Shirodhara is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment. In which, with the help of some herbal oils (Shiro), a continuous stream of warm oil (Dhara) is poured on your forehead.
This treatment stimulates the brain and improves mental faculties. The correct dosage ensures clarity of thought process and improved concentration. It also helps you to relax even in stressful situations.
Shirodhara is – “the king of therapies” in Ayurveda. It helps to treat various diseases like epilepsy, migraine, sinusitis, psychiatric disorders. It also other health problems like high blood pressure, chronic headaches, etc. Hence dhara acts by balancing three major doshas Vata, pitta, and Kapha. Shirodhara involves pouring medicated warm herbal oils (tailam)over the forehead throughout a treatment session that lasts from 30 minutes to one hour.
The oil streams through a stand made up of a long wooden strip supporting a round bowl at the top. This has a small opening near the base through which the oil flows.
This forms a thin stream of warm herbal oils over the forehead and eyes. It provides natural relief from stress, anxiety; depression. Shirodhara is therapy with no side effects as compared to other treatment methods; it becomes more effective if combined with Yoga therapy for better results.
Traditionally, Shirodhara is done by an expert ayurvedic practitioner. An Acharya or Vaidya who have mastered the art of Shirodhara. In modern days, clinics offer Shirodhara.
The person receiving Shirodhara lies on a reclining chair, with eyes closed to reduce visual stimulation and relax the mind. A wooden stand is placed so that it supports a small metal or ceramic bowl filled with warm herbal oil. Oil slowly pours over the forehead. Here the streams of oil fall to just above the bridge of the nose before moving towards the top of the head. This process continues uninterrupted for about 30 mins or one hour depending upon the individual capacity to respond to treatment.
Some materials and methods used for Shirodhara treatment are as follows:
Shirodhara Oils: Mostly, the oil used for Shirodhara treatment is til (sesame oil). Apart from this, some conventional oils are of ashwagandha, Jatamansim, and Brahmi
Instruments and Assays: Mercury sphygmomanometer to measure Blood pressure (BP) and pulse rate (PR) with radial pulse count. Standard ECG and EEG machines should well-calibrated.
Human Volunteers: Healthy humans of the age group 30-60 years whose weight should be 45-90 kg with normal blood pressure are studied. There should be no illness within the last 3 months. So there should not be a history of allergy to oils, heavy tobacco, or alcohol consumption in any of the patients.
3 types of Shirodhara
Sneha Dhara: It uses tel or ghee, which is herbal in nature.
Ksheer Dhara: It uses milk infused with herbs.
Takra Dhara: It uses buttermilk infused with suitable herbs.
Benefits of Shirodhara
There are many benefits of Shirodhara treatments. These categorize into five major headings:
· To nullify the impact of Stress:
Here shirodhara helps in reducing high levels of mental stress. It promotes calmness and facilitates relaxation. Stress hormones reduce as our body gets in a relaxation state. The nervous system conserves energy, slows heart rate, and relaxes muscles.
· Reduces Anxiety:
In Shirodhara treatment, the gentle, repetitive stimulation to the center of the forehead reduces the anxiety. The powerful Ayurvedic energy point activates when warm oil streams onto the center of the forehead.
· Awakening of Intuition:
The point between the eyebrows is the center for awakening the intuition, and in many spiritual traditions, believe it as the “third eye.” Therefore Hindus call it the home of intuition which is the sixth chakra.
· Improves Sleep Quality:
Physical and emotional health are disturbed when sleep quality is continuously compromised. Individuals with chronic insomnia never have a relaxed brain. Therefore Shirodhara not only improves sleep quality but increases health.
· Pacifies Vata Dosha:
Vata dosha is a combination of air and space elements. Thus the treatment of Shirodhara is the most effective means of pacifying excessive Vata in Ayurvedic circles.
- Headaches like cluster headaches, migraines, tension headaches
- Burning sensation in the head & other consequences of head injuries
- Paralysis & Alzheimer’s disease (Loss of memory)
- Inflammatory diseases of Pitta origin
- Certain disorders of the ears and eyes
- Skin diseases and allergies
- Diabetic neuropathy & for proper neuro-muscular coordination
- To delay age effect
- The head region dryness & itching of the scalp
- Low level of vitality or ojas
- Heart disease
- Cracked lips, damages and thin hair
- To control vitiated Vata dosha
- Degenerative diseases of Vata origin
Who can benefit from Shirodhara?
Shirodhara may be helpful for conditions such as –
Headache and Migraine
It may be beneficial in cases such as severe headaches, migraine, and insomnia.
Shirodhara for Chronic Sinusitis
It is very effective in curing chronic sinusitis and frontal headaches and cures it permanently.
It helps people who suffer from sleeplessness. With regular usage of this treatment, you will find improvement of sleep patterns which facilitates improved overall health of an individual.
Migraine with aura (visual disturbances)
This treatment acts as a preventive measure against developing a migraine attack. It also helps in or prevents recurrence of the same after the onset of symptoms like vision loss or other disturbances.
Functional Disturbance of the Larynx
Here, Shirodhara is helpful in functional disturbance of the larynx, each and every time it occurs.
Neuralgic or Visceral Pain/Headache
It reduces intense pain many times more than any conventional medication.
This treatment has proved very effective in cases of brain tumors etc. Patients have experienced complete relief from pain within three days after receiving this treatment for one hour daily over a period of 3-10 days. It should continue as long as possible to relieve any remaining symptoms to prevent a recurrence.
Tic Douloureux (Trigeminal Neuralgia)
This treatment relieves the symptoms of pain, burning & shock-like sensations along the affected nerve.
When Shirodhara continues for a period of 4-5 months. It can treat this condition effectively by calming or pacifying the angry Vata dosha which causes inflammation in the sciatic nerve and leg pain.
This treatment helps to provide relief from numbness, paralysis, and pain sensation associated with peripheral neuropathy.
Cancer Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CCIPN)
When Cancer patients receive chemotherapy; they experience peripheral neuropathy can benefit from Shirodhara. Therefore this treatment could offer significant relief from symptoms like cramps, burning, shooting pains, etc.
Effective in stress-related disorders like anxiety, depression, etc. Its usage offers boosted spirit, renewed vigor & fresh energy. It assists to balance the mind and relaxing the whole body
How does Shirodhara work
The best time to perform the Shirodhara is early morning or early evening.
Because this is- time of Vata Doshas.
Depending on the medicated or non-medicated liquids, it can be called Tailadhara, Takradhara, Kashayadhara, and Jaladhara. Shirodhara treatment starts with a body massage known as Abhyangam. Individual closes eyes and relaxes the body while lying on a massage table. Shirodhara begins with pouring lukewarm oil continuously of about liters. Pouring of oil goes as a stream onto the forehead in an oscillating manner.
The period of Shirodhara may extend from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the patient’s condition. The oil should not enter the eyes or ears. A mild head massage before or during Shirodhara helps in better results. Shirodhara may also include pouring buttermilk, decoctions, or even water.
- Shirodhara stimulates of the brain by pouring warm oil on the forehead.
- It stimulates pituitary glands and encourages sleep.
- It stimulates vital Points in the head and improvement of circulation.
- Vasodilatation of all the channels occurs due to warm oil which improves the flow of blood in the brain.
- Shirodhara relaxes the mind by reducing stress hormones levels such as adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Contraindications of Shirodhara
Shirodhara is appropriate for all dosha, but there are some contraindications:
It should not be given to women in their third trimester of pregnancy. It is uncomfortable and painful for pregnant women to lie on the back for 40-60 minutes at a time. The treatment known as Dhara is contraindicated in pregnancy where warm oil is poured all over the body
- Head problems:
Shirodhara should not be given to those with a rash or sunburn on the forehead or scalp. Brain tumour, recent neck injury, abrasions or cuts on the head also make this treatment difficult.
- Fever or chills causing acute illness:
Fever of recent origin known as Amma stage. It also include nausea, vomiting, severe weakness, exhaustion, dizziness & fainting
- Excess Kapha & Excess Ama:
This should be balanced and maintained in the body with morbid obesity and the problem of indigestion.
- Ascites: It is the accumulation of fluid cause swelling of the abdominal region. It is most often related to liver disease.
Due to excess fluid trapped in the body’s tissues puffiness is caused known as edema.
The blood poisoning. It usually occurs when a bacterial infection enters the bloodstream from elsewhere in the body, such as the lungs or skin.
- Dehydration or thirst: This can be caused as after effect of vomiting or diarrhoea.
How many times do I need to get Shirodhara?
One or two sessions might be enough to experience the beneficial effects of Shirodhara for almost all types of ailments. However, if required further usage can be done depending on individual requirements. Frequency depends largely on the type of ailment; it could be once in 3 days or once in 3 months.
It is advisable to book a session every week for the first few months, and after that, as required.
What can I expect from Shirodhara?
As you receive this treatment, you will feel your body and mind relax completely and experience mental clarity and improved concentration. You might experience warmth or tingling sensations during the course of the treatment, but it would be mild only. The sensation ends as soon as we finish with the procedure. It is advised not to do any activity which requires high levels of attention immediately after getting Shirodhara done for best results.
You need not sit idle at home after receiving Shirodhara Treatment; you may resume your daily activities, including traveling etc. as usual.
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