Mahanarayan oil, also known as mahanarayana thailam, is a preparation widely used in Ayurvedic medicine due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and soothing qualities. It’s made from a base of sesame oil processed with various medicinal herbs.
Anecdotal data suggests that its application through massage can soothe the symptoms of arthritic, muscular, and bone problems. Some people even take it in small doses to enhance its effects. So, is it safe? Is there evidence? Here, we’ll tell you all about it.
What is mahanarayan oil made of?
Mahanarayan oil is prepared from sesame oil, camphor oil and herbs with pharmacological properties. According to an article published in World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, the plants are often used as follows: Arjuna, Ashwagandha, Cardamom, Clove, Dashamula (an Ayurvedic preparation combining ten different herbs, including tribulus), Fennel, Ginger, Licorice, Neem, Phyllanthus, Shatavari, Tulsi, Turmeric, Valerian
The process to elaborate this oil has been the same for about 1000 years:
- To begin with, we purify the oil and add the extract of the herbs in a procedure known as murchan draya.
- This is followed by another preparation step called kalka draya, which involves adding more pulverized herbs to make a paste.
- Finally, the kwath draya step in which the preparation is heated to separate the water from the essential oils.
Main uses of mahanarayan oil
Most often, people use mahanarayan oil topically to reduce muscle tension and pain. Proponents suggest that its consumption in small doses (2 to 5 milliliters) promotes the relief of osteoarthritis and arthritis symptoms. However, there’s no scientific evidence of these effects. What’s more, scientists aren’t really even sure if it’s completely safe.
Therefore, its main applications are usually external. In this sense, massages of up to 40 minutes are recommended to help treat the following health problems:
- Stress and anxiety,
- Joint and bone problems,
- Muscular pains,
- Sexual function problems,
- Circulatory disorders.
Potential benefits of mahanarayan oil
However, it’s important to keep in mind that many of the properties attributed to mahanarayan oil come from anecdotal data. To date, there’s no scientific research to support the effects attributed to it. Nor do we know what dosages are safe and effective.
Still, there are preliminary studies that speak about the beneficial effects of the herbs in this product. For instance, a review article reported in the journal Foods notes that turmeric, whose active compound is curcumin, helps reduce inflammation and pain when used topically.
Similar effects have been shown with ginger, neem, licorice and other plants. Also, a publication in the Journal of Neuroscience states that camphor acts as an analgesic, since it inhibits the activity of two participants of the transient receptor potential (TRP) channels associated with pain.
Risks and contraindications
The lack of research on this oil prevents us from knowing its level of safety and efficacy in the medium and long term. Although Ayurvedic medicine considers it safe to ingest minimal doses of the product (except in cases of poor appetite and digestive problems), specialists don’t recommend this type of administration.
Some fear that, in some people, topical application of the oil may cause unwanted reactions, such as redness and irritation. Therefore, before using it in its entirety, it’s ideal to do a small sensitivity test. Simply apply a minimal amount to an area of skin and wait at least 24 hours. So, if there aren’t any symptoms, you can use it without any problems.
Doctors contradict mahanarayan oil for pregnant and breastfeeding women, people taking medication, children, and also patients with anorexia or food aversion. In addition, you should resolve any doubts in this regard with your doctor.
Therefore, improper and imprudent use of this product can lead to health complications. Whether it’s inadequate dosage, misapplication, or ignorance of the instructions for use, problems such as the following may occur:
- Lack of appetite and digestive problems,
- Taste changes,
- Formation of toxic metabolites,
- Malabsorption syndrome,
- Cold sensation,
- Itching and skin discomfort.
In conclusion, professionals should perform therapies with mahanarayan oil in Ayurvedic medicine. Otherwise, the aforementioned complications may occur. However, you must remember that no institution regulates this type of product and, therefore, their composition may vary according to the manufacturer.
If you still want to use it, then you should buy the preparation in specialized natural products stores. Of course, it’s advisable to read the label to get to know all the relevant information.
In any case, keep in mind that its use doesn’t replace any conventional treatment and you shouldn’t consider it a first choice to soothe ailments.