Nov 25, 2012

Preventing Hair Loss through Ayurveda

Preventing Hair Loss through Ayurveda

Hair is the most important cosmetic addition to our appearance. Since healthy hair is a sign of a healthy body, it is important for us to keep our hair silky, shiny and thick.

Everybody has experiences of hair loss sometime or the other in their lives. In medical terms, loss of hair is known as ‘alopecia’. Alopecia may be a sign of some underlying disease. It costs our beauty and thereby brings in a set of depressing emotions.

In this article, we shall discuss the causes and remedies of hair loss in the light of the Indian Ayurvedic system of medicine. To know the causes of hair fall, it is very essential to know the structure of the hair and its normal growth cycle.

Structure of Hair

The hair on our scalp can be divided into two parts—the root and the shaft. The root of the hair is inside the skin (epidermis) of the scalp. Each hair root is surrounded by a pouch-like structure called follicle. The base of the hair root is in the shape of a bulb. This bulb is indented by capillaries and nerve fibres. Cell division takes place in the centre of the bulb and the newly divided hair cells push the previous cells up. The cells which move upwards die slowly forming the hard hair shaft.

The hair shaft has three layers—cuticle, medulla and cortex. Cuticle is the transparent outer layer which protects the other two inner layers. A healthy cuticle gives a shiny appearance to the hair whereas an unhealthy cuticle lends it a lifeless look.

Medulla is the innermost layer composed of large cells. Cortex is the layer between the cuticle and the medulla which contains pigments and keratin. Cortex determines the bulk and strength of the hair.
The hair follicle contains oil-secreting glands which make the hair look shiny. Stress and illness diminish the secretion of oil and pigments, causing the graying of hair.

According to Ayurveda, hair is considered to be a tissue which uses the same nutrients as the bones and is formed as a bi-product of the bone tissue.

Normal Cycle of Hair Growth

About 10% of the hair on the scalp is in a resting phase at any given time. The resting hair falls after 2 to 3 months and new hair starts to grow in its place. The growing phase continues for around 2.25 to 6 yrs. During this phase each hair grows approximately 1 cm per month. At any given time about 90% of the hair on the scalp is in the growing phase.

Normally, the dead hair decays at the rate of 70 to 80 strands per day. The rate of decay increases in the rainy and damp season. A rate of fall or decay greater than this is considered alarming and such a situation may be termed as hair loss.

Ayurvedic Classification of Hair

Ayurveda has classified the hair type according to the three basic body types—vata, pitta and kapha. According to Ayurveda, people falling under any of these body types have different hair features as per their doshas. Let us discuss the hair properties of people with respect to vata, pitta and kapha constitutions.

Hair of People with Vata Constitution

The hair of people with predominantly vata type of constitution is generally dark, coarse, wiry, inky, and frizzy. Such type of hair gets tangled easily and is prone to be dull with split ends. Such hair also has the possibility of dandruff infection.

Hair of People with Pitta Constitution

The hair of people with predominantly pitta type of constitution is generally brown, blonde, light, fine and silky. People with pitta constitution face problems like premature graying of hair and premature baldness. Such hair with a dominance of pitta tends to become oily particularly in hot and dry weather. This situation also leads to the dullness of hair.

Hair of People with Kapha Constitution

The hair of people with predominantly kapha type of constitution are generally dark or light, thick, heavy, wavy, and slightly oily. The hair of people with kapha constitution is lustrous.

Causes of Hair Loss

Hair is nourished by the nutrient plasma, which is produced by the metabolic processing of the food we consume. The healthy nutrient plasma is responsible for the nourishment of the hair. 

According to Ayurveda, excess of pitta dosha (heat) in the body is the chief cause of hair problems. There are various other reasons for hair loss as mentioned below:

    Hormonal imbalance in men and women is an important cause of hair loss. In men, a high concentration of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in hair follicles causes hair fall. In women, hormonal imbalances both during pregnancy and after delivery cause hair fall.

    High amount of sebum in the scalp clogs the pores of the scalp and prevents nutrients from reaching the hair follicle, resulting in hair loss.

    Inadequate nutrition or unhealthy diet also causes hair fall.

    Stress, worry, lack of sleep, and anxiety too cause hair fall.

    Long-standing diseases like typhoid, viral infections, anaemia, surgery, etc. cause general debility which leads to hair fall.

    Some medicines like birth-control pills, anti-depressants, etc., including those used for gout, during chemotherapy against cancer, etc. cause hair fall.

    Diseases like lupus and diabetes also cause hair fall.

    Tying hair tightly pulls the hair from the follicles and cause traction alopecia.

    Heredity is also responsible for hair fall.

    Dandruff or fungal infection of scalp causes hair fall.

    Accumulation of dirt on scalp causes blocking of pores and weakens hair roots. This leads to hair fall.

Hair Loss Remedies

Hair loss, in general, can be stopped or reversed at home by taking some simple steps. However, in case of chronic alopecia, expert guidance is required which has been described in the ‘Treatment’ section of this article.

    The first step is to locate the root cause in your diet or lifestyle that is causing the pitta dosha. Once you locate it, try to give up or at least reduce the diet, habit or activity responsible for increasing pitta.

    Always use a natural shampoo or soap (without too many chemicals) to clean the hair.

    Oiling and massaging of the scalp is highly beneficial in preventing hair loss. Use coconut oil or mustard oil at least three times in a week. Certain medicated oils like Mahabhringraj oil, Amla oil, and Arnica oil are also very useful.

    Ensure regular bowel movement everyday. In case of constipation, a mild natural laxative may be taken. One teaspoonful of Triphala powder can be taken at bedtime with warm water.

    Rub your scalp vigourously after washing the hair. It increases the blood circulation and activates the sebaceous glands.

    A paste of licorice made by grinding it in milk can be applied in the bald patches. It induces hair growth. A paste of the seeds of lemon and black pepper may also be applied on the bald patches.

    Consume raw vegetables, fresh fruits, salads, and green leafy vegetables regularly.

    Use relaxing techniques such as yoga, pranayama, etc. to overcome stress, anxiety and sleeplessness.

    Avoid hairstyles which pull the hair and consequently damage it.

Diet Regimen

Ayurveda requires you to maintain some simple diet regimens. These can no doubt be easily followed.
Do’s:     Dont’s:

High protein diet like milk, buttermilk, soya bean, cheese, ghee, butter should be taken. Seeds, nuts and grains should also be taken on a regular basis. Seasonal fruits and vegetables should be consumed in sufficient amounts. Sprouts made from Moong or Chana dal are also recommended. In addition, taking food items that cool the body and living in a cool climate (especially in the summ
er) is very beneficial.

One should avoid pitta-aggravating diet such as fried, spicy and sour foods. Excess use of yogurt, pickles, tea, coffee, alcohol and non-vegetarian foods also increases pitta. Smoking should be avoided. White flour/white sugar products should be avoided. Junk foods, fast foods, or foods that contain artificial colours, flavours and preservatives should not be consumed regularly.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts

ayurvedic immunity booster