

Mahanarayan Oil is a traditional Ayurvedic formula that contains at least 12 and up to 57 different herbs, depending on each company's specific formulation. and is the best massage oil for pain. According to Sebastian Pole in his book Ayurvedic Medicine1, the following herbs are infused into sesame oil in the traditional Mahanarayan Oil formula found in the Bhaiṣajya Ratnāvali, a traditional Ayurvedic text:

  • ashwagandha

  • saffron

  • vacha--calamus

  • tagarah--Indian valarian

  • licorice

  • sandalwood

  • shatavari

  • jatamansi--Indian spikenard

  • guggulu--Indian myrrh

  • bala--Indian country mallow

  • gokshura--puncture vine fruit

  • bilva--bael fruit

Pole also indicates that it is used specifically for:

  • sciatica pain

  • gout

  • lung congestion (applied on the chest and upper back)

  • breathing problems (also applied on the chest and upper back)

  • impotence

Another sources tell us that Mahanaraya Oil helps with:

  • inflammation

  • joint pain

  • arthritis

  • muscle pains2

kottakkal mahanarayan best massage oil for pain

2. Kshirbala Oil: Best Massage Oil for the Nervous System

Kshirabala Oil is a traditional Ayurvedic formula that is the best massage oil for the nervous system. It is made from a decoction of bala (Indian country mallow), cow's milk, and sesame oil.

Sebastian Pole tells us that it is excellent for cases of nervous system exhaustion, especially when accompanied by spasms, sciatica, low back aches, and other pain.3 It is used to treat insomnia, arthritis, and central nervous system disorders.4 Research shows that Kshirabala Oil can reverse oxidative stress (created by low antioxidant levels) that can lead to neurotoxicity (toxic substances altering the nervous system).4 Oxidative stress can increase the risk of epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, chronic degenerative disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, diabetes, and cancer.5 It helps to reduce inflammation, reduce joint pain, strengthen muscles, send nutrition to bones and muscles, and reduce muscular atrophy as well as fibromyalgia.5 It is traditionally used in cases of facial paralysis, insomnia, and macular degeneration.5

While this Kshirabala Oil is great to use on the body for abhyanga, self-massage with warm oil, it is also an excellent oil to use on the head. I currently oil all of my clients' heads with Kshirabala Oil during treatments to help soothe the nervous system.

Kottakkal kshirabala best massage oil for the nervous system

3. Anu Oil: Best Massage Oil Used for Nasya (Oil Application in the Nostrils)

Anu Oil is a remedy specifically used to clear congestion and toxins from the head, according to Sebastian Pole.6 He goes on to tell us the ingredients of this oil include:

  • devadaru--Himalayan cedar wood

  • cinnamon

  • sariva--Indian Sarsparilla

  • daruharidra--Indian berberry

  • licorice

  • cardamom

  • vetiver

  • mustaka-- nut grass

  • sandalwood

  • triphala

  • bilva--Bael fruit

  • lotus stamen

  • and other herbs

The practice of nasya, oiling the nose, helps to lubricate the mucus membranes, which reduces the chance of germs penetrating the mucus membranes. It also helps the cilia in the nose prevent airborne irritants from entering the sinuses.

Nasya with Anu Oil can be performed in the mornings to help clear the head and sinuses before starting your day. It can be done at night to soothe vata or at noontime to soothe pitta. In the summer, nighttime nasya is beneficial, and in the winter noon or morning oiling of the nose is better.7

kottakkal anu oil best massage oil for the nostrils

4. Dhanwantharam Oil: Best Massage Oil for Depletion and Vata

Dhanwnatharam Oil is a beautiful herb-infused formula that is excellent for rebuilding when there is depletion. It's often used post-delivery for new mothers to help them to recuperate. It's also amazing for any vata disorders.

