Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
A festival and religious ceremony of immense grandeur occurs at a small historical place named Shravanabelagola, Hassan District, Karnataka State, South India, once in 12 years. This is in reverence (veneration) to a 57 feet monolithic statue of ‘Lord Siddha Bahubali or Gomateshwara’. This is called as Mahamastaka Abhisheka meaning sacred and ritualistic pouring of holy liquids on the head of Bahubali or ‘head anointing of Gommateshwara’.
It is a popular festival in Southern part of India wherein lakhs of people gather to witness this extravagant event from all over the world. For a period of 2 weeks, the statue is anointed and bathed continuously with libations such as milk, sugarcane juice, oil, ghee, water, tender coconut water, rice flour, kashaya (herbal conction), kalka churna (herbal pastes), chandana (coloured sandal paste), Ashtagandha (8 varieties of sandal paste), saffron paste, saffron mixed water, turmeric mixed water, powders of (liquids mixed with) sandalwood, turmeric and vermilion, gold and silver flowers etc. They are all poured over the head of the statue one after the other. After the completion of this event, the worship is only done to the holy feet of the Lord until the next Abhisheka which happens only after another 12 years.
For the next 12 years the statue stands proudly welcoming all extremes of climate. But the fact is in the 1000 odd years of its history, the gigantic statue has not developed a single crack or fissure or has it withered!! The statue is so graceful and presents itself with an attractive lustre.
Don’t you find it interesting!!
More than that you may be surprised so as to why an Ayurvedic doctor is describing a statue and festival rather than telling something about medicine and treatment!!
Let me explain, this has something to do with an Ayurvedic treatment which I am going to explain in this article. This treatment is called Shiro Dhara (Shirodhara). This is a treatment in which the medicated liquids are poured in streams over the head of the patient (healthy people can also undergo) for a stipulated amount of time. The treatment is carried out for 2-3 weeks (depending on the condition of the disease and diseased).
The logic is, if a stone statue standing exposed to extremes of climate can stand strong without being ruffled, shuffled and withered for 12 long years just after 1 day of anointment, what would be the effect of stream pouring of medicated fluids over the head of the patient?
Yes! Shirodhara is a highly effective treatment from the leafs of Ayurvedic wisdom which makes the person undergoing it strong and immune, physically and mentally such that he or she can tolerate the extremes of life including diseases, stress etc, can overcome their health related issues, remain ageless, fell-good, look-good and obtain the armour of prevention to many psycho-somatic illnesses.
What is Shirodhara?
Shirodhara or Shiro Dhara is a word comprising of 2 terms, Shiro meaning head, Dhara meaning pouring in stream or sprinkling
Thus ShiroDhara means pouring the liquid medicines in stream over the head of the patient (or healthy person) for a stipulated amount of time
Sirodhar, Shirodhar, Shiro dharam.
Shiro Seka (means almost the same as Shiro Dhara), Shirodhara comprises of pouring of cold and or warm fluids but in Shiro Seka essentially warm fluids are poured
Shiro Sechana (same meaning as Shiro Seka)
Category of Shirodhara:
Shirodhara is a procedure which is included in the category of Murdhni Taila (various methods of applying oil over the head). It is a type of Bahya Snehana (using of oil and conducting treatments over the body, externally).
It can also be selectively brought in as a treatment option for many Vata related disorders and disorders affecting the head & sense organs and for control and prevention of many psychosomatic disorders.
Ayurveda considers the human body as an inverted tree wherein the roots are at the top and the branches pointing downwards.
If the human body is considered to be a tree –
The head of the human body will be considered to be the roots of this tree,
The central portion of the body made up of thorax and abdomen is said to be the trunk of this tree and
The limbs (upper and lower) are considered to be the branches of this tree
Just like the roots nurture and controls all the activities and well being of the tree, the head is the operational centre of the entire body. The head comprises of all the components and machinery to control the entire body mechanics and dynamics.
Head is an abode of the remote control of the entire body – ‘The Brain and nerves’ and all the components which keep us attached and attracted to this material world – ‘The Sense Organs’. For these reasons, the head is called as ‘Uttamanga’ – ‘The best organ of the lot in the body’
The head is made up of brain and sense organs which manipulates the whole body and mind functions and keep us healthy when they are in a frame of well being. Head thus forms a control station for all our life activities. When we take care of the control station properly, the whole body factory will function smoothly.
On the other hand, to get rid of any body or mind related illness we need to go back to the control station (uttamanga) called head and address it with suitable treatments and medications.
This also gives us an impression that the most ancient science called Ayurveda very well knew that most of our diseases occur due to disturbed mind or exacerbated by a disturbed mind. Healing the body or mind alone is not a comprehensive medical approach. They should be handled as a single entity.
Since taking care of the head and its components is mandatory for maintaining a healthy life we need to nurture, pamper, relax, soothe and strengthen the engine of our system by conducting Shiro Abhyanga and other treatments mentioned in Moordha Taila or Murdhni Taila.
Shirodhara treatment is advised for prevention of many psychosomatic disorders. Prevention of diseases pertaining to body, mind and sense organs is the first indication.
Below mentioned are the indications of Shiro Dhara (in general):
Aroomshikaa shiraha toda daaha paaka vraneshu tu
Parisheka… (Ref – Ashtanga Hridaya Sutra 22/24)
Arumshika – Boils in the head (scalp)
Shiro Toda – Pricking pain in the head
Shiro Daha – Burning sensation in the head
Shiro Paka – Suppuration in the head (inflammation leading to formation of pus or pus pockets)
Shiro Vrana – Boils wounds or ulcers in the head
Vaataghna dashamoolaadi siddha ksheerena sechanam (Ref – Ashtanga Hridaya Uttara, 24/3)
Shiroroga – Shiro Dhara is highly beneficial in diseases afflicting the head and headaches. Acharya Vagbhata (ancient Ayurvedic teacher and doctor) has indicated the benefits of Kshira shiro dhara (stream pouring of milk processed with medicines over the head) in Shiro roga. He suggests conducting stream pouring of milk processed with Dashamula (10 herbal roots) or Vataghna dravyas (Vata pacifying herbs) over the head for obtaining unparalleled relief from disorders of head and headaches.
