According to your expertise as a wellness pro specialising in Ayurvedic medicine, could you please tell me the reasons hair falls out in women?
According to Ayurveda, the hair is derived either as a by-product or produced as a breakdown product of Asthi (bone tissue). Any disturbance in this tissue metabolism, which very much depends on the digestive fire, can affect the health of the hair. To a certain extent, the quality of hair depends on the body constitution.
The major causes of hair loss/hair fall are hormonal, nutritional deficiencies and complications relating to some diseases and medications.
Hormone related hair loss may also result from an increased sensitivity of hair follicles to male hormones or due to greater number of male hormone receptors attached to the hair follicles. This is the component that is inherited through the genes — termed as Pitta constitution.
For example an excess of Pitta Dosha in the body is increased by hot climatic conditions, excessive intake of spicy, salty and sour food, hot and sharp food, tea, coffee, alcohol, meats and excessive smoking. Eating too much fried, oily, greasy, and acidic foods also aggravates Pitta. Pitta balancing herbs (Eg: Shatavari —Asparagus) and vegetables which improves the quality of Asthi dhathu (Eg: bitter vegetables) are effective in treating hair loss/hair fall.
Unfortunately, hair loss has become more common in modern times. Our stressful lifestyles, increasing environmental pollution and unhealthy food habits are all factors that cause damage to our health and, as a result, are reflected in the quality of our hair.
There are three main reasons for hair loss.
Firstly, anyone with an imbalance in Vata dosha is more prone to hair loss. The Vata dosha is responsible for movement and transportation of food nutrients through the empty channels and spaces of the body. Excessive or imbalanced Vata dosha can result in an obstruction in the flow of the food nutrients that supply nourishment to the hair cells, leading to a dry scalp, dry hair, split ends, and finally thinning hair or hair loss.
Secondly, healthy hair also depends on healthy bones. This is because hair and nails are by-products of the process of transformation from food to bones.
The third reason for hair loss is ageing, from about 60 years onwards. This later time in life is governed by Vata dosha, which as I have mentioned earlier, results in increased hair loss.
Other factors, also associated with Vata dosha, include: genetics/Vata body type, severe illness, post-pregnancy; rapid weight loss (which can result in slow but significant hair loss), worry, anxiety and stress, dry scalp, severe and uncontrollable dandruff, irregular lifestyle routine, excess travelling, variable eating habits, lack of sleep, eating cold foods, deep-fried foods, packaged, processed, canned or frozen foods, too much sugary foods or foods with chemical additives.
All of the above can disturb the digestion and create digestive toxins resulting in an increase in Vata dosha.
Other causes include smoking, excess alcohol, consuming too much vinegar, pickles, carbonated drinks and spicy foods. In addition, pulling the hair back or up too tightly, using hair rollers, hot and over blow-drying, using too many harsh hair dyes, chemical shampoos, setting gels and hair sprays and, using polluted water for drinking and hair washing.
There are a number of other causes for hair loss/fall such as illness, high stress, thyroid imbalance, certain drugs, sudden weight loss and high fever.
Those with a Kapha dosha do not usually have a major problem with hair loss as they tend to be calm and generally have strong bones.
A diet high in protein and rich in iron is recommended for hair loss. An adequate intake of fresh raw vegetables, including green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits and salads should be included in the diet on a regular basis.
Topically, OmVeda recommends home care treatment of:
A natural herbal shampoo (such as our Amla Shampoo) to cleanse the hair and nurture the scalp. Amla (Embilica officinalis) and Shikakai (Acacia concinna) are excellent for washing the hair. OmVeda Amla Shampoo – 150mls V – Omveda
Oiling and massaging of the scalp is also very beneficial in reducing, controlling and further preventing hair loss. Pure, herbalised oils such as the OmVeda Neelini Hair Oil or Brahmi Hair Oil are beneficial. The oil is applied to the scalp, massaged gently into the roots and left on overnight.
Using Ayurvedic medicine principles, what would you suggest to remedy the hair loss issue?
For best results a holistic approach is recommended. A change in food and eating habits and lifestyle are quite often necessary.
In severe cases, taking herbs internally as prescribed by an Ayurvedic Doctor or Naturopath is highly recommended.
Whether Pitta or Vata imbalance, the external herbal solution is to use the appropriate Herbal Hair Oil eg OmVeda OmVeda Neelini Hair Oil which can be used by both or OmVeda Brahmi Hair Oil for Vata as it contains Gota Kola and Valerian with Brahmi which helps to reduce stress. The Brahmi Oil is also good for jet lag which can contribute to excess Vata disorder.
Highly beneficial is massaging oil into the scalp and leaving it on for a minimum of 1 hour (overnight is best). Washing the hair with either OmVeda Amla Shampoo (Vata), Henna Shampoo or Green Apple Shampoo for Pitta. Henna has cooling properties and helps to reduce heat in the scalp.
A must for Pitta is the OmVeda Hair Tonic which is a non-oily tincture for daily use. It contains Mint, Triphala and Bael Fruit that together helps to cool the scalp and promote hair growth. OmVeda Hair Tonic – 100mls V – Omveda
Would you suggest different hair-loss defence tactics for different Doshas? Can you elaborate?
Diet would be different for Vata and Pitta. The strength of scalp massage would also vary. For example Vata slow with light pressure ~ Pitta medium pressure and strength and a vigorous massage is best for Kapha doshas, as they require stimulation.
In the salon we would recommend:
Our Shirodhara treatment, particularly for an imbalanced Vata dosha, which displays signs of stress, hair loss, insomnia, anxiety and fear, for example. Shiro means head and dhara – flow of oil, so Shirodhara translates to the flow of oil on the head. This 45 minute to 1 hour treatment uses a specific herbalised oil to help calm the mind and balance or cool diminished doshas within the body. It is said to release serotonin resulting in an overall sense of well-being and relaxation.
Another is our Hair Spa Treatment which combines a warm oil scalp massage using a customised herbal oil (either the OmVeda Brahmi Oil or Neelini Oil) and the Neelini Hair Mask. Following the hair mask, the head is wrapped in muslin and kept warm to allow the goodness of the herbs to be readily absorbed. After which the hair and scalp are cleansed with the Amla, Henna or Green Apple Shampoo and the scalp spritzed with the OmVeda Hair Tonic.