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  5. Oily & Greasy Scalp? Try These Holistic Ayurvedic Treatments!

Isn’t it frustrating to feel greasiness on your scalp, no matter how many times you wash it in a week? Sometimes, the condition worsens when you make the wrong choice of hair products, doesn’t it? We know your never-ending troubles with an oily scalp, which eventually turns into a dirty scalp in no time.

Worry not, as you can manage your oily scalp condition with absolutely natural herbs through Ayurveda! “Ayurvedic herbs indeed not just resolve your oily scalp condition, but also deal with the root causes of the condition,’’ says Dr. Zeel, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

In this article, let’s understand what causes oily scalp and how you can get rid of it with holistic Ayurvedic herbs, formulations, and practices.

How To Find Out If You Have An Oily Scalp?

Oily scalp is generally accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Visible and oily dandruff flakes
  • Grease
  • Itchy scalp
  • Stringy, slick and heavy hair

The Tissue Test

When your hair is dry, rub your scalp gently with a small piece of tissue paper. Ensure that you don’t press the paper against the scalp too much. If you find a blot mark on the tissue when you observe it under bright light, then you have an oily scalp.

What Causes Oily Scalp According To Ayurveda?

In Ayurveda, it is believed that the state of your Dosha levels in your body - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha - determines your scalp and hair health.

Oily scalp or greasy hair conditions are caused when there is an aggravation of Kapha dosha in your body. The increase in Kapha dosha results in overproduction of sebum in the scalp [1]. This excessive sebum clogs your scalp pores and prevents nutrient supply from the blood to the hair follicles. Eventually, it leads to multiple hair problems like microbial infections, dandruff, hair loss, etc.

Sometimes, your scalp may overproduce sebum to restore the damage caused by increased Pitta dosha to your scalp, particularly in hot and dry weather conditions.

"People with the Prakriti of dominant Kapha-Pitta doshas are more prone to the condition of oily scalp," says Dr. Zeel.

Let’s look into some of the underlying factors that contribute to aggravating Pitta-Kapha doshas, thus, causing an oily scalp condition.

1. Genetics Or Innate Prakriti

According to Ayurveda, every person has a unique ratio of Vata, Pitta and Kapha energies, which define the innate Prakriti or nature of that person. It is formed based on various genetic factors. In case you have Kapha dosha or Pitta-Kapha combination as a major constituent in your Prakriti, your physiology reflects the characteristics of these dominating doshas.

If you are genetically an individual with Kapha dominant [2] or Kapha-Pitta dominant Prakriti, then even the slightest aggravation in your corresponding dominant dosha levels may result in conditions like oily scalp, itching and greasy dandruff.

2. Weather Conditions

You may observe an increase in oil production on your scalp during springtime i.e, from February to April, as it is considered as the Kapha season in Ayurved. This is when the weather has more humidity in general.

3. Age

According to Ayurveda, the lifetime of an individual from birth till the age of 16 is considered as Kapha dominant period, which is followed by Pitta dominant period that stretches till the age of 50.

Hence, you may observe excessive secretion of oils on the scalp during puberty [3] or adolescence, which is the transitional phase from Kapha to Pitta predominant periods.

4. Hormonal Imbalances

During the scenarios of puberty, pregnancy and menopause [4], women may observe drastic imbalances in endocrine levels in the body. This, in turn, also influences the functioning of thyroid and pituitary glands.

The disturbed hormonal production in the body leads to the condition of oily scalp, while the severe imbalance in Pitta dosha levels can be observed in the body.

Also, the imbalance and high secretion of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in men would lead to Pitta imbalance and eventually cause oily scalp and greasy hair.

5. Food Habits

Kapha-Pitta dosha levels are aggravated when you consume excessive sweet, salty and spicy foods, cold foods, dairy products, oily foods, etc. Especially if you have Kapha dominant Prakriti, you may need to avoid high-fat heavy diets to keep your oil production on the scalp in control.

6. Chemical-Based Hair Products

When you over treat your hair with chemical-laden shampoos and other hair products, they strip away the natural oils on your scalp. This may trigger your scalp to produce excessive sebum to regulate dehydration, which can in turn, result in oily scalp with dry hair condition.

Also, other factors like using alcohol-based hair products, improper or over hair brushing, different microbial infections that change the chemical composition of sebum, etc. stimulates your sebaceous glands on the scalp to produce sebum in excessive levels.

Did You Know?

  • Scientific researches reveal that we have hair follicles on the scalp with a density of 200 hair strands/ sq.cm on average. And, the sebaceous glands connected to these follicles produce the largest amount of sebum in the body, i.e around 150 μg/sq.cm on the normal scalp.

Ayurvedic Ways To Treat Oily Scalp

1. Hair Masks

Here are some natural herbs and ingredients available at home mentioned in Ayurvedic texts that are efficient in treating oily scalp by balancing aggravated Kapha-Pitta doshas in your body.

A. Ganji (Fermented Rice Water)

Apply or pour the Ganji water on your scalp and massage in circular motions for a few minutes. Leave it for about 10-15 minutes before washing your hair with normal water. You can use Ganji treatment once or twice in a week to have controlled oil production on your scalp.

