Are split ends, breakage and dullness taking over your gorgeous mane? Just like all good things in life, maintaining healthy hair needs a comprehensive approach according to Ayurveda.
Your hair is sensitive to seasons, environmental stresses, emotional health, hormones, sleep cycles and food. In short, your hair is an extension of all the attention, love and care you shower on your amazing self.
So, let's find out what Ayurveda says about taking care of your hair to maintain strong roots.
What Causes Weak Hair Roots (Follicles)?
1. Lack Of Nutrients (Vata)
A diet lacking in nutrients for hair will eventually weaken the roots. Iron, calcium, zinc, Vitamin D and fundamental hair proteins are important. If you skip foods containing these essential nutrients, your hair can become dry and lustreless. Good hydration also reflects good hair.
2. Occlusion Of Blood Supply To The Follicles (Kapha)
A high amount of circulating cholesterol, hormonal imbalances and sugar imbalances prevent essential nutrition from reaching the roots, in spite of consuming a balanced healthy meal. This may cause oiliness with dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis).
3. Inflammation (Pitta)
Overuse of chemicals, heat treatments, prolonged exposure to pollution and sun in conjunction with a high acid diet (too much spice, salt and sour foods) will make your roots weak. This can trigger pain in hair roots and dandruff.
4. Internal Diseases
Underlying diseases can disturb your natural hair cycle. Hair normally goes through 4 phases - anagen (growth phase), catagen (transition phase), telogen (resting phase) and exogen (shedding phase).
However, diseases like alopecia areata, polycystic ovary syndrome, scalp psoriasis, syphilis, pneumonia, thyroid problems and others can cause your hair to quickly transition from the growth to the resting or shedding phase.
One of the major side effects of cancer treatment is weakening of hair roots, hair thinning and hair loss. The reason is that the powerful drugs used in chemotherapy to prevent the growth of cancer cells also target other rapidly proliferating cells such as those of the hair .
Certain medications can cause weak hair roots. According to a study on Evaluation of biophysical skin parameters and assessment of hair growth in patients with acne treated with isotretinoin, acne treatment with isotretinoin showed a significant decrease of anagen hair. Other such medicines include antidepressants, oral contraceptives, beta blockers, etc.
7. Trauma or Stress
A condition called telogen effluvium  can weaken your hair roots and lead to temporary hair fall. It is triggered when your body experiences sudden trauma or excessive stress. Telogen effluvium causes healthy hair roots to prematurely transition to the resting phase.
As you age your hair growth slows down . Many people notice a receding hairline while others experience hair thinning and excessive shedding.
- While vitamin supplements make up for lack of nutrition, according to a research, The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review, over-supplementation of Vitamin A can lead to a decrease in hair density, change in texture and patchy hair loss.
What Are The Signs Of Weak Hair?
1. Low tensile strength: When hair shafts break easily on being pulled.
2. Dry, lackluster and getting tangled easily are a sure sign of weak hair.
3. Hair fall that is more than normal (more than 100 strands per day).
4. Hair that splits on growing.
How Can You Strengthen Your Hair Roots?
According to ancient Ayurveda, the journey to strong hair requires both internal and external fixes. Solely taking care of your hair externally with oils or only eating nutritious food may not help.
Here are the internal fixes:
1. Eat For Your Hair
A diet that is high in proteins will go a long way in maintaining a lush mane. Iron rich fruits like pomegranate, amla, dried figs, dates and leafy vegetables are pamper foods for your hair. Also include vitamins A, B (especially biotin), C, D and E for repairing your weak hair roots.
Don’t forget to include a daily dose of healthy nuts like walnuts and almonds in your diet. Finish your bowl of dal with ghee and be generous on buttermilk and other probiotics. (4)
2. Avoid Unhealthy Fats
According to Ayurveda, hair follicles get occluded by circulating kapha and the nutrients don’t reach the follicles, making them weak. Foods high in refined oils, palm oil, fried foods, high starch and sugary foods all increase kapha and weaken the hair roots. (5)
3. Inflammation Inducing Diet
Extremely spicy and sour foods weaken the hair roots. Go easy on pickles. Refrain from adding extra salt. Salt not only weakens your roots, it causes premature greying. Smoking and alcohol may trigger inflammation too. (6)
These are the external fixes:
A. Regular Oiling With Ayurvedic Oils
Herbal oils, especially customised to balance your vata, pitta and kapha will detox your roots, deeply nourish them and help them adapt to the stress.
Night time oiling is best suited for most. Just apply and sleep, and let it work its magic. (7)
B. Detoxify Your Hair Roots With Masks (Weekly Once)
Detoxifying hair masks act as stimulants for hair roots and expel their toxins. They also promote blood supply to the follicle to initiate a proper flow of nutrients to the roots.
C. Nourish The Roots
Some DIY hair masks made with the right ingredients can help nourish and strengthen your roots. These can be used as often as desired.
Changing the way you style your hair can also benefit your hair’s health. Wearing your hair down day after day can result in tangles and split ends. Try tying them into a bun or pony sometimes when you are traveling.
Detox Recipes For Strong Hair
1. Triphala Hair Mask
- Triphala (fine powder) 1 Tsp
- Apple Cider Vinegar 2 Tbsp
- Honey 2 Tbsp
- Mix and apply on your scalp, close to your roots. Wash after half an hour.
Triphala helps to detox your pores, ensuring proper hair growth. Triphala is also one of the drugs of choice to promote hair growth (8)
2. Onion Hair Mask
- Onion juice 4 Tbsp
- Black pepper 1 Pinch
- Honey 4 Tbsp
- Crush and squeeze onions to extract the juice. Mix and apply on your scalp evenly. Keep it on for half an hour and wash it off.
