Natural Health Care

Ayurvedic Haircare Tips

Ayurvedic Hair Care Tips

The traditional Indian health care system, Ayurveda, has a holistic approach to overall well-being. Hair and scalp are considered to be a reflection of our health, and many factors are involved in hair growth and hair loss. Some of these include age, diet, hormones, seasonal changes, and climates. Trauma, stress and anxiety also affect growth because they reduce the blood and oxygen supply to the scalp, which is essential to healthy hair. This is why Ayurveda considers hair and scalp care to include more than just the application of ‘beauty’ products, and consider these things when caring for your hair. 

In addition to keeping 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 problems, like psoriasis, dandruff, 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, which stimulates brain development, relaxes the nerves and muscles, reduces fatigue and loosens the scalp.

For dry and sensitive skin, massage 1 tsp warm sesame, olive, coconut or jojoba oil into scalp for 10 minutes. Wrap head in hot towel and leave on for 5-10 minutes. Practice this massage at least once a week for dry skin 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 down, dry brush hair 50 times from roots to end to spread natural oils.

You can also use classical Ayurvedic infused herbal oils like Bhringraja oil, Neelibhringadi oil, Mahabhringraja oil and Brahmi-Amla oil. Its important to buy only high quality Ayurvedic oils to ensure benefits. Buy Infused oils

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

  • Vata dosha: Someone who is creative, tendency to worry, energetic. Best essential oils: Patchouli, Basil, Lavender, Sage
  • Pitta dosha: A person who likes challenges, tendency toward anger, cannot skip meals. Best essential oils: Ylang-ylang, Lavender, Rose, Sandalwood
  • Kapha dosha: Your personality is detail oriented, thoughtful, 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 work with 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 well-nourished scalp. Take 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds and soak in hot water for 10 mins and drink daily.  Indian Goose Berry or Amala is known to enrich hair growth and hair pigmentation. Washing with a decoction of the herb or preparing a hair pack can be beneficial as it strengthens the root of the hair and maintains its color. Eating the fruit Amala can also be a benefit. For dandruff and skin lesions use neem for its antiviral, anti fungal, anti-dandruff and antibacterial properties. 

Aloe vera is another option for haircare. It has high anti-inflammatory properties prevent hair loss and is beneficial in alopeciamoreover the herb is very effective for the stimulation of hair growth. Use the suggested Aloe vera hair pack. 

Instructions:

  •  With a sharp knife or gardening scissors cut fresh aloe vera stem.
  •  Using knife slowly slice the aloe vera so the middle of the aloe vera is exposed.
  • Scrape the gel off (I usually don’t mind having some of the green stem in the gel mix, so don’t stress if you are not scraping it perfectly, its all about using the most of the plant)
  • First brush, then wet your hair. Apply the fresh gel on your scalp and massage it slowly. Then apply the rest of the Aloe on your hair and comb through it with your fingers to make sure it is covering all parts of the hair.
  • Leave for about 10 minutes and rinse off.
Aloe Vera Hair Pack

On a side note, remember some basic general guidelines for healthy hair; avoid very hot or very cold water to wash hair, sleep without any tight barrettes or hair ties, and avoid as much chemical products and hair dyes 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 I:12

Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and static. Understanding this provides you with the keys to understanding how to balance Kapha. Having a Kapha-predominate Prakriti 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 one is Kapha, cold weather, dense foods and those things that are inherently cool and heavy will increase Kapha in your system. For example if a Kapha person who lives in Boston, and drinks a large frozen smoothie in the evening time, may find themselves the next day having a cold. This is because you have increased the heavy and dense qualities through out the body and under these conditions it will be more difficult to move it out, Kapha in nature is stagnant.

With this understanding we use opposites as “medicine.” It is common for our predominant dosha, Kapha in this case to increase more quickly then any other dosha. If the dosha increases in the body, naturally we want to decrease it to restore a healthy balance to our constitution. “Medicines” are substances that decrease the excess Kapha by providing the opposite qualities to it. These qualities are predominatly dry, light, warm and active. Therefore it is best for people with a imbalance of Kapha to seek out enviornments both physical and emotional that possess these opposite qualities. This includes food, diet and routines.

One with increased Kapha will do well with warming, light, freshly cooked foods to maintain balance. Foods and herbs with a bitter, pungent and astringent taste will help to decrease Kapha. These tastes should be predominate in your diet. Bibhitaki, Chitrak and Punarvana or three herbs that can support in removing excess Kapha from the body and maintain balance.

The ideal environment for Kapha to live would be warm and dry. It is good to focus on keeping warm and dry if you are in a cold wet environment and during the winter seasons. Activity can be one of the best medicines for kapha. Try to find something that motivates you, ensure that you exercise regularly, maybe join a race or competition that will give you that extra push.

Daily self-massages with warm sesame oil will help keep kapha from becoming stagnant. Be sure you do the massage with vigor and ensure the oil is warm almost hot. You can use aromatics that are heating in nature such as Juniper, Eucalyptus, Marjoram, and Clove, by apply to your clothing or 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.