Who doesn’t want a luxuriant head of lustrous, thick and healthy hair? A healthy mane is a sure-shot sign of good health.
According to Ayurveda, hair is a waste product or mala (and what a lucrative industry the “hair” industry is!) of the bone (asthi) tissue. There are many factors that determine hair health or the lack thereof – genetics, hormones, chemicals used, scalp health, diet, lifestyle, stress, underlying disease, hydration, quality of water used for washing the hair etc. Some of the common modern day hair afflictions include damaged hair, premature hair loss, premature graying, dry, dull hair, split ends and frizz.
In Ayurveda, shirolepam is a popular hair therapy in which a herbal paste is applied to the scalp to address some of these problems. Ayurveda has a rich repertoire of effective herbs that when applied to the hair on a regular basis ensure good hair health. Some of the well-known herbs for hair health are brahmi, bhringraj, aloe, amalaki, jatamansi, henna, hibiscus etc. Some of the regular ingredients used in the kitchen are also well-known for improving hair health like fenugreek, curry leaves, coconut etc. These therapies are always most effective when combined with a sensible diet and lifestyle routine.
Including fresh fruit and a variety of vegetables, whole grains, lentils, nuts, oils, dairy and spices are the cornerstone of any Ayurvedic regimen. Of course, it is important that you eat based on the strength of your digestive fire (agni) and your mind-body constitution or prakriti. Avoid excessive sugar, sodas, junk food, processed, preservative laden and frozen foods, alcohol, caffeine and excessively spicy and oily foods etc. Some lifestyle factors that are conducive to hair health are getting quality sleep and going to bed early, regular oil application to the scalp, cleansing the scalp, regular exercise, not using hot water for the scalp, not combing wet hair very vigorously, avoiding chemicals and excessive heat treatment on the hair.
Okay, so let’s take a look at a simple hair mask recipe that you may use every time you want to give your hair a “treatment” at home. Once a week is the most frequent I would recommend and once a month is also fine. It helps improve the health of damaged hair, and reduces hair fall, graying, dryness, and frizz.
- Fenugreek seeds (methi) (1 tbsp)
- Dried Hibiscus leaves and flowers (1 heaped tbsp)
- Curry leaves (a handful)
- Henna powder (1 tsp) (can add up to 2 tbsp if using this mask to color grays – you will reduce the other ingredients accordingly to make enough for just one application)
- Coconut Oil (1 tbsp)
- Amalaki or amla powder (1 tsp) (optional)
- Bhringraj powder (1/2 tsp) (optional)
- Brahmi powder (1/2 tsp) (optional)
- Soak the fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and hibiscus leaves overnight in a little water, so that they are all completely soaked.
- In the morning, soak the dried powders mixed together in some warm water to make a paste of a consistency that is spreadable on the scalp. If you have time, let them soak for an hour or so.
- In a food processor, grind the soaked seeds and leaves until a fine paste-like consistency is achieved.
- Mix the dried powders’ paste with the above paste and grind till homogeneous.
- Add warm coconut oil to the paste and mix well.
Your hair mask is now ready! Apply it to your scalp like you would apply oil. Massage it on to the entire scalp and to the tips as well. Let the herbal paste remain for an hour or so and then wash with a mild cleanser.
Hibiscus gives the hair a nice luster and promotes hair growth. Henna and amla help in naturally covering up grays and in giving shine and body to hair. Both have a cooling effect on the scalp, so avoid doing this treatment when you have a cold, cough, fever or any sickness in general. Amla also prevents hair loss. Brahmi is a calming herb, and also helps combat dandruff. Bhringraj also helps with premature graying, and promotes hair growth and shine. Fenugreek seeds are useful for controlling dandruff and curry leaves promote healthy hair growth. Coconut oil is great for hair growth and is slightly cooling in nature.
Having a healthy head of hair may involve some work and effort – but you are so worth it! Choose wisely and live well!