Shirovasti (Shirobasti)

Shirovasti is an ayurvedic therapy or procedure in which outer area of head is covered by a leather cap keeping hollow inside to put oil in it for a certain period in such a way that oil should not be leaked out. Shiro means head and Vasti means container that holding liquids.  Therefore, shirobasti means holding oil on the head for a specific period of time with use of cap fitted on the head in such a way that oil does leak out. Shirovasti is used for the treatment of diseases concerned to the head, brain and neurological diseases such as migraine, chronic headache, depression, and throbbing pain in head, hemicranias or recurring headache. It is also beneficial for lowering stress and building immunity against psychosomatic diseases. Shirovasti is categorized in ayurveda as external Snehana (Oil is used) or external oil application to treat an ailment. It is a part of panchakarma, a sub-branch of ayurvedic internal medicine.

Procedure of Shirovasti/Shirobasti

General requirements

  1. Rubber/Leather cloth or cap (30 inch X 8 inch or 75 cm X 25 cm)
  2. Black gram flour = 150 to 250 g
  3. Cotton ribbons (48 inch X 4 inch or 120 cm or 10 cm)
  4. Container = 3 of 2 litres
  5. Tablespoon for pouring oil in to the head cap
  6. Towel = 2
  7. Chair (armed) = 1
  8. Gas stove = 1
  9. Hot water bath = 1

Medicine required for Shirobasti

  • Massage oil = as per requirement (about 50 to 100 ml)
  • Rasnadi choornam (Pluchea lanceolata powder)= 5 g
  • Medicated Oil = 1.5 litres

List of Medicated oils

  1. Bala tailam
  2. Chandanadi tailam
  3. Dhanwantara taila
  4. Karpasashyadi taila
  5. Ksheerbala tailam
  6. Naryana taila

Steps of procedure

  1. Shave the head completely and massage the head with medicated massage oil.
  2. Keep cotton swaps in both ears to prevent the oil moving into the ears.
  3. Ask patient to sit comfortably on armed chair.
  4. Make a poultice of black gram flour by adding warm water into the flour.
  5. Take a Cotton ribbon and smear it well with poultice of black gram flour.
  6. Bind smeared cotton ribbon around the head above just above the eyebrows. Make it tight in such a way that oil should not be leaked out and patient should not feel any discomfort due to tightness of the strip.
  7. Take a leather cloth or cap, fix its lower part around the head over the strip, and seal the both junctions of strap (leather cloth) with black gram poultice.
  8. Take second cotton strip, smear it well with black gram flour, and wrap it over the leather cap at lower ends to fix leather cloth around the forehead well.
  9. Now, it will look like a vessel hollow inside to put oil.
  10. To prevent leakage of the oil, seal the corners inside with smear of black gram flour poultice.
  11. Now, warm the oil just above the body temperature.
  12. After that, pour the warm oil into the cap up to height of 2 to 3 cm above the hair roots.
  13. Check the temperature of the oil regularly, maintain temperature of oil just above the body temperature by replacing a little amount of oil with warm oil, reheat the oil taken out from the cap, and reuse it to warming the oil repeatedly.
  14. Duration of procedure is given below. According to body type of the individual, choose the best suitable duration of the procedure.
  15. After the completion of the procedure, take out the oil by making a passage just above the ear, but make sure oil should not go into the ear.
  16. Wipe the oil from the head with a soft towel.
  17. Massage the head, forehead, should, palms and soles after removing the oil.
  18. Rub Rasnadi choornam over the head and ask the person to rest for an hour.
  19. Thereafter, patient can take bath with warm water.

Duration of procedure

Vata: 50 to 60 minutes

Pitta: 40 minutes

Kapha: 30 minutes

Course of shirobasti treatment

Course of Shirobasti treatment varies as per requirement, but generally, 1 week to 4 weeks are sufficient depending on conditions and complications of ailment.

When is shirovasti recommended?

Shirobasti is a type of moordha taila in ayurveda, which means oil applied over the head. It is recommended after the major procedures of panchakarma therapy, but it can be done in cases where ayurvedic detoxification is not required.

Indications of Shirobasti

  1. Headache mild to severe
  2. Migraine headache
  3. Anxiety
  4. Hypertension or high blood pressure
  5. Travel stress
  6. Hemicranias or Severe recurring vascular headache
  7. Insomnia (Lack of sleep)
  8. Facial Paralysis
  9. Trigeminal neuralgia
  10. Nostrils dryness
  11. Burning sensation of scalp
  12. Optic Atrophy
  13. Tinnitus or experience sounds like whistling, ringing or roaring.
  14. Deafness (not established)
  15. Schizophrenia (not established)

In ayurvedic terms, it is beneficial in Vata diseases. However, it can be used in other dosha, but maximum duration of treatment is in Vata. It may be around 40 to 60 minutes depending on the health condition.

Other Benefits of Shirovasti

  • Shirobasti alleviates pain.
  • Shirobasti promotes sleep and calms the mind.
  • If you are suffering from anxiety disorders or depression, it is very beneficial for you.

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