Hair fall induces stress and depression which unless controlled can contribute to more hair loss. Modern medicine tries to address this problem by symptomatic relief (like sleeping pills for insomnia) rather than treat the underlying problem. To make things more complicated, some of the medicines prescribed may contribute to hair loss which adds to the problem rather than solving it.
Ayurveda, the oldest medical science on the planet involves the scientific study of the human body and the treatment of diseases. Ayurveda does not treat symptoms but addresses the cause which created these symptoms. This holistic approach ensures that the body is completely healed of the underlying cause rather than being relieved of the symptoms alone. This makes Ayurveda a great option even though it is time-consuming. Ayurveda believes that each human being is a different entity and that no two humans are alike. As such, what might work for one person may not necessarily work for another. In this article, we look at how Ayurveda could come to your aid in controlling hair loss.
Hair is considered to be an upa-dhatu of asthi (sub-tissue of bone) or mala of Shukra dhatu (a waste derivative of the reproductive system). Of the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha doshas) whose balance in the body is the secret to good health, hair is controlled by pitta. An excess of pitta can result in hair problems. So what causes this excess pitta? Ayurveda believes that pitta dosha is exacerbated by hot climatic conditions, smoking, alcohol and improper food (excess tea, coffee, meats, fried oily foods, and food that is acidic in content).
An ayurvedic physician would identify the causative factor behind this imbalance, and through a course of medications, dietary changes and lifestyle alterations try to get this excess pitta back to normal. Doing this would not only address your hair loss, but also benefit your body in other ways. Not for nothing is Ayurveda known as a system of medicine free from side effects, but one, which also offers side-benefits. Here are a few ways that would help you not only overcome hair loss but also aid in hair regrowth:
Dinacharya is a daily routine that is designed to bring the body in harmony with nature. Adhering to this routine helps in keeping the doshas in balance, ensures proper digestion and elimination and removes stress, all of which contribute to healthy body and mind. Dinacharya involves all activities of the human body across the day from waking up in the morning, purging the body of waste and toxins, meditation, meals, work, relaxation and finally recharging the body by going to bed. Ayurvedic physicians believe that by following a proper routine, a majority of the problems afflicting the body and the mind can be taken care off.
Diet plays a very important role in Ayurveda, the importance of which can be judged by the following saying:
“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when the diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
Diet is a means of getting the bodily humors or doshas into balance, and a physician would:
- Identify the foods that cause the imbalance.
- Use food as a means of bringing back the balance.
As discussed in detail in one of our articles the dietary regimen advised would address the nutritional and mineral requirements of the body to prevent hair fall. Identifying nutritious food is half the job done. To desist from eating nutritious food that is incompatible with other food also carries equal importance. An example is buffalo meat or fish combined with milk or dairy products.
Yoga and meditation
The buildup of stress could be one of the reasons for hair loss. Popping a few pills could, instead of salvaging the situation make it more complicated. A great way to relax and remove stress is to do yoga or meditation, or both. While meditation would help you relax mentally, yoga could help you both physically and mentally. Regular yoga routines could ensure better blood circulation to the scalp (the lack of which is one possible reason for hair loss) and also present you with several bonus benefits. Sarvangasana, the yoga pose where the body is balanced on the shoulders not only nourishes the head and brain with more blood (thus more oxygen and nutrients) but also stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands (can be tried for thyroid disorders), makes the back more flexible (goodbye backaches), brings relief from constipation and indigestion, and also strengthens the heart. As you can see, a small investment of your time and effort could not only help you overcome hair loss but also provide you multiple bonus benefits.
Note: Yoga is best done under trained supervision. If you are pregnant, having periods, neck pains, glaucoma, a heart problem, high blood pressure or acute thyroid problems, it is best to consult a doctor before doing Sarvangasana.
Use of medicated oils and herbs
Ayurveda has relied on the use of medicated oils, both as a means of promoting a healthy body as well as a treatment option. Charaka Samhita, one of the ancient treatises on Ayurveda has this to say about the application of oil:
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much, even if subjected to accidental injuries or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts, and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.”
So why do we apply medicated oils to the scalp? We do so primarily for four reasons:
- To help hair grow thicker and smoother
- To help reduce facial wrinkles
- To help invigorate the sense organs
- To promote better sleep
When the desired result is to prevent hair loss, promote hair growth, or prevent the premature graying of hair, ayurvedic physicians recommend the application of the oil to the scalp and hair at night. The application involves taking oil into the palms and gently massaging into the scalp for about 5-10 minutes. The oil is allowed to settle overnight and is washed off with a warm head wash in the morning. In case, an individual is unable to keep the oil applied overnight, the oil may be washed away after a couple of hours. The use of a mild herbal shampoo is recommended while ordinary shampoos and soaps are thought to aggravate the condition. Never apply oil after the hair wash as it might lead to the accumulation of dust on the hair and the scalp, something that would harm both the scalp and the hair. A twice-a-week application should help in attaining the desired results. Now coming to the question of which oil to use, it has to be decided by an ayurvedic physician based on the dosha type of the individual.
Some ayurvedic physicians opt for Shirodhara, which is one of the steps involved in Panchakarma treatment. The word itself is a combination of shiro (head) and dhara (flow) and involves the flow of a stream of liquids (medicated oil, milk, buttermilk, coconut water or even water) from a container to the forehead and head of a patient lying on a table. The Aṣṭāṅgasaṅgraha, one of the ancient texts on Ayurveda, states that if the procedure is performed properly, it increases the circulation of the blood, helps pacify the vitiated doshas and maintains body balance. The benefits of this therapy which lasts for about 30-60 minutes a day for 7-14 days are mostly concerned with the head, neck, eyes, ears, nose, and throat. It has a tranquilizing effect on the brain and finds use in nervous disorders. It is interesting to note that the procedure not only helps in preventing premature graying of hair, treating hair loss or promote hair growth but also results in soft lustrous hair. People who suffer from stress or headaches or even those who love soft lustrous hair can undergo this therapy.
The ayurvedic hair care segment is worth billions today and with good reason. It helps in reducing hair loss and regenerates hair, while at the same time addressing the other complications of modern-day life like stress, sleeplessness, and fatigue.