B. Amla (Indian Gooseberry) + Buttermilk Mask

Prepare a hair mask by mixing buttermilk with Amla powder. Apply this to your hair roots along with your hair shaft. Let it set for about 20 minutes before you rinse it with water.

While Amla fights the fungal accumulation on your scalp, buttermilk acts as a bleaching agent, removing excess oil on your scalp. Also, the buttermilk adds a soft texture to your hair.

C. Kumari (Aloe Vera)

Extract Aloe Vera gel directly from the plant and apply all over your scalp. Leave it for 20-30 minutes and then wash your scalp with water at room temperature. You can apply this Aloe vera gel as a hair mask at least twice a week to see a visible change in the levels of sebum production on your scalp.

Aloe vera is a proven remedy for greasy hair while it detoxifies your scalp impurities and balances the oil production.

D. Chukta (Apple Cider Vinegar)

Apple cider vinegar is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. While it can balance your scalp’s pH levels, Apple Cider Vinegar controls excessive oil production. After washing your scalp and hair, just add a few drops of apple cider vinegar on your scalp. Wash your hair thoroughly after leaving it for a few minutes.

Apple cider vinegar also aids in removing excessive chemical residue on your scalp and gives a soft texture to your hair.

Important note:

Do not apply Apple cider Vinegar to your scalp if you have skin conditions like Eczema on your scalp.

E. Henna

Henna acts as an efficient conditioner for your hair while it controls the oil production well. Mix the grounded henna leaves with coconut oil and apply it thoroughly to your hair roots. Leave it for an hour and wash it off with Ayurvedic hair cleansers or mild shampoos.

F. Thyme

Thyme leaves have excellent anti-fungal [5], anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Boil the thyme leaves in water for 20-30 minutes and filter the water from the leaves. Rinse your hair with this decoction after cooling it to room temperature. This instantly works on your scalp oiliness.

G. Lemon Juice

Treating your scalp with lemon juice once or twice a week is a very simple and effective remedy to remove excess oils from your scalp. Apply lemon juice to your scalp and wash it off with cold water after 5 minutes. Besides cleaning oil build-up, lemon juice is also very helpful in controlling dandruff and scalp itchiness.

H. Green Gram

Green gram flour can be used as a quick tip to absorb the excess oil from your scalp. Also, you can make a hair mask by mixing a cup of green gram flour with water and apply it from the roots to the tips of your hair. Exfoliate your scalp gently by massaging it for a few minutes and then rinse it thoroughly with cold water.

I. Mud/ Clay Masks

You can use Ayurvedic bentonite clay [6] mixed with various Ayurvedic herbal (bark) powders like Asana, Manjistha, Lodhra, Arjuna, Ashoka etc. and prepare a hair mask.

The Ayurvedic clay masks work tremendously in absorbing excess oil from your scalp, while the herbs added in the mask pacify the aggravated dosha levels and bring them back to harmony. Also, the astringent effect of the herbs heals inflammation of the scalp and dandruff.

2. Ayurvedic Hair Oils

You may doubt that applying hair oil would worsen the condition of scalp oiliness. Well, it is true that when you apply hair oils, it aggravates Kapha-Pitta dosha. But, Ayurveda suggests categorical formulations that heal oily scalp issues by pacifying elevated Kapha-Pitta dosha.

“While the herbal ingredients or drugs do the job of pacifying the aggravated Kapha-Pitta levels on your scalp, the base oils (Kesha dravyas) act as a delivery medium of the medicine into the deeper tissues of your scalp,’’ says Dr. Zeel.

Let’s see some of the exotic Ayurvedic herbal ingredients, which you can seek in hair oils to treat your oily scalp.

A. Chitrak (Plumbago Zeylanica)

Chitrak is an Ayurvedic herb that is known for its ability to strengthen the digestive Agni (Pitta). With its great support to digestion processing, Chitrak is one of the exceptional herbs to balance the aggravated Kapha.

Chitrak reduces the ama (toxin) build up on your scalp, which is one of the outcomes of elevated Kapha dosha on your scalp. Chitrak can also be called as Doctor bush, Ceylon leadwort, and Wild leadwort.

B. Punarnava (Boerhavia Diffusa)

The Ayurvedic herb Punarnava, which is bitter, has an astringent effect. It is a light and dry herb that works best to control aggravated Kapha dosha. It can also be used to combat Vata related hair problems like dry hair.

But, Punarnava increases Pitta dosha, and hence, you must know what are the dominating doshas in your Prakriti that cause oily scalp before you pick your right Ayurvedic hair oil.

C. Amalaki (Phyllanthus Emblica)

Amalaki has tremendous abilities to soothe aggravated Kapha and Pitta doshas. Amalaki is one of the best Ayurvedic herbs to treat hyperacidity on the scalp, while it keeps the scalp pH in control. Thus, it can play an important role in regulating oil production on the scalp.

D. Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera)

Ashwagandha is well known for balancing Kapha dosha, while it can suppress the elevated Pitta dosha well. You can use Ashwagandha to enhance the blood circulation in your scalp. Also, it works best to control oily scalp with dandruff.

E. Nimba (Neem/Azadirachta Indica)

Neem is one of the powerful coolant Ayurvedic herbs that control Pitta and its associated greