Ask the Expert:
End-of-Summer Hair Care
By Vaidya Manohar
Health starts from within. Balanced nutrition, digestion, assimilation of nutrients and elimination of wastes are all very important to overall heath and healthy hair. Herbal Di-Gest, Liver Balance and Organic Digest Tone help support not only your diet, but assimilation and elimination as well. Include lots of green leafy vegetables and sweet juicy fruits in your diet.
- Remember, herbal supplements are not replacements for high quality, pure organic foods. Diet and digestion are two of the foundations of Maharishi Ayurveda. Dairy products such as organic milk and fresh cheeses like panir, or the delicious yogurt-based drink called lassi are also very beneficial. Fresh coconut, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts are also considered excellent "hair food." You can add grated coconut and almonds and pumpkin seeds to your lightly-cooked vegetables. Whole grains and leafy greens like kale, chard, collard, mustard, greens and arugula also offer excellent support for your hair.
- Avoid or cut down on cold, frozen foods or leftovers, refined, processed and canned foods. These foods lack prana, or life force, or in Ayurvedic terms, intelligence. Ayurveda considers foods with artificial preservatives and chemical additives stripped of their inherent "nutrients" and therefore not helpful in supplying nutrition to your body and mind. Ice-cold beverages also hamper the process of digestion and the assimilation of nutrients.
- Spices are very important to promotion of digestion and assimilation of nutrients, and ultimately support for your hair. Recommended spices include: curry leaves (Murraya koenjajaji), cilantro, parsley, cumin, turmeric, black pepper. MAPI's spice mixtures - churnas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) - are an easy way to add these spices to your diet. Include these spices with foods you cook. These delicious flavorful foods are beneficial to hair and one of the secrets of Ayurveda.
- Multitasking is a primary reason for stress. A competitive environment can also be very stressful. Exposure to stress is seriously harmful to health and has a direct effect on the quality of your hair according to Ayurveda, including hair loss and the color of your hair. Learning the Transcendental Meditation® technique can not only build natural resistance to stress, but reverse the damage caused by stress. The practice of yoga asanas (postures) and pranayama (breathing technique), also offer great support against stress. In addition, plan and manage your time and tasks to minimize stress and create ease.
- Use the power of routine. The ayurvedic routine is an influential tool in itself - and allows you to harness the power of daily cycles of Nature. Wake up before 6 AM, eat your main meal at midday, go to bed before 10 PM - all are very important points for balancing the three fundamental mind-body principles of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
- Play! Regular recreation prevents stress. The underlying ayurvedic principle is another great secret of this ancient health science: we metabolize our experiences. So experiences are "metabolized," or digested by the body and mind. In this sense "play" is food as well. Exploring and enjoying the beauty of nature, for example, helps restore balance to your mind. Listening to soothing, calming, music can be therapeutic and stress-reducing.
Sleep is one of the pillars of life according to Ayurveda. It is a critically important period of rejuvenation and repair for the body and mind. Getting adequate sleep, and good quality sleep helps the natural process of rejuvenation. It also balances vata, prevents stress and promotes energy.
- A warm oil scalp massage using organic coconut, almond or olive oil scented with high quality rosemary rose, jasmine or lavender aroma oils. Use 1 to 2 tablespoons every day or two or three times a week. This will help stimulate circulation and moisturize your scalp. Apply some mildly warmed oil to your hair and gently massage into your scalp evenly with your fingertips. Leave on overnight if you can, if not, leave on for at least an hour or two, then remove it with an herbal shampoo. The scalp massage and oil nourishes the hair, relaxes the body and and aids sound sleep as well.
- Stay away from harsh chemical laden topical hair and scalp products. These can damage your hair over time. Use herbal gentle, natural shampoos and conditioners instead. Wash your hair with chlorine-free water if possible. Use a shower head or filter that filters out the chlorine.
- Do a nightly warm oil scalp massage with herbalized oils, brushing your hair regularly to stimulate the scalp will keep it hair looking healthy and lustrous. Brush your hair in all directions in the following order: left to right, right to left, front to back and back to front. When you brush, use smooth long strokes starting at the scalp and continuing to the hair tips. Use a wooden comb so it won't generate static electricity. Excessive blow-drying can damage hair in the long-term, making it brittle and causing split ends. If you can, let your hair dry naturally, then brush into place.
Almond oil, olive oil or sesame oil are all great for the hair and scalp. You can mix in a few drops of lemon juice, and a few drops of organic neem oil. Neem oil is a remarkable substance in itself, with centuries of use and numerous scientific studies supporting its benefits.
Apply this mixture to your scalp. Leave it on for a half hour afterward then shampoo it out. This time-tested Ayurvedic hair health secret helps prevent dandruff. Aroma oils - yes aromas can support healthier hair - aromas like sage, rosemary, lavender and jojoba oils are also beneficial to hair growth.
- Curry leaves (Murraya koenjajaji), henna, eclipta alba, tincoria indica, amla, triphala, black tea, lassi made with fresh yogurt, coconut milk, fenugreek paste, are useful as an external application to help prevent hair loss and gray hair.
- Panchakarma treatments. Panchakarma is an organized systematic of removing deep toxins from the body. It is normally done in-residence by trained technicians, supervised by Vaidyas or Ayurvedic experts. To learn more about specific treats for hair health, speak to our friendly experts at The Raj Maharishi Ayurveda Health Spa in Fairfield, Iowa. The following are treatments that support hair health.
- Shiro abhyanga - warm oil massage on the scalp to prevent dry scalp and to enhance the lustrous nature in hair
- Nasya - nasal administration of oil to promote circulation
- Shirodhara - prevents stress, improves the nervous system
- Shirolep - This is an herbal paste application that includes the herbs triphala, amalaki, neeli, bringaraj, etc.
The following Maharishi Ayurveda herbal formulations support the broader underlying balance that are the foundations of hair health:
- Healthy Hair & Nails
- Vital Lady
- Rejuvenation for Ladies
- Vata Aroma or Pitta Aroma
- Organic Rose Petal Spread
These products address underlying Ayurvedic foundations of balance: digestion, elimination and nutritional support for improved states of balance.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.