Shiro vireka seka aadi sarva visarpa nrut cha yat (Ref – Charaka Siddhi 9/73)
Shankaka – Acharya Charaka (ancient Ayurveda physician and teacher) mentions Shiro Seka (Synonymous with Shiro dhara) as one of the remedy for Shankaka Shira Shula (Headache afflicting the temple regions)
Paitte Ghritam payaha sekaaha lepaaha sa naavanaaha (Ref – Charaka Chikitsa 26/176)
Pittaja Shira Shula – In headaches caused due to morbid (vitiated) Pitta, Shiro Seka (Shiro Dhara) shall be done with medicated ghee and or milk
Vaataghna siddaihi ksheeraihi cha sukha ushnaihi sekam aacharet (Ref – Sushruta Uttara 26/5)
Vataja Shiroroga (Vataja Shira Shula) – In the diseases of head caused by Vata morbidity or headaches caused by vitiated Vata, lukewarm milk processed with Vata alleviating herbs should be used for Shiro Seka (Shiro Dhara)
Shiro Dhara is used to treat many diseases occurring due to Shiro Abhihata or damage to the head and its components either from exterior injuries or due to morbid doshas from within.
Consequence of head injury (Shiro abhihata) –
Shirasya abhihate manyaastambha ardita chakshu vibhrama moha udveshtana cheshtaa naasha kaasa shvaasa hanugraha muka gadgadatva akshi nimeelana ganda spandana jrumbhana laalaasraava svarahaani vadana jihmatvaadeeni (Ref- Charaka Siddhi Sthana 9/5)
When the head gets injured it causes one or the other of –
Manyastambha – Stiffness of neck, nape (Cervical spondylosis, torticollis)
Ardita – Facial paralysis, Bells Palsy
Chakshu vibhrama – Deviation of eye, squint
Moha – Loss of consciousness
Udveshtana – cramps
Cheshta nasha – Loss of activities
Kasa – Cough
Shwasa – Dyspnoea, breathlessness
Hanugraha – Lock jaw
Mooka – Dumb
Gadgadatva – Stammering of speech
Akshi nimeelana – Difficulty in opening the eyes
Ganda spandana – Pulsating sensation or pulsations or twitching in the cheeks
Jrumbha – Yawning
Lala srava – salivation
Svara hani – Total loss of voice
Mukha Jihmata – crookedness of the face etc
Other indications –
Shiro Roga / Shira Shula – Different types of headaches and diseases pertaining to head
Pakshaghata – Hemiplegia, paralysis
Anidra – sleeplessness
Vata prakopa – to control the vitiated Vata
Vata Roga – diseases of Vata origin, mainly degenerative diseases
Pitta Roga – diseases of Pitta origin, mainly inflammatory diseases
Shiro rukshata – dryness of the head
Shiro kandu – itching in the scalp etc
Raktagata Vata – Hypertension
Palitya – Premature greying of hairs
Klama – Tiredness, fatigue
Dosha kopa – Aggravation of Doshas
Ojakshaya – Low immunity
Kara-charana parisphotanam – Cracks and fissures in the hands (palm) and foot (sole)
Mutradosham – Urinary disorders
Sandhi shaitilya – Laxity and loss of integrity of joints (fragile joints)
Hridroga – Heart diseases
Agnimandhya – Sluggish metabolism
Aruchi – Tastelessness / Anorexia
Karna roga – Diseases of the ear
Netra roga – Diseases of the eye
Kitibha / Ekakushta – Psoriasis
Ardhavabhedaka / Suryavarta – Hemicrania / Migraine headache
Smriti Nasha – Loss of memory / Alzheimer’s disease
Khalitya – Hair loss and hair fall
Darunaka – Dandruff
Madhumeha janya Vataroga (Vataja Prameha) – Diabetic neuropathy
Pakshaghata – Paralysis
Avasada – Depression
Shiro Dhara Procedure
Shiro dhara is done in the below said method –
Purvakarma (Pre-treatment procedures): This includes –
Preparation of the patient:
The patient is thoroughly examined using Ayurvedic tools and methods of examination. The Prakriti (basic constitution) and Vikriti (details of morbidity) are documented in detail. The disease is also examined with the help of Ayurvedic parameters of diagnosis (and also modern investigations as and when required). After careful assessment, it is decided if Shirodhara is suitable to the disease and diseased or not. The treatment line-up, materials and medicines which need to be used are enlisted.
The patient is advised to shave the head (according to their convenience) or make it as short as possible. Shiro Dhara done after removal of hairs will yield better results than done with hair intact.
Preparation for the treatment:
Materials needed for the treatment are collected beforehand. They are:
Shiro Dhara is done using a wide variety of medicated fluids
Taila (herbal oils) for Taila Shirodhara –
The basic material needed for Taila Shirodhara (stream pouring of herbal oils) is oil. The oil shall be sesame oil (unless specified), coconut oil or any herbal oil.
The procedure is to prepare the medicated oil (oil processed with herbal decoctions) according to the constitution of the patient or the nature of morbidity.
It is not practical to prepare medicines instantly now days as all raw materials are not available at a given point of time nor any pharmacy equipped with all the raw materials needed to prepare various medicated oils.
In these cases the doctor should judiciously plan and short list a few oils mentioned in the classics which can be generally used in many conditions. These medicines shall be prepared in the pharmacy or hospital.
Alternatively, the medicines (medicated oils) are readily available in bottled forms now days. They shall be collected before hand and the stocks of the same shall be maintained.
The oils shall be – Prakriti (constitution) specific, Vikriti (morbidity or nature of disease) specific and Dosha (involved dosha) specific.
The below mentioned oils are usually preferred for conducting Shirodhara–
Tila tailam – sesame oil
Chandanabala Lakshadi Tailam
Karpasasthyadi Tailam etc
Options according to morbidity: Ksheerabala Tailam and Chandanabala Lakshadi Tailam in pitta morbidity and Dhanwantaram Tailam or Mahanarayana Tailam is used in Vata morbidity etc.
Doctors can do the permutations and combinations of choice of medicine and their subtypes based on their wisdom and experience. Different oils can be mixed and used depending on the practical experience and judgement of the physician.
Shirodhara can also be done in healthy individuals. In predominance of Vata, Kapha or Vata-Kapha morbidity or diseases caused due to them, warm or hot oil should be used. In case of Pitta predominance or Pitta disorders, cold oils should be used.
In Pitta disorders, warm oil or ghee can be used for Shirodhara. Oil and or ghee shall be used in predominance of Vata, In morbidity wherein vitiated pitta and rakta (blood) are associated ghee shall be used for massage, Tila taila (sesame oil) should be used in Kapha disorders, In disorders caused by vitiated Vata, Pitta and Rakta – oil and ghee should be mixed in equal proportions to conduct Shiro Abhyanga. In Kapha association oil and ghee should be taken in 1:1/2 proportions.
Ksheera Shirodhara (stream pouring of medicated milk) –
The medicated milk is prepared on a daily basis for this treatment. Minimum of 3 liters of processed milk is needed for the treatment. For this 3 liters of milk and 6 liters of water are processed with 750 grams (approximately) of medicinal herbs, mainly Dashamula (10 roots), Musta (Cyperus rotundus) etc until 3 liters remains. The contents are filtered to separate the solid herbs. The herbal milk extract thus obtained is allowed to cool by itself. When it gets warm, it is used for conducting Shirodhara.
