Shiny, lustrous, thick, long hair has always been considered a sign of health and beauty; in fact, hair is our crowning glory! So, it is particularly distressing when one experiences problems with the most prominent aspect of our beauty and health: our hair! These problems can be in the form of premature greying, hair loss and thinning of hair, balding pattern of hair loss, etc. Hair problems can create other serious problems in the form of sadness, lowered self-esteem, and experience of stress. Then it becomes a vicious cycle where stress further contributes to hair loss!
This article is a result of our (Trinergy Health) work with clients who came to us with hair problems and inspired us to come up with real solutions. As usual our approach has been to combine modern science with the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda. Our approach is always to get to the root of a person’s problems.
Let’s first look at some common factors to consider when one is facing hair problems. The top 6 causes of hair problems are:
- Lack of Nutrition. Inadequate nutrition speeds up the process of hair loss. High protein intake can also increase hair loss in some individuals.
- Unhealthy Lifestyle. Inadequate sleep, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol and over eating junk food can use hair loss.
- Environmental Factors. Over exposure to environmental pollutants can speed up the genetic factor related to fair loss and may cause baldness.
- Hair Dyes. Excessive use of hair colors and frequent hair styling and hair ironing also leads to hair loss.
All of these factors can lead to excess toxin build-up (known as Ama in Ayurveda), causing an imbalance in the body’s physiology. The type of hair problem and the resultant texture of your hair will depend on these imbalances.
The Ayurveda / Hair Connection
According to Ayurveda, there are three different mind-body energies that form the basis of all physiological functions of the human body. These energies, known as “Doshas,” are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All of us have a mixture of the three Doshas within us, but the composition of these Doshas is unique to each one of us and becomes our own unique bio-signature. This innate biological signature, or constitution, is known as “Prakriti.” Any deviation from our Prakriti is known as “Vikriti.” The imbalance (Vikriti) can manifest in one or more of the Doshas. Just by looking at the type of hair problem and texture of hair, one can understand the underlying Dosha or physiological imbalance.
- When hair is excessively dry, frizzy, and brittle, flaky dandruff can be a result of Vata imbalance
- Receding hair, hair thinning, and loss of hair pigment causing premature greying can be the result of a Pitta imbalance.
- Excessively oily and sticky hair that blocks the follicles of your scalp and wet, sticky dandruff can be from Kapha imbalance.
Hair Treatment – Regeneration and Repair
In treatment, it is a matter of understanding what is causing these imbalances in the Doshas (physiology) and putting in place a treatment to rectify those causes while also working to reduce or remove the impact of the imbalances.
As always, the most common causes for the imbalances are (see figure above): nutritional deficiencies (from poor diet & unhealthy lifestyle), exposure to toxicants and pollutants, stress, inflammation, and microbiome disruption. According to Ayurveda, the process of repair and regeneration of hair is the same process that affects repair and regeneration of nails, bones and teeth.
Hair problems are an early sign of poor health of other organ systems like the skeletal or endocrine systems. So, treating the underlying causes of hair problems is in fact not just an exercise in beauty but also essential for our overall health!
Here’s what can be done:
Start with an Ayurvedic Evaluation
Your journey towards healthy and lustrous hair begins with an Ayurvedic consultation to determine one’s Prakriti and Vikriti and all aspects of the imbalance. The consultation can also throw light on the likely causes as well. Lab testing may be recommended to quantify the degree or type of imbalance. For example, we might check your vitamin levels to determine extent of deficiency; and to rule out endocrine causes – thyroid dysfunction, insulin dysmetabolism, elevated testosterone, and so forth.
1. Diet and Lifestyle
Diet and lifestyle changes are fundamental to any healing therapy. It is no different when it comes to addressing the core causes of hair problems. Ayurveda has specific diet and lifestyle recommendations for each Vikriti. For example, Ayurveda recommends what foods to eat and what to avoid; type, time and amount of exercise; when to sleep; when to eat, etc. An experienced Vaidya (Ayurveda doctor) will be able to provide such dietary/lifestyle advice and guidance.
2. Herbal Supplements (oral consumption)
This is, once again, specific to the Dosha imbalance. For example, for Vata Dosha imbalance, herbal supplements like Triphala may be recommended to enhance digestive fire, facilitate gentle gut detox and provide nourishment to hair follicles. Other Dosha imbalances will have their specific recommendations. Adrenal support herbs like Ashwagandha (a great stress reliever) may also be recommended when indicated. Other hair specific herbs like Brahmi (Bacopa Monieri) may be recommended for internal and external use (with a side benefit of improved focus/concentration and recovery from brain fog! Another evidence to show that all systems are inter-connected!).
