Ayurvedic Skin And Hair Care Treatment
Hair care in Ayurveda
Ayurveda maintains a holistic approach in health care strategies when it comes to disease management or even in the prevention of diseases. In fact, this lifestyle encourages one in utilizing natural substances in caring for one’s day to day issues related to health and wellness. According to the science, prevention is way more relevant than trying to heal once a disease has set in. Cosmetic concerns are also dealt with equal cachet in Ayurvedic textbooks. This includes beauty care regimen including skin and hair care.
Hair, as a structural component is one of the most defining features of the human body. Though it is just a protein filament growing from the follicles located in the skin, this structure enjoys a huge share of attention from modern adults in terms of cosmetic concerns. It is important to notice that this structural entity in itself can create gender identity (more or less) and at the same time transmit sensory information. Anatomically, hair consists of two separate parts. A follicle embedded within the skin as well as the shaft that we normally apprehend, externally. Hair is composed majorly of proteins (65-95%), lipids (1-9%), trace elements, polysaccharides, and water. Keratin protein, among the other components, is the most relevant one that is responsible for the alterations in the visible parts of the hair.
Ayurvedic classics consider hair (kesha) as a secondary tissue (upadhatu) of the reproductive tissue (sukra) and also as a byproduct (mala) associated with the structural tissue (asthi dhatu). In fact, Daily regimen (dinacharya) advocated by Ayurvedic textbooks describe methods in maintaining skin, hair, teeth, etc. as well. Modern lifestyle along with depletion in the quality of natural resources has put sensitive tissues like skin and other tissues under severe stress and hence laments are on the rise regarding skin care, hair care etc. When it comes to Ayurvedic hair care, the term ‘keshya’ is quite relevant. It means ‘that which is good for hair’. We could find many herbs described with the tagline of ‘keshya’ which could be easily identified as to be useful in hair care.
According to ancient classics, hair is considered as a paternal entity (pitruja bhava) due to its qualities like roughness, heaviness, steadiness, etc. As per the classical textbooks, the origin of hair occurs during the sixth or the seventh month in a foetus. It derives nutrition from the excretory matter (kitta bhaga) of the nutritional fluid (aahara rasa). In the origin and development of hair (kasha), there is a significant need for earth element (prithvi mahabhoota) and air element (vayu mahabhoota). Then again, natural hair colour is dependent on the fire element (agni mahabhoota). So that deciphers the need in the maintenance of the above said elements in Ayurvedic hair care.
Hair care according to Ayurvedic principles has mainly three perspectives:
• Support and reinforcement in natural hair growth from existing follicles
• Improving the hair thickness/health
• Managing the natural hair colour
There are many pathological conditions affecting normal hair. It could be systemic anomalies or even abnormalities directly associated with the scalp or follicles within. Hereditary factors are also decisive when it comes to hair care. Normal hair depends on one’s own body constitution and that varies from person to person when we concur with Ayurvedic principles. Anything that is different from one’s own constitution is considered as a disease and we require bringing back that personal balance to regain it. So, one could find many diseases mentioned in Ayurvedic texts related to hair fall, dandruff, scalp disorders, discolouration of hair, etc. in this context.
Management of hair is either prevention of such abnormalities by giving regular care and following daily regimen as prescribed in Ayurvedic texts or tackling the condition, once the imbalance has set in, envisaging the different factors as per Ayurvedic principles. There are numerous formulations mentioned in Ayurvedic texts that are effective in hair care. Even commonly available single herbs are being effectively used in daily hair care management.
Common herbs used in Ayurvedic hair care:
1. Bhringraja – Eclipta alba – Improves strength of hair follicles, boosts hair growth, makes hair darker and thicker.
2. Madayantika- Lawsonia inermis (henna) – enhances natural hair colour and shine, supports hair growth.
3. Neeli- Indigofera tinctoria – supports hair growth, maintains natural hair colour.
4. Amalaki- Emblica officinalis (amla/Indian gooseberry) – strengthens hair roots, rejuvenates the hair follicles.
5. Methika- Trigonella foenum graecum (fenugreek) – enhances blood circulation to the scalp and encourages hair growth.
6. Kumari- Aloe vera – nourishes and moisturizes the scalp, supports hair growth.
7. Aritha- Sapindus detergens (Reetha nut) – cleanses the scalp and prevents scalp diseases.
8. Shikakai- Acacia concinna – nourishes and cleanses the hair roots, prevents dandruff.
9. Vidpala- Wrightia tinctoria- cleanses the scalp, prevents dandruff.
10. Bhumyamalaki- Phyllanthus niruri- supports hair growth, maintains natural hair colour.
11. Narikela- Coconut(oil/milk/water) – cools, nourishes, rejuvenates hair follicles.
Common kitchen cosmetics effective in hair care:
1. Almonds – nourishes and moisturizes scalp.
2. Cinnamon- prevents hair fall, stimulates hair follicle regeneration.
3. Yogurt- moisturizes scalp, boosts hair growth.
4. Castor oil – enhances hair growth
5. Curry leaves – supports hair growth, maintains hair colour.
6. Honey- reduces excess oiliness, regenerates hair follicles.
Ayurvedic treatments in hair care?
According to the person, imbalance, severity and so on, the treatment strategies might be varying in Ayurveda. Internal as well as external treatments may be advised accordingly. Internal medications can be decoctions, tablets, jam like formulations, etc. External treatments could vary from oil applications or paste applications to oil retention over head.
Some Ayurvedic treatments effective in hair care:
• Shiro dhara (continuous pouring of medicated oil)
• Shiro abhyanga (oil massage)
• Ksheera dhara (continuous pouring of medicated milk)
• Thala pothichil (application of medicinal paste on head)
• Raktha moksha (blood letting)
• Nasya (nasal medication)
(Please note that Ayurvedic treatments are to be done only after proper consultation with a registered Ayurvedic practitioner)