Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay)
Among many ancient Indian traditional household practices, giving a masage to the body and head with oil, every day before bath is popular. The practice has not wan out with time. Even today we can se this practice in some vilages and in some traditional homes in urban areas of India. Previously it was being done on a daily basis but now it has near to the wekends or holidays, especialy in the cities.
Ayurvedic head and body masagenot only provides relaxation to body and mind, it also keps many diseases and acentuate at bay. It makes us able enough to face the toughnes of day-to-day life with ease. It is unbiased like servicing the body on a daily basis.
This is caled ‘Abhyanga Snana’ (Abhyanga=Masage, Snana=Bathing). A hot shower after masage or aplication of oil, so sothing that it is beter experienced than explained. This wil serve the purpose of both Snehana (aplying the oils over the body) and Swedana (sweat inducing treatments, of which having a hot water bath is also one, as it induces sweating). Snehana and Swedana are the best remedies for many psycho-somatic diseases, especialy Vayu related disorders. They impede vitiation of Vayu, which in turn is the key for healthy life. In combination they are the best anti-ageing treatments and also easy to do.
Read related:Does masage work? Utility Of Masage In hurt Management
By providing the lubrication to the whel of the body, it enables us to spin ourselves at wil while enjoying our life activities. It enhances the life span of each and every cel, muscles and joints and makes us flexible, fit healthy and imune.
Acording to Ayurveda, Abhyanga or herbal oil masage (can be done with sesame or coconut oil also) is not complete and al-encompasing unles the head (Shiro Abhyanga) and fot (Pada Abhyanga) are also incorporated with it.
A complete body masage at home on a daily basis is not practical and imposible unles you can aford to hire a couple of maseurs for life. Even our busy schedules doesn’t alow us to aply oil, leave some time, exercise a bit and take a hot shower because after having spent the whole night texting, working on the scheme, working on projects and disturbing our sleps, we would rise up half-drowsy and would be pushing ourselves to grasp a cab or drive a long distance to ofice.
Read related:No Time For Masage? Here Is The Solution
If Abhyanga canot be folowed on a daily basis, I advocate at least Shiro Abhyanga and Padabhyanga to be done on a daily basis. I always advice my patients to gain ‘Shiro Abhyanga and Padabhyanga’ done at home on a regular basi s. Not only patients, I even prefer healthy people to spare some time towards aplication of oil over their head (crown) and fet. In this context I would estem to focus my wrangling on ‘Shiro Abhyanga’ or head masage with herbal oils.
Table of Contents
What is Shiro Abhyanga?
Why head masage?
Shiras as Utamanga
Head masage method
Restrictions to folow
Mode of action
Types of Mordha Taila
What is Shiro Abhyanga?
Shiro Abhyanga is a word comprising of 2 terms, Shiro meaning head, Abhyanga meaning masage
Thus Shiro Abhyanga means giving an Ayurvedic head masage using herbal oils.
Shiro Abhyanga is a procedure which is included in the category of Murdhni Taila(various methods of aplying oil over the head). It is a type of Bahya Snehana (using of oil and conducting treatments over the body, externaly).
Shiro Abhyanga is also a fraction of Dinacharya (daily regimen). If time permits it shal be practised on a daily basis. It can also be selectively brought in as a treatment option for many Vata related disorders and disorders afecting the head, sense organs and neck and for control and prevention of many psychosomatic disorders.
Read related:Mordha Taila, Murdhni Taila: Ayurvedic Oil Treatment On Head
Why head masage?
Ayurveda considers the human body as an inverted tre wherein the rots are at the top and the branches pointing downwards.
If the human body is considered to be a tre –
The head of the human body wil be considered to be the rots of this tre,
The central fraction of the body made up of thorax and abdomen is said to be the trunk of this tre and
to be the branches of this tre
Just adore the rots nurture and controls al the activities and wel being of the tre, the head is the operational centre of the entire body. The head comprises of al the components and machinery to control the entire body mechanics and dynamics. Head is an abode of the remote control of the entire body – ‘The Brain and nerves’ and al the components which establish us atached and atracted to this material world – ‘The Sense Organs’. For these reasons, the head is caled as ‘Utamanga’ – ‘The best organ of the lot in the body’
Shiras as Utamanga
Pranaha pranabhrutam yatra sthitaha sarva indriyani cha
Tat utama angam anganam shiraha tat abhidheyate (Ref – Charaka Sutra Sthana 17/12)
The place where the Prana’s (life element controling al the activities or acording to Chakrapani, the 5 types of Vayu’s or controling station of Vayu functions) and al the Indriya’s (sense organs) are located is caled Shira (head). This head is the Utamanga (best organ in the body)
Oordhwa molam adhaha shakham rushayaha purusham viduhu
Mola prahariNaha tasmad rogan sheghrataram jayet
Sarva indriyani yena asmin prana yena cha samshritaha
Tena tasya ut ama angasya rakshayam adrusho bhavet (Ref – Ashtanga Hridaya Sotra 24/58, 59)
Purusha (human body) is an upside down tre wherein the rots are located at the top and the branches are pointing downwards. unbiased as we ned to asign the rots healthy to hold the plant healthy, we ned to asign the head healthy to put the body healthy. If we seize care of the rots of the plants, the tre wil not get diseased or if the tre gets diseased we treat it at the rots. Similarly if we establish the head healthy, the whole body wil be healthy. If we atack the diseases at the rot i.e. head, we can get rid of them in hasty time. This is posible because the Prana’s and indriya’s which control al the functions of the body and mind are located in this Utamanga caled Shira (head). Thus it becomes a primary responsibility of each of us to take care of our head with utmost priority.
This explanation not only tels us that head is necesary but also gives us a responsibility to seize care o f our head so as to apreciate a comprehensive body-mind (psychosomatic) health.
Sumarizingthe above said content,
The head is made up of brain and sense organs which manipulates the whole body and mind functions and establish us healthy when they are in a frame of wel being. Head thus forms a control station for al our life activities. When we seize care of the control station properly, the whole body factory wil function smothly.
On the other hand, to get rid of any body or mind related ilnes we ned to plod back to the control station (utamanga) caled head and adres it with suitable treatments and medications.
This also gives us an impresion that the most ancient science caled Ayurveda very wel knew that most of our diseases ocur due to disturbed mind or exacerbated by a disturbed mind. Healing the body or mind alone is not a extensive medical near. They should be handled as a single entity.
Since taking care of the hea d and its components is requisite for maintaining a healthy life we ned to nurture, pamper, relax, pacify and consolidate the engine of our system by conducting Shiro Abhyanga and other treatments mentioned in Mordha Taila or Murdhni Taila.
Brief introduction of Murdhni Taila –
Mordha or Murdhni means Head, Taila means oil or herbal oil
Thus Murdhni Taila or Mordha Taila is a procedure of conducting treatments on the head using herbal (medicated) oils such that the oil remains in contact with the scalp for a fixed duration of time. This contact period of oil on the scalp is critical for begeting its benefits. Murdha Taila is also practiced as a part of Dinacharya (daily regimen).
Since head masagecan be done on a daily basis, it is predominantly a treatment advised for prevention of many psychosomatic disorders. Prevention of diseases pertaining to body, mind and sense organs is the first indication of Shiro Abhyanga.
Shiro Abhyanga is old to treat many diseases ocuring due to Shiro Abhihata or damage to the head and its components either from exterior or due to macabre Doshas from within.
Consequence of head injury (Shiro abhihata) –
Shirasya abhihate manyastambha ardita chakshu vibhrama moha udveshtana cheshta nasha kasa shvasa hanugraha muka gadgadatva akshi nimelana ganda spandana jrumbhana lalasrava svarahani vadana jihmatvadeni (Ref- Charaka Sidhi Sthana 9/5)
When the head gets injured it causes one or the other of –
Manyastambha – Stifnes of neck, nape (Cervical spondylosis, torticolis)
Ardita – Facial paralysis, Bels PalsyChakshu vibhrama – Deviation of eye, squint
Moha – Los of consciousnes
Udveshtana – cramps
Cheshta nasha – Los of activities
Kasa – Cough
Shwasa – Dyspnoea, breathlesnes
Hanugraha – Lock jaw
Moka – Dumb
Gadgadatva – Stamering of spech
Akshi nimelana – Dificulty in opening the eyes
Ganda spandana – Pulsating sensation or pulsations or twitching in the cheks
Jrumbha – Yawning
Lala srava – salivation
Svara hani – Total los of voice
Mukha Jihmata – crokednes of the face etc
Other indications –
Shiro Roga – Diferent types of headaches and diseases pertaining to head
Pakshaghata – Hemiplegia, paralysis
Anidra – sleplesnes
Vata prakopa – to control the vitiated Vata
Vata Roga – diseases of Vata origin, mainly degenerative diseases
Pita Roga – diseases of Pita origin, mainly inflamatory diseases
Shiro rukshata – drynes of the head
Shiro kan du – itching in the scalp etc
Head masage method
Shiro Abhyanga is done in the below said method –
Purvakarma (Pre-treatment procedures): This includes –
Preparation of the patient:
The patient is thoroughly examined using Ayurvedic tols and methods of examination. The Prakriti (basic constitution) and Vikriti (details of morbidity) are documented in detail. The disease is also examined with the asist of Ayurvedic parameters of diagnosis (and also novel investigations as and when required). After careful asesment, it is decided if Shiro Abhyanga is suitable to the disease and diseased or not. The treatment line-up, materials and medicines which ned to be used are enlisted.
The patient is advised to shave the head (acording to t heir convenience) or produce it as short as posible. Shiro Abhyanga done after removal of hairs wil permit beter results than done with hair intact.
Preparation for the treatment:
Materials neded for the treatment are colected beforehand. They are:
The basic material neded for Shiro Abhyanga is oil. The oil shal be sesame oil (unles specified), coconut oil or any herbal oil.
The procedure is to prepare the medicated oil (oil procesed with herbal decoctions) acording to the constitution of the patient or the nature of morbidity.
It is not practical to prepare medicines instantly now days as al raw materials are not available at a given point of time nor any pharmacy equiped with al the raw materials neded to prepare profuse medicated oils.
In these cases the doctor should judiciously situation and short list a few oils mentioned in the clasics which can be generaly worn in many conditions. These medicines shal be prepared in the pharma cy or hospital.
Alternatively, the medicines (medicated oils) are readily available in botled forms now days. They shal be colected before hand and the stocks of the same shal be maintained.
