INTERVIEWEE - Dr. Tina Dias, medical director of Medicia Clinic at Dubai Healthcare City and a certified doctor of CAM
In this article, Dr. Tina Dias, medical director of Medicia Clinic at Dubai Healthcare City and a certified doctor of CAM, explains how common hair issues can be dealt with Ayurvedic remedies.
Hair plays a very important role in beauty. The beauty industry bombards consumers with a great variety of products that, when placed on shelves and store racks, people tend to buy regardless of cost and chemical content.
Beautiful and healthy hair really does add a lot of value to one’s personality just as frequent hair fall contributes to one’s stress. Ayurveda describes how hair reflects the state of both our body and our mind. Symptoms like hair fall, premature hair greying, bald patches, dandruff, and itchy scalp are among the most common hair problems that many people have to deal with.
While Ayurveda stresses on the importance of hair care as part of a daily regimen in support of its beliefs that the state of our hair mirrors the state of both our body and mind, hair loss and many other hair problems on the other hand, are on the rise. At the beginning of the day, a woman wakes up to the sight of fallen hairs lying on her sheets, she picks up those strands and realizes she is losing hair and her day is no longer as promising. She worries about her hair growing thin, is mortified by the thought of growing bald. Her fear is one that is shared by thousands around the globe. People spend a lot of time and money in an attempt to find a cure to these ailments without realizing that the real culprits are the stressful lifestyle they maintain; the polluted environment they live in; their constant hairstyling, colouring, and treatments; and their unhealthy diet.
In an attempt to assist our readers in dealing with these hair woes, we have put together some of the concepts Ayurveda has that might prove useful in tackling this phenomenon.
1] What is the Ayurvedic perspective of hair?
As per Ayurveda, hair origin is considered to be influenced by the paternal factor. The body constitution of a person is the deciding factor about the quality of one’s hair.
A person dominated by ‘vata dosha’ has dry hair. His hair would be scarce and rough in nature, tangled and also prone to split ends. The scalp would be dry, itchy, and susceptible to dandruff.
A person dominated by ‘pitta dosha’ would have oily hair with thin strands. The hair would be soft to touch but won’t be thick in growth. It would also be brownish red in colour. The scalp will be itchy and prone to scalp irritation when scratched. He/she will also be most likely to develop boils and eczema.
Lastly, a person dominated by ‘kapha dosha’ in constitution would have wavy and strong hair that are tightly rooted to the follicles. Their hair would be thick and compact, have a natural black colour, and tend to have a nicer lustre. Dandruff can manifest when there is an imbalance of kapha and vata dosha.
2] Is a hair fall of 100 strands a day normal?
Hair follicle growth has a cyclic pattern. A hair growth cycle begins with the Anagen Phase, the longest phase of the hair’s growth, which then leads to the Catagen Phase, a brief phase that is sort of a transition to the next short resting phase called Telogen. Lastly, you have the Exogen Phase which is characterized by the falling of hair. This then leads to a new hair growth cycle of Anagen- Catagen- Telogen- Exogen all over again.
Throughout this cycle, it is observed that both women and men lose about 40 -70 hair strands each day. However, when the number of hair fall count reaches to 100, it is considered a “clinical” state of hair fall. Many times it is observed that during the growing phase of hair, certain areas of the scalp get an abnormal growth of hair, meaning there is either too much hair growth or no hair growth at all. With proper evaluation, the condition can be diagnosed.
3] What is the Ayurvedic perspective of hair fall?
Hair fall is a growing problem for many people nowadays. When there is an imbalance in vata dosha, hair fall can be very noticeable. This imbalance affects the flow of nutrition to the hair, which then causes the hair to fall.
Hair is also affected if the bones are not nourished properly as the hair is considered a byproduct of well-nourished bones.
We often see hair fall more rampant among older people, this is because old age is governed by Vata Dosha which is really prone to hair fall.
This is why hair nourishment is crucial. Balanced diet and nutrition, digestion, assimilation and elimination all play a major role in healthy hair growth and its maintenance.
4] What other factors can cause hair issues?
When we say genetics is involved, the ‘vata’ dominated constitution or body type often suffer more.
Hormonal imbalances and post pregnancy conditions, menopause, chemotherapy treatments, iron-deficiency, mental stress, irregular sleep pattern or lack of sleep, unhealthy lifestyle, excessive exposure to sun and wind can cause hair problems.
The excessive consumption of sugar and overall reliance of people on unhealthy fast food that are highly processed and packed with unhealthy preservatives also result to poor nutrition and therefore weaker hair.
Putting an excessive amount of salt and spices is a common cause of hair fall or premature greying. Vinegar which is abundant in many dishes and is also a common cause of hair fall.
If we think about it, an excess of anything leads to certain abnormalities like hair fall. Excessive heat exposure due to hair dryers and blow drying, harsh chemicals found in hair dyes, shampoos, hair gels and hair sprays contribute to the weakening of the hair, and the dreaded hair fall.
5] What are the Ayurvedic treatments for hair problems?
Ayurveda divides hair fall treatment in four steps:
Every person is unique in constitution. So it is important to look into the causative factors of the issue. If the digestion is affected then we need to regulate it, understand the toxin levels in the body and work for their elimination if required. Lifestyles would need to be altered and food habits addressed; sleep irregularities must be corrected, and the bone nourishment will become a priority in the treatment.
Hair cannot be treated superficially without correcting the root of the problem. Ayurveda has some very effective medicines to treat these root causes.
‘Ayurvedic Panchkarma Therapies’ help in hair fall treatment like Nasyam - nasal administration of medicated oils to treat hair issues, Shiroabhyangam - oleation of head to moisturize scalp, stimulate circulation. Shirolepam Ayurvedic medicine and paste application with medicines like Triphala, Amalaki and Bhringraj. Shirodahara – treatment aimed to treat stress and nervous system. Ayurveda recommends good oleation of hair on a regular basis.
Food and lifestyle changes play a major role, apart from internal and external treatment. Nutrition is very important and so is a good lifestyle. Include in your diet a lot of green leafy vegetables as well as nuts like almonds and walnuts as these are excellent hair food.
Ayurvedic Dinacharya or daily regimen includes proper sleep, waking up before 6 am, doing a proper oleation hair therapy which will stimulate circulation and relax the mind and as well as observing proper timings for eating lunch and dinner.
Stress management is an important element in hair care regimen and this can be done through meditation and yoga. Stress leads to hair fall so getting our stress levels under control remains crucial in hair care.
Moreover, any external treatment done to promote hair growth can be successful only if the root cause is treated and this is exactly what Ayurveda does, treating the root cause while giving due importance to your body constitution.
6] Can Ayurveda treat Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder but with proper treatment, it can be treated successfully with Ayurveda.
7] Any hair care tips that you can give?
Eat well, digest well, worry less, sleep well, and live a healthy lifestyle. Pick up products that are right for you. Keep your scalp moisturized with oil and wash it thoroughly to keep it clean at all times. Brush or comb in all direction and dry your hair naturally (don’t blowdry).
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