Ancient Indian system of medicine offers an alternative solution to one of the most common problems in men and women
By Dr. Prasad S. Vaidya
While hair-loss remains one of the most common conditions in men and women, the problem seems to have escalated as the world continues to live in the shadow of Covid pandemic.
While stress remains a leading cause of hair loss, many people also noticed an increase in hair fall and hair breakage after recovering from Covid. Thankfully, Ayurveda, the ancient Indian system of medicine offers solutions that are natural and devoid of any side-effects.
Men are more predisposed to balding than women, and there are reasons for it. What begins as thinning hair can eventually turn into a shiny bald pate in no time if one does not turn to natural cures and solutions early on.
When it comes to hair problems, Ayurveda, with its wisdom of the ancient Indian sages collected over 5,000 years, can be your best bet.
Not only does this traditional medicine system get to the root of the problem, it also balances out the rough edges of the body through time-tested therapies, easy-to-follow guidelines, and simple Indian home remedies for your hair issues.
Read: Covid-19 and the rise in mental health disorders (November 3, 2021)
According to Ayurveda, the body is made up of three ‘Doshas’ or constituents — Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (earth and water); Dhatu (seven body tissues); and Mala (waste products).
Furthermore, every individual has a Prakruti (constitution), a combination of the three doshas. An imbalance in these Doshas, Dhatus and Malas can cause hair damage and ultimately, hair loss.
But don’t worry, Ayurveda has a solution for all your hair problems. Here are some simple yet effective tips that you can try at home.
Reduce mental stress: Your first step towards healthy hair (and overall well-being) is to live a stress-free life free of unhealthy habits.
According to Ayurveda, Doshas get imbalanced due to mental stress, which, coupled with poor lifestyle choices, like smoking and alcohol, can lead to hormonal changes and hair loss.
So, as a starting point, exercise regularly, stop smoking, drink moderately (if at all) and work towards cutting the stress out of your life.
Maintain a healthy diet: Nutrients like iron, magnesium, proteins and vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, and K) are essential for proper hair growth, and an imbalance in nutrients can lead to hair issues.
Eat a balanced diet with moderate amounts of healthy fats like ghee or nuts, and drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. Some specific foods that help fight hair loss include leafy vegetables, yoghurt, cucumber, coriander and sesame seeds.
Vegetable regulate all the Doshas in your body and are rich in iron and vitamins, essential for healthy hair growth.
Yogurt has a cooling effect on the body and is rich in lactic acid, which helps treat Vata-Pitta related imbalances. It is also rich in vitamins, making it an excellent hair nourisher. A healthy alternative is buttermilk with a pinch of ginger or pepper.
Cucumber is another cooling food rich in fiber and vitamins A and C. In addition, it acts against Vata and Pitta imbalances, keeping your hair soft and lustrous.
Coriander is rich in vitamins C and K, iron, manganese and magnesium, which promote follicle health and prevent hair loss. Munching on a spoonful of roasted sesame seeds provides sufficient iron and calcium along with other nutrients for Hair.
Tips for hair growth
There’s nothing better than oil therapies and massages to help your hair grow faster. Here are some easy-to-follow tips.
Regularly oiling and massaging your hair nourishes it and stimulates the blood vessels in your scalp. Oil your hair at least twice a week and wash it with a mild shampoo.
Oil your hair both before and after you wash it. Oiling your hair before washing reduces the amount of water absorbed by the hair shaft, making it less prone to damage when it’s wet.
After washing your hair, oiling it again makes it smoother, softer and more pliable. It also reduces friction when you comb or style it, making it less likely to break.
Oils and natural ingredients best for your hair:
Coconut oil: This has been used in India for centuries. Comprising lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that gives it a long, straight chemical structure, the oil penetrates deep into the hair shaft.
Studies have shown that coconut oil is most effective in preventing protein loss in hair, both before and after washing. Jatamansi enriched oil: Apart from coconut oil, Ayurveda lays equal importance on using Jatamansi oil to promote rich and natural hair growth.
Also known as ‘tapaswani’ in Ayurveda, the oil is extracted from plants mostly found in the high-altitude Himalayan region. The oil works wonders balancing all three Doshas, ultimately addressing major hair problems. Besides oil, you can also use Jatamansi powder.
Bhringraj Oil: This multi-purpose herb’s leaves have long been used to promote hair growth. Put dry Bhringraj leaves in a bottle of coconut oil and leave it in the sun for two days or till it turns light green. The best time to massage your scalp with this oil is before hitting the bed. Leave it on overnight.
Shikakai powder: This time-tested hair cleanser is a great ingredient to keep your scalp clean, especially when mixed with coconut oil. Steep the powder in oil for 15 days, then massage it into your scalp twice a week.
Neem powder/leaves: Neem’s powerful antimicrobial properties can reduce hair loss and help in regrowth. Massage your hair and scalp with a paste of neem leaves or powder and rinse off after an hour.
Amla: The Indian gooseberry is high in iron, antioxidants, fatty acids, vitamin C and carotene. Massage a mixture of lime juice and amla on your scalp and wash off after an hour for lustrous hair and a moisturized scalp that will prevent hair loss.
Aloe Vera: Aloe vera contains proteolytic enzymes that repair damaged cells and improve follicle health. It also soothes the scalp and keeps dandruff away.
Massage Aloe vera pulp on your hair and scalp, leave it on for an hour and rinse it off. Doing this 3-4 times a week will promote hair growth.
Soapnut (Reetha): This is a natural alternative to shampoo that has been used for ages. Boil the soap nuts in water, leave it overnight to cool, strain the mixture and use it as a shampoo.
Fenugreek (Methi): Methi helps repair hair follicles and regrow hair. Make a fine paste of soaked methi seeds, apply it to the hair and scalp, leave it for an hour and rinse it off after. Doing this thrice a week will help control hair fall.
Yoghurt: The vitamins in yoghurt are beneficial for hair growth—mix two tablespoons of yoghurt with one teaspoon of honey and lemon. Massage your scalp with this mixture once a week. Leave it for half an hour, then rinse off.
Using these natural ingredients and methods to nourish your hair will go a long way in keeping your mane healthy and strong.
Disclaimer: These recommendations provide only general health guidelines. Consult your health care professional for individual guidance.
(Dr. Prasad S. Vaidya, a post graduate (MD in Ayurveda) from Podar Ayurveda Institute, Mumbai runs his Ayurveda & Panchakarma Clinic in Mumbai)