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Jul06
Hair care; Ayurvedic approach
Hair Care; Ayurvedic approach
(Dr. Santosh Jalukar)

Importance of hair:
The moment a person looks into a mirror, first he shapes the hair. Practically it is a dead tissue like nails which does not have nerve endings. Even then we try to take care from all different angles. There are end numbers of products in the market for hair care. More and more products are being introduced daily and are being advertised in various media. Few years ago some hair oil was introduced in the market claiming that it will even grow hair on the palms. The company made huge sale and then the truth was revealed. Hair is such an important feature for humans that people spend enormous amount and time for its care. One Marathi poem “Shepta”, written by advocate Ratnaparkhi has a great humor hidden in the contents. One boy appeared for SSC exam and a girl sitting ahead on the bench had wonderful long hair. This poor guy was simply staring at her hair and could not even write a single word in the exam. Apart from humor in this poem, it is true that hair has phenomenal role in the life of human being. It is therefore essential to understand various aspects of hair care from Ayurvedic point of view.
What is Hair?
According to Ayurvedic theory, hair is a bi-product of bones. If the bones are healthy, the strength and growth of hair will be good. If there are some diseases associated to bones or had a fracture, it seriously affects the hair growth. After successful treatment the hair falling stops and the hair growth becomes noticeable. According to Ayurvedic principles, the bones have Vata dosha and the best treatment to take care of this, is oil. Therefore importance of oil in relation to hair care is unquestionable. It is true that some people have good and strong hair despite not using any oil for life time and some people have serious hair problems even after using good quality of oils. There is an influence of genetic inheritance in such cases and also some role of wrong diet and life style.
Why females are seldom bald:
In males, 30% of adults over the age of 50 are bald. But this ratio is extremely low in case of females. No doubt, females complain more about hair fall but it is also true that they are not totally bald like males. Ayurvedic principle of Dosha may give some explanation in this area. There is regular blood loss by way of menstruation which helps to eliminate Pitta from their body which prevents hair falling. In contrast, males have testosterone hormone which is of Pitta type and hence leads to weaken the hair roots. Testosterone is a male hormone and more of this makes and individual more capable of performing sex. Therefore bald people are sexier than other normal people. Females also have this hormone but the quantity is very less compared to men.
Diseases of hair: Hair falling, dandruff and graying of hair are three main worrying conditions. First of all it is essential to understand that whether they should be really called as diseases? About 10% of the scalp hairs remain in resting phase. The areas are different and this phase remains for about 6 months. During this resting phase, the nutrition to hair roots is deficient and they tend to fall with even little pull. After falling, there is a chance of re-growth at the same place provided the nutrition gets reestablished. Therefore this type of hair falling should not be considered as disease but it’s a part of physiological process. Dandruff is a kind of fungal infection of scalp which is not the disease of hair. Therefore its treatment should have a totally different approach. Using anti-dandruff shampoos is just useful in washing off the dandruff. It has nothing to do with the formation of dandruff. Second important thing about so called anti-dandruff shampoos, they remain in touch with the scalp for just 10-15 seconds. Immediately after foaming, it is washed with water. In such situation how can one expect to have any effect on the skin (scalp)? If you expect some therapeutic activity to exert on the skin, it should remain in contact for at least an hour or so. Therefore dandruff should be treated with good anti fungal lotion like neem, then only it is logical. The third issue about hair is graying at an early age. Basically hair is white in colour. A black coloured protein pigment by the name keratin makes it black. Due to ageing, the body physiology weakens and the production of keratin lessens. Hence the hair colour starts becoming white, which is its original colour indeed. It is like a cloth fades the colour and becomes dull after washing several times.
Hair care approach: Hair falling, dandruff and graying of hair are three main worrying conditions. So let us see one after another. Our diet is responsible for the formation of blood, bones, skin, hair and practically all the tissues in the body. Therefore, for any health concern, dietary modification is one of the most important factors. In case of hair related issues, salt is considered as 1st enemy. Hair falling and graying is very common in those who consume excess salt in the diet. Other preparations like pickles and papad contain more salt as a part of recipe; hence these items should be restricted. It is always good to have slightly less salt than having slightly more as a routine. These small modifications can also prevent hair falling due to genetically inherited pattern to some extent. Ayurvedic embryology states that hair are prominently inherited by father. Hence usually the hair falling starts at the same age as of father’s. There is no thumb rule but in many cases these theories have shown truth. In case of hair treatments, we hardly consider anything except hair-oil and shampoo. There are many factors like diet, lifestyle, exercise, genetic inheritance, oral medicine nasal treatment etc. Our thinking limitations ate restricted to hair oils and shampoos because of the competitive advertisements in media. Many people ask “which is good a shampoo?” The answer to this question is “all are good if the pH is normal”. The most important part of shampoo is the pH should not be acidic or alkaline. The gimmick about herbal shampoos is that, these shampoos contain same chemicals as in the normal shampoo. It only contains little fraction percentage of herbal essence of may be a drop of herbal extract. They are 99.99% same as synthetic shampoo. Then calling them herbal is just a marketing gimmick. It is irrational to expect any added therapeutic effect from such shampoos. Shampoos are just emulsifiers, help to dissolve oily secretions and then wash away with water. They do not have any effect as far as the growth and strength of hair and also nothing to offer towards dandruff control. I don’t mean that chemical shampoos are harmful but using herbal shampoos and expecting some added benefits is absolutely illogical.
How to treat hair fall: There are herbs like Guduchi, Amla, Maka, Brahmi, Gokshur, Kasis, Mandoor, Shringa which stops hair fall in 5 to 7 days. There are some readymade formulations available in the market containing all these ingredients in proper dosage. The oral treatment must be taken for 3 months and should be repeated for another 3 months after a gap of 2-3 weeks. The reason is the body gets used to the recipe and then does not respond unless a break is given. Besides this, oil is the essential constituent for treating hair fall. But only application of oil over the head is not sufficient. It is just like spraying water or fertilizers on the leaves of the plant which does not serve the purpose of nurturing the plant. The oil should reach the base of the scalp. It can be achieved only by putting the drops of oil in the nostrils. Ayurveda defines this treatment modality as Nasya. One should lie down on a bed with the neck tilted down and then put 4 drops of oil in both nostrils. Various formulations are recommended according to the constitution of an individual. For general purpose, plain Til oil (oil expressed from sesame seeds) is good. Chemotherapy treatment is one cause of extreme hair fall. To prevent this, fresh Amla juice 30 to 40 ml twice daily is recommended. This should be started 2 weeks prior to the treatment schedule. It not only prevents hair fall but also supports the treatment and accelerates the healing process owing to strong antioxidant property of this miracle fruit. In case of alopecia areata, (a patchy hair fall) paste made from seed of Jamalgota (Croton seed) should be applied once in a week over the hairless patch. It irritates a lot and some times even blisters may appear on the area. In such event, application of coriander paste can suppress the symptoms.
Summary:
1. Use any shampoo of standard company, its pH should be neutral.
2. Shampoo does not stop the formation of Dandruff, it just helps to wash.
3. Oral medicine is essential to facilitate adequate nutrition to the hair root.
4. Drink fresh Amla (Indian gooseberry) juice regularly.
5. Reduce salt intake and avoid recipes containing more salt like pickles and papad.
6. Nasal medication (Oil drops) is inevitable for getting assured results.
7. Sleep in time, getup in early and perform little but regular exercise.

Dr. Santosh Jalukar (Mumbai)
Tel.: 9969106404


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