Do you often notice that you lose a handful of hair while brushing? Is your hair always looking dull, grey, or lifeless? Are bald spots or a receding hairline troubling you? If your hair weighs you down, then it's a problem you must address. After all, your hair is an important aspect of your overall physical appearance. And given the choice, you too would want lustrous and healthy hair to style as you please.
In this article, let's look at hair fall and hair regrowth by addressing their causes, ways to promote regrowth, and Ayurvedic tips to combat this issue. The practice tools mentioned here can help optimize your hair health, bringing back the lost sheen and luster while promoting growth.
On average, our scalp has over 1 lakh hair that goes through the cycle of growth, rest, fall out, and regeneration. Every hair follicle goes through the 'rest' phase before growing a new strand of hair in its place. Owing to this cycle, it is normal to lose over one hundred strands of hair per day.
The issue occurs when this cycle is disrupted and the hair follicles get damaged. Not only does our hair begin to fall out more quickly, but the regeneration slows down as well, resulting in a receding hairline, bald spots, and overall thinning.
The principal contributor of Ayurveda, Acharya Charaka, considered hair as mala or a waste product of asthi dhatu (bone tissues), while Acharya Sharngdhara considered it to be a receding hairline, bald (tissue) of asthi (bone). Hair fall is termed khalitya roga as per Ayurvedic literature.
According to Ayurvedic scripts, the condition of the hair and scalp depends on the harmony between the tridoshic energies, i.e. the Kapha, Pitta and Vata. An imbalance in these biological energies can result in a series of scalp or hair problems. Simply put, hair fall can be attributed to the root cause of vitiated dosha levels.
As a holistic science, Ayurveda views hair fall as an indication of internal health owing to an imbalance of doshas. This 5000-year-old science encourages you to look deeper into your hair fall issues by understanding what's going on inside your body, particularly the asthi dhatu or bone health.
Your hair can say so much about your bone health. For example, if you have new, excessive hair growth, it indicates the asthi vruddhi or excessive growth of bone tissues. This may result in spinal misalignments owing to the overgrowth of tissues. On the other hand, hair loss is a result of asthi kshaya or decreased bone tissues. This may result in thinner and more brittle bones which may lead to fractures.
As per scientific studies, the hair growth cycle lasts 2 to 6 years at any given point in time. During this phase, about 90% of the hair is growing at any given point in time, while 10% is in a resting phase, which lasts about 2 to 3 months.
The key to hair regrowth lies in identifying the cause underlying poor regrowth and addressing it. When Agni or Pitta is hyperactive in the body, it can be the root cause of underlying hair fall, premature greying, and early signs of aging. Excessive Pitta owing to pollution, lifestyle factors, high metabolism, a warm climate, acidity, and irritability can result in stress-induced disorders that may affect the regrowth of hair.
Why does hair loss or khalitya occur? There is a range of factors that can result in hair loss, according to Ayurveda. Some of them are elucidated below:
Dosha imbalance: Dosha imbalances can impact the appearance, health, and strength of hair. Some of the common symptoms of an imbalanced dosha are:
An excess Pitta can result in additional heat in the hair follicles, resulting in premature thinning, dandruff, and greying owing to inflammation. An impact on the overall metabolism can also affect how the hair regrows.
An excess Vata can dehydrate the scalp tissues. It can cause dry, brittle, and frizzy hair that needs nourishment. Over time, the hair thins out, develops split ends, and falls out in clumps, making it difficult to regrow.
An excess Kapha can result in oily and clogged hair follicles owing to the over-production of sebum. A greasy scalp can result in dandruff and prevent hair regrowth.
Stress: When you go through severe emotional or physical stress, the Pitta levels rise in the body, resulting in your body secreting excess hormones to combat this stress. The unexpected changes within the body result in hair thinning or shedding. As per studies, stress-induced hair loss can be attributed to medical reasons, pregnancy, bereavement, or medication changes.
Nutritional deficiency: If your daily diet lacks essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, niacin, magnesium, protein, and biotin along with essential vitamins such as A, B, C, D, and E, it can lead to an elevated Vata. This results in hair fall and hair loss.