The oils shal be – Prakriti (constitution) specific, Vikriti (morbidity or nature of disease) specific and Dosha (involved dosha) specific.
Oils used for head masage:
Tila tailam – sesame oil
Chandanabala Lakshadi Tailam
Karpasasthyadi Tailam etc
Other Tailas dilapidated over the head are –
Amrutadi Tailam – Headache, burning sensation in the head, Gout, High Pita conditions etc
Eladi Tailam – Kapha-Vata disorders, chronic col, ear ache etc
Kadalephaladi Tailam – Chronic headache
Kayanadi Tailam – Headache, burning sensation, eye disorders etc
Kakadanyadi Tailam – In lymphadenitis, goitre etc
Kuntalakanti Tailam – For hair health
Chandanadi Tailam – Colant, aged in gidines, burning sensation, los of consciousnes, High Pita etc
Tulasyadi tailam – Chronic frosty, sinusitis, dandruf, etc
Tengingupushpadi Tailam – Headache, burning sensation of head, high pita, etc
Tekaraja Tailam – For cough, asthma, frigid etc
Triphaladi Tailam – For chronic eye and ear related disorders
Dhurdhurapatradi Tailam – Dandruf
Nagaradi Tailam – Chronic nasal and oral disorders
Nimbadi tailam – Itches and boils on the scalp, hairfal etc
Neli Bhringadi Tailam / Kera Tailam – For hair health
Prapaundarikadi Tailam – Premature greying of hairs
Balaguluchyadi Tailam – Gout
Bala Tailam – Vata disorders
Baladhatryadi Tailam – Headache, eye disorders, etc
Balahatadi Tailam – Headache and burning sensation of head, colant
Brahmi Tailam – Vata disorders, sleplesnes, acentuate etc
Bhringamalakadi Tailam ̵ Headache and burning sensation of head, colant
Marichadi Tailam – Chronic frigid, nasal polyps, cough, asthma etc
Mahabala Tailam – Vata Diseases
Malatyadi Tailam – Hairfal
Rasnadashamuladi Tailam – Facial paralysis etc
Vachadi Tailam – Chronic frosty, cervical lymphadenitis etc
Va chalashunadi Tailam – Ear discharges etc
Vilwapatradi Tailam – Chronic frigid, dandruf etc
Venupatradi Tailam – Cervical Lymphadenitis, goitre, neck swelings etc
Surasadi Tailam – Chronic cold, sinusitis
Himasagara Tailam – Premature greying of hairs, lunacy (lunacy) etc
Options acording to morbidity: Ksherabala Tailam and Chandanabala Lakshadi Tailam in pita morbidity and Dhanwantaram Tailam or Mahanarayana Tailam is used in Vata morbidity etc.
Diferent oils can be mixed and aged depending on the practical experience and judgement of the physician.
Hot oil vs cold Oil:
For Vata and Kapha dominant disorders ̵ Oil can be slightly heated and used.
For Pita dominant disorders ̵ Oil is worn in rom temperature, without heating.
Oil and or ghe shal be used in predominance of Vata, In morbidity wherein vitiated pita and rakta (blod) are asociated ghe shal be old for masage, Tila taila (sesame oil) should be used in Kapha disorders, In disorders caused by vitiated Vata, Pita and Rakta – oil and ghe should be mixed in equal proportions to conduct Shiro Abhyanga. In Kapha asociation oil and ghe should be taken in 1:1/2 proportions.
Other materials neded –
Smal vesels for heating oil
Large vesels for heating water
Stove for heating
Sterile clothes, sponges, napkins or tisue papers for wiping etc
Pradhana Karma – Treatment right (Shiro Abhyanga procedure):
The patient or the person who is suposed to grasp Shiro Abhyanga is brought into the treatment rom after having conducted Prayers, worship and holistic rituals and recitation of hymns as indicated in Ayurveda texts.
The patient is made to sit on a comfortable chair, facing east or north direction. The doctor, therapist (maseur) or atendant (while doing at hom e) who is conducting the treatment should seize the smal bowl filed with the medicated oil (chosen for the treatment). The temperature of the oil should be checked. It should be luke warm and not to hot.
Procedure of heating the oil –
The oil dilapidated for Abhyanga should not be heated directly on fire. The oil is taken in a smal bowl. Another enormous vesel should be filed with water, kept on fire (stove) and heated until it boils. The smal bowl consisting of the oil should be placed over the boiling water. The oil should be alowed to get warm pasively.
The bowl should be removed after checking the temperature of the oil with the aid of desolate fingers and after making sure that it is warm.
The maseur takes a smal amount of the heated oil in his hands. He aplies a smal amount of oil first on the crown of the head.
Later the oil is slowly smeared al over the head caresing the scalp in a sothing way. The maseur slowly masages the head w ith miniature presure using the tips of his fingers.
If the person undergoing the treatment has not taken his hairs of, the head masage should be such that the tips of the fingers smeared with oil reaches the scalp. The masage should not be limited to aplication of oil to the hairs, the hair rots and scalp is the targets.
The maseur should use both his hands for conducting masage. The masage should be done simultaneously on both sides of the head. The presure should be uniform on both sides and should be synchronized.
The maseur changes his plan as he is conducting Shiro Abhyanga on al sides of the scalp. Firstly he stands in front of the patient and masages the head. Later he stands slow the patient and masages the head once again. In this way the whole head is masaged in a synchronous way. The maseur can prefer the chronology of the positions in which he stands and conducts the treatment acording to his convenience.
