Premature graying, hair breakage, scaly scalp and hair loss are some of the modern day scourges driving women to seek more and more expensive solutions at upscale Salons and Clinics.
As chemical and heat styling products flood the market, women especially of ethnic backgrounds, are finding that the lustrous hair in their twenties that could be easily tamed and styled now needs major intervention to make it manageable.
Dr. R. Bhagavathi Ammal, Chief Physician at Sitaram Ayurveda of Kerala, India is of the opinion that frequent chemical and heat treatments and a diet with an over abundance of processed sugar, deep fried pastries, gluten and fast food is one of the main reasons we see an increase in poor hair health.
Such a diet increases generalized Kapha, or liquid content in the body and Kletha or toxins accumulates in the blood, rendering it impure and sticky.
This Kapha or sticky glue like liquid finds many outlets in the body, one being the scalp, because of which the hair follicles are affected. The air and blood circulation around the hair shaft reduces considerably. The hair shaft is deprived of vital nutrients.
An increase of Kapha in the sebaceous secretions are noticed, which when dries up, is visible as scales on the scalp.
It is noticed that women diagnosed with PCOS(Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome)who have irregular periods, fertility concerns, and hormonal variations, have increased hair fall.
For patients diagnosed with PCOS, the underlying health issue must be addressed. Once Kapha is reduced with a Panchakarma, an Ayurvedic deep cleansing of the blood, gut and skin or appropriate therapies, hair health is restored.
For hair fall due to other reasons, a 21 day treatment is advised:
Shiro Abhyangam for 7 days
Shiro Pichu for 7 days
Shiro Dhara for 7 days
At Sitaram Ayurveda, we use our in-house proprietary medicinal oil made of Acacia catechu, Plumbago rosea, Dalbergia sissoo, Embelia ribes, Pterocarpus marsupium, Terminalia bellerica, Terminalia chebula, Emblica officinalis, Eclipta alba, Semecarpus anacardium, and Lohabhasma or calcined Iron for this treatment. Bhringraj(False Daisy) and Amlaki(Indian Gooseberry).
Nasyam with Anu Tailam is an important first Pradhanachikitsa during the first 7 days of Shiro Abhyangam.
The treatment session starts with rubbing a generous pinch of Rasnadi churnam on the vertex and applying hair treatment oil on the palms and feet.
Shiro Abhyangam is done to warm, loosen and drain the Kapha.
Hair is parted in small sections, from the middle to the sides and warm oil is applied to the scalp with a cotton ball.
Each parting is massaged in circular motions with the palms and finger tips. Small sections are pinched, twisted and tugged at gently. This improves circulation.
This vigorous massage loosens the Kapha and the Kapha is coaxed out on to the surface of the scalp.
The massage lasts about 15–45 minutes, depending on the severity of the patient’s condition.
To further loosen and release the Kapha, Shiro Pichu is performed with the same oil that was used for Abhyangam. Every follicle is soaked in the medicinal oil and consequently the blood vessels are strengthened.
A 6-inch circular piece of cotton is soaked in the warmed medicated oil and placed on the scalp. This is firmly tied with a cotton head scarf. If the flakiness is severe, then warmed oil is dripped on the cotton head scarf, to saturate the hair.
Pichu is done on the scalp for 15–45 minutes. This is an excellent treatment for hair fall, breakage and premature graying.
The hair is washed with a natural cleanser.
On the 15th day, Shiro Dhara is performed with the same medicinal oil.
All treatments are initiated with the Rasnadi Churnam applied to the Vertex of the head and rubbing of oil to the palms and the soles of the feet.
Before the Dhara, a handful of warmed oil is generously massaged on the Vertex.
Durduradi, Bhringaraj, Chembarathyadi oils may also be used depending on the diagnosis.
Care must be exercised that the Dhara oil is at body temperature.
The oil is poured in a steady stream from a height of four fingers, while gently massaging the scalp.
Shiro Dhara is a very relaxing treatment and causes patients to fall asleep. Gently wake up the patient, patient must be an active, alert participant in her treatments.
Squeeze all the oils from the hair, clean with a cotton cloth and then wash the hair with a natural cleanser.
This treatment of 21 days has given excellent results for improved hair growth and scalp health.
A dinacharya or daily regimen of exercise that causes slight sweating, habits that induce happiness and Kapha reducing alkaline diet is highly recommended for maintaining healthy hair and skin.
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Footnote: After a life-altering Panchakarma, an Ayurvedic detoxification of the body and mind in 2015, I have made Ayurveda my mission. My travel consultancy Ayurgamaya offers my clients tailored solo and group Ayurveda wellness journeys to Kerala, India, the birthplace of Ayurveda. I only support Ayurveda lineages and establishments that are committed to leaving their community and environment better than they found it. I am also working on my Ayurveda diet App, super fun! :-)