Shirodhara is a form of Ayurveda therapy that involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead and can be one of the steps involved in Panchakarma. The name comes from the Sanskrit words shiro (head) and dhara (flow). Shirodhara is also effective in treating mental conditions such as anxiety, and mental stress. Herbalized sesame oil is the traditional oil used for Shirodhara. Other oils or liquids, such as coconut oil, olive oil, milk or even buttermilk, are sometimes used as well. Shirodhara has been used to treat a variety of conditions including eye diseases, sinusitis, allergic rhinitis, greying of hair, neurological disorders, memory loss, insomnia, hearing impairment, tinnitus, vertigo, Ménière’s disease and certain types of skin diseases like psoriasis. It is also used non-medicinally at spas for its relaxing properties. Studies report that Ayurvedic Shirodhara is a safe option to improve sleep quality among people who have sleep problems. Shirodhara is also effective in treating mental conditions such as anxiety, and mental stress. The calming effect produced by Shirodhara is similar to that obtained with meditation

Shirodhara involves pouring of warm herbal oils on the head. However, it may begin with a full body massage known as Abhyangam. Shirodhara also involves a head massage. Shirodhara is thought to work by relaxing the hypothalamus in the brain. It can also normalize the functions of hormones that regulate sleep and emotion

Types of Shirodhara

Commonly, oils, coconut water, decoctions, buttermilk and milk processed with other herbs are used in Shirodhara. Due to variation in liquids, its types are decided as follows:

  1. Taila Dhara (Thyla dhara): Oils are used in this type of dhara.
  2. Takra Dhara (Thakradhara): Buttermilk is used as the main ingredient of pouring liquid.
  3. Kwatha Dhara: Decoctions made from various herbs as per condition and bodily defect or dosha of the person are used in Kwatha Dhara.
  4. Dugadha Dhara (Ksheerdhara): Milk is used as the main ingredient in Shirodhara is called dugadha dhara.
  5. Jala Dhara:Coconut water or water is used in cases of ailments due to excess heat in the body or Pitta diseases.

Shirodhara Equipment

  1. Shirodhara table
  2. Shirodhara pot or shirodhara electric machine

Shirodhara Procedure

  1. Do head massage with appropriate oil for 5 to 10 minutes before procedure.
  2. Whole body massage may be needed as per requirement of patient in any particular bodily conditions.
  3. Ask individual to lie on back (in supine position) on Shirodhara table.
  4. Keep small pillow or cloth under the neck to support.
  5. Adjust shirodhara pot or equipment, so that oil from the pot falls on the forehead.
  6. Distance from the pore of the pot and forehead should be about 10 cm.
  7. Put oil in the shirodhara pot and start pouring oil or liquids over the forehead and head of the patient.
  8. Ask patient to relax and enjoy the sensation coming from pouring oil over the head or forehead.
  9. A continuous stream of the oil should be poured over the forehead and oscillate or move the pot from one side to other side of forehead, so that stream of the oil goes from left lateral part of forehead to right lateral part of forehead and vice versa.
  10. Recollect the oil from the table, reheat it and maintain temperature of shiordhara oil, put the recollected oil in shirodhara pot and repeat the step no. 9.
  11. After the shirodhara, wipe off the oil or liquids from the forehead and head and then ask patient to relax for 30 to 60 minutes.
  12. Patient can take bath with medicated water or warm water after 30 minutes of the procedure.