Takra Shiro Dhara (Stream pouring of medicated buttermilk) –
Here, buttermilk processed with Amalaki is used. Read more about Takradhara liquid preparation, indication etc
Ghrita Shiro Dhara – Medicated ghee is also used for stream pouring over the head in cases of Pitta and or Rakta (blood) vitiation and the diseases having their origin from them. Plain ghee of cow can also be used.
Some of the medicated ghee used for Shiro Dhara is as below mentioned –
Murchita Ghrita etc
Other medicated liquids used for Shiro Dhara (Rarely used in clinical practice) –
Ikshu Rasa – Sugarcane juice (In pitta related disorders)
Kanji (dhanyamla) – Sour fermented herbal liquid
Dadhi Mastu – Buttermilk or supernatant layer of curds
Madhu – Honey
Sharkarodaka – Sugared water or Sugar syrup
Stanya – Breast milk (severe temperature in fevers) etc
Points to note –
In Vata predominance or Vata disorders – the liquids shall be used lukewarm
In Pitta and or Rakta vitiation and disorders caused by them – cold liquids shall be used
In Vata vitiation only Tila Taila (sesamum oil) can be used
In Pitta and or Rakta vitiation – plain Ghrita (ghee) can be used
Shiro Dhara apparatus
Dhara Droni (Dhara Table) – It is a special table designed for conducting the treatment of Dhara. The table is generally made out of oil proof wood so that the oil doesn’t percolate through the wood. This caution is taken because the table is used for multipurpose. Treatments like Taila dhara (medicated oil pouring over the body),
Abhyanga (massage using medicated oils) etc are also carried over on the same table apart from Takra Dhara. The table is also called by the name Taila Droni (Taila meaning oil, Droni meaning table).
The table is made up of woods of medicinal plants like Plaksha (Ficus lacor), Udumbara (Ficus glomerata), Chandana (sandal wood), Varuna (Crataeva nurvala), Devadaru (Cedrus deodara), Ashoka (Saraca asoka), Amra (mango), Nimba (neem), Bilwa (Aegle marmelos), Arjuna (Terminalia arjuna), Khadira (Acasia catechu), Agnimantha (Clerodendrum phlomidis) etc. its dimensions are that which can accommodate the body of an average individual.
Parts of the table:
Anterior or upper compartment or head compartment – This is approximately 2 ½ to 3 feet in length and of similar dimension in breadth. It has an elevated portion for head support at the junction of anterior and posterior compartments. It forms a bridge between an elongated portions of the table meant to accommodate the rest of the body from a small chamber (portion of table) which is extended behind the head end.
On this portion, there is a small depression to accommodate the occipital portion of the head. Just behind this head support the portion of this compartment (chamber) has a depression. The medicines poured on the head as a part of Shirodhara collects in this chamber (depression) and flows back into an orifice or tapered opening (a draining part which descends downwards) at its center a few inches away from the crown of the head and gets collected in another collection pot / vessel. This too can be recycled and reused just like the liquid of Sarvangadhara is done.
Posterior or lower compartment or body compartment: This portion is a continuity of head compartment and is meant for the patient to lie down (accommodates the body of the patient). It measures roughly between 7 ½ to 8 feet in length and 2 ½ to 3 feet in breadth. The foot end of the table consists of an orifice or a tapered opening through which the liquid poured over the patient’s body flows down into a collection vessel.
This collected liquid can be reheated and reused for the Dhara until the completion of treatment duration. (This portion comes into use when treatments like Sarva Abhyanga or full body herbal oil massage, Sarvanga Dhara or stream pouring of medicinal fluids all over the body etc treatments are conducted in combination with Shiro Dhara).
The height of the table is roughly 2 ½ to 3 feet from the ground with an adjustable option.
The Dhara stand: This is a stand made up of wood or metal and is placed exactly behind the head end of the table. The stand has a hook at the top whose height can be adjusted to varying lengths. The stand is roughly 6 to 7 feet in height with a tripod or circular base.
The Dhara Pot: This is a vessel usually made up of metal or earthen material. A small hole is made at the bottom of the vessel so as to accommodate a cotton wick or a cloth. A sterile cloth or wick is passed through the hole such that a portion of it lies within the vessel and a couple of inches of its length lie outside the vessel. The portion within the vessel is knotted such that it almost blocks the hole. The idea is that the liquid should drip down slowly through the cloth instead of falling in a big stream through the hole. The vessel is suspended from the stand with the help of the hook such that the wick comes to lie a few inches above the mid part of the forehead of the lying patient.
The collection pot / vessel: This vessel is placed at the bottom of the drain at the head end of the table. It collects the fluid coming down from the head compartment and the attendant placed for collection keeps refilling the dhara pot in the collection pot. Thus the liquid medicine collected in the collection vessel is recycled until the procedure is completed. When one collection pot is removed another pot is kept in place.
Other materials required –
A stove: To warm the medicine in case the doctor advises the medicament to be kept warm during the treatment procedure.
Steel vessels: 2 in number for preparation of the medicines needed for dhara.
2 small vessels
Sterile cotton pads and bandage cloth: To pad the patient’s eye during the procedure
Large Spoons – 2 in number, to mix the medicaments during preparation and subsequently during treatment
Sterile clothes: (For wiping after treatment) Sterile clothes, sponges, napkins or tissue papers for wiping etc
Chair / Stools: For the Doctor / attendants to be seated
Small Pillow: For neck support
Man Power: If the doctor himself is conducting the treatment he may need 1 or 2 assistants to help him in the procedure. Even otherwise a minimum of 3 people would be needed to carry on the treatment in an uninterrupted way.
Pradhana Karma – Treatment proper (Shiro dhara procedure):
Swasthi Vachana (welfare prayers) –
The patient or the person who is supposed to take Shirodhara is brought into the treatment room after having conducted Prayers, worship and holistic rituals and recitation of hymns as indicated in Ayurveda texts. This is done for the welfare of the patient and for the success of the treatment.
The patient should have undressed to their convenience. Alternatively they may be allowed to wear a thin dress (after having conducted massage)
The main procedure will be done as said below
Patient examination on the day of treatment:
On the day of the treatment vital parameters should be examined viz pulse reading, BP recording, conjunctiva, temperature etc. interrogation regarding the recently developed complaints if any should be done.
The treatment shall be suspended or postponed in case of presence of complaints like cold, congestion, weakness or fatigue, fever, jaundice, menstrual periods in women or any other serious complaints or the exacerbation of the same on the day of treatment.
