Ayurveda is a holistic approach to health that is designed to help people live long, healthy, and well-balanced lives. The term Ayurveda is taken from the Sanskrit words ayus, meaning life or lifespan, and veda, meaning knowledge. It has been practiced in India for at least 5,000 years. The basic principle of Ayurveda is to prevent and treat illness with natural herbal remedies and, first and foremost, by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and consciousness through proper diet, and lifestyle.
We all know that poor diet, illness, lack of proper hygiene, and nutritional deficiencies can all affect the hair and cause various problems. Many are taking an Ayurvedic approach to maintaining healthy hair.
A Quick lesson in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, doshas are the functional intelligences within the body mind complex, they are the energies that make things happen within an organism. There are three dosha predominant constitutions; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, where two doshas are equally, or nearly equally, predominant ( Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha and Vata-Kapha; and one tridoshic Prakruti with all three doshas equally prominent Vata-Pitta-Kapha)
Everyone has Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, but usually one or two are dominant in a particular person. Stress and an unhealthy diet are among the things that can disturb the doshas balance.
Vata is the energy of movement. It is the energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and heartbeat. When it is balanced, creativity and vitality are present. When Vata is not balanced, this produces fear and anxiety.
Pitta is the energy of digestion and metabolism. It is the energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and temperature. When Pitta is balanced, contentment and intelligence are present. When it is not balanced, anger and even ulcers arise.
Kapha is the energy of lubrication and structure. It is the energy that controls growth in the body. This energy supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system. When Kapha is balanced, love and forgiveness are present. When it is not balanced, it results in insecurity and envy.
Ayurveda Holistic Hair Care
When it comes to hair care, the Ayurvedic practice of keeping the doshas balanced plays a key role in maintaining healthy hair. Along with the obvious things such as moisturizing, conditioning, protecting your ends, minimizing the use of heat, etc, incorporate the following Ayurvedic steps to ensure healthy hair.
1. Start with a nutritious diet. Eat lots of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts—avoid caffeinated drinks, spicy, fried and greasy food. Foods such as good-for-your-hair white sesame seeds, whole grains, dates and raisins, fresh yogurt, bean sprouts, and healthy fats such as olive oil, are great for overall hair health.
Cook with spices that enhance digestion and purify body tissues: turmeric, black pepper, fenugreek, coriander, and cumin are digestion-enhancing (balancing Pitta). Also, add vitamins and supplements to your diet.
2. Make a weekly hair and scalp massages part of your hair care routine in order to nourish your hair and scalp and enhance circulation (balancing Vata)—olive oil will do the trick—and you can also infuse your oil with herbs by steeping a tea bag filled with chamomile, hibiscus etc, in hot oil for a few hours then using the cooled mixture to massage scalp and/or as a hot-oil treatment.
3. Follow a regular cleansing routine (balancing Kapha). Whether you do this daily, weekly, or bi-weekly, a clean, build-up free scalp is one of the major keys to healthy hair. Remember, wash your scalp with the pads of your fingers, not your nails, and do a final rinse with cool water. Also, remember to clean your hair tools as well. Soaking brushes and combs in boiled water and/or shampoo regularly helps to get rid of dead skin cells, oils and dirt.
4. Balance all three doshas—Pitta, Vata, and Kapha—by managing stress, and getting plenty of sleep. Stress can lead to hair loss and sleep deprivation is a form of stress. Emotional or physical stress related to a death in the family, pregnancy, severe weight loss, or surgery, pushes large numbers of growing hairs into a resting phase called resulting in hair loss called telogen effluvium. Although it can take months, this type of hair loss grows back when the emotional or physical stress is resolved.
For some, intense stress may trigger a type of hair loss called alopecia areata. With this type of hair loss, white blood cells attack the hair follicle which stops hair growth and, within weeks, the affected hair falls out. This type of hair loss usually starts as a small round patch, but may eventually spread to the whole scalp, and sometimes to body hair as well. The hair generally grows back, but the cycle may repeat itself.
Keeping a journal, making time for hobbies, going for walks, and taking long baths, are just a few of the ways to manage and/or reduce stress. Try practicing Yoga and meditation, which are the primary Ayurvedic treatments for stress. By making these things a part of your lifestyle, you will see a great improvement in the health of your hair and overall health.
- Laquita Thomas-Banks