Hair Loss and Women, An Ayurveda Approach

Cosmetic problems as we may call them are the reason of major sleepless nights in woman , men alike. In the urban world there might be few if any who are not plagued with these horrors. In this article we focus on the hair aspect of the genre. Hair fall in women is mostly related to hormonal causes as opposed to hygiene and other factors (which do play a part but minor). I often get these complaints in my clinical practice about “how the hair fall has increased” and “I am worried that someday, I may wake up bald…!!. Don’t worry, you are not going to go bald unless you rip of your hair or you suffer from some major dysfunctional illness.

SOME FACTS ABOUT NORMAL HAIR GROWTH

  •  Normal cycle of hair growth is around 2 years.
  • Each Hair grows around 1cm per month during this phase.
  • About 10% of the hair is in dormant phase will the remaining is actively growing.
  • After 2- 3 years the dormant hair are replaced by new hair.
  • Normal to shed some hair [almost 100] per day which varies with people

POSSIBLE CAUSES

  • Post major illness or surgery.
  • Hormonal problems may cause hair loss. [Thyroid, Pituitary, Ovarian].
  • Imbalance of individual hormones viz; Estrogen etc which result in menopause causes Hair loss quite similar to what men experience when they undergo Andropause [imbalance of Androgens].
  • Post pregnancy for about 3 months. Some how this is considered normal as during pregnancy due to certain hormonal changes the body retains hair which may normally shed off and it is this batch which razes down after pregnancy.
  • Intake of certain medications like anticoagulants [aspirin] , Gout medications and Vitamins [Excess consumption of certain vitamins like Vitamin A causes Hair loss], Birth control pills, Antidepressants etc.
  • Infections of the scalp [fungal. eczema, dandruff].
  • Certain auto immune disorders [Rheumatism, Psoriasis].
  • Metabolic disorders [Diabetes etc].
  • Hairstyle treatments [Certain treatments like curling , straightening may put excessive pressure on the scalp bed and cause a bald patch known as alopecia]. Apart from that scarring due to injudicious use of harsh chemicals may cause inflammation of the scalp leading to hair-loss.
  • Pollution and hygiene related [but its not that important from my side].

 TREATMENTS AVAILABLE IN MODERN SCIENCE

  • Hormone replacement therapy to treat imbalance of hormones.
  • Steroid therapy (injectable) to treat alopecia (bald patches).
  • Anti-fungal treatment for infections.
  • Certain medications like Minoxidil [Local application] are available to treat alopecia. Men have an option with an internal pill called Propecia which alters the mechanism of the dehydroxytestosterone hormone to reverse hair loss[requires atlas 5 months to see if its working].
  • Hair replacement therapy like grafting, wigs etc. In grafting a genetically stable part of your scalp [ one which will never experience hair loss] is grafted to treat bald patches.

 MYTHS

Frequent combing of hair does not cause hair loss.There is a condition called as traction alopecia where one may experience hair loss die to application of bend pins etc etc. Also Combing wet hair does not cause hair loss.

Excessive use of hair dryers cause hair loss.I have my reservations here. Injudicious use of dryers in women with fine hair structure may cause some damage but again it is user specific of how one uses the dryers.

Most of the applications and products sold over the counter to regrow hair without any diet programs and evaluation are generally fake and hence I personally do not recommend them. However there are certain herbal medications which may help regrow hair but scientific studies on mass scales have not been done. Overall may products that are sold may effectively help to strengthen the existing hair.

AYURVEDA APPROACH TO HAIR LOSS

Without explaining in terms of the intricate language of Doshas let me put the hypothesis in a simple language.The main emphasis in women is production of good fertile and optimum eggs for reproduction. This is done through the available resources in the body in form of viable resources( minerals, calcium etc) under the influence of Doshas balance (hormonal synchronizations). If the process experiences shortfall in terms of supplies the body is going to cut other lines . These lines are our skin, hair which suffer qualitative supply when the hormones go in a toss. The thyroid and pituitary glands tickle the liver to synthesis more resources to counter the shortfall which hampers qualitative production of resources resulting in the malfunction of expendable entities as considered by the body )  like hair, skin, nails etc suffer.Ayurveda thinks on theses simple lines of demand and supply where the supplies would be directed to the more essential parts and proceses if demands are not met and this causes disorders. The mechanism also depends on ones constitution and her individual ability to absorb, assimilate and utilize her resources.

SUGGESTED REMEDIES

It Is quite common to invest one’s money and time in beauty treatments, expensive branded hair care products and herbal oils and supplements. The common questions directed at me , are “Which Shampoo”, “Any herbal Massage”, “Organic Hair treatments”. “Oils”, “Internal Medicines “ etc. Many who go the modern medicine path and consult speciality [Trichologist] do hair implantation or steroid treatments [ where steroids are injected in the scalp] to prevent hair loss or treat a bald patch known in medical lingo as Alopecia. As far as my opinion i concerned, the travel man that i am , i tend to observe the sadhus/saints or the ascetic , holy men in India and there are plenty of them. If anyone has observed or know about them just glance at their hair . Huge long, strong matted. I have hardly seen them use branded shampoos, do steroid treatments, intake organic supplements etc etc. Their hair is just maintenance free. The sadhus do not only include men but also a large proportion of women. So what is their secret. Do not we all require such hair without maintenance, without the hassles. The secret lies in a disciplined life they observe and the correct food habits the use. Also certain herbal remedies are there which definitely help.  One important thing to remember is that external applications like oils etc predominantly strengthen the hair structure. they do not influence in a major way to stop hair fall. Hence it is important to first take internal medications to stop or cease hair fall and the complement it with use of oils for best results.

INTERNAL MEDICATIONS

Boil 1 cup milk, 3 cups water in an iron vessel till milk remains. Add 2 -3 cardamom pieces while boiling. Have this mixture empty stomach. Add 2- 3 pieces of over night soaked , peeled almonds to the mixture after few days. Continue for 2 -3 menstrual cycles.

Bhringraaj [Eclipta prostrata] procure fresh leaves. Dry them in shade and powder. Take 3 gms of the leaf powder with honey or cow’s milk two times a day. You can complement this medicine with the above remedy.

During Gooseberry season [Avala, Phyllanthus emblica]; consume 50ml of fresh Gooseberry juice 2 times a day. This again can be complemented with above 2 remedies.

Instill 2 – 4 drops of cow’s ghee [clarified butter from cow] in each nostril and sunrise and sunset. warm the ghee [always put the ghee bottle in hot water. do not warm the ghee directly over the flame]. Preferable take some steam before instilling ghee. regular use prevents hair-fall and premature greying

Brahmi 3 gms [Bacopa monnieri], Gorakhmundi roots/ fruits 3gms [Sphaeranthus indicus], Bhringraaj leaves 3gms [Eclipta prostrata], Daruhalad [Berberis aristrata] bark/roots 5gms. Boil this mixture in 5 cups of water and reduce to 1 cup. Filter and drink empty stomach. repeat in the evening. This helps in good menstrual cycles and is great tonic for hair and skin ailments. As a rule take the decoction for 3 months and a gap of i month before commencing again. [All herbs available in shops].

Certain Ayurveda preparations like Lohaasava, Kasis Bhasma, Ashwagandharishta, Bhringarajasava help immensely. However they must be taken under the supervision of an Ayurveda physician.

EXTERNAL APPLICATIONS

Burn a hard shell of coconut till it reduces to ash. Filter and store in a glass bottle. Mixx some amount of this ash everyday with virgin coconut oil, and apply on the scalp. was after few hours. Regular use prevents hair fall and also helps treat alopecia.

Hibiscus flowers [white] 20gms, Jasmine flowers 20gms, Tuberose flowers 20gms, Brahmi leaves 20gms. Express juice of all four. Add equal quantity of Gooseberry juice [Avala, Phyllanthus emblica] . Mix it with equal quantity of virgin coconut oil and boil it over a low flame till oil remains. Filter and store in a clean glass bottle. Massage the oil overnight in the scalp region. Do not wash the hair next day. On the next night again apply the oil. Wash the hair on the second day with any herbal shampoo or home made remedy as would be discussed ahead.

