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iHerb: Ayurveda and common hair problems

2 years ago

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  • ‘Your hair texture defines the integrity and condition of the cuticle layers of your hair strands’ 
Hair is the first noticeable part of beauty for women as well as men. It plays a vital role in enhancing the personality of a human. It enhances the identity, beauty, personality, and confidence in a person. Not only on the scalp, our whole body is almost covered with hair. The hair on your head is the first line of defence against the sun’s UV rays. History shows that hair is a symbol of femininity. During the time of the civil war when women went to battle, hundreds of women soldiers disguised themselves as men by cutting off their hair, eventually being imprisoned upon discovery. After the Battle of France in 1940, French women’s heads were shaved as punishment for their sexual relationships with German soldiers. Today, a woman’s hair remains a symbol of femininity. Lady Godiva’s naked ride through the streets has made her a heroine to the common people of Coventry. The image of Lady Godiva riding a horse with her body covered with only her long hair has become a symbol of civic freedom and beauty. All this evidence leads us to acknowledging how important our hair is. Why do we have hair on our body and scalp? There are several functions amongst which one of the most important functions of human hair is to insulate the human body. Hair serves as a physical barrier between cold external air and the skin, and traps warm air in between the skin and the hair, keeping the body warmer.  In the previous article we discussed our dosha types according to Ayurveda. There we said that any imbalance occurring in the unique proportionality of doshas leads to the development of various diseases, even related to scalp and hair. Individuals with a vata-dominant hair type have a texture of hair which generally remains rough in nature and also will dehydrate your scalp and hair. For those with a pitta dosha-dominant hair type, the hair texture is observed to be smooth and silky because pitta dosha is responsible for metabolism in your scalp tissues. When kapha dosha gets dominant in an individual, the hair texture remains lustrous as kapha dosha governs the oil and sebum production in your scalp tissues. Thus, kapha hair is shiny with an adequate supply of sebum to the hair strands. When this tridosha condition becomes imbalanced, then diseases and minor conditions in the scalp and hair occur. The most common diseases related to hair and scalp are grey hair (aakal-palitya), hair loss (khalitya), and dandruff (darunaka). In modern medicine, various other factors can be the reason for these conditions such as heredity, hormonal changes due to pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, thyroid problems, and scalp infections. Or it could even be due to side effects of certain drugs, such as those used for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems, gout, and high blood pressure. What are the treatments that Ayurveda recommends for such scalp and hair disorders? According to authentic texts, khalitya or hair loss is due to the imbalance of vata and pitta dosha, while an imbalanced kapha dosha will fill up in the hair follicles and prevent new growth. This condition can be prevented and treated by rejuvenation therapy, scrapping, and application of lepa on the scalp, oil massaging the head, and blood-letting treatment externally. Palithya or premature grey hair due to vitiation of pitta dosha will recourse to the head and create fatigue and over working, and make the hair grey. Among many external treatments, different hair and scalp application formulas, oil massage to the scalp with grey hair-preventing Ayurveda oils, and herbal decoctions that can be used to wash the hair are the most commonly used treatments. Ayurveda refers to dandruff as darunaka; this can occur due to the vitiation of kapha and pitta dosha on the scalp. This will give rise to itchy, rough, and scaly scalp. Anointment and fomentation are the best therapies for dandruff, while blood-letting, oil massages, and local hair applications are also recommended in Ayurveda as external treatments. Other than the prescribed external medications, internal medications play an important role in our treatment plan. They will help balance the imbalanced doshas, promote blood purification, detoxify the body, and also add micro nutrients for the body.  (The writer holds a BAMS [Hons] from the University of Colombo and a Diploma in Panchakarma, is currently reading for an Msc in Food and Nutrition from the University of Peradeniya, and is a Residential Ayurveda Medical Officer at the Christell Clinic)  

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