3. Nutritional Supplements
Optimal levels of many nutrients are essential for healthy, lustrous and strong hair. Some of these recognized nutrients are vitamins such as Vitamin A, methylated B vitamins, Vitamin D, Biotin, Vitamin C, etc; minerals like: Iodine, copper, zinc, silica (yes, sand! we are truly made of the earth!), selenium, iron; other nutrients like methionine, lysine, collagen, etc; to name a few. These nutrients are necessary not just for the hair but for many other important functions in the body like: thyroid function, adrenal function, etc. Our research led us to certain nutraceutical formulations (carried in store) which have all these necessary nutrients in one formulation, making it easier for our clients to nourish themselves.
4. Specific Ayurvedic Therapies
Ayurveda has described in detail many specific, effective therapies to resolve hair problems and also for general conditioning and regular care of hair. Of course, these therapies use ingredients provided to us by Mother Nature and are completely side effect and chemical/toxin free!
- Shirodhara. ‘Shiro’ translates to head and ‘dhara’ to flow. In this therapy, warm herbal oil or decoction (made in house on the day of therapy) is rhythmically poured over the forehead to stimulate the pineal gland (which Ayurveda regards as the master endocrine gland) to balance the endocrine system while also energizing the third eye center for enhancing one’s own intuition. This therapy is also known to enhance release of melatonin which enhances one’s state of calmness, promotes relaxation and relieves insomnia. This therapy is recommended when stress is a major factor behind the hair problem. Shirodhara also increases blood circulation to the scalp and leads to better hair growth. Typically, 30-min weekly sessions for 4 to 6 weeks are recommended. Learn more.
- Shiro Abhyanga. Shiro = Head, Abhyanga = Massage. Trinergy Health is proud to share that we make our own herbal hair oil to specifically address hair issues of our clients. We use this hair oil for this specific therapy that involves massaging the head and scalp to enhance blood circulation, balance the energy flow, and to promote deep relaxation. Our herbal hair oil is available for sale as well! Our hair oil is made of coconut or sesame seed oil infused with Bhringraj (Eclipta Alba), Brahmi (Bacopa), Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi), Guduchi (Tinospora Cordifolia), Amala (Phyllanthus Emblica), Henna (Lawsonia Inermis), Hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa-sinensis). See below for the benefits of these herbs. This therapy reduces excess Pitta Dosha and thus prevents hair fall, premature greying of hair, supports hair follicles and nourishes nerve endings and nourishes your sensory organs. This will literally “cool your head”. The release of “happy” chemicals will relax you. Clients are instructed to leave the oil in for at least 8 hours or overnight and then wash with a mild, chemical free, herbal shampoo. Typically, 30-min weekly sessions for 4 to 6 weeks are recommended. Self-administration of this therapy is also encouraged and clients are instructed to make this therapy a regular feature of their hair care. Learn more.
- Shirolepa. Shiro = head; Lepa = paste or pack: In this therapy, herbal paste is applied to the entire scalp and hair and allowed to rest for at least two hours before washing off with only warm water. This therapy also reduces excess Pitta Dosha and has the same benefits as Shiro-Abhyanga above. This therapy is a great conditioning and nourishing treatment for hair and scalp. Henna in this paste can also act as a natural hair dye, thus providing a natural alternative to toxin filled spa or store-bought chemical hair dyes. In addition, specific ingredients can be added to the paste to help eliminate dandruff, control frizz, repair split-ends while also enhancing hair nourishment and strength. It is also useful in treating multiple ailments like migraines, insomnia and headaches, all of which can be co-occurring illnesses along with the hair issue. Typically, 30-min bi-monthly sessions are recommended as regular maintenance therapy. Learn more.
- Nasya. Nasya is a therapy that is to be administered only by a qualified Vaidya and is an intranasal application of specific herbal oil drops along with hot fomentation (hot herbal compress pack) of face and neck region. This therapy helps to detox the head and neck region, while also nourishing the various organs and tissues of this region. Helps with repair and regeneration of hair follicles and hair. Ayurveda considers the nasal passage as a sacred pathway to reach our very soul! Modern science confirms this fact as we now know that olfactory nerve endings are very closely connected to the limbic system of the brain – which is the part of the brain that is the seat of memory, instinct, intuition and emotion. No wonder, so many of our memories are linked to aromas and fragrances. Also, the reason why aromatherapy and essential oils can be such powerful healers! Typically, 5 to 7 sessions of 30-min each over 5 to 7 days, are recommended. Learn more.
- Panchakarma. For more global and severe physiological imbalances resulting in many health issues along with hair problems, Ayurvedic rejuvenation treatment known as, Panchakarma, is recommended. This is a 3-week treatment program with very specific diet and lifestyle recommendations along with seven 90-min Panchakarma sessions administered by a Vaidya; followed by post Panchakarma consultation and counseling to reintegrate back into regular diet/lifestyle activities. Panchakarma helps to remove “Ama” (toxin) from all the organs and tissues in the body, thus facilitating repair and regeneration of every organ system. This therapy is considered the ultimate panacea for all diseases and achieves its results by enhancing one’s own detoxification processes as well as triggering innate repair and rejuvenation processes. Studies have also shown that this therapy is helpful to remove environmental as well as endogenous (created by one’s own bodies) toxins. Learn more.
