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Ayurvedic Hair Care in Winter
Healthy hair and skin represent a healthy body. We have on an average 3,000,000 hair follicles on our scalp which are undergoing a cycle of growth and fall. Hair just does not add to the protection of the scalp and cosmetic value to one’s identity but forewarns on any physical ailment in the body. That is when any system ailment is on it’s run, the skin and the hair are first and foremost effected.
Example, in hypothyridism, where the thyroid functioning is hampered there is thinning of hair, in PCOD (polycystic Ovarian Disorder) there is hair fall and growth of hair on non-required areas like the face etc. Sometimes even mental stress and tension can cause hair fall and precipitate skin problems. Lack of nutrition and exercises, some medications, chemical exposures, hormonal fluctuations and diet can cause scalp and hair problems.
According to research studies, scalp and hair problems are on a rise in autumn and winter. In the Ayurveda Rutucharya explanation, there is a clear quote of Vata in it’s Prakopa rupa during these seasons causing drying of the skin and hair, leading to problems related to them. Dandruff, Psoriasis, Hair fall and premature greying of hair are some. Let’s see how to go by them in this withering winter.
Come winter hair problems start to arise. Dandruff is one. Ayurveda explains it as Darunaka. This manifests due to vitiation of vata and kapha doshas, which results in dryness, itching in the scalp and scaling. This flaky layer of dead cells gets in the way of free breathing of the hair and thus weakens the hair roots, leaving it more susceptible to fall out. Furthermore, these scales fall onto the shoulders, face, eyebrows causing skin rashes and acne problems.
Dandruff results from a number of factors such as frequent heat or cold exposure, unhygienic hair care, excessive exposure to hair styling products, chronic constipation, stress, fatigue, pollution and much more.
Ayurveda, firstly advises to relieve the causative factor and later on remedial plans. Here, are some easy and useful tips:
- A combination of lemon and water used as a rinse after washing hair helps to balance the pH of the scalp and keeps dandruff at bay.
- Massaging aloe vera pulp on the scalp relieves scalp inflammation which arises from scratching due to fungal infections or dandruff.
- Garlic’s anti-fungal properties are perfect for eliminating dandruff causing bacteria. Mix few fried pods of garlic to your regular hair oil and massage on scalp.
- Massaging a lubricant such as coconut oil relieves dandruff surprisingly.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet. It turns out that a healthy diet may ward off the flakes.
- Make sure to get plenty of micronutrients in your diet. Avoid sugars and yeast products.
- Avoid stress.
- Limit your use of hair styling products.
Scalp Psoriasis is one of the major skin problems which rise in winter. Called Kitiba in Ayurveda, this skin condition is characterized with inflamed plaques covered with silvery flakes. This tends to increase in winter causing dryness, severe itching, redness, sometimes discharge and baldness. Psoriasis according to Ayurveda is due to the vitiation of Vata and Kapha.
Accumulation of low potency toxins (Dooshi Vishas), is the basic pathological change taking place in the system. Irregular food habits, consumption of foods which are opposite in potency and nature, excessive intake of yogurt, black gram, sea food, sour and salted items etc can activate the pathogenesis. Excess of alcohol and tobacco consumption, stress and tension are also included.
The treatment aspects of Ayurveda to treat Psoriasis will include detoxification of the body through the Panchakarma procedures. This is especially helpful in long standing psoriasis which are rigid and keep relapsing time to time. Livers rejuvenants, blood purifiers, immuno boosters, anti-inflammatory topical lepas (Ointments) etc will be prescribed accordingly.
Here are a few known herbs that are useful :
- Garlic: Garlic is a well known blood purifier. It not only helps to clear the toxins but also acts as an immune-booster.
- Turmeric: This well-known kitchen spice is an excellent anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory drug.
- Neem: This is considered as the best blood purifier and detoxifier. Neem oil destroys fungus and bacteria and is best for most of the skin problems.
- Jasmine: The paste of the jasmine flowers are used to apply on psoriatic wounds .This reduces pain and itching caused from the psoriatic inflammations.
Hair fall is one of the major complaints we see in scalp problems. And autumn hair fall is a concern for majority of the population. Hair fall is called ‘Khalitya’ in Ayurveda. There are various reasons for hair fall, like emotional factors, mental worries, unhygienic conditions of the scalp, thyroid or liver problems, hormonal fluctuations, skin lesions, fungal infections etc., these causes the hair to wither and in-turn break the cycle of hair growth causing thinning of hair and baldness. With winter, there is dryness of scalp which weakens hair roots, making it susceptible for hair loss.
According to Ayurveda, hair fall is considered as a problem of Vata and Pitta dosha vitiation making the hair to loosen from its roots and fall. The kapha and rakta doshas obstruct the growth of new hair causing premature baldness. The ayurvedic treatment therefore is based on correcting the root cause of hairfall and correcting the doshic imbalance.
Two important treatment modalities useful are Nasya and Tala Basti. Nasya is instilling of medicated oil into the nostrils to eliminate and correct the deranged doshas. Tala basti is a specialized treatment for scalp disorders. It strengthens the roots, lubricates the scalp, removes dirt and cleanses the scalp from lice, dandruff etc and heals other skin problems.
Some of the important regimes to prevent autumn hair fall include:
- Scalp massage with oils suitable for your scalp for three to four times a week.
- Protecting the hair from chill winds by covering it with a scarf.
- Washing the hair once a week and using a gooseberry decoction for rinsing the hair.
Five Herbs for Fabulous Hair
Hair in winter, as discussed tends to become dry, frizzy, weak, making it prone to dandruff, hair fall, psoriatic rashes etc. This paragraph would briefly highlight on certain herbs that are proven to improve hair quality and growth.
- Coconut: Fresh oil prepared by boiling the milk of coconut is an excellent base for preparing medicated hair oils. It boosts hair growth, increases the life span of hair and rejuvenates the scalp.
- Sesame: Decoction made from the leaves and root is employed as a hair wash and will blacken the hair and promote their growth.
- Onions: This odorous vegetable is high on sulphur content. The juice is therefore capable of stimulating hair growth as sulphur helps in increasing blood circulation. It diminishes skin inflammations due to its anti-bacterial properties.
- Fenugreek seeds: Methi contains proteins and nicotinic acid which makes the hair healthy and strong. The seeds contain hormone antecedents that rebuild the hair follicles. It hydrates the hair and reduces dandruff, dryness and solves major of the scalp issues. Mix the methi seeds powder with coconut milk and apply on the scalp, leave for an hour and wash.
- Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers and leaves contain phosphorous, calcium, riboflavin, carotene etc., which make it an exceptional remedy for rough hair. The paste of the flowers/leaves can be used as a natural shampoo.