What Is Shirodhara?
Shirodhara is a classical Ayurvedic therapeutic procedure. For Shirodhara, an Ayurvedic practitioner prescribes an herbal oil. It's then poured in a constant, gentle stream over the forehead.
Shirodhara is often recommended as a part of Bahya Snehan (external oleation therapy) and is a popular Chikitsa Upkrama (therapy) during Panchakarma. Shirodhara balances Vata Dosha in the body, especially in the head and neck regions. It's also a quick and powerful way to calm the mind in a deep way and and support high-quality sleep.
When Is Shirodhara Right For Me?
Shirodhara is done as a preventative procedure to maintain good health and is also helpful in several diseases and their symptoms. Many of them, but certainly not all, are listed below.
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Eye issues
- Chronic stress
- Chronic cough
- Facial paralysis
- Physical stiffness
- Difficulty breathing
- Chronic headaches
- Cervical spondylosis
How Does Shirodhara Work?
A typical Shirodhara session may last 30 minutes to a full hour. It is done daily for 3, 7, 14, or 28 days. The Ayurvedic practitioner determines both the duration of each Shirodhara session and the number of days it lasts. This determination is made by a practitioner according to the patient's age, constitution, dominant dosha and severity of any diseases.
Before a Shirodhara procedure, the client is given a gentle head massage and/or body massage with oil, known as abhyanga. Then the client lies down on their back on a comfortable massage table and the Shirodhara device is adjusted so it is directly over their forehead.
The height of the Shirodhara device is adjusted in such a way that warm herbal oil falls from a height of 8 to 10 centimeters in a continuous stream. The stream should be about the thickness of the littlest finger. The practitioner who is attending to the client moves the Shirodhara vessel in such a way that the liquid pours all over the forehead.
This oil is then collected and reheated slightly more than body temperature and used in Dhara Yantra Patra. The oil is gently wiped off and a steam bath is given to the client. At the end of Shirodhara, Rasnadi Churnam is rubbed on the head.
The person who received Shirodhara should not be out in the wind or cold for at least 24 hours after treatment.
When Shouldn't I Go Through Shirodara?
If you are experiencing any of the following health issues, you should likely not undergo Shirodhara. Always consult your physician and an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner when considering any treatments.
- Brain tumors, abscesses, etc.
Typical Oils Used for Shirodhara
- Kshirabala Oil
- Chandanadi Oil
- Dhanwantaram Oil
- Maha Narayana Oil
- Brahmi Oil
- Lakshadi Oil
- Balaswagandhadi Oil
Sometimes medicated ghritams are also used used for Shirodhara. They are either warmed into a liquid state and used alone or mixed with oil, water or milk.
There are other liquids that are used in combination with either oil or ghritam during Shirodhara.
- Coconut water
- Decoction of Yashtimadhu (Glycyrrhiza glabra)
What Should I Eat After Shirodhara?
Light digestible food is recommended on the days of treatment. The patient is advised not to take stomach full of food. Fried and refrigerated foods and heavy foods should be avoided. Hot and fresh food should be taken. Hot water should be used for drinking and bathing purposes.
Ashtanga Hridaya Sutra 22/24
Ashtanga Hridaya Uttara, 24/3
Charaka Chikitsa 26/176
Charaka Siddhi Sthana 9/5
Sushruta Uttara 26/5
Disclaimer The purpose of this article is to provide information about Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have serious acute or chronic health problems, please consult a trained health professional or physician. If you are seeking the health advice of a certified Ayurvedic practitioner or doctor, please call us at (800) 215 – 9934 or email us. We will provide you with the contact information of our affiliated Ayurvedic professionals. Check with your physician before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.