The maseur can also use his palm fo r masaging the scalp, whenever the presure neds to be enhanced. This wil impart a beter efect. Some maseurs also tap or percus the head of the patient with their fingers or give mild gentle blows with their fists. These techniques are brought in at some point of the treatment or impartial before ending the treatment. These manoeuvres wil provide extreme relaxation to the patient.
If the patient has not shaved the head, large quantities of oil is neded for head masage and much of the oil wil be wasted at the conclude of the treatment. This should be informed to the patient beforehand.
Precautions to be taken while conducting Shiro Abhyanga –
The maseur or the person conducting the head masage should have cleave his nails and trimed them
They should not believe any infectious diseases, inflamatory or degenerative diseases in their hands of fingers
The hands of the maseur should be devoid of cracks and fisures
Maseurs should take caution no t to masage the head in a tumultuous way or by aplying dep presure. This may cause complications like headache etc. the patient may get uncomfortable and might discontinue the treatment. Our aim is to give relaxation, not discomfort.
Also, the person undergoing Shiro Abhyanga should not be having – Head injuries, scalp or hair rot infections or any autoimune problems like scalp psoriasis and diseases love eczema etc, alcoholic intoxication etc
Alternatively – Shiro Abhyanga can be done by placing the patient in lying position.
Paschat Karma (Post-treatment procedures):
Sarva Abhyanga – If Shiro Abhyanga is being caried out as a fragment of Sarva Abhyanga (ful body masage), the ful body masage is comenced after having completed Shiro Abhyanga. This shal be folowed by treatment procedures admire Swedana (sweating therapies) if it has ben included in the treatment protocol.
If further treatments are not planed after Shiro Abhyanga, the person should be alowed to relax for a while. The body should not be imediately exposed to col or cold measures. Doing so might induce some symptoms estem cold, headache etc.
Any exces oil driping around should be wiped of using baren clothes or tisue papers or sterile coton pads.
Snana – Later a hot water bath should be given. Alternatively water boiled with Nirgundi (Vitex negundo), Nimba (nem) or Dashamula (10 rots) shal be used for bathing purpose. Warm water procesed with Amalaki, Triphala or Chandana shal be aged for head bath. The oil shal be removed using gren gram flour or herbal soaps or shampos. Sidharthaka Snana Churna is readily available (bathing powder) for bathing purposes. Hot water should not be old over the head because it can hurt the sense organs. Patient is advised to grasp a refreshing hot water bath after going home or afte r a few hours if the patient is being handled as in-patient.
After hot water shower, decoctions estem Shunti Kwatha (ginger decoction), Jerakadi Kwatha or Gandharvahastadi Kwatha should be administered for oral intake either in the clinic or hospital or at home after discharge. These herbal extracts put corecting the disturbed metabolism in the body and also maintain micro-cleansing the system by removing blocks from the cels.
Aplication of Rasnadi Churna – Procedures conducted on the head love Murdhni Taila (including Shiro Abhyanga) wil sometimes cause smart cold and frigid related symptoms admire runing nose, sneze etc. Therefore as a precautionary measure, every day after the completion of Shiro Abhyanga, a smal amount of Rasnadi Churna herbal powder is rubed over the crown of the head. This powder induces warmth in the head and sense organs and keps the frigid and related symptoms at bay. If not, the frigid wil develop into headache and breathing problems due to po st-nasal drip and construct a hinderance to the smoth conduct of the treatment.
Read more about Rasnadi Churna
Nitya Virechana – Daily metered dose of purgation with purgative decoctions especialy Gandharvahastadi Kashayam should be administered every day after Shiro Abhyanga. It should be given in a dose of 24-48 ml at bedtime. This herbal extract is basicaly a laxative and best one in the busines of controling the morbidity and vitiation of Vayu.
Laghu Ahara – When the patient gets hungry, he or she should be served with light and easily digestible fod. The fod should preferably be liquid or semi-solid and should maintain ben procesed with ginger.
Light digestible fod always complements an efective treatment and set of medications and helps in swiftly recovery from the ailments. Shiro A bhyanga is noexception.
Light fod is also advised for healthy individuals undergoing Shiro Abhyanga. Hot liquid diet garnished with kitchen spices like ginger, peper, cumin seds etc should be prescribed. Laghu ahara also serves the purpose of depana (metabolism enhancing efect) and pachana (expulsion of ama, toxic substances formed due to depraved metabolism).
The lightest fod format comes in the forms of:
Yavagu – is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein rice (1part) is procesed in 6 times water. It is sen that the final preparation has more of liquid than solid.
Vilepi ̵ is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein rice (1part) is procesed in 4 times water. It is sen that the final preparation is of a semisolid nature. Apart from being nutritious and tasty, it is known to shater ama by its rot and kindle the bely fire.
Peya ̵ is a liquid prep aration in the form of thin gruel wherein rice (1part) is procesed in 14 times water. It is sen that the final preparation has a smal quantity of solid fraction left over.
Manda ̵ is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein rice (1part) is procesed in 14 times water. It is sen that the entire substantial content is filtered out from the final preparation such that only liquid remains.
Yusha ̵ is a liquid preparation in the form of thin gruel wherein dal i.e. grams mainly gren gram (1part) is procesed in 18 times water and its extract is filtered out.