A treatment protocol should be maintained. Important findings and changes should be noted on a daily basis throughout the length of the treatment procedure.
The main procedure of Shiro Dhara shall be carried over after confirming that the patient is absolutely fit to undergo the same.
Placement of patient, attendants and dhara vessel:
The patient shall be made to lie on the Dhara table with his head resting on the elevation at the head end. A small pillow is placed as a neck support beneath the neck of the patient. The head end of the table shall be facing east or north direction (According to Ayurveda, the direction in which a treatment or medicine is administered will also add to the effect of the results). Massage with medicated oils can be given to the whole body (optional) before Dhara.
Cotton pads are placed on the eyes of the patient to avoid the medicament’s entering the eyes. The pads can also be tied lightly in position around the eyes as an alternative.
The doctor conducting the treatment or the chief attendant should stand or be seated at the head end. One more attendant should be seated near the collecting vessel.
The Dhara stand should be placed vertically near the head end
The Dhara vessel fitted with the cotton wick or sterile cloth in the opening at the bottom should be suspended from the hook with the help of a chain or thick rope such that the wick is at a height of at least 2 feet above the midpoint of the centre of the patient’s forehead
The Dhara vessel should be filled with the medicine (medicated liquid)
Conducting the procedure of Dhara:
The attendant adjusts the level of Dhara pot / vessel such that the wick / cloth fit to the hole at the bottom of the vessel is a couple of inches above the mid-point of the forehead of the lying patient. The vessel is filled with medicated liquid. The medicine oozes through the wick / cloth and falls on the forehead of the patient in a stream. The attendant keeps swinging the vessel slowly across the patients head so that the medicine falls all over the scalp uniformly. Simultaneously the head is lightly massaged for better effect.
The liquid medicine now goes down the drain and gets collected in the collecting vessel at the bottom of the table. The second attendant removes the collection vessel once it is full and places another empty vessel beneath the connecting drain. He or she now pours the liquid medicine collected in the vessel back into the Dhara pot. This recycling of liquid medicine is done until the procedure gets finished within the stipulated / prescribed duration.
Procedure of heating the liquid –
The medicinal liquids used for Shirodhara should not be heated directly on fire (whenever heating is needed, not all procedures need heating of liquids ex, sugarcane juice etc). The liquid is taken in a small bowl. Another big vessel should be filled with water, kept on fire (stove) and heated until it boils. The small bowl consisting of the medicine should be placed over the boiling water. The liquid should be allowed to get warm passively. The bowl should be removed after checking the temperature of the liquid with the help of sterile fingers and after making sure that it is warm.
Height from which the Dhara (stream should fall):
The liquid used in Dhara should fall from a height of at least 4-6 inches. This means to tell that the end of the wick should be at least 4-6 inches above the forehead of the patient
Temperature of Dhara fluid:
The temperature of medicine shall be cold in Pitta condition and lukewarm in Vata and Kapha association
Note: In case medicated buttermilk, milk, sugarcane juice etc are used for dhara, they should be taken or prepared fresh on each day. They should not be reused. The oil or ghee also should not be reused after a certain period. They shall be changed on 3rd and 5th days (in case a 7 day schedule is fixed and regularly if treatment is planned to be done beyond 7 days).
Change of medicine:
Ksheeradhara – The milk should be changed every day while conducting Ksheeradhara. This means to tell that the medicine should be prepared fresh on a daily basis.
Dhanyamla dhara – The Dhanyamla liquid can be used for 3 days without changing it. Fresh Dhanyamla should be used after 3 days. (Medicine should be changed on 4th, 7th, 10th day etc)
Snehadhara – The oil or ghee shall also be changed once in 3 days. Generally the oil used on first day is used for 3 days. This oil is stored in a bottle or vessel. On 4th day fresh oil is taken. This oil is used for Parisheka unto 6th day. On 7th day, both this oil is mixed with the oil used for first 3 days and Shirodhara is carried out. Again on the 8th day fresh oil is taken for the treatment.
For best results of the treatment, the oil should be changed on daily basis. Since the medicinal oils will be very costly and will add on to the cost of the treatment, everyone can not afford to get it changed every day. When the same oil is used on 2nd day or 3rd day, the sweat and dirt of the body too gets mixed in the oil which may lessen its efficacy. For those who cannot afford the cost of the treatment, the same oil can be continued for 7 days.
Kashaya dhara – The Kashaya shall be prepared fresh every day
Takra Dhara – The medicated buttermilk also should be prepared on a daily basis and taken fresh every day
Ikshu Rasa (Sugarcane juice), Dadhi Mastu – buttermilk or supernatant layer of curds, Madhu – Honey, Sharkarodaka – Sugared water or Sugar syrup, Stanya – Breast milk, everything should be taken fresh on a daily basis.
Paschat Karma of Shiro Dhara (Post-treatment procedures and follow up):
Cleaning: The patient’s scalp is wiped with a sterile cloth and the body is swabbed with warm sponging.
If further treatments are not planned after Shiro Abhyanga, the person should be allowed to relax for a while. The body should not be immediately exposed to cold or cold measures. Doing so might induce some symptoms like cold, headache etc.
Any excess oil dripping around should be wiped off using sterile clothes or tissue papers or sterile cotton pads.
Tala Dharana – Procedures conducted on the head like Murdhni Taila (including Shirodhara) will sometimes cause acute cold and cold related symptoms like running nose, sneeze etc. Some people of Vata or Kapha constitution can catch up with cold after the treatment. Therefore as a precautionary measure, every day after the completion of Shiro Dhara, a small amount of Rasnadi Churna herbal powder is rubbed over the head.
Rasnadi Churna is applied on the forehead and rubbed for few seconds. This powder induces warmth in the head and sense organs and keeps the cold and related symptoms at bay. If not, the cold will develop into headache and breathing problems due to post-nasal drip and produce a hinderance to the smooth conduct of the treatment. This will combat the cold induced by the treatment procedure.
Alternatively the paste of Rasnadi Churna is applied on the crown of the sclap, a sterile cotton pad placed over it (alternately the leaves of Vata alleviating leaves viz Eranda Patra or Ricinis communis or Nirgundi Patra or Vitex negundo etc. are placed over the applied paste) and a bandage cloth is tied around the scalp.
Swedana (Bashpa Swedana) – Fomentation or steam bath with herbal decoction is given on the preference of the physician especially in Hypertension associated with Vata and Kapha symptoms. It is usually done 1 hour after the treatment.
Snana (Bath): If the patient is being treated as in patient, warm water bath is advised after a couple of hours after treatment or after Swedana. Water processed with Dashamoola (10 roots), Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Nimba (Azadirachta indica) etc is used for bathing purpose.