Hormonal imbalance: Whether you're on contraceptive pills, going through menopause, have recently had a baby, or suffer from PCOS - your estrogen levels can impact hair growth. With low estrogen, you may notice hair loss and hair fall.
Additional factors such as old age, overexposure to sunlight, genetics, use of styling products, or chronic hair treatments can also result in hair loss.
Nidanparivartan, an important pillar of Ayurveda, refers to the avoidance of factors that cause hair fall or khalitya. These causative and risk factors depend on your scalp health, dosha imbalance, and family and medical history. Some points recommended in Ayurvedic literature are as follows:
Try to live in conditions that prevent you from being overexposed to sunlight, smog, pollution, dust, or smoke to avoid oil or skin debris build-up on the scalp and hair.
Follow a proper sleeping schedule while avoiding sleeping during the day or staying up too late at night.
Control the addition of excess salt and kshara (alkaline preparations) in your diet.
Stay away from heat or chemical treatments of the hair.
Manage daily stress that can affect your overall health.
Hair care routine
Ayurveda recommends a healthy hair care routine to keep your tresses bouncy. The Samhita specifies certain tips to keep in mind:
Moordha Tail (oiling scalp): Regularly applying dosha-specific Ayurvedic oils to pacify the dominant doshas can condition and nourish the hair follicles while giving strength to the hair fiber. Some dosha-specific ingredients you must look out for in the ingredient list are:
Vata-dominant hair types need the nourishing of almond or sesame oil with palandu (onion) or gunja (rosary pea) for their antioxidant properties.
Pitta-dominant hair types need the cooling properties of coconut, yashtimadhu (licorice), or nimba (neem) for their anti-inflammatory properties
Kapha-dominant hair types need lighter oils like olive oil with kapur (camphor) or brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)for strength and nourishment.
Snana (hair wash): Acharya Samhita specifies avoiding the use of water that is warm to cold. He further recommends washing hair three times a week with chemical-free shampoos or herbal hair cleansers made up of henna, shikakai (soap pod), bhringraj (Eclipta prostrata), amalaki (Indian gooseberry), methi (fenugreek), reetha (soap nut), and ghrit kumari (Aloe vera).
Shiro Abhyanga (head massage): This involves massaging the head, neck, and shoulders in a circular motion to boost blood circulation and stimulate hair regrowth.
Shiro Lepa (hair mask): Ayurveda recommends the regular use of herbal hair masks for deep conditioning.
Kshaurakarma (hair cut): Keep your hair free from split ends by trimming them regularly and reducing the stress on hair follicles.
Ushnishka (hair protection): Wear a turban, scarf, or cap to protect your scalp from environmental elements such as the sun, wind, and dust.
Dosha-balancing ahara (diet)
Ayurveda recommends indulging in a dosha-specific wholesome diet or ahara that is rich in essential nutrients and minerals for a healthy mane. Consuming specific types of food can strengthen or weaken the doshas in the body. To pacify the Pitta and control hair fall, you must avoid food that is too hot, spicy, or salty. Some tips you can follow:
Include turmeric and spices such as cumin, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper
Stay hydrated by adding cooling drinks and food such as cucumber, pumpkin, yogurt, sesame, or coconut water to your regime
Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng was proven to reduce stress while balancing the cycle of cortisol production, which can help promote hair regrowth
Include Japa (hibiscus), a stimulant for hair regrowth from dormant follicles, in your haircare regime
In addition to these pointers, you must also exercise regularly, stay hydrated, and incorporate Ayurvedic therapies such as yoga, pranayam (breathing exercise), panchkarma (cleansing routine), or nasya (lubricating the nasal passages).
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If you feel like you're losing more hair than usual, then you must remember to focus on your lifestyle. Considering the fast-paced, stressful culture we live in, adequate rest, and following a Dincharya (daily healthy routine) and Ritucharya (lifestyle routine as per changing seasons) will ensure long-term benefits that will positively affect your hair health as well.
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