by Ayurveda Therapist on June 27, 2011


Dhara → stream or pouring
Shiro → head.

This healing massage entails continuous pouring of medicated oil on the forehead with pendulum motion for a specific period of time. Medicated oil, milk or buttermilk may be used depending on the needs of the client. The treatment begins with a full body massage or head massage to warm up the body. Then, the dhara (pouring) begins at the forehead for 40-50 minutes. This treatment may be done consecutively for 5-21 days.

Indication: Shirodhara is useful in the treatment of insomnia, memory loss, poor concentration, chronic headaches, stress, depression, premature graying of hair, mental tension, hypertension, facial paralysis and degenerative conditions of the brain.

Contraindications: Chronic sinusitis, skin diseases, chronic constipation.

How it works:
Pouring of warm oil on skin and skull → production of magnetic waves → conversion into electrical waves → electrical waves sends impulses to cerebral cortex and hypothalamus (centers of stimulation and inhibit –producing- functions) giving soothing effect to the hypothalamus, secreting neurotransmitters secreting agents → dopamine, serotonin, acetyl choline, etc. → controls and regulates functions of pituitary gland (induce sleep) → controls all functions of the body. Shiro dhara also unblocks the manohava srotas blocked by excess of Vata.

After treatment:
Rest for at least one hour. Cover the head and avoid cold breezes, hot sun, traveling, and exercise for the remainder of the day. Wait at least 2-3 hours before rinsing the oil out of your hair to allow for the full effect of the treatment.

Herbal oils for Shirodhara:
Pitta – Brahmi thailam
Vata – Ksheerabala thailam
Kapha – Triphala thailam

Note: Triphala thailam may be used for all three dosha. If it is not available, use coconut oil or olive oil for all prakrutis. These oils will have a cooling effect.

Preparation of Oil for Shirodhara:
Take 2 liters of olive or coconut oil and mix with 500 grams of licorice root, gooseberry or coriander seed and boil it for 1 hour on slow flame. Filter it. Add 10-20 drops of lavender or lily oil.

Example of Shirodhara Massage:
Forehead Treatment
• Clay pot with hole in the middle)
• ½ Coconut shell with hole in the middle
• Wick to control oil (cotton thread and fold 4x so that is a foot in length) Knot the top of it and cut the edge. It is poked through holes in coconut and clay pot to drip oil onto forehead.
• Cloth- roll it – to be used around client’s head.
• 2 pieces of cotton cloth (for ears)
• 1 ½ – 2L of sesame/medicated oil- not hot, more than luke warm.
1) Ask client to sit and put their hair back. Tie cloth around head, over forehead, tie knot behind the ears. Cotton ball in ears.
2) Apply Oil to Crown Chakra
3) Have client lie down supine with forehead under pot.
4) Pour oil into pot.
5) Start on hairline (oil dripping down onto hairline- start on one side and go to other side on same line back and forth 10x). Go very slowly.
6) Over forehead- go back and forth slowly and steadily over one line for 30 minutes.
7) Remove coconut or wick from the coconut shell and allow remaining oil to drip along hairline.
8) Remove coconut, remove clay pot, remove hairband.
9) Squeeze oil from the hair.
10) Shampooing 10x up and down, repeat 3x.
11) Turn head to one side, thumb circle on neck 10x, massage at base, middle and top of head 6x each, repeat 2x.
12) Repeat step 11 with head turned the other way.
13) Squeeze oil out.
14) Towel head and hair to remove oil
15) Ask Client to sit up.
16) Rub the neck 10x
17) Rub the lower back/ sacrum 20x
18) Take a pinch of Rasanadi Choornam (powder) and apply to Crown Chakra. Have client smell the powder and apply it to third eye and then to throat.
19) Cover the head with a cloth.
20) Tell client to avoid wind and too much sun.
• This treatment can be done 7-14 days in a row or only 1x as well.
• The medicated oil can be re-used 3 days in a row before burning/disposing of the oil
• After treatment, instruct the client to wait at least one hour up to overnight to wash hair to receive maximum effect.

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