Warm water processed with Amalaki, Triphala or Chandana shall be used for head bath. The oil shall be removed using green gram flour or herbal soaps or shampoos. Siddharthaka Snana Churna is readily available (bathing powder) for bathing purposes. Hot water should not be used over the head because it can damage the sense organs. Patient is advised to take a refreshing hot water bath after going home or after a few hours if the patient is being handled as in-patient. Otherwise the patient is advised to take a warm bath at home.
Herbal water or decoctions – After hot water shower, decoctions like Shunti Kwatha, Jeerakadi Kwatha or Gandharvahastadi Kwatha should be administered for oral intake either in the clinic or hospital or at home after discharge. These herbal extracts keep correcting the disturbed metabolism in the body and also keep micro-cleansing the system by removing blocks from the cells.
Diet and lifestyle recommendations
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 are avoided. Hot and fresh food should be taken. Hot water should be used for drinking and bathing purposes.
Laghu Ahara – When the patient gets hungry, he or she should be served with light and easily digestible food. The food should preferably be liquid or semi-solid and should have been processed with ginger.
Light digestible food always complements an effective treatment and set of medications and helps in quick recovery from the ailments. Shirodhara is no exception.
Light food is also advised for healthy individuals undergoing Shiro Dhara. Hot liquid diet garnished with kitchen spices like ginger, pepper, cumin seeds etc should be prescribed. Laghu ahara also serves the purpose of deepana (metabolism enhancing effect) and pachana (expulsion of ama, toxic substances formed due to bad metabolism).
The lightest food format comes in the forms of:
Yavagu – is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein rice (1part) is processed in 6 times water. It is seen that the final preparation has more of liquid than solid.
Vilepi – is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein rice (1part) is processed in 4 times water. It is seen that the final preparation is of a semisolid nature. Apart from being nutritious and tasty, it is known to destroy ama by its root and kindle the belly fire.
Peya – is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein rice (1part) is processed in 14 times water. It is seen that the final preparation has a small quantity of solid portion left over.
Manda – is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein rice (1part) is processed in 14 times water. It is seen that the entire solid content is filtered out from the final preparation such that only liquid remains.
Yusha – is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein dal i.e. grams mainly green gram (1part) is processed in 18 times water and its extract is filtered out.
Liquid diet added with ginger, cumin seeds etc should be given. Rice gruel or green gram gruels are very good dietetic inclusions.
Dhanyaka sidda jala (Water processed with coriander), buttermilk mixed with Trikatu Churna and ghee should be prescribed
In current day lifestyle, it is highly difficult to prepare these forms of diet. The key is planning and consuming healthy and balanced food according to ones convenience.
If Shiro dhara is being done as a part of treatment for some ailment or is a part of a big treatment package oriented towards some major health issue, the following restrictions shall be followed –
Keep away from:
Excessive indulgence in sexual pleasures
Strenuous physical exercises
Exposure to sunlight
Exposure to cold or intake of cold food substances
Smoking, alcohol consumption
Standing in cool breezy or dusty areas for long time
Forcibly withholding the natural urges or reflexes of the body like those of defecation, urination, hunger, thirst, sleep, sneeze etc,
High or low levelled pillows while sleeping
Stress, Grief and anger
Keeping awakened till late nights
Walking for long distances
The patient should not sleep for long hours and also not remain awakened till late night. The head position (placement of pillow) while sleeping should neither be too high nor too low.
The patient should keep away from emotional highs and lows.
Speaking or shouting in excess, speaking loudly etc.
Keep the mind free from stress, in a pleasant condition
The patient is advised to take a break from the work if possible (during treatment).
Nitya Virechana: Doctor’s prefer giving a mild laxative on a daily basis during the treatment process. This helps to clean the body of its toxins and in keeping the body and mind light and relaxed. Generally Gandharvahastadi Kashayam (medicated decoction with castor plant as the chief ingredient) is given twice daily on empty stomach. 15 ml of Kashayam with 30-45ml of warm water is the ideal dose.
It is believed that during Parisheka (synonym of dhara) some cellular toxins (doshas and malas) are released into the gut. They should be evacuated on a regular basis with herbal laxative. If left alone the morbid doshas can cause indigestion, tastelessness, constipation, flatulence, bloating etc and also aggravate the existing disease. It should be given in a dose of 24-48 ml at bedtime. This herbal extract is basically a laxative and best one in the business of controlling the morbidity and vitiation of Vayu.
Vyadhihara Ghrita: Alternative to the daily laxative some doctors prescribe medicated ghee (disease specific) in a low dose (10-25ml) to be taken mixed with hot milk at bedtime. This is preferred in patients of Pitta constitution (Vata-Pitta constitution also). These Ghrita’s not only alleviate the disease but also provide a laxative effect and help in removing the toxins from the body.
Frequently prescribed Ghrita’s are Arjuna Ghrita, Trikantakadi Ghrita, Ashwagandhadi Ghrita, Saraswatha Ghrita, Brahmi Ghrita or Shatavari Ghrita, Guggulutiktakam Ghritam etc
Discharge – The patient is discharged on daily basis (out-patient) or after the course has been completed (in-patient) after giving proper lifestyle and diet advises along with suitable medicines (oral). The patient is also advised to undergo the treatment twice or thrice in a year.
Disease specific and disease modifying medications shall be given in the follow up period.
Other distressing and Vata controlling activities such as Yoga, Meditation etc shall also be advised
As a follow up:
A diet chart and a catalogue / write up of do’s and don’ts (w.r.t diet and lifestyle changes) is given
Prescription of oral medicines to be taken is handed over to the patient
Rasayana’s are very useful during follow up because they not only rejuvenate the diseased cells and organs of the body; they also keep the mind out of stress and work as immune modulators and anti-ageing agents.
The patient is also advised to undergo the treatment twice or thrice in a year as a part of preventing the recurrence of diseases.
The healthy individuals can also take a course or 2 in a year, to keep them rejuvenated and also to keep many psycho-somatic diseases away.
The date for the next follow up consultation is given
Shiro Dhara is recommended on a regular basis (at least two courses a year or 1 sitting in a month)
Shiro Dhara can be done for a period of 45 minutes to 60 minutes at a stretch (1 sitting) depending on the nature and severity of the disease (for which Dhara is being done) or depending on the constitution of the patient
Shirodhara is usually done for a period of 7 to 14 days or as recommended by the physician. The relief of complaints and betterment in the values of blood pressure is taken as a parameter for fixing and limiting the number of days of treatment to be done at a stretch.
It can also be done for 7, 14, 21 or 28 days or longer period of time in chronic and stubborn cases. Generally a small time gap is provided between 2 schedules and often not continued beyond 3 weeks time.
Time: ShiroDhara is usually done in the early hours of the morning (preferably between 6am and 10am). In high Pitta conditions, it can be done in the afternoon also.