According to Kerala Ayurveda, it benefits the body by:

  • calming vata disorders

  • relieving acute or chronic pain presenting with stiffness and an inability to move

  • benefiting those with paralysis

  • reducing wasting of the tissues and the body

  • alleviating physical weakness

  • strengthening muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as other tissues of the body

  • acting as a nervine (calming to the nerves) and protecting the nerve cells from being damaged

  • supporting the musculoskeletal system, reducing pain from arthritis, knee pain, osteoarthritis, and backache

  • benefiting those with rheumatic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis

  • nourishing during the pregnancy and postpartum

They go on to tell us that the main ingredients of Dhanwantharam Oil are:

  • bala moola--Indian country mallow root

  • yaya--barley

  • kola--Indian jujube

  • Kulattha--horse gram (a legume)

  • dashamoola--a blend of 10 very potent roots

  • sesame oil

  • and more

kottakkal dhanwantharam oil best massage oil for vata

5. Kumkumadi Oil: Best Massage Oil for the Face

Kumkumadi Oil (sometimes spelled Kunkumadi) is the oil that I use for my clients on their faces during treatments, and I use it for myself during the fall and winter months. It's the best massage oil for the face and this oil is well known in India for its benefits for the complexion. According to Kumkumadi Oil has antioxidants and anti-bacterial qualities that improve blood circulation in the face and rejuvenate the skin cells.8

They go on to tell us some of the benefits of Kumdumadi Oil including:

  • improves complexion

  • discourages wrinkling of the skin

  • deters acne and pimples

  • reduces dark spots, dark circles under the eyes, and blemishes

  • may work as a sunscreen

  • heals wounds

Netmeds also shares some of the top ingredients of this traditional formula:

  • kumkum--saffron

  • manjistha--Indian madder

  • chandana--sandalwood

  • turmeric

  • vetiver

  • Indian lotus

kottakkal kunkumadi oil best massage oil for face

6. Cheriya Bhringamalakadi Oil: Best Massage Oil for the Hair

Cheriya Bhringaraja Oil is one of the best massage oils for the head because it is said to reduce hair loss and greying. Its main herbal ingredients are bhringaraja (an herb known for promoting hair growth) and amla.

  • millk

  • sesame seed oil

  • bhringaraja--eclipta

  • amla

  • licorice

Sebastian Pole lists the main benefits of bhringaraja, one of the main herbal ingredients in this oil, as9:

  • rejuvenates hair

  • reduces hair loss for women

  • prevents against balding

  • reduces greying of hair

And Kottakkal shares these benefits of Cheriya Bhringamalakadi Oil:

  • cooling for the head and scalp

  • reduces burning sensations and pain

  • produces sound sleep

  • calms the mind

kottakkal cheriya bhringamalakadi oil best massage oil for hair

Tell Me Your Experience with the 6 Best Ayurvedic Massage Oils to Ease Your Common Complaints

I would love to hear if you have any of your own experiences with any of these oils and any benefits that you have seen after using them for a while. Please like this post and leave a comment in the comment section.

  1. Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. 2nd ed., Singing Dragon, 2013. pp. 314.

  2. Kumar, Satyendra, et al. "In Vitro Anti-inflammatory Effects of Mahanarayan Oil Formulations Using Dendritic Cells Based Assay." Researchgate.Net, 1 Dec. 2014, Accessed 7 Nov. 2023.

  3. Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. 2nd ed., Singing Dragon, 2013. pp. 314.

  4. Swathy, S S, and M Indira. “The Ayurvedic drug, Ksheerabala, ameliorates quinolinic acid-induced oxidative stress in rat brain.” International Journal of Ayurveda Research vol. 1,1 (2010): 4-9. doi:10.4103/0974-7788.59936. Accessed 7 Nov. 2023.

  5. Ghore, Dr. Jaya K., et al. "Systemic Review on Benefits of Ksheerbala Taila." Natural Volatiles & Essential Oils, vol. 8, no. 5, 2021, pp. 9629-9643, Accessed 7 Nov. 2023.

  6. Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. 2nd ed., Singing Dragon, 2013. pp. 314.

  7. Foundations of Āyurveda. Kripalu Schools, 2019, 3.6.

  8. "Kumkumadi Tailam: Benefits, Uses, Ingredients, Method, Dosage And Side Effects." Netmeds.Com, 19 Nov. 2021, Accessed 8 Nov. 2023.

  9. Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. 2nd ed., Singing Dragon, 2013. pp. 141.

157 views0 comments


Upcoming 6-Month Deep Dive Into Ayurveda to Feel Fully Alive Series
Every other Sunday starting Sept 8
Early Bird 20% Discount code:

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

This blog provides general information and discussions about health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website, or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

bottom of page