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Indian Beauty, Health Traditions Reborn

Many of the health and beauty treatments we pay top dollar for in the U.S. come from India and are hundreds -- if not thousands -- of years old.

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Body scrubs. Everything from brown sugar to sea salt body scrubs that exfoliate the skin are available at stores and at spas all over the U.S. But again this tradition takes its roots in India. "One very beautiful thing is that at bridal showers the day before a wedding in North India, women are smeared with turmeric pastes and sandalwood on their body and head," Tejpal says. "Both are great for the skin, she says, adding that they are rich in antioxidants and excellent at getting rid of dead cells and making the skin baby soft. "In South India, coconut milk is massaged on the body and hair the day before the wedding, " she says. "This is also a highly, highly moisturizing treatment."

 

You can make your own Indian body scrub with ground chickpeas or rice. "Take it in your hand and scrub your body when you bathe or shower." Sugar scrubs cost a fortune at spas and even do-it-yourself kits can be pricey but Tejpal says that you can make your own using pure limejuice and sugar. "It has zero chemicals and you can use it on your entire body to make skin silky and smooth," she tells WebMD.

 

Her recipe: Use three parts sugar and one part lime juice.

 

Massages. Massage is big business in the U.S. and a growing number of studies are showing that it can have actual medical benefits on a host of conditions including staving off postpartum depression in new mothers and helping premature infants to thrive. "When kids are born in India, mother and child are given a full-body massage for 40 days -- from head to toe -- and then a warm bath to help the body recover," she says. "Now we hear so much more about baby massages here and that they help women to prevent post-partum depression." In India, it works like this: the masseuse comes to the house early in the morning and massages the baby, then bathes him or her and holds him or her in the sun for vitamin D, and then when the baby sleeps, the mom gets a full-body massage and a hot bath.

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