Precautions to be taken while conducting Shirodhara –
The masseur or the person conducting the head massage should have cut his nails and trimmed them
They should not have any infectious diseases, inflammatory or degenerative diseases in their hands of fingers
The hands of the masseur should be devoid of cracks and fissures
The Dhara liquid should not be too hot or too cold
The Dhara liquid shall not fall from a great height or from very near to head
The stream of Dhara liquid should not be too thick or thin
Best combos with Shirodhara –
There are certain treatments which compliment and supplement the effect of Shirodhara, thus forming best combo with it. In certain conditions we need to combine treatments for comprehensive healing.
Below mentioned are highly effective in comprehensive body-mind healing when combined skilfully –
Sarvangadhara – Stream pouring of medicinal fluids all over the body
Kaya Seka or Pizhichil – Stream pouring of herbal oils all over the body
Sarva Abhyanga – full body massage with herbal oils
Patra Pinda Sweda – Leaf bolus fomentation
Abhyanga and Patra Pinda Sweda – Combination of full body herbal oil massage and Leaf bolus fomentation along with Shirodhara
Shashtika Shali Pinda Sweda or Navarakizhi – Rice bolus fomentation
Padabhyanga and Sarvabhyanga – Foot massage and full body herbal oil massage
Vasti – Therapeutic enemas (oil, milk and decoction enemas)
When we plan Sarva Abhyanga or Sarvangadhara / Pizhichil alongside Shiro dhara, we need to collect the oils needed for those procedures as well. Different oils are preferred for Shiro dhara and other procedures like Sarvangadhara etc carried over the body.
Many times the doctor intellectually plans to use the same oil for both Sarva Abhyanga and Shiro Abhyanga. Ex, Ksheerabala Taila is an oil which can be used for both head and body in case of Vata afflictions, Vata disorders, degenerative diseases and headache and insomnia. Skilfully planning the oil also will curtail the expenses of the treatment and make it affordable.
For Sharira Abhyanga (body massage) and Kaya Seka, the below mentioned oils may be preferably used:
Chandanabala Lakshadi Tailam,
Panchaguna Tailam etc
The oils should be selected keeping in view the body constitution, morbid doshas and nature of morbidity involved
Mode of action
Probable mode of action of Shiro Dhara –
It is difficult to prove with scientific measures how exactly Shiro Dhara works but we cannot ignore the magnificent results provided by these treatments. Let’s work out in a hypothetical way. Below explained is the hypothetical explanation of how Moordha Taila or Murdhni Taila might work. Since Shiro Dhara is a form of Murdhni Taila, the same hypothesis works. Thus in the discussion ahead, I have used the word Moordha Taila or Murdhni Taila interchangeably with Shiro Dhara.
Controlling Vayu – Vayu is the driving force of all the activities of the body and mind. Vayu is said to be a Tantra (formula) which runs the Yantra (machine) called as Shareera (body). Pitta’s, Kapha, the tissues of the body, the waste excreta of the body, all are dependent on Vata (Vayu). If Vayu is functioning properly all these elements are in equilibrium and if Vayu is disturbed, it further disturbs other elements of the body and causes wide array of diseases.
The key for well being is in having the Vayu (life force and energy) in our body in control. Murdhni Taila will have a tremendous effect on controlling Vayu. It controls, pacifies and expels the morbid Vayu. Chakrapani has already clarified that Prana located in the Shiras is nothing but different types of Vayu. Controlling Vayu is almost catching the bull by its horns; all the activities in the body will fall in line.
Relaxing and coolant effect on the brain – Murdhni Taila (Shiro Dhara here) has a relaxing effect (and coolant effect in treatments like Takra shiro dhara) on the brain and the whole nervous system and hence releases the stress and anxiety stagnant in the chief controlling station of our body. As we know that the brain controls all the functions of the body.
The master gland Pituitary gland and the hypothalamus associated with many physical and mental functions are located in the head. When all these are relaxed, the body functions including the heart functions take place in a relaxed manner. The circulation of blood and nutrients take place in a proper way.
The peripheral resistance is reduced. The channels of the body open up. The cells start flushing the toxins and overall metabolism gets improved. Murdhni taila (Shiro dhara) also relieves stress to a great extent. When we get de-stressed the psychosomatic balance is established. The brain will start controlling the body mechanics in a better and efficient way. We will feel at bliss and best of body-mind health.
Balancing Pitta and Rakta – Rakta or blood is the chief site of Pitta. Variations in pitta will affect the blood flow and variations in blood tissue will have its impact on Pitta. Murdhni Taila (Shirodhara) procedures will bring about a balance between the circulating Rakta and Pitta located in the Rakta.
This circulating Pitta is responsible for many inflammatory processes taking place at various parts of the body, when it gets vitiated. By establishing cordiality between Pitta and Rakta, Murdhni Taila (ShiroDhara) establishes a balanced circulation throughout the body and relieves the stress over the heart. Diseases like hypertension, which is the key for many systemic disorders will be dealt. Inflammation taking place in various tissues and organs can be brought to the halt. The body will be in more peace with itself.
Revitalizing the nervous system – MoordhaTaila (Shiro Dhara) procedures relaxes & revitalizes the central nervous system, balances the brain and hormonal functions and thus regularizes and relaxes all the functions of the body. The stress in each and every cell and passage of the body is removed. It has a soothing effect on the endocrine system.
Enhancing blood supply and nutrition to brain – Murdhni Taila (Shiro Dhara here) procedures improves the supply of blood and nutrition to the brain and thus increases its working compliance
Pressure and Temperature effect – The pressure and temperature effect of the medicaments used in the Moordha Taila (Shiro dhara here) procedures towards a comprehensive body-mind cure cannot be ruled out
Healing Marmas – With an Ayurveda perspective Moordha taila (Shirodhara here) procedures might communicate with the deepest recesses of the brain by soothing the Marmas (vital points of convergence of bones, muscles, blood vessels, soft tissues and joints) located in the head viz Apanga, Avarta, Shanka, Utkshepa, Seemantha and Sthapani Marma’s with which the medicament’s comes into contact with.
Most of these Marma’s are related to the eye and blood circulation to the brain. By activating the Marma’s Murdhni Taila treatment procedures might make a strong impact on the functioning of central nervous system and important glands within the brain.
Effect on Alochaka Pitta – Alochaka Pitta (Pitta sub type) which is located in the Eye is said to be of 2 types. One is Chakshu Vaisheshika (located within the eye and maintains its well being) and the other is Buddhi Vaisheshika (the part of Alockhaka Pitta which has its connectivity with higher centres of the brain and thus monitors the higher functions like intelligence, memory etc). Apanga and Avarta marma’s are related to the eye. Murdhni Taila (Shiro dhara here) procedures especially dhara and vasti might make a soothing impact on buddhi vaisheshika alochaka pitta through these Marma’s and in return soothe the nervous system.
