The forehead is the seat of Ajna Chakra, as such any disease or dysfunction of the forehead or head leads to a variety of disorders. Shirodhara is a form of Ayurvedic therapy that involves a continuous pouring of medicated oil, decoction, milk or buttermilk, etc. on the forehead from a specified height for a specified period of time in an alternating pendulous rhythm. The fluid is then allowed to run over the scalp and through the hair in a soothing pattern. The name Shirodhara comes from the Sanskrit words Shira (head – although in this case, it is the forehead) and Dhara (flow). The liquid that is poured upon the forehead includes oils (Tailadhara), Milk (Ksheeradhara), Buttermilk (Takradhara) or Kashayam (Ayurvedic Concoctions) (Kashayadhara).
Head is one of the most vital parts of the body and is the route of all motor (voluntary and involuntary) and sensory activities of the body. Therefore, a regulation of functions of the head is a key to management of all psychosomatic and neurological disorders.
According to Ayurveda three forces – Vata, Pitta & Kapha – govern the human biological processes. The combinations of these Doshic determinants could vary in each person but a harmony of them is essential for overall health. Ayurveda believes that the cure is in restoring the physiological and psychic balance of the patient. Enough supply of oxygen and a regulated blood circulation is key in helping the psychic and nervous system to work properly. In fact, for the whole body to work in a synchronized manner, with the signals to and from the brain, the network of nerves play a very important role.
Shirodhara, a major part of Panchakarma treatment helps clear the nervous and blood circulatory tracts in our body, and with better blood circulation the brain gets a greater supply of oxygen. The three bodily state of doshas helps in delineating which type of liquid will be used in the procedure of Shirodhara. All treatments have to be done based on the recommendations of the Ayurvedic medical practitioner.
Shirodhara therapy has been found to have anxiolytic, adaptogenic and tranquilizing effects. It is a sort of relaxation therapy which releases mental tensions; relieve anxiety and results in a calmer outlook without producing a marked degree of sedation and gross alteration of consciousness. Shirodhara may also stimulate the 4s area in prefrontal lobe of the brain which is a seat of learning, memory, and behavior.
Shirodhara is used to treat several disorders but is also helpful for relaxing purposes. The diseases include insomnia, memory loss, premature greying of hair, eye diseases, hearing impairment, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, skin disorder like psoriasis, hypertension and so on. Shirodhara also helps to soothe the mental disorders like anxiety, emotional imbalances, depression, insomnia, schizophrenia, etc.
Shirodhara according to types of fluid used and therapeutic benefits
In this form, oil is the liquid administered. The oil or Taila used in this treatment is a medicated/ Ayurvedic formulation and is tailored according to the patient’s doshas or bodily physiognomies. Tailadhara is greatly beneficial for paralytic patients.
Kashayadhara: The medium is Kashaya(specific Ayurvedic concoctions). The Kashaya or decoction used is based on the health or disease condition of the receiver.
Medicated milk is used in Ksheeradhara. It is good for reducing insomnia, headaches and mental tension.
Medicated buttermilk or Takra is used in accordance with the dosha. Takradhara is particularly beneficial for reducing blood pressure level, treating chronic dryness of the mouth (Sjogren syndrome), excessive thirst and psoriasis.
After the completion of the procedure, the head is to be wiped off. Then it is advised to take a warm medicated bath or shower. Then ghee is used to provide internal oleation. The receiver of the therapy is advised to take adequate rest and it is not recommended to undergo excessive exertion either physically or mentally.