Natural Health Care

Ayurvedic Haircare Tips

Ayurvedic Hair Care Tips

The traditional Indian medical system, Ayurveda, takes a holistic approach to health. As such, it views the state of our hair and scalp as a reflection of our overall well-being and considers the impact of many factors—from age, diet, and hormones to seasonal changes and climates—on hair growth and hair loss. Trauma, stress, and anxiety are likewise taken into account because they reduce blood flow to the scalp, depriving it of the oxygen and nutrients required for healthy hair. Thus, Ayurvedic haircare goes far beyond the application of beauty products. 

In addition to emphasizing the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle, Ayurveda recommends weekly scalp massage as one of the most beneficial treatments for maintaining beautiful hair and alleviating or reducing the symptoms of common hair and scalp problems, like dandruff, scalp psoriasis, premature graying, and baldness. Scalp massage has multiple benefits like increasing the oxygen supply to the brain. It improves circulation of cerebrospinal fluid, the life-giving sap that stimulates brain development, while relaxing the nerves and muscles, reducing fatigue, and loosening the scalp. 

For dry and sensitive skin:Massage 1 teaspoon warm sesame, olive, coconut, or jojoba oil into scalp for 10 minutes. Wrap head in hot towel and leave on for 5–10 minutes. Perform this massage at least once a week for dry scalp or dandruff. The best time to do the massage is early morning or before bed; avoid doing it right after a meal when the blood supply is needed for digestion. 

For oily skin: With head hanging down, dry brush hair 50 times from roots to end to spread natural oils.

You can also use classical Ayurvedic infused herbal oils like bhringraj, neelibhringadi, mahabhringraj, and brahmi-amla oils. To derive the full benefit of these hair treatments, be sure to buy only high-quality Ayurvedic oils.  Buy Infused oils

Adding dosha-specific essential oils to the massage can strengthen and revitalize the hair and scalp while encouraging hair growth. Add 2 or 3 drops of the suggested oils to a weekly scalp massage.

  • Vata dosha –Someone who is creative, tends to worry, and brims over with energy. Best essential oils: patchouli, basil, lavender, sage.

  • Pitta dosha –A person who likes challenges, tends toward anger, and should never skip meals. Best essential oils:ylang-ylang, lavender, rose, sandalwood.

  • Kapha dosha –A detail-oriented, thoughtful individual who is resistant to change. Best essential oils:eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary. Buy Essential oils

Herbal support can also be beneficial. Fenugreek is an Ayurvedic herb that is thought to promote hair growth by increasing the dilation of the blood vessels of the scalp. It also has a unique mixture of constituents that contribute to healthy, shining hair and a well-nourished scalp. Soak 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in hot water for 10 minutes and drink daily. Indian gooseberry (a.k.a. amla)is known to increase hair growth and enrich hair pigmentation. Washing with a decoction of the herb or applying an amla hair pack can help strengthen the root of the hair and maintain hair color. Eating the fruit of the herb can also enhance hair condition. For dandruff and skin lesions use neemfor its antiviral, antifungal, anti-dandruff and antibacterial properties. 

Aloe vera is another excellent option for haircare. Its potent anti-inflammatory properties help prevent hair loss and are beneficial in cases of alopecia. The aloe vera hair pack detailed below is highly effective in stimulating hair growth and calming an irritated scalp.

Instructions:

  • With a sharp knife or gardening scissors cut a fresh aloe vera stem.

  • Use a knife to slowly slice open the aloe vera stem so that its interior is exposed.

  • Scrape off the gel (I usually don’t mind having some of the green stem mixed in the gel, so don’t stress if you are not scraping it perfectly—it’s all about using as much of the plant as possible.)

  • First brush, then wet your hair. Apply the fresh gel on your scalp and slowly massage it in. Then apply the rest of the aloe gel on your hair and comb through it with your fingers to make sure it’s covering all parts of the hair.

  • Leave on for about 10 minutes and rinse off.

Aloe Vera Hair Pack

Note:Remember some basic general guidelines for maintaining healthy hair—avoid using very hot or very cold water to wash hair, remove any barrettes or hair ties before going to bed, and avoid synthetic chemical products and hair dyes as much as possible.

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Balance Kapha

"Snigdhah shita gururmandah shlakshno mritsnah sthirah kaphah".— Ashtanga Hrdayam: Sutrasthana 1:12

Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and static. Understanding kapha’s qualities is the key to understanding how to balance this dosha. Having a kapha-predominant prakriti(constitution) means that these qualities will express themselves throughout your physical, mental, and emotional makeup.

