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Hair fall is a common problem that affects both genders. While it is normal to lose a few strands of hair every day, a longer duration of untreated hair fall can eventually lead to baldness, especially in males.
Hair loss generally occurs due to chemical treatments, medications, stress, nutritional deficiencies, dandruff, hormonal imbalance, and other medical conditions. Additionally, Ayurvedic science mentions that an increase in your pitta dosha, caused by toxin buildup in the body, can also lead to hair loss.
An imbalance in pitta dosha may result from excessive consumption of oily food, spices, fried items, coffee, alcohol, or tea, (1) smoking, sunlight exposure, poor blood circulation, and anemia.
What Is Shirodhara?
Several traditional therapies can help manage pitta dosha-related hair fall, including, nasya, abhyanga, and shirodhara.
Shirodhara, from the amalgamation of shiro, meaning head, and dhara, meaning flow, involves pouring herbal oil over the forehead to provide relaxation and peace.
It is considered to be a purification therapy, which can help soothe your mind and soul and can provide a cleansing effect on your nervous system. It helps relax your body and rebalance pitta dosha. The oil used is directly beneficial to the hair.
Since this therapy involves the use of warm oil to be poured over specific points on your forehead, it must be performed by an expert.
How Is Shirodhara Done?
Shirodhara, performed by experts, generally involves the following steps:
- You are asked to lie down on the shirodhara table in the supine position, on your back.
- A pillow or towel is placed below the neck.
- The oils and formulations made with Ayurvedic herbs are warmed.
- The oil is poured on your forehead, at the chakra point between the eyebrows, where all the body nerves meet, using an oscillating container, which is placed 10 cm above the head.
- The dhara pot is rotated to maintain a continuous flow of oil.
- The oil that has fallen on the table is collected and reheated.
- The reheated oil is poured back into the shirodhara pot to maintain flow for up to 20–30 minutes.
- The head and scalp are massaged during and after the pouring procedure for up to 10 minutes.
- The excess oils and liquids are wiped from the forehead and neck.
- You are encouraged to relax for up to 1 hour, giving the oil some time to penetrate the deeper layers of the head.
- A moist towel is wrapped around your body for a few hours.
- The hair is shampooed.
The Ingredients Used in Shirodhara
Most shirodhara treatments are performed using oils. Commonly, ksheerabala thailam, which is made from mixing sesame oil, cow’s milk, and bala herb paste, is used. However, at times, other liquids such as saffron, honey, rose water, coconut water, herbal oil, black sesame oil, buttermilk, and medicated milk may also be used. (2)
All of these ingredients are selected based upon the patient’s needs and are used at a warm temperature to help give a sense of calmness and relaxation.
According to the liquid used, shirodhara can be categorized into the following types:
- Taila dhara (thaila dhara): A singular oil or a mix of different Ayurvedic oils is used.
- Takra dhara (thakradhara): Buttermilk is the primary ingredient for treatment.
- Dugadha dhara (ksheerdhara): It is performed using milk.
- Jala dhara (aqueous formulation): Coconut water is used for the treatment.
- Kwatha dhara (decoction): It employs a medicated herbal decoction, which is selected according to the need of the patient.
Shirodhara Treatment for Scalp Health and Hair Loss
Shirodhara is widely used to treat different scalp and hair problems and to improve the general health of the head through the direct application of oils and milk to these body parts.
All the oils used in shirodhara moisturize and nourish the scalp and can penetrate the upper layers to provide different benefits to the skin and hair. This direct application to the scalp strengthens the hair follicles, scalp tissues, hair shaft.
This therapy is helpful in the treatment of dry scalp, dry hair, alopecia, dandruff, brittle hair, and hair loss. The oils also moisturize the hairline, neck, and forehead. The different liquids used in shirodhara treatment are edible, nontoxic, and safe for use. (3) It is recommended to get this treatment at least once monthly to improve your hair.
Shirodhara should be combined with a healthy diet, breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, and oil massage to efficiently control hair loss and premature graying of hair.
Other Benefits of Shirodhara
Besides helping improve the health of your hair and scalp, shirodhara rejuvenates your body and benefits it in various ways, including the following:
1. Relaxes the mind and body
The massage in shirodhara treatment helps increase serotonin levels, improving the mood and imparting feelings of well-being and happiness.
2. Helps treat insomnia
3. Boosts blood circulation
The use of warm herbal oils in shirodhara dilates the blood vessels, improving blood circulation to the brain.
4. Helps improve headaches and migraine
The herbal oils used for the treatment have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which help relax blood vessels in the head, thus relieving headaches. Moreover, the soothing effect of these oils helps manage stress-induced headaches and migraines.
5. Treats vision problems
Shirodhara is also popularly used for treating vision problems. The warm herbal oils strengthen the eye muscles and thus boost vision clarity.
6. Helps lower stress, anxiety, and depression
This Ayurvedic treatment helps lower the stress hormones, namely, adrenaline and noradrenaline, in the body. This helps relax the mind and thus relieve tension and stress. (6)
7. Helps repair nerve degeneration
Shirodhara is known to have a relaxing and purifying effect on the nervous system.
8. Improves concentration
By nourishing the scalp, shirodhara helps improve mental clarity and thought process (7) and helps lower stress. It also helps prevent neurological disorders, which can cause memory loss and concentration problems.
9. Relieves shoulder and neck pain
The warm oils also relax the neck and shoulder muscles, thus aiding in pain relief.
Important Points to Remember
Follow these tips when getting shirodhara treatment to maximize its benefits:
- It is best to get the treatment in the morning or evening for effective results.
- Take a warm water or medicated water bath 30 minutes after the procedure.
- Avoid caffeinated products for a few days before and after the treatment.
- Wash your hair with medicated shampoos to wash off the oil from the hair.
- Consult an expert on other treatments, such as abhyanga, which is a whole-body massage, if you have health conditions that affect other parts of the body.
Shirodhara, an ancient Ayurvedic treatment, has been widely used for its beneficial effects on dry scalp and hair.
Nourishing your scalp and hair follicles with herb-infused oils can also boost new hair growth and strengthen existing hair, thus preventing hair loss problems. Shirodhara is, therefore, considered an efficient regenerative and restorative therapy that is safe for use.
Always take precautions to prevent the oils and liquids from entering the eyes and ears. Moreover, make sure to get shirodhara from an expert only to avoid complications. Steer clear of the therapy if you have conjunctivitis, inflammatory diseases, allergy, glaucoma, or sunburn or if you are in the third trimester of pregnancy.