Soak 20gms of fenugreek seeds and 30 gms of curry leaves in water overnight. Next morning ground the mixture to a fine paste. Apply the paste to hair roots. Wash the hair after 1/2 hour. Regular application prevents hair loss.

Boil 50gms of curry leaves and 50gms of Drumstick leaves in 60ml of coconut oil till black residue is obtained. Regular application of this oil helps prevent hair loss and promotes growth.

HAIR WASH FORMULATIONS

Use a mixture of Trifala [three myrlobarns; Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellerica and Phyllanthus emblica], Ritha {sapindus trifoliatus] and Neem [Azadhiracta india] leaves. Boil the mixture in water . Use this as a hair wash.

Boil 30 gms of dried Pomegranate rind in water. Use this as hair wash.

Boil 50gms of Kachora [Hedychium spicatum] roots in water. Use this water as hair wash.

Similarly use of Peppermint leaves, Sage leaves, Black cohosh, Rosemary leaves can be used in conjunction or alone to rinse hair.

In case you wish to use any herbal products to wash your hair with just see to it that the product is free of harsh chemicals like SLS [Sodium Laureate Sulfate] and is purely herbal without any additives.

AYURVEDA THERAPIES

Ayurveda Massage with any of the above mentioned oils is beneficial.

Nasya or nasal errhines is a panchakarma treatment that helps to treat alopecia and other disorders.

Having a full purification in terms of Vamana, Virechana and Basti as apart of Panchakarma also keeps the metabolism fire good and promotes youth.

MENSTRUAL SPOT TEST

As a part of my Ayurveda regime, I always recommend each women to do this self test at home to check the menstrual health. During menses on all three days take a small amount of menstrual blood on a clean white cloth and allow to dry. After few minutes wash it with warm water. The blood should wash away without leaving behind any stain in normal hormonal profile. If stains are left than it indicates disrupted or about to be disrupted cycle.

Apart from above remedies, Ayurveda mentions certain protocols to be followed during menses.

  • Salt free diet for first 3 days
  • Abstain from any physical work
  • No bathing or only sponge clean the body with water medicated with Neem [Azadhiracta India], Nirgudi [Vitex app] or Mint [Mentha sp.] leaves
  • Light food preferably comprising of watery gruel’s
  • On the 4th day have complete head bath and start with normal food

YOGA

Asanas to improve circulation and give strength to the liver and uterus help immensely

  • Vajrasana
  • Shirisasana
  • Pawanmuktasana
  • Paschimottasana [under supervision]

Asanas must be done as per strict Yogic guidelines with proper evaluation of ones constitution and health.

DIET

  • Avoid excessive intake of green chillies, brinjals, curds, peas, peanuts, sea food, bakery products.
  • Use salt sparingly.
  • Prefer more fruit vegetables [gourds etc] to leafy vegetables.
  • Use fresh spices for seasoning. Stay away from ready made Garam Masalas or spices. If required buy the individual ingredients and prepare it by yourself. Do not use more than 3 months.

CERTAIN POINTS TO BE REMEMBERED 

  • Eat food at regular times, do not skip meals.
  • Avoid unnecessary use of salt. If possible use salt only once a day.
  • Follow a salt restricted diet comprising of Papaya fruit during first 3 days of menses.
  • Sponge your body during first three days of menses avoid having a head bath. Use water medicated with Neem, Mint, Rosemary leaves as per your geographical locations.
  • Do not do any rigorous exercises during menses.
  • Avoid intercourse during 1st 3 days of menses.
  • Avoid use oral contraceptives , hormonal pills to alter the menstrual cycle
  • Lose weight but avoid crash dieting.
  • Do not take hot water shower directly on the scalp. Scalp must be washed with luke warm water.
  • Avoid having a bath or dip in a pool directly after a heavy exercise or during hot summer days. Same hold true for showers. Let the body temperature balance off.

Regular use of the above remedies with proper diet and understanding of one’s system will not only alleviate hair problems but ensure a smooth hormonal and healthy life.

To know more about Ayurveda formulations, herbs and other literature readers can access the first online digital library of Ayurveda, the National Library of Ayurveda Medicine at http://www.nlam.in