- DIY therapies. Not all hair problems require you to visit a clinic. Here are a few DIY hair recipes that I would like to share. These ingredients are readily available at most Indian groceries.
- Dandruff: Soak 1-2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds overnight in water. Next morning, discard water and grind the seeds with 1-2tbsp each of plain yogurt and lime juice, to make a paste. Then apply to the entire scalp, keep it for 30 minutes and wash your hair with a chemical free, herbal shampoo. Best results if applied once every week.
- Split ends: Make a paste of 2-3 hibiscus flowers, 1-2 tbsp of lime or lemon juice and 1-2 tbsp of coconut water. Apply to hair/scalp for 15-20 minutes and wash with shampoo. Repeat once every week for at least 6 weeks.
- For Scalp psoriasis: Soak overnight 1 -2 tbsp of Amla (Indian gooseberry) powder along with 1-2 tsp of fenugreek powder in 1-2 tbsp of plain yogurt. Grind these powders the next morning to make a paste. Apply on scalp and keep it for 1 hour. Wash with shampoo. Repeat once a week for 4-6 weeks.
Top 7 Ayurvedic Herbs for Hair
- Brahmi: External application to hair of this herb (in paste form or as herb infused oil) helps to reduce split ends drastically. Brahmi creates a natural protective layer around the hair follicles that keeps the hair fibers healthy and makes the entire mane lustrous. This also allows the hair to develop enough volume and significant length.
- Amla: Application of Amla powder to the hair on a regular basis will keep the roots of your hair well-nourished. This humble herb comes loaded with many hair-friendly nutrients, which make the root stronger and ensures longevity of hair. It also keeps the scalp cool and makes it a better place for the hair follicles to thrive, thereby allowing the hair to grow seamlessly.
- Jatamansi: The extract of Jatamansi oil is beneficial for smooth, silky, healthy hair. It is used to improve texture, tensile strength and ensures glowing and shining looks to the body. The plant has the power to reduce stress, anxiety and tension. It helps to keep the mind cool and acts as one of the finest mind rejuvenator tonic. It facilitates sound sleeping thus good for those who are stressed.
- Bhringraj: According to the Ayurveda, Bhringraj is a cooling herb that promotes hair growth. This herb also helps to delay greying of hair and helps balance all the three Doshas. Most importantly, it helps to lower Pitta. Hence, Bhringraj is a most sought-after herb for hair, as excess pitta (or inflammation) is a very common cause for hair damage and balding.
- Henna: Henna is also a very cooling herb which pacifies Pitta Dosha. It nourishes the scalp and induces enough moisture in it to take care of any dryness that can be associated with Vata imbalances. Hence, regular use of Henna reduces dandruff to a great extent and also prevents itchy scalp successfully.
- Hibiscus: This flower prevents hair loss, prevents premature greying and lessens frizz. Gives hair a boost of shine and bounce. It helps balance the pH of the scalp. Reduces redness and itching of the scalp; works like an astringent to reduce the oiliness of hair.
- Guduchi: Guduchi is considered as the “Amrit” or the “Elixir of life” in Ayurvedic medicine. While it contains several minerals and nutrients that have the ability to rejuvenate your body, it simultaneously, boosts hair growth too. It addresses the skin and scalp’s inflammatory issues very well, while cleansing the system of all toxins. Naturally, hair growth is augmented when the body is cleared of pollutants.
I would like to wind up this section with some tips worth sharing to improve the overall health of your hair and solve some of the common Hair Fall Problems.
Quick Tips to Solve Hair Fall Problems
- Don’t brush your hair when it is wet. Dry hair naturally before brushing it. Do not use chemical dyes, hair dryers, frequent ironing or other styling treatments.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Avoid unhealthy practices, such as smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Sleep adequately and, preferably, at night. Exercise regularly. Use steam saunas for enhanced sweating.
- Eat natural and organic food. Eat according your Prakriti
- Take Vitamins and supplements which promotes healthy hair.
- Always wash hair with warm (not hot) water.
- Use chemical free, organic and biodegradable shampoos and hair conditioners.
- Brush hair each night to stimulate scalp for healthy, lustrous hair. Brush with long strokes from scalp to tips.
If you have further questions, please book a consultation with Trinergy Ayurveda Spa to discuss your Hair Problems. We use advanced treatment methods for solving your Hair Problems. We aim at identifying the underlying cause of your Hair Problems and treat it from there, reversing the process of Hair issues, thus achieving healthy Hair!
Disclaimer: This Ayurvedic information is for education only. It does not replace medical advice or treatments. 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. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of an experienced Ayurveda Vaidya (Doctor of Ayurvedic medicine), call or e-mail us to schedule your consultation appointment. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.