A basic tenet of Ayurvedic medicine, is that “like increases like.” So if kapha is your dominant dosha, cold weather, dense foods, and all things inherently cool and heavy will increase the kapha in your system. For example if you’re a kapha person living in Boston who drinks a large frozen smoothie on a cool evening, you may wake up the next  day with a cold. This is because you’ve amplified the heavy and dense qualities throughout your body, making it even more difficult to move out kapha, which is already stagnant in nature and therefore hard to dissipate. 

It’s common for our predominant dosha to increase more quickly than the others. If too much of one dosha accumulates in the body, we naturally want to decrease it to restore a healthy balance to our constitution. In Ayurveda, “medicines” are substances that do this by providing qualities that are the opposite of those inherent in the overabundant dosha. In the case of kapha, those opposing qualities are dryness, lightness, warmth and activity. Therefore it’s best for people with a kapha imbalance to seek out environments, foods, and routines that embody these qualities both physically and emotionally.

A person with a kapha imbalance will do well with warming, light, freshly cooked foods. Foods and herbs with a bitter, pungent, or astringent taste will also help decrease kapha. These tastes should predominate in your diet. Bibhitaki, chitrak and punarnava are three examples of herbs that help remove excess kapha from the body and maintain balance.

The ideal environment for a kapha person is one that’s warm and dry. Take extra care to stay warm and dry in cold, wet weather and during the winter. Activity can be one of the best medicines for kapha. Try to find something that motivates you to exercise regularly. Consider signing up for a race or a competition to give yourself that extra push.

Daily self-massages with warm sesame oil will help keep kapha from becoming stagnant. Make sure that you massage yourself vigorously and that the oil you use is warm to the point where it’s almost hot. You can capitalize on the warming properties of aromatics such as juniper, eucalyptus, marjoram, and clove by applying them to your clothing or putting them in a diffuser in your home, car, and office.

These are just a few tips. If you would like more information on how to balance kapha, schedule an online appointment here.

Visit the Kapha Yoga tips article to know how to customize your daily yoga practice to balance kapha.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

How and Why Essential Oils Affect the Body

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Essential oils are the aromatic, or volatile constituents found in plants. They contain the most active physiological plant properties. Some experts say they contain the life force of the plants. Chemically, essential oils are made up of alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, phenols, terpenes, sesquiterpenes, ethers and esters. 

The routes through which essential oils react with the body and its metabolism are called pathways. The most important pathway, in terms of its profound effect of the body, is through the sense of smell. When we smell essential oils, the vapor stimulates small hair-like extensions of our olfactory nerve. The olfactory nerve is the only nerve in the body that is directly contacts the external environment and goes all the way to the brain. All of our other senses (touch, hearing, sight, and taste) involves several nerves and synaptic junctions before the impulses reach the brain. The olfactory nerve stimulates the most primitive part of the brain know as the limbic system, also called the reptilian brain. This is important in the processing of the reaction to emotions, desires, appetites and memories. 

In the second phase, essential oils penetrate the epithelial tissues; these include the skin, nasal passages, bronchioles, lungs and gastro-intestinal tract. The essential oils will have a strong effect on these primary contact tissues and pathways. Once absorbed into the surface layer, essential oils quickly penetrate into the lymphatic and blood capillary systems, entering into the general circulation. This is also true for the other epithelial tissues of the body, including sinuses and lungs.

Once the essential oils in the lymph circulatory system it can be carried directly to the liver or fed into the blood stream. As the oil circulates within the blood, body tissues and organs the body may choose any portion of the essential oil that it wishes to utilize in its metabolic process, or simply receive the stimulation, sedation or beneficial property of the oil as it passes through.

The third state of pathways involves the elimination processes of the body. Some components of essential oils are picked up by the surface of the lungs and are out gassed as a vapor. As an example, Eucalyptol (an alcohol in eucalyptus oil) is transported to the lungs surfaces by the blood stream and calms the mucous membranes as it exits. Others, such as terpenes in juniper berry oil, are filtered out by the kidneys, and have stimulating effects on the renal tissue, ureters, bladder and urethra as they exit.  Some components of the essential oils are extracted by the liver, held briefly in the gall bladder, and dumped into the GI tract, having profound affects on these organ systems as they pass through. For example Rose oil can stimulate bile production as it is processed by the liver. Some constituents tend to migrate toward the skin, where they will exit via the sebaceous glands and become part of the protective acid mantle. Components of yarrow can increase perspiration as they are excreted. 

These direct connection in the pathways are why essential oils can have such a profound and immediate effects on very deep aspects of your being. Research indicates that very small, almost homeopathic qualities create this stimulation. Larger doses do not increase the response appreciably.