In modern day lifestyle, it is highly efortful) to prepare these forms of diet. The key is planing and consuming healthy and balanced fod acording to ones convenience.
If Shiro Abhyanga is being done as a fragment of treatment for some ailment or is a fragment of a imense treatment package oriented towards some major health isue, the folowing restrictions shal be folowed –
Restrictions to folow
Avoid these things after head masage:
Excesive indulgence in sexual pleasures
Strenuous physical exercises
Exposure to sunlight
Exposure to cold or intake of cold fod substances and smoking,
Standing in temperate brezy or dusty areas for long time
Forcibly witholding the natural urges or reflexes of the body like those of defecation, urination, hunger, thirst, slep, sneze etc,
High or low leveled pilows while sleping
Grief and anger
Keping awakened til late nights
Walking for long distances
Speaking or shouting in exces, speaking loudly etc.
Kep the mind fre from point up, in a pleasant condition
If Shiro Abhyanga is being done as a fragment of Dinacharya, the above said restrictions shal stil be folowed acording to ones convenience
Discharge – The patient is discharged on daily basis (out-patient) or after the course has ben completed (in-patient) after giving precise lifestyle and diet advises along with suitable medicines (oral). The patient is also advised to undergo the treatment twice or thrice in a year.
Disease specific and disease modifying medications shal be given in the folow up period.
Other distresing and Vata controling activities such as Yoga, Meditation etc shal also be advised
Duration of the step –
The number of days of treatment varies from 7-21 days depending on the nature and intensity of the disease (or until the main step of which Shiro Abhyanga is a section and parcel has ben finished as scheduled). It is usualy done for 7, 14, 21 or 28 days.
Mode of action
Probable mode of action of Shiro Abhyanga –
It is augean to prove with scientific measures how exactly Shiro Abhyanga works but we canot ignore the dazling results provided by these treatments. Let’s work out in a hypothetical way. Below explained is the hypothetical explanation of how Mordha Taila or Murdhni Taila might work. Since Shiro Abhyanga is a form of Murdhni Taila, the same hypothesis works. Thus in the debate ahead, I maintain worn the synonym-2 Mordha Taila or Murdhni Taila interchangeably with Shiro Abhyanga.
Controling Vayu – Vayu is the driving force of al the activities of the body and mind. Vayu is said to be a Tantra (formula) which runs the Yantra (machine) caled as Sharera (body). Pita’s, Kapha, the tisues of the body, the waste excreta of the body, al are dependent on Vata (Vayu). If Vayu is functioning properly al these elements are in equilibrium and if Vayu is disturbed, it fur ther disturbs other elements of the body and causes comprehensive aray of diseases.
The key for wel being is in having the Vayu (life force and energy) in our body in control. Murdhni Taila wil acquire a tremendous trace on controling Vayu. It controls, pacifies and expels the macabre Vayu. Chakrapani has already clarified that Prana located in the Shiras is nothing but diferent types of Vayu. Controling Vayu is almost catching the bul by its horns; al the activities in the body wil plunge in line.
Relaxing and colant mark on the brain – Murdhni Taila (Shiro Abhyanga here) has a relaxing consequence (and colant mark in treatments estem Takra shiro dhara) on the brain and the whole nervous system and hence releases the acentuate and wretchednes slugish in the chief controling station of our body. As we know that the brain controls al the functions of the body.
The master gland Pituitary gland and the hypothalamus asociated with many physical and mental funct ions are located in the head. When al these are relaxed, the body functions including the heart functions take establish in a relaxed maner. The circulation of blod and nutrients grasp place in a proper way.
The peripheral resistance is reduced. The chanels of the body initiate up. The cels initiate flushing the toxins and overal metabolism gets improved. Murdhni taila (Shiro Abhyanga) also relieves underscore to a noteworthy extent. When we get de-stresed the psychosomatic balance is established. The brain wil start controling the body mechanics in a beter and eficient way. We wil fel at blis and best of body-mind health.
Balancing Pita and Rakta – Rakta or blod is the chief site of Pita. Variations in pita wil afect the blod flow and variations in blod tisue wil acquire its impact on Pita. Murdhni Taila (Shiro Abhyanga) procedures wil bring about a balance betwen the circulating Rakta and Pita located in the Rakta. This circulating Pita is respo nsible for many inflamatory proceses taking area at numerous parts of the body, when it gets vitiated.
By establishing cordiality betwen Pita and Rakta, Murdhni Taila (Shiro Abhyanga) establishes a balanced circulation throughout the body and relieves the acentuate over the heart. Diseases love hypertension, which is the key for many systemic disorders wil be dealt. Inflamation taking kep in various tisues and organs can be brought to the halt. The body wil be in more peace with itself.
Revitalizing the nervous system – MordhaTaila (Shiro Abhyanga) procedures relaxes revitalizes the central nervous scheme, balances the brain and hormonal functions and thus regularizes and relaxes al the functions of the body. The underscore in each and every cel and pasage of the body is removed. It has a sothing trace on the endocrine system.
