Shirodhara is an ayurvedic technique of pouring liquids or oils over the forehead with the help of Shirodhara equipment. It is an ancient technique used in Indian culture for 5000 years. It is very useful for stress reduction and treating diseases associated with depression, anxiety and mental fatigue. Shirodhara reduces fatigue and initiate a soothing effect on brain cells. It might be working due to the effect of a soothing sensation of poured liquids through peripheral nerves of the skin of the forehead and then they go to the brain with calming and soothing energies, which help to reduce stress and induce sleep. Due to constant flow of liquids over the head, Shirodhara tranquilizes and stabilizes the mind, so the mind becomes serene and calmed. It is a form of restorative therapy for stress, anxiety, depression and all other psychosomatic diseases.

Definition of Shirodhara

As usual, all ayurvedic words came from the Sanskrit language, so it is also same for shirodahra. Shiro (Shira) pertains to head and Dhara means to flow. Shirodhara is a technique of pouring liquids over the head to treat and cure psychosomatic ailments by inducing relaxation through peripheral nerves to the brain.

Type of TherapyRelaxation Therapy
Main IndicationStress disorders
Treatment Duration45-60 Minutes per sitting
Treatment CourseMinimum 7 Days & Maximum 4 Weeks *
Effects & Mechanism It produces soothing sensations on head, which pass through the Superficial Nerves to the brain. It brings calmness and affects the serotonin levels in the brain, which ultimately treats stress disorders.
DOSHA EffectsVATA pacifier

* Course of treatment with shirodhara

Treatment course depends on conditions and diseases of the person. Generally, it is recommended for minimum 7 days (a week) and maximum 28 days (4 weeks). After 4 weeks, shirodhara should be skipped for 7 to 15 days and then a new treatment course can be commenced according to the needs and health conditions of the patient.

Synonyms of shirodhara

  1. Shirodhara Massage.
  2. Shiro Seka.
  3. Shirashek.
  4. Shirothara.
  5. Dhara.
  6. Parisheka (Shiro-Parisheka).

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.

For details about these types, please visit page of these types.

Shirodhara Equipment

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

Medicinal Oils used in Shirodhara

Generally, Ksheera bala taila is used in shirodhara, but other oils can be used as per the condition of the person. List of oils used in shirodhara are given below:

  1. Ksheera Bala Taila.
  2. Karpasasthyadi thailam.
  3. Chandanadi Thailam.
  4. Dhanwantharam Thailam.
  5. Narayana Thailam.

If these oils are not available, you can use warm sesame oil for shirodhara. It is also beneficial.

How much oil is used in shirodhara?

2- 3 liters oil is enough for one session of 45-60 minutes.

Other liquids used in shirodhara

  1. Buttermilk processed with Indian Gooseberry.
  2. Decoctions of herbs especially Liquorice decoction.
  3. Milk.
  4. Coconut water.

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.

Indication of Shirodhara

Shirodhara is beneficial in all diseases of forehead, head or nervous system. It is mainly indicated medically in following cases:

  1. Headache.
  2. Migraine.
  3. Cluster headache.
  4. Cerebral palsy.
  5. Hemiplegia.
  6. Insomnia (sleeplessness or difficulties in sleeping).
  7. Eye diseases.
  8. Anxiety  or neurosis.
  9. Depression.
  10. Memory loss.
  11. Graying of hairs.
  12. Ménière’s disease or Tinnitus (Ringing sensation in the ears).
  13. Psychosomatic diseases.

Shirodhara Benefits

Shirodhara is beneficial for all types of psychological and mental disorders. It reduces stress by inducing relaxation and stimulating secretion of more serotonin in the brain. It produces sensations on the head, which pass through the superficial nerves to the brain and brings calmness and relaxation. This calmness and relaxation also results in secretion of more serotonin levels in the brain, which reduces mental stress and helps in depression.

Shirodhara for Relaxation

Shirodhara provides the greatest experience of relaxation and induces calming effects on the mind. You will surely feel a deep relaxation during the Shirodhara and vigor after the treatment.

Shirodhara for Migraine

Shirodhara is a good relaxation technique used in ayurveda, which can also help to cope with a headache and migraine. It has positive effects on moods and reduces stress. Generally, mood changes and stress are also prodrome and triggers of migraine attack and may also lead to poor sleep. Shirodhara helps to calm the mind and helps to get a sound sleep and prevent migraine attacks.

Caution & Side Effects

Shirodhara is LIKELY SAFE because it is a procedure in which medicated oils are poured over the head with rhythmic pattern, which provide soothing sensation and relaxing effects.

However, some people may experience its sleep inducing effect, which is not actually its side effect, but it is beneficial for patients with insomnia and stress.

Contraindications of Shirodhara

  1. Conjunctivitis.
  2. Glaucoma.
  3. Fever.
  4. Scalp or forehead injuries.
  5. Inflammatory diseases.
  1. Ashtanga Hridaya, Sutra Sasthana, Chapter 22.
  2. Ayurvediya panchakara Vigyan, Chapter 2.

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Dr. Jagdev Singh

Dr. Jagdev Singh is a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner and Herbalist with B.A.M.S. and M. Sc. in Medicinal Plants. He has a wealth of experience in using Ayurveda to treat patients, including the use of herbal medicine and personalized Ayurvedic diets. His passion for spreading accurate and scientific information about Ayurveda and Medicinal Plants led him to create Ayur Times, a trusted resource for those seeking reliable information on the topic. Through his dedicated work, Dr. Singh has helped thousands of patients find relief and improve their health with Ayurveda and Herbal Medicine.

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