Onion stimulates circulation, and aids hair growth. (9)
3. Cinnamon Hair Mask
- Cinnamon ¼ Tsp
- Honey 2 Tbsp
- Aloe vera (fresh/gel) 4 Tbsp
- Mix all the ingredients and apply on the scalp. Let it sit on your scalp for about half an hour and wash off.
Being antimicrobial , cinnamon prevents various fungal and bacterial diseases of the scalp. It is also known to improve blood circulation and prevent free radical hair damage.
Nourishing DIYs For Strong Hair
1. Mango Seed Hair Mask
- Mango seed (crushed) 4 Tbsp
- Amla Powder 2 Tbsp
- Water to make paste
Break open the mango kernels to extract the seed. Crush these to make a paste with water in a blender, and add amla powder. Make sure it's a fine paste, lest it might be difficult to wash them off the scalp.
Mango seed is dominant in kashaya rasa and prevents inflammation. Amla manages pitta and hence, when used in conjunction with this, it is a very popular medicine in Ayurveda to strengthen the hair roots. (11)
2. Hibiscus Hair Mask
- Hibiscus flowers 4
- Hibiscus leaves 4
- Amla powder 2 Tbsp
- Aloe gel 2 Tbsp
Crush the flowers and leaves to make a fine paste. Add the amla powder and aloe gel to this.
Hibiscus leaves and flowers have hair restorative properties. They also add lustre and prevent greying of hair. Amla acts as an anti-inflammatory and adaptogen for hair. (12)
3. Methi Hair Mask
- Finely powdered methi 1 Tbsp
- Curry leaf juice 2 Tsp
- Curds 4 Tbsp
Soak the Methi powder in curd overnight in a copper vessel. If you do not have a copper vessel at hand, a steel vessel will do just fine.
Press out fresh juice from crushed curry leaves and add to the presoaked mixture. Apply and let it sit for about half an hour to one hour. Wash it off.
Try this recipe on all your hair wash days and see the magic methi wields in your hair. (13)
4. Coconut Mask
- Coconut milk 1 cup
Apply coconut milk with a ball of cotton gently close to your roots. After covering the scalp, with your fingers, slowly soak the strands too.
Coconut milk has excellent restorative properties. It fixes the damaged scalp and hair strands. Can be used as often as required. (14)
Foods For Strengthening Hair Roots
Amla (15) is a superfood for your hair. Rich in hair micronutrients, it detoxifies your hair roots and is the best antioxidant that prevents greying and weak hair.
2) Coconut Oil/Flesh
Coconut is a keshya dravya (hair enhancer) that deeply nourishes the hair. It is rich in proteins, and alleviates inflammation when used internally or externally. Coconut oil soaks deep in the hair medulla and imparts tensile strength.
Almonds, when consumed regularly, reduce inflammation, provide hair proteins and stimulate healthy hair growth.
Walnuts are nature’s omega capsules. They are rich in Vitamin E and hence work positively on lush hair growth.
Buttermilk helps regulate digestion, which is the mother of all nutritional assimilation physiologies in the body.
It stimulates the liver and hence, has a positive effect on the hormones. Buttermilk also stimulates calcium absorption, which is vital for hair growth.
6) Green gram (Moong)
Moong helps you get rid of the blood circulating with cholesterol in your follicles, which usually affects hair growth and also triggers greying. They are high in antioxidants, thus preventing age-related hair damage.
These are rich in micronutrients and alleviate inflammation. Hence, they are excellent for hair health.
And all other edible green leaves are an important source of folate, iron and other micronutrients. They should be a part of regular meal plans.
9) Licorice (Mulethi powder)
Mulethi is a wonder herb when it comes to managing stress, balancing all the three doshas and preventing acidification of the body.
Acids leach calcium and weaken the hair. Mulethi helps maintain a healthy acid balance in the body.
10) Fenugreek seeds (Methi)
One compound in methi’s nutrition arsenal is phyto-Oestrogens. This helps regulate hair growth cycles, making them longer and thicker.
What To Avoid To Maintain Hair Strength?
- Too much washing
- Heat-styling tools
- Over styling
- Unhealthy food habits
- Dehydrating - not drinking enough water
- Not sleeping enough
- Irregular meals that trigger hyperacidity
The Last Word
- Weak hair roots require strengthening both externally and internally. Hence, focus equally on your diet and your hair care routine.
- When you choose Ayurvedic therapies for your hair problems, they work with your body at multiple levels and then provide a long lasting solution to your problems.
- Balancing hormones, management of your cholesterol levels and replenishing micronutrient deficiencies are addressed for the organism as a whole, not just for your hair.
- Reduction in stress and its effects are just the few side benefits Ayurvedic therapies exert.
- Know your Ayurvedic Prakriti, to know exactly what your hair needs.
1. Hair Loss
2. Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss
3. Hair Loss: Who Gets And Causes
4. Diet and hair loss: effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use, 2017 January
5. Lipid profile in patients with androgenetic alopecia: a meta analysis, 2017 June
6. Stress and the Hair Follicle, 2003 March
7. Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Including Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue, 2016 January
8. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine, 2017 August
9. Onion juice (Allium cepa L.), a new topical treatment for alopecia areata, 2002 June
10. Medicinal properties of ‘true’ cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum): a systematic review, 2013 October
11. Utilization of Mango seed, 2012 January
12. Hair Growth Activity Of Aqueous Extract Of Hibiscus Rosa-Sinensis L. Flowers, 2017
13. Fenugreek + micronutrients: Efficacy of a food supplement against hair loss, 2006 January
14. Hair Cosmetics: An Overview, 2015 Jan-Mar
15. Emblica (Phyllanthus emblica Linn.) Fruit Extract Promotes Proliferation in Dermal Papilla Cells of Human Hair Follicle, 2011
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