If you’re anything like me, moisturizing your body every day is a must. However, I must admit that the thought of oiling up my belly button has never, ever crossed my mind. I was recently scrolling on TikTok when I came across a video of a woman rubbing her navel with oil while discussing the benefits of doing so. Once I heard that it could ease menstrual cramps, my interest was immediately piqued. She also claimed that navel oil therapy can help with dry lips, problem skin, and fertility issues. As a lover of holistic healing, I decided to take a look into this.
This method, originally known as the Pechoti method or Nabhi Chikitsa, is an ancient Ayurvedic practice and believers claim that it can detoxify, nurture, and treat ailments in the body. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, Ayurveda is an Indian holistic medical system “that’s based on ancient writings that rely on a natural and holistic approach to physical and mental health.”
Ayurveda practitioner, therapist, and holistic wellness educator, Navi Gill, describes this ancient therapy practice and how it can benefit everyday lifestyles.
Q: What’s the importance of oiling the navel?
A: In Ayurveda, the practice of oiling the navel is an ancient one and a part of the therapies called Nabhi (navel) Chikitsa (treatment). The Nabhi is a vital energy point or center.
During pregnancy, the umbilical cord supplies nourishment to the child along with the surrounding blood vessels. These blood vessels also supply nutrients and blood supply to our extremities therefore it is also considered to be a very powerful and sacred physical and spiritual area of the body.
Q: Are there different oils for different purposes?
A: Always consult with a practitioner before starting to know what oil is best for you, but unprocessed sesame, sunflower, or coconut oil and ghee are generally okay to use. We don’t typically use essential oils but if you do, you must dilute in a carrier oil before applying, never apply essential oils directly to the belly button.
- For nourishment and reduction of anxiety and digestion issues, use warm ghee/clarified butter
- For overall skin radiance, use almond oil or coconut oil
- For inflammatory conditions such as rashes or acne, use neem oil
- For cramping, use castor oil or ghee (you can add lavender, ginger, or rose)
Q: What are the different methods of applying oil to the belly button?
A: Nabhi Poorana or Purana: Pooling the navel cavity/depression with a warm herbal or medicated oil or even ghee (clarified butter).
Nabhi Basti: Building a circular well with black gram or chickpea flour and retaining warm medicated oil in the region for a period of time. This is usually done by an Ayurveda practitioner/therapist.
Nabhi Lepa: Lepa means paste, and in Nabhi Lepa, a medicated paste of herbs is applied to the navel area for a period of time.
Q: What are the benefits of oiling your belly button?
A: The benefits depend on the symptom we are trying to resolve, the type of oil used, and the person's constitutional nature. Typically feeling grounded, nourished, calm, clear, and relaxed are some of the benefits.
In Ayurveda, warm oil is used as a carrier for medicinal herbs to be absorbed deeper into the body. Typically, Nabhi Basti and Poorana are very supportive for Vata-related imbalances including gas, constipation, bloating, painful cramping, indigestion, and IBS symptoms.
Q: Is it safe to oil the navel? And how often should the navel be oiled?
A: In Ayurveda, everything is done as a prescribed therapy and under the care of an Ayurveda doctor, practitioner, or therapist. As a general rule always check with your practitioner before starting and avoid any therapies during acute symptoms if you are practicing on your own as it may further aggravate your symptoms.
Q: How can one practice the Pechoti method?
A: On an empty stomach or at least two hours after eating, use warm ghee or recommended oil for your symptoms, lay on your back and pool or apply a few drops to the belly button, and leave the oil in the belly button for 15 to 20 minutes. Gently massage the remaining oil onto the abdomen in a clockwise motion for a few minutes.
Then place a small ball gently only far enough to retain some oil and prevent staining of your clothing from the oil. To be on the safe side, wear something you would not mind getting stained like an old sleep or nightshirt. Leave the oil on overnight and shower as normal in the morning.
For menstruation, it’s best to do this 5 to 7 days prior to the start of the cycle. During the cycle, we generally avoid any detoxification therapies as the body is already undergoing a cleansing process. For pregnancy, it’s also best to avoid any practices unless advised by your healthcare practitioner.
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