If you have been to Hamsa Ayurveda & Yoga in Chicago you probably have heard the word ‘thailam.’
A thailam is an oil (usually black seed sesame) that has been medicated with specific herbs, plants, and minerals in order to induce a specific influence on the body and mind. The process of making the thailam is complex and requires significant time and expertise. At this time, we are not aware of anyone making the traditional ayurvedic thailams in the United States. Hamsa uses traditional thailams sourced from hospitals in India that use sustainable and wild crafted herbs and plants to procure their oils.
To make the Thailam:
- The plants are picked only at specific times during the year.
- They are cooked in water to form a decoction (strong tea) and paste.
- The production of ‘paste’ is very difficult and requires strict attention and dedication.
- The paste and decoction are mixed in a base oil (usually black seed sesame).
- The oil is cooked for a period between 2-7 days, continuously stirred, until the water is cooked out.
Ayurvedic practitioners perceive a thailam for its therapeutic effects. They prescribe the oils as part of a healthy lifestyle regiment, or in order to treat imbalances in the mind and body.
Dhanvantari is one common thailam. Traditionally used for women after they have given birth (it is said to help rejuvenate the tissues and tonify the womb), it is also used for post-trauma victims, in cases of sustained injury, or after accidents. Dhanvantari is named after the ayurvedic God, Dhanvatari, in the Vedic tradition who bestows health and alleviates his devotees of disease. It is made with 28 different herbs that have been cooked into the oil over several weeks. It requires close observation and effort procuring the oil and making sure it is not burned.
Ayurvedic treatments use thailams medicinally. In fact, abhyanga (most frequently referred to as ayurvedic massage) uses close to 8 ounces of thailam per treatment.
Shirodhara, one of ayurveda’s ‘bliss therapies’ uses around 32 ounces of thailam. In this treatment warm oil is poured over the third eye, hair line, and scalp in order to sedate and rejuvenate the nervous system. Traditionally, shirodhara was used for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis. Today, ayurvedic practitioners use shirodhara to treat several conditions such as: chronic stress, exhaustion, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Thailams can be used occassionally in a spa setting for stress reduction, antiaging, and rejuvenation. They can be used clinically over a several day or month long period to treat disease conditions. Practitioners advise their clients and patients to come in for abhyanga treatments where technicians use specific strokes that regulate prana (life force energy), however, thailams are very effective when used part of an at home regiment.
In general, ayurvedic thailams:
- Powerfully pacify vata dosha because of their oily, warm, and heavy qualities.
- Protect the internal organs.
- Provide the body with essential fatty acids.
- Reduce excess lymph.
- Aid detoxification.
- Increase immunity and physical strength.
There are numerous thailams that have various effects. Some thailams are used to combat stress, while others regulate the hormonal system. If you are considering adding a thailam to your health regiment, discuss it with a reliable supplier or your ayurvedic practitioner.