Shirodhara is an Ayurveda healing technique consisting of gentle head massage and pouring warm medicated oil, milk, buttermilk or water in a rhythmic flow across the forehead, particularly on the third eye area or Ajna Chakra. The pressure of the liquid onto the forehead creates vibrations, which activate the functions of thalamus and the basal fore brain and may enhance the secretion of serotonin and catecholamine. Finally, it cause tranquility of mind and induce natural sleep.
The term shirodhara is a union of two words: ‘shiro’ meaning head and ‘dhara‘ meaning pouring in a stream or sprinkling. Thus, shirodhara means the pouring of a liquid medicine in a stream over the head of a client for a stipulated amount of time.
Shirodhara is a great treatment for psychosomatic disorders. Shirodhara can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, stress and fatigue. It relieves tension, worry, fear and headache as well as depression. It regulates mood and gives feelings of pleasure and relaxation.
Indications of Shirodhara in Ancient Texts
Various ancient texts of Ayurveda have advised shirodhara, for the following indications.
Headaches of various types like cluster headaches, migraines, tension headaches, headache originating at the temples, using herbal oils or milk infused with herbs
– Burning sensation in the head.
– Consequences of head injuries
– Hemiplegia or paralysis
– To control vitiated Vata dosha
– Diseases of Vata origin, mainly degenerative diseases
– Diseases of Pitta origin, mainly inflammatory diseases
– Dryness of the head region
– For healthy and long hair
– For itching of the scalp
– Premature greying of the hair
– Low level of vitality or ojas
– Cracked lips
– Heart disease
– Agni mandhya or sluggish metabolism
– Certain diseases of the ear
– Certain diseases of the eye
– Psoriasis like skin lesions
– Loss of memory and Alzheimer’s disease
– Diabetic neuropathy (as an adjunct with other treatments)
– Proper neuro-muscular coordination
– To delay aging
Specific indications of Takra dhara
– Graying of the hair
– Burning of the hands and feet
– Disorders of the eye, ear and nose, related to Pitta and Kapha aggravation
– Skin diseases of psychosomatic origin, as in psoriasis
Specific indications of Ksheer dhara
– Hair loss
– Pitta imbalance
– For rejuvenation in summer and hot climates
– Insanity of Pitta origin (as a supplemental therapy)
– Sleeplessness due to aggravated Pitta
– Fever of Pitta origin
Contraindications of Shirodhara
Shirodhara should NOT be given to women in their third trimester of pregnancy as it is very difficult to lay on the back for 40-60 minutes at a time without feeling discomfort. Pregnancy is contraindicated in dhara where warm oil is poured all over the body.
Other contraindications include brain tumor, recent neck injury, abrasions or cuts on the head, fever/chills, acute illness, nausea, vomiting, severe weakness, exhaustion, giddiness, fainting or spontaneous sweating. Shirodhara should not be given to those with a rash or sunburn on the forehead or scalp.