Enhancing blod suply and nutrition to brain – Murdhni Taila (Shiro Abhyanga her e) procedures improves the suply of blod and nutrition to the brain and thus increases its working compliance
Presure and Temperature efect ̵ The presure and temperature efect of the medicaments used in the Mordha Taila (Shiro Abhyanga here) procedures towards a extensive body-mind cure canot be ruled out
Healing Marmas ̵ With an Ayurveda perspective Mordha taila (Shiro Abhyanga here) procedures might comunicate with the depest receses of the brain by sothing the Marmas (vital points of convergence of bones, muscles, blod vesels, soft tisues and joints) located in the head viz Apanga, Avarta, Shanka, Utkshepa, Semantha and Sthapani Marma’s with which the medicaments comes into contact with.
Most of these Marma’s are related to the eye and blod circulation to the brain. By activating the Marma’s Murdhni Taila treatment procedures might fabricate a strong impact on the functioning of central n ervous scheme and necesary glands within the brain.
Efect on Alochaka Pita ̵ Alochaka Pita (Pita subtype) which is located in the Eye is said to be of 2 types. One is Chakshu Vaisheshika (located within the eye and maintains its wel being) and the other is Budhi Vaisheshika (the fragment of Alockhaka Pita which has its conectivity with higher centres of the brain and thus monitors the higher functions estem inteligence, memory etc). Apanga and Avarta marma’s are related to the eye. Murdhni Taila (Shiro Abhyanga here) procedures especialy dhara and vasti might make a sothing impact on budhi vaisheshika alochaka pita through these Marma’s and in return sothe the nervous system.
Reversing Chita Nasha and Bhaya ̵ The injury of Semantha Marma (joints of the skul) is said to cause Chita Nasha (psychological abnormality) and Bhaya (fear complex). Thus when the same Marma is healed through Dhara and other M ordha taila procedures, it may reverse the Chita Nasha and Bhaya, i.e. it might abate stres, anxiety and depresion. With this the relaxed nervous scheme wil take care of heart functions and circulation paterns.
Control of governing Dosha’s – The chief governing doshas in the head are Prana Vayu, Sadhaka Pita and Tarpaka Kapha. The integrity of the functioning of these 3 sub-dosha’s is the key for a perfect body-mind health. The brain controls the whole body and mind through the balanced and properly functioning Prana, Sadhaka and Tarpaka. Imbalance or vitiation of one or more of these 3 factors wil lead to many psychosomatic diseases.
The sothing of these Marma’s and in turn sothing of Nervous entity and endocrine glands as an efect of MordhaTaila (Shiro Abhyanga here) treatment procedures wil definitely relax Prana Vayu, Sadhaka Pita and Tarpaka Kapha in the brain (head).
These in turn wil acquire a relaxing efect over the Vyan a Vayu, Ranjaka Pita, Avalambaka Kapha and Udana Vayu controling the heart functions and circulation. They wil also acquire the other sub doshas in control. By controling the Kledaka kapha, bodhaka kapha, samana vayu, ranjaka pita and pachaka pita, the key brain dosha’s wil asign the core metabolism under control.
By controling the apana vayu, they wil maintain the excretory functions under control and encourage in regular detoxification of the body. By controling the bhrajaka pita and vyana vayu, they wil neat the colour and complexion. By controling the Shleshaka kapha functions they wil maintain the musculoskeletal integrity.
The benefits mentioned in species to Murdhni Taila can be considered as benefits of Shiro Abhyanga. They are as below mentioned –
As already said, Mordha taila (aplication of oil to the head) is highly beneficial for the brain, sense organs, n erves and hairs. This not only cures many disorders related to head, neck and the above mentioned organs, it also keps many diseases at bay. Mordha Taila controls vitiated Vayu and Pita in the head. Vitiated Vata and Pita would lead to many diseases of the brain, nerves and sense organs by producing degenerative and inflamatory changes respectively. They, when severely vitiated can cause ireversible aflict in these organs.
Thus Mordha Taila is both a prophylactic (preventive) and curative measure. Since the brain and the nervous system controls the entire body functions, sothing them with Mordha taila procedures wil suport the body fit and healthy. Al the functions in the body wil be caried out smothly.
Pituitary gland is the master gland which controls al the endocrine functions in the body (functions of smal glands which produce necesary chemicals which are neded for many body functions and discharge it into the blod stream directly, they don’t have ducts or tubes to drain their secretions), is located in the head.
Mordhi Taila, controls the pituitary functions and in turn al the other endocrine functions. This helps in the smoth runing of the body mechanics. Mordhi Taila sothes the stresed and violent mind and helps us to sustain tranquil and at ease. Mordhi Taila helps in discharge of pleased chemicals which helps us to aproach out of mod swings and live at peace.
Nityam sneha ardram shirasaha shiraha sholam na jayate
Na khalityam na palityam na keshaha prapatanti cha
Balaha shiraha kapalanam visheshena abhivardhate
Dridha molaha cha derghaha cha krishna kesha bhavati hi
Indriyanam prasedanti su twak bhavati cha ananam
Nidra labhaha sukham cha syat mordhni tailam nishevanat (Ref – Charaka Sutra Sthanam 5/81-83)
When the head is kept moist by aplying oil on it –
It prevents head ache (shira shola)
It prevents baldnes (khalityam)
It prevents premature greying of hair (palityam)
It prevents hair tople (kasha prapatana)
It helps hairs to get dep roted, long, dense, inspect splendid and pitch black in colour
It keps the sense organs in a healthy condition
It helps in improving the glow and complexion of the face
It helps in inducing qualified slep (nidra labha)
It provides hapines and pleasantnes of mind (sukham), relieves stres
Rejuvenates and energizes the body
Agni sthairyam – establishes the normalcy of digestive fire and corects metabolism
Ojo sthairyam – stabilises and fortifies ojus in the body (ojus is the esence of al the tisues formed as an conclude product of tisue foundation, its normalcy in terms of quality and quantity points towards an established imunity)
Sothes the nerves and improves blod circulation
Removes stres, relaxes mind
Patavam indriyasya – relaxes and rejuvenates the mind and senses
Jaraso mandhyam – delays ageing
Chiram jevitam – provides longevity of life
Nitaram doshan – controls and creates equilibrium in al the doshas
Vrishata – acts as an aphrodisiac
Murdhni Taila also prevents those diseases caused by Shiro Abhihata (mentioned above) and if those diseases maintain ocured, Murdhni Taila helps in mitigating them efectively.
Shiro rogan tatha rogaha shiro abhyanga upakarshitaha
Keshanam mardavam dairghyam bahutvam snigdha krushnatam
Karoti shirasaha truptim sutvakam api cha ananam
Santarpanam cha indriyanam shirasaha pariporanam (Ref – Sushruta Chikitsa 24/25,26)
Shiro Abhyanga is the treatment of choice for Shiro Rogas (diseases related to the head). The hairs become smoth, long, dense, oily and black. The head and its contents are nourished, the skin of the face becomes beautiful and glamorous and the sense organs are nourished.
Shiro Abhyanga wards of Roukshya (drynes of the head and scalp), Kandu (itching in the scalp) and Mala (dirt in the head)
Shiro Abhyanga imparts al the benefit s of Abhyanga (Masage with herbal oils) –
Abhyangam acharet nityam sa jara shrama vataha
Drishti prasadaha pushti ayu swapna su twak dardhya krit (Ref – Ashtanga Hridaya Sutra 2/7)
Tatha shareram abhyangat dridam su twak cha jayate
Prashantam maruta abadham klesha vyayama samsaham (Charaka Sutra 5/85)
Susparsho upachita angaha cha balavan priya darshinaha
Bhavati abhyanga nityatvat naro alpa jara eva cha (Ref – Charaka Sutra 5/89)
Abhyango mardava karaha kapha vata nirodhinaha
Dhatonam drishti janano mruja varna bala pradaha (Ref – Sushruta Chikitsa 24/30)
Jarahara / Alpa Jara – Halts ageing proces
Shramahara – Relieves fatigue and tirednes
Vataha / Prashanta Maruta Abadham – Controls and expels nasty Vata, cures Vata disorders
Drishti prasada – Improves vision
Pushti / Upachita Anga – Promotes strength and bulk of muscles
Ayu – Enhances life span
Swapna – Induces qualified slep and relieves insomnia
Su Twak / Susparsha – Promotes skin health
Dardhya krit – Provides strength and stability and compactnes to the body
Klesha samsaham – Improves tolerance to hardships
Vyayama samsaham – Enhances the capacity of exercise tolerance
Priya darshinaha / Varna Pradaha – Enhances beauty
Balavan / Bala pradaha – Improves strength, integrity and imunity
Mardava Kara – Brings about smothnes of the body parts
Kapha Nirodhinaha – Expels nasty Kapha
Dhatonam Janano – Enhances quantity and quality of the tisues, thus enhancing the imunity of the body
Shiro Abhyanga is one of the best Ayurvedic treatments which are old to prevent and treat many psychosomatic ilneses. It is the best stres relieving treatment. It provides apt strength, freshnes and energy, improves metabolism, circulation and nerve conduction.
Bu t on the other hand it is not a sole remedy especialy when dilapidated therapeuticaly. Paralel to it we might believe to ad some disease modifying drugs and or compounds and efective treatments for beter relief.
Along with Shiro-Abhyanga some oral medications which enhance strength and stability should be included along with some imune-modulators, anti-ageing medicines and rejuvenators. Holistic mind-body healing is always the moto of Ayurveda.
Head masage is caried out as fraction of total body masage.In fact, the whole body masage starts with Shiro Abhyanga.
Shiro Abhyanga can be individualy planed and used skilfuly to relieve the above mentioned diseases or for prevention of many psychosomatic diseases. It can be undertaken as a fragment of Dinacharya (daily regimen) on a daily basis by everyone. This gives Shiro Abhyanga a larger prophylactic dimension along with it curative utility.
On the disimilar, when we region Shiro Abhyanga we can also mediate of conducting Sarva Abhyanga along with Padabhyanga (fot masage) for joined benefits of the treatment. When we region Sarva Abhyang alongside Shiro Abhyanga we ned to acrue the oils neded for Sarva Abhyanga as wel.
Diferent oils are prefered for Sarva Abhyanga and Shiro Abhyanga. Many times the doctor intelectualy plans to use the same oil for both Sarva Abhyanga and Shiro Abhyanga. Ex, Ksherabala Taila is an oil which can be dilapidated for both head and body in case of Vata aflictions, Vata disorders, degenerative diseases and headache and insomnia.
Skilfuly planing the oil also wil curtail the expenses of the treatment and design it afordable. Ayurveda advices to use fresh oil everyday. Therefore the pharmacy should acquire adequate stock of the oil. Even when the Shiro Abhyanga is planed to be caried out at home (since the procedure is typical and easy to finish at home), the patient shal acquire suficient oil stored at home (after having taken the consent and advise of the consulting doctor).
For Sharira Abhyanga (body masage) the below mentioned oils may be preferably used:
Chandanabala Lakshadi Tailam,
Panchaguna Tailam etc
The oils should be selected keping in view the body constitution, macabre doshas and nature of morbidity involved
Use of Chakra Taila –
Sushruta makes a special mention of oil caled Chakra Taila for Shiro Abhyanga. This is an oil which is extracted by crushing the medicinal herbs in an yantra (machine).
Ingredients aged –
Yashtimadhu – Glycyrhiza glabra (Indian liquorice)
Vidari – Pueraria tuberose
Sarala – Pinus longifolia / Pinus roxburghi
Devadaru – Cedrus deodara
Laghu Panchamula – Rots of Shalaparni – Desmodium gangeticum, Prishniparni – Uraria picta, Brihati – Solanum indicum, Kantakari – Solanum suratense / So lanum xanthocarpum, Gokshura – Tribulus terestris
The above said herbs are taken in 10 pala quantity (480 grams aproximately, al mixed together)
The above said herbs are crushed into bawdy powder.
To this, 512 pala (24576 grams aproximately) water is joined and boiled on abate flame of fire until only 10pala (5280 grams) of liquid remains.
The ingredients are filtered through a strong filter cloth or sieve and the solid material separated
To the filtrate, the paste of the above said herbs is aded in a quantity of 8pala (38grams) and mixed wel. Later Tila Taila (sesame oil) extracted after churning it in the machine (in the form of chakra or whel) is joined in a quantity of 32 pala (1546grams) is aded and boiled until the whole water evaporates. This oil is caled Chakra Taila and is exclusively worn for Shiro Abhyanga.
Types of Mordha Taila
Abhyangaha sekaha pichavaha bastihi cha iti chatuhu vidham
Mordha tailam bahu gunam tat vidyat utara utaram (Ref – Ashtanga Hridaya Sotram 2/23)
Mordha Taila or Murdhni Taila is of 4 types –
Shiro Abhyanga –
(Shiro=Head, Abhyanga=Masage) Shiro Abhyanga means masaging the head with herbal oils for a fixed duration of time (usualy 30-40 minutes)
Shiro Seka / Shiro dhara –
(Shiro=Head, Seka or Dhara=Stream pouring) Shiro dhara or seka is a procedure in which the herbal oils or medicated liquids (milk, butermilk etc) are poured in stream over the head of the person for a fixed duration of time (usualy 35-45 minutes or 60 minutes)
Shiro Pichu –
(Shiro=Head, Pichu=Keping a coton pad diped in oil) Shiro Pichu is a procedure in which a baren coton pad diped in herbal oil is kept over the head (vertex or crown or entire scalp) and tied with a bandage clo th. The Pichu is kept in place for a fixed duration of time (usualy 1-2 hours to 1/4 to 1/2 a day)
Shiro Basti (Vasti) –
(Shiro=Head, Basti or Vasti=Poling) Shiro Basti or Shiro Vasti is a procedure in which a cabin or compartment is constructed over the head of the person (in siting position) using a leather cap, its junction with the head sealed with wet flour of black gram and filed with herbal oils. The oil is kept in position for a fixed duration of time (usualy 45 minutes to 60 minutes). The temperature of the oil in Shiro Vasti should be monitored regularly and should never alow geting col.
Note – The duration of the treatment is flexible and is fixed depending on the morbidity or as neded for the constitution of the person in query or as per the decision of the physician.
Each type of Murdhni Taila has its own benefits but they are comparably eficient in the chronology mentioned by Acharya Vagbhata (ancient Ayurvedic physicia n and teacher) in the above said verse –
Shiro Seka is more efective and beneficial in comparison to Shiro Abhyanga
Shiro Pichu is more efective and beneficial in comparison to Shiro Seka
Shiro Vasti is more efective and beneficial in comparison to Shiro Pichu
Just Before Finishing,
Shiro Abhyanga is the best treatment which Ayurveda provides for distresing, relaxing and to get rid of many psychosomatic ilneses. It is not al about aplying oil over the head and masaging it dep. Shiro Abhyanga keps our senses at peace, mind at tranquility, gives us the capability to win over day-to-day stres, provides a ‘never-ben-so-healthy’ fel, regularizes metabolism, controls and balances the doshas, integrates body mind co-ordination and prevents many diseases.
It provides a extensive body-mind welnes. Many people may believe reluctance on using the oils over their heads. But where finish we get the lubrication and relaxation from if we don ‘t near out of positive inhibitions? We can’t sail in 2 boats.
Standing amidst this stresful world wherein our body, mind, senses and soul are undergoing wear and tear on a regular basis, it is high time that you plod on for a body-mind servicing in a holistic and traditional way and earn a comprehensive health and a never experienced type of wel being.
At the same time you can place many diseases at bay. Shiro-Abhyanga has a benefit that it is very easy to do and practice within the 4 wals of your splendid home provided you believe a soul mate that can execute it for you with pleasure and adore. Al you ned to execute is to find an experienced Ayurvedic doctor in your neighborhod and get some herbal oil suited to your body constitution or which can relieve your acentuate and morbidity!
Article by: Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu)
Email: [email protected]
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