Shirodhara comes from the two Sanskrit words “shiro” (head) and “dhara” (flow). It’s an Ayurvedic healing technique that involves having someone pour liquid — usually oil, milk, buttermilk, or water — onto your forehead. It’s often combined with a body, scalp, or head massage.
Shirodhara is said to have relaxing, soothing, and calming effects on the body and mind.
Research also suggests that shirodhara may help:
· Diminishes Anxiety
Stress is the body’s reaction in the form of physical or emotional change that comes from any event or thought that makes one feel angry, frustrated, or nervous. Shirodhara treatment holds high significance in alleviating stress from the mind and body. The steady pour of warm oil along with slight massage begets calmness, facilitates relaxation and promotes tranquility. As the body enters into a deep relaxation state, it turns on the parasympathetic nervous system mode, i.e. the stress hormones are subdued since the hyper-alert brain waves (bets waves) transition into relaxed-alert ones (alpha waves). Due to this transition, the body conserves energy, relaxes muscles, dilates blood vessels and slows down the heart rate. The treatment is pivotal in the case of arrhythmia and hypertension.
The therapy acts as a natural stress-booster. Accompanied by the herbal oils, this head massage clears brain toxins and improves cognitive abilities like memory, concentration, etc. It also normalises the vata and pitta doshas in the body which in turn regulates the serotonin hormone and helps to reduce various symptoms of anxiety which include restlessness, uneasiness, cold hands, and feet, etc.
Enhances Sleep Quality
Be it an approaching deadline at your workplace or some kind of stress in your life, sleeplessness is common in quite a few individuals in today’s fast-paced life. Loss of sleep can be extremely debilitating and can lead to exhaustion, lethargy and can also disturb your physical and emotional being. Shirodhara treatment helps reduce the levels of cortisol which is a stress hormone and thereby attenuates stress and improves the quality, duration and provides a peaceful sleep.
How Does Shirodhara Work?
The infusion of oils or other liquids when poured onto the head and scalp produces a soothing and calming sensation on the muscles of the head, which in turn passes via the superficial peripheral nerves of the forehead to the brain. By soothing the hypothalamus, it regulates the activity of the pituitary gland and treats conditions like insomnia by inducing sleep. Shirodhara also stimulates the various vital points all around the head and improves blood circulation. The warm herbal oils used for this process causes vasodilatation of all the blood vessels and thus improves the blood circulation in the brain.
The massage brings down the elevated serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Shirodhara also reduces the level of stress hormones such as adrenaline and noradrenaline and thus relaxes the mind and thereby helps in relieving stress and tension. It also helps in alleviating different types of psychosomatic ailments like stress, tension, depression, anxiety.
What Are The Different Types of Shirodhara Massage?
Shirodhara therapy generally uses different types of herbal oils or infusions to bring about a soothing sensation to the mind and body. Depending upon the type of liquid used, it is categorized into the following types:
Taila Dhara (Thaila Dhara):
A single type of oil or a mixture of several ayurvedic oils are used in Taila dhara type of massage.
Dugadha Dhara (Ksheerdhara):
The main ingredient used in dugadha dhara is milk.
Takra Dhara (Thakradhara):
Takra dhara mostly uses buttermilk as the main ingredient.
Kwatha Dhara (Decoction):
Depending upon the diagnosed condition or dosha imbalance, the main ingredient in kwatha dhara consists of decoctions made by using various herbs.
Jala Dhara (Aqueous formulation):
Generally used in case of Pitta imbalance in the body. This type mostly uses coconut water as the main ingredient for the treatment.
Procedure Of Shirodhara Massage
Massage the head and scalp properly using an adequate quantity of oil 5 to 10 minutes before starting the procedure.
Lie on your back in the supine position on the Shirodhara table.
Keep a small pillow or towel under your neck for proper support.
Fine-tune the Shirodhara pot or equipment in such a way, so that the oil from the pot falls directly onto the forehead. Usually, the specific distance here, between the Shirodhara pot and the forehead should be about 10 cm.
Put the specific type of oil, you want to use in the Shirodhara pot and start pouring oil or the herbal liquids over the head and forehead of the patient.
Ask the patient to relax and relish the feeling coming from the oil being sprinkled onto the head.
The oil coming out of the Shirodhara pot should be in continuous motion.
Oscillate or waver the pot from one side to another side of the forehead, so that the stream of oil goes from left to right, lateral part of the forehead and vice versa.
Recollect the extra oil that has fallen from the forehead, on the table, reheat it to maintain the specific temperature of the Shirodhara oil.
Put the recollected oil back into the Shirodhara pot and again allow the oil to fall from the Shirodhara pot onto the forehead.
Continue this process for 20 to 30 minutes.
Give a light head massage to the patient throughout the process.
After the Shirodhara massage is completed, wipe off the oil or liquids from the forehead of the patient.
Allow the patient to relax for 30 to 60 minutes and allow the oil to seep deep inside the head.
What Is Shirodhara Good For?
Shirodhara For Headache And Migraine
The oils used for Shirodhara have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which potently help in relaxing the throbbing blood vessels in the head. The therapy also improves the mood of an individual and provides relief from stress-related headaches and chronic migraines.
Shirodhara For Vision Problems
This classical procedure is extremely advantageous in case of vision problems. Although not applied directly into the eye, the massage with warm herbal oils improves the eye muscles, boosts clarity and helps a person see better without any glasses. A prescribed Shirodhara therapy using eyesight improving oils if done for a fortnight shows effective results.
Shirodhara For Depression
Shirodhara therapy holds great value for treating different types of psychotic problems like depression, dementia, restlessness, etc. Thanks to the potent anti-stress, anti-depressive and anti-anxiety properties of the herbal oils at use, the therapy balances the brain chemicals i.e. neurotransmitters and ups the secretion of dopamine which in turn keeps the serotonin level under control and helps to reduce various symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Shirodhara For Hypertension
The Shirodhara treatment induces potent vasodilatory effects on the body. When the oil drops on the center of the forehead, it activates the agnya chakra, which in turn helps dilate the blood vessels and improves blood circulation throughout the body. By normalising the blood flow, it not only improves the heart functions but also enhances cardiovascular endurance which brings the blood pressure to a stable level and hence treats hypertension and abnormal pressure readings.
Shirodhara For Cognitive Abilities
The oils used in this traditional therapy have potent brain-boosting properties. Enriched with powerful antioxidants and flavonoids, they effectively improve the concentration, memory capacity, focus, calmness, and alertness of an individual. The use of Medhya Rasayana herbs in the Shirodhara oils are imbibed with neuroprotective elements that relieve the mind from stress and tension and reduces the risk of memory loss.
How Long Does It Take For Shirodhara Treatment?
The divine relaxation therapy stretches for 45-60 minutes per sitting. On the basis of the type of ailment or health concern, Shirodhara can be done for a minimum of 7 days to a maximum of 28 days.
Who Should Not Go For Shirodhara?
Shirodhara should not be done in the following conditions:
Women at the last stage of pregnancy
People having allergic reaction towards oil
People suffering from nausea, vomiting, fever, fatigue or excessive sweating conditions.
People suffering from a neck injury, brain tumour, or have cuts or abrasions on the forehead.
What Are The Side Effects Of Shirodhara?
Although Shirodhara being the ultimate restorative and regenerative therapy, has no recorded side effects, one must take proper precautions so that the oil does not enter the eyes or ears during the process.