Reversing Chitta Nasha and Bhaya – The injury of Seemantha Marma (joints of the skull) is said to cause Chitta Nasha (psychological abnormality) and Bhaya (fear complex). Thus when the same Marma is healed through Dhara and other Moordha taila procedures, it may reverse the Chitta Nasha and Bhaya, i.e. it might relieve stress, anxiety and depression. With this the relaxed nervous system will take care of heart functions and circulation patterns.
Control of governing Dosha’s – The chief governing doshas in the head are Prana Vayu, Sadhaka Pitta and Tarpaka Kapha. The integrity of the functioning of these 3 sub-dosha’s is the key for a perfect body-mind health. The brain controls the whole body and mind through the balanced and properly functioning Prana, Sadhaka and Tarpaka. Imbalance or vitiation of one or more of these 3 factors will lead to many psychosomatic diseases.
The soothing of these Marma’s and in turn soothing of Nervous system and endocrine glands as an effect of MoordhaTaila (Shiro Dhara here) treatment procedures will definitely relax Prana Vayu, Sadhaka Pitta and Tarpaka Kapha in the brain (head).
These in turn will have a relaxing effect over the Vyana Vayu, Ranjaka Pitta, Avalambaka Kapha and Udana Vayu controlling the heart functions and circulation. They will also have the other sub doshas in control. By controlling the Kledaka kapha, bodhaka kapha, samana vayu, ranjaka pitta and pachaka pitta, the key brain dosha’s will keep the core metabolism under control.
By controlling the apana vayu, they will keep the excretory functions under control and help in regular detoxification of the body. By controlling the bhrajaka pitta and vyana vayu, they will trim the color and complexion. By controlling the Shleshaka kapha functions they will maintain the musculoskeletal integrity.
Benefits of Shiro Dhara
The benefits mentioned in relation to Murdhni Taila can be considered as benefits of Shirodhara. They are as below mentioned –
As already said, Moordha taila (application of oil to the head) is highly beneficial for the brain, sense organs, nerves and hairs. This not only cures many disorders related to head, neck and the above mentioned organs, it also keeps many diseases at bay. Moordha Taila controls vitiated Vayu and Pitta in the head.
Vitiated Vata and Pitta would lead to many diseases of the brain, nerves and sense organs by producing degenerative and inflammatory changes respectively. They, when severely vitiated can cause irreversible damage in these organs. Thus Moordha Taila is both a prophylactic (preventive) and curative measure. Since the brain and the nervous system controls the entire body functions, soothing them with Moordha taila procedures will keep the body fit and healthy.
All the functions in the body will be carried out smoothly. Pituitary gland is the master gland which controls all the endocrine functions in the body (functions of small glands which produce important chemicals which are needed for many body functions and discharge it into the blood stream directly, they don’t have ducts or tubes to drain their secretions), is located in the head.
Moordhi Taila, controls the pituitary functions and in turn all the other endocrine functions. This helps in the smooth running of the body mechanics. Moordhi Taila soothes the stressed and agitated mind and helps us to keep calm and at ease. Moordhi Taila helps in discharge of happy chemicals which helps us to come out of mood swings and live at peace.
Nityam sneha aardram shirasaha shiraha shoolam na jaayate
Na khaalityam na paalityam na keshaaha prapatanti cha
Balaha shiraha kapaalaanaam visheshena abhivardhate
Dridha moolaaha cha deerghaaha cha krishnaa keshaa bhavati hi
Indriyaanaam praseedanti su twak bhavati cha aananam
Nidraa laabhaha sukham cha syaat moordhni tailam nishevanaat (Ref – Charaka Sutra Sthanam 5/81-83)
When the head is kept moist by applying oil on it –
It prevents head ache (shira shoola)
It prevents baldness (khalityam)
It prevents premature greying of hair (paalityam)
It prevents hair fall (kasha prapatana)
It helps hairs to get deep rooted, long, dense, look beautiful and pitch black in colour
It keeps the sense organs in a healthy condition
It helps in improving the glow and complexion of the face
It helps in inducing good sleep (nidraa labha)
It provides happiness and pleasantness of mind (sukham), relieves stress
Rejuvenates and energizes the body
Agni sthairyam – establishes the normalcy of digestive fire and corrects metabolism
Ojo sthairyam – stabilises and fortifies ojus in the body (ojus is the essence of all the tissues formed as an end product of tissue formation, its normalcy in terms of quality and quantity points towards an established immunity)
Soothes the nerves and improves blood circulation
Removes stress, relaxes mind
Improves neuro-muscular conduction
Paatavam indriyasya – relaxes and rejuvenates the mind and senses
Jaraso maandhyam – delays ageing
Chiram jeevitam – provides longevity of life
Nitaraam doshaan – controls and creates equilibrium in all the doshas
Vrishataa – acts as an aphrodisiac
Relieves pain and stiffness caused due to extreme stress and mental disorders
Improves circulation to skin, improves colour and complexion
Varna sthairyam – provides and establishes proper colour
Brings about lightness and a feeling of health in the afflicted joints, muscles and soft tissues
When combined with Nitya Virechana, Shiro dhara eliminates the body toxins, establishes health and tones up the joints and soft tissues
Murdhni Taila also prevents those diseases caused by Shiro Abhihata (mentioned above) and if those diseases have occurred, Murdhni Taila helps in mitigating them effectively.
Shiro rogaan tathaa rogaaha shiro abhyanga upakarshitaha
Keshaanaam maardavam dairghyam bahutvam snigdha krushnataam
Karoti shirasaha truptim sutvakkam api cha aananam
Santarpanam cha indriyaanaam shirasaha paripooranam (Ref – Sushruta Chikitsa 24/25,26)
Shiro Abhyanga is the treatment of choice for Shiro Rogas (diseases related to the head). The hairs become smooth, long, dense, oily and black. The head and its contents are nourished, the skin of the face becomes beautiful and glamorous and the sense organs are nourished.
Shiro Abhyanga wards off Roukshya (dryness of the head and scalp), Kandu (itching in the scalp) and Mala (dirt in the head)
Shiro dhara imparts all the benefits of Abhyanga (Massage with herbal oils) –
Abhyangam acharet nityam sa jara shrama vataha
Drishti prasaadaha pushti ayu swapna su twak daardhya krit (Ref – Ashtanga Hridaya Sutra 2/7)
Tathaa shareeram abhyangaat dridam su twak cha jaayate
Prashaantam maaruta aabaadham klesha vyaayaama samsaham (Charaka Sutra 5/85)
Susparsho upachita angaha cha balavaan priya darshinaha
Bhavati abhyanga nityatvaat naro alpa jaraa eva cha (Ref – Charaka Sutra 5/89)
Abhyango maardava karaha kapha vaata nirodhinaha
Dhaatoonaam drishti janano mrujaa varna bala pradaha (Ref – Sushruta Chikitsa 24/30)
Jarahara / Alpa Jaraa – Halts ageing process
Shramahara – Relieves fatigue and tiredness
Vataha / Prashanta Maruta Abadham – Controls and expels morbid Vata, cures Vata disorders
Drishti prasaada – Improves vision
Pushti / Upachita Anga – Promotes strength and bulk of muscles
Ayu – Enhances life span
Swapna – Induces good sleep and relieves insomnia
Su Twak / Susparsha – Promotes skin health
Dardhya krit – Provides strength and stability and compactness to the body
Klesha samsaham – Improves tolerance to hardships
Vyayama samsaham – Enhances the capacity of exercise tolerance
Priya darshinaha / Varna Pradaha – Enhances beauty
Balavaan / Bala pradaha – Improves strength, integrity and immunity
Mardava Kara – Brings about smoothness of the body parts
Kapha Nirodhinaha – Expels morbid Kapha
Dhatoonaam Janano – Enhances quantity and quality of the tissues, thus enhancing the immunity of the body
Shiro Dhara effectively combats all the diseases indicated in various types of Shiro Dhara in the above said passages.
Benefits of other Shirodhara’s generally practiced –
Kashaya Shiro Dhara is used in pacifying and destroying (usually clubbed with Sarvanga Kashaya dhara conducted over the full body) –
Vata vitiation and Diseases caused due to excess morbidity of Vata, especially Vata associated with ama
Kapha vitiation and Diseases caused due to excess morbidity of Kapha
Vata-Kapha vitiation and Diseases caused due to excess morbidity of Vata-Kapha
Ama dosha and Diseases caused due to excess formation and stagnation of Ama
Skin diseases of Vata-Kapha origin occurring in scalp and hair roots like boils, psoriasis etc
Dhanyamla Shiro Dhara is useful in (usually clubbed with Sarvanga Dhanyamla dhara conducted over the full body) –
Excess ama in the body
Sama-vata – When ama is associated with vayu and is causing painful conditions
Amavata – Rheumatoid arthritis
Agnimandhya – low metabolism
Painful conditions like myalgia, fibromyalgia etc
Ksheera Shiro Dhara (can be clubbed with Sarvanga Ksheera dhara conducted over the full body) is used in the below said conditions –
High pitta conditions and diseases caused due to vitiation of pitta
Rakta (blood) morbidity and diseases caused due to morbid rakta
Debility and loss of strength etc
Takra Shirodhara is used in the below said conditions (can be clubbed with Sarvanga Takra dhara conducted over the full body) –
Stress related diseases
Raised heat and burning sensation
Vata-pitta diseases etc
Limitations of Shiro Dhara
Shirodhara is one of the best Ayurvedic treatments which are used to prevent and treat many psychosomatic illnesses. It is the best stress relieving treatment. It provides good strength, freshness and energy, improves metabolism, circulation and nerve conduction.
But on the other hand it is not a sole remedy especially when used therapeutically. Parallel to it we might have to add some disease modifying drugs and or compounds and effective treatments for better relief.
Along with Shiro-Dhara some oral medications which enhance strength and stability should be included along with some immune-modulators, anti-ageing medicines and rejuvenators. Holistic mind-body healing is always the motto of Ayurveda.
Murdhni taila, types
Brief introduction of Murdhni Taila –
Moordha or Murdhni means Head, Taila means oil or herbal oil
Thus Murdhni Taila or Moordha Taila is a procedure of conducting treatments on the head using herbal (medicated) oils such that the oil remains in contact with the scalp for a fixed duration of time. This contact period of oil on the scalp is necessary for begetting its benefits. Murdha Taila is also practiced as a part of Dinacharya (daily regimen).
Types of Moordha Taila –
Abhyangaha sekaha pichavaha bastihi cha iti chatuhu vidham
Moordha tailam bahu gunam tat vidyaat uttara uttaram (Ref – Ashtanga Hridaya Sootram 2/23)
Moordha Taila or Murdhni Taila is of 4 types –
Shiro Abhyanga – massaging the head with herbal oils for a fixed duration of time (usually 30-40 minutes). Read related: Ayurvedic Head Massage: Benefits, Procedure
Shiro Seka / Shiro dhara – A procedure in which the herbal oils or medicated liquids (milk, buttermilk etc) are poured in stream over the head of the person for a fixed duration of time (usually 35-45 minutes or 60 minutes)
Shiro Pichu –Keeping a cotton pad dipped in oil over head.
Read related: Shiro Pichu: Benefits, Procedure, Mode Of Action
Shiro Basti (Vasti) – Procedure in which a cabin or compartment is constructed over the head of the person (in sitting position) using a leather cap, its junction with the head sealed with wet flour of black gram and filled with herbal oils.
Each type of Murdhni Taila has its own benefits but they are comparably efficient in the chronology mentioned by Acharya Vagbhata (ancient Ayurvedic physician and teacher) in the above said verse –
Shiro Seka is more effective and beneficial in comparison to Shiro Abhyanga
Shiro Pichu is more effective and beneficial in comparison to Shiro Seka
Shiro Vasti is more effective and beneficial in comparison to Shiro Pichu
Read more about Moordha taila
Just Before Finishing,
Shiro Dhara is the best treatment which Ayurveda provides for distressing, relaxing and to get rid of many psychosomatic illnesses. It is not all about pouring the oil over the head. Shirodhara keeps our senses at peace, mind at tranquillity, gives us the ability to win over day-to-day stress, provides a ‘never-been-so-healthy’ feel, regularizes metabolism, controls and balances the doshas, integrates body mind co-ordination and prevents many diseases.
It provides a comprehensive body-mind wellness. Many people may have reluctance on using the oils over their heads. But where do we get the lubrication and relaxation from if we don’t come out of certain inhibitions? We can’t sail in 2 boats.
Standing amidst this stressful world wherein our body, mind, senses and soul are undergoing wear and tear on a regular basis, it is high time that you go on for a body-mind servicing in a holistic and traditional way and earn a comprehensive health and a never experienced type of well being.
At the same time you can keep many diseases at bay. Shiro-Dhara (and all types of Murdha taila procedures) imparts a similar healing effect which is better experienced than explained. All you need to do is to find an experienced Ayurvedic doctor in your neighbourhood. After undergoing Shirodhara, you would never complain that you are feeling ageless, rejuvenated and full of energy of course as never before!!
Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu).