What Causes Hair Thinning? Ayurvedic Perspective And Remedies
If there is one common fear that all of us share, it is hair thinning. How depressing can it be to see a handful of frail hair tangling in your comb? Studies suggest that approximately 80% of men and 50% of women suffer from hair thinning. With our stressful schedules and fast-paced lifestyle, both men and women are experiencing hair thinning and, ultimately, significant hair loss. So, if you are wondering," Why is my hair thinning?" read ahead.
Causes of hair thinning
According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it is common for a person to lose 50-100 strands of hair every day. However, if a person loses more than that every day, it means they are shedding more than average, which could contribute towards overall thinning hair. While thinning hair does not necessarily cause baldness like widespread hair loss, however, it may give the appearance of sparser spots of hair on the scalp. It is essential to mention that hair thinning is a gradual process, and a person typically gets time to address it by figuring out the underlying cause and opting for the proper remedy.
Before we explore different Ayurveda-approved remedies to tackle hair thinning, it is essential to understand its causes. There can be multiple reasons why a person may experience hair thinning. Some prominent causes include:
- Poor nutrition
- Chemical-based hair products and treatments
- Medical conditions
- Unhealthy lifestyle
According to Ayurveda, hair thinning occurs when there is an imbalance in the doshas. Thus, in order to slow down hair thinning, a person needs to work on balancing their Ayurvedic doshas.
Vata dosha: Usually, people with Vata dosha tend to have straight, thin, and porous hair. It is usual for people with Vata dosha to have dry and slightly rough hair. These people are also prone to excessive dryness, brittle hair, flaky dandruff, and frizz when there is a Vata imbalance. It is also a possibility that people with disrupted Vata may suffer from occasional hair thinning.
When there is Vata aggravation, the scalp tissues will likely get dehydrated. As a result, the hair follicles are prone to damage from exposure to UV radiation and harsh chemicals. As a result, the hair becomes prone to breakage, dryness, and hair fall. Thus imbalanced Vata dosha can damage hair follicles, causing hair loss.
Pitta dosha: People with Pitta dosha tend to have slightly wavy hair with medium thickness, density, and strength. Aggravated Pitta often leads to excess heat, which can damage the hair follicles, causing inflammation, hair thinning, weakening of roots, and early graying.
Kapha dosha: Kapha hair is generally thick, lustrous, smooth, hydrated, and strong. However, if there is an imbalance in the Kapha dosha, there can be excess oil secretion in the scalp, which can potentially block the follicles leading to wet and sticky flakes. When the Kapha level rise, excessive sebum build-up clogs the hair follicles from receiving nutrients, and as a result, not only the scalp becomes greasy, but it can also deter hair growth and cause hair thinning.
READ MORE: Why Hair Fall Occurs And How To Maintain Healthy Hair Growth
Ayurvedic remedies, beneficial herbs, and ways to use them
Thankfully, the incredible wisdom of Ayurveda can help us slow down hair thinning and potentially grow hair and maintain its strength. So, let's understand the remedies and herbs that can bring our locks back to life.
Ayurvedic remedies for healthy hair
Shirodhara: This Ayurvedic practice involves gentle head massage while pouring warm oils and liquids formulated with Ayurvedic herbal ingredients on the forehead from an oscillating container hung above. As a result, the circulation in the scalp improves, leading to the slowing of hair thinning and better hair growth.
Shiro Abhyanga: This Ayurvedic treatment involves massaging the head, upper back, neck, and shoulders with warm Ayurvedic oils to relieve stress from muscles and tissues. According to experts, Shiro Abhyanga balances the three upper chakras, Ajna (between eyebrows), Sahasrara (top of head), and Vishuddha (in the throat) which releases stress from muscles and tissues and improves circulation. The gentle massage promotes a better flow of oxygen and blood, thus, ensuring nutrient supply to your follicles.
Shiro Lepa: For this Ayurvedic practice, a paste, is applied on the entire scalp. After applying this paste, the scalp is partially covered with special kind of leaves (which go well with the scalp). Shiro Lepa is excellent for pacifying Pitta dosha for its cooling effect on the scalp and providing nourishment to your hair follicles.
Nasya: Another Ayurvedic therapy that can help reduce hair fall, and balance aggravated Pitta dosha. However, different doshas can be balanced using different Nasya techniques. The practice of Nasya involves lubricating the nasal passage with Ayurvedic herbal oils. In this treatment, a few drops of oil are dropped into the nostrils and allowed to hit the back of your throat internally. The herbal formula, when taken through the nostrils, flows to reach the membrane of the brain. This movement alerts the nerves which connect the scalp and the brain, thereby helping improve the quality of hair follicles and reducing hair loss.
Oiling: Our busy schedules and lifestyles make it difficult for us to perform therapies of Shirodhara and Shiro Abhyanga. However, with regular scalp massages using Ayurvedic oils at home, a person can manage their doshas, reduce hair thinning, and promote healthy hair. Gently massaging the scalp for about 15-20 minutes with pure Ayurvedic hair oil, as per your body constitution, can potentially enhance blood circulation in your scalp and reduce hair loss.
Vata pacifying oils: Yashtimadhu, Bhringraj, Brahmi, Methika, Shatavari, etc.
Pitta pacifying oils: Japa, Shatavari, Nimba,etc.
Kapha pacifying oils: Japa, Bhringraj, Neem, etc.
Herbal cleansers: As the name suggests, the practice involves cleansing the scalp and hair with Ayurvedic herbs. Regular hair cleansing regulates sebum secretion and stops hair follicles from being clogged. Some natural Ayurvedic ingredients that can act as hair cleansers include Shikakai (Soap Pod), Reetha (Soap Nut), Kumari (Aloe vera), Amla (Indian Gooseberry), Japa (Hibiscus), Nimba (Neem), etc.
READ MORE: How To Prevent Dry Skin And Dry Scalp In The Winter Season
Herbs that can help reduce hair thinning
Brahmi: Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) can address various hair concerns, including hair-thinning, dandruff, itchiness, and split ends. Massaging the scalp with brahmi oil not only offers a soothing feeling; but helps in stimulating the hair follicles and improving circulation to the scalp, promoting hair growth and reduction in hair thinning and hair loss. The Snigdha (oily) and Ropan (healing) properties allow it to reduce dryness in the scalp and promote healthy hair growth. Additionally, modern-day research suggests that the herb can help reduce stress hormones called cortisol, which can further help reduce hair fall. A person should ideally apply the oil, keep it for 2-3 hours and wash it with gentle hair cleansers.
Bhringraj: Bhringraj (Eclipta prostrata) can help in improving hair health. It is known to be effective in tackling issues such as dandruff, hair fall, premature greying, etc. Due to its unique Keshya (improves quality of hair) property, bhringraj helps remove excessive dryness and thinning of hair. Bhrignraj oil can be applied to the scalp for about 30 minutes and washed off with an herbal cleanser.
Ashwagandha: Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng (Withania somnifera) offers myriad benefits for our hair. The herb is known to reduce hair loss and promoting healthy hair growth. People can make a fine paste by mixing warm distilled water with 2-3 spoons of ashwagandha powder and applying it to their scalp and hair. After massaging it, gently rinse it off with normal water.
Amla: Amla (Indian gooseberry) is an excellent Ayurvedic herb to ensure proper hair hygiene. It is effective in promoting hair growth and helps strengthen hair health. The Keshya (ability to improve hair quality) property of amla makes it a great ingredient to stop hair loss and stimulate regrowth. Ayurvedic experts recommend using amla oil and drinking amla juice in the morning to care for hair health.
READ MORE: Ayurvedic Benefits And Uses Of Amla For Hair Growth
Neem: Described as 'Sarva Roga Nivarini,' a universal healer or curer of all ailments. For those with Pitta imbalance, neem is tremendous for
cooling the scalp and supporting the development of shiny,
smooth hair. According to ancient Ayurvedic texts and the latest studies, the regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties of neem oil can help stimulate hair follicle growth, counter hair fall, and promote thick and strong hair. Applying neem oil or a paste made with neem powder and warm water before shampooing to experience its potential benefits.
Hibiscus: Hibiscus or Japa is another Ayurveda hair favorite for its Keshya (ability to improve hair quality) property. Hibiscus can potentially help grow, condition, strengthen, and maintain good hair health by providing nourishment and stimulating blood flow to the hair follicles.
READ MORE: Seven Ayurvedic Herbs For Strong And Healthy Hair
Dietary and lifestyle changes
A few lifestyle and dietary changes can also help manage and reverse hair thinning. These include:
- Reducing caffeine intake as it triggers scalp dehydration
- Getting a sufficient amount of sleep every day
- Consume fresh fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet
- Consume water in adequate amounts to flush out toxins from the body
- Incorporating yoga and regular exercise into your life
- Avoid using chemical-based products, styling devices, and hair dryers excessively
- Wash hair twice-thrice a week with herbal cleansers
- Comb the hair gently twice daily
Hair thinning is a common occurrence and is not something that cannot be reversed. By taking a dosha-appropriate diet, performing physical activities, and applying Ayurveda-approved oils, lepas, and cleansers to the scalp, a person can significantly control hair thinning and promote hair growth. However, a person must perform these activities regularly to experience long-lasting results. Ayurveda has all the answers for our hair woes as long as we remain positive and follow the wisdom dedicatedly.
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- Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. “A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults.”Indian J. Psychol Med.2012;34(3):255.