Shirodhara is a powerful, ancient Ayurvedic healing technique that helps to harmonize, rejuvenate and stabilize the mind, body. Shirodhara derives its name from two Sanskrit words – “Shiro”, which means head and “Dhara” which means flow.
The procedure involves pouring a continuous stream of warm Ayurvedic oils or buttermilk or milk onto the patient’s forehead for a specific time. In general, Shirodhara procedure should be performed for at least 30 minutes in the morning and continued for 14 to 21 days.
When the infusion of liquids is dripped or poured onto the head, patients experience a soothing and calming sensation in the superficial peripheral nerves and muscles of the head. This helps to soothe the hypothalamus that regulates the functioning of the pituitary gland.
The potent anti-stress and anti-depressant properties of the herbal oils balance serotonin levels that regulate anxiety, happiness and mood. This helps to alleviate various psychometric conditions such as stress, tension, anxiety and depression and treat insomnia.
Shirodhara also causes vasodilation of the blood vessels and improves blood circulation in the brain and the body. This helps to regulate blood pressure, enhance cardiovascular endurance and treat hypertension.
Several Ayurvedic scriptures mention that the steady pour of warm liquid on the forehead activates “the third eye” and rouses intuition power. It facilitates the free flow of “prana” (the life force) and clears the blockages in the mind, thereby promoting mental clarity and helping patients get over any past pain, experiences, emotions or mental trauma.
Shirodhara is the ultimate remedy for pacifying the Vata dosha in the body that leads to chaotic thoughts, forgetfulness and inattentiveness.
Research conducted in the human pharmacology laboratory revealed volunteers who underwent Shirodhara therapy had a significant reduction in their diastolic pressure and rate of breathing. It also induced a relaxed state of awareness in the participants.
A study by Okayama University Graduate School of Medicine confirmed that Shirodhara improved the quality of sleep and life in people with sleeping issues.
Shirodhara is primarily a procedure of Abhyanga (massage), which forms the foundation of the detoxification program within Panchakarma. The Shirodhara procedure is divided into three parts:
Purva Karma is the preparatory stage of Shirodhara. After recording the pulse, temperature and blood pressure of the patient, he/she is advised to lie down in the supine position on the Shirodhara table. The eyes and ears are covered with cotton to prevent the entry of liquid.
The Shirodhara vessel or the Dhara Patra is then filled with Sneha (selection of Sneha is done according to the condition of the dosha) and fixed above the forehead of the patient.
The Sneha Dhara is poured continuously on the forehead. The flow of the stream is kept not too fast or slow. The liquid is not too hot or cold. Its viscosity is also not too thin or thick. Ideally, the temperature of the Shirodhara should be slightly above body temperature.
After the Shirodhara process is completed, a patient is given a head and body massage with herbal oils and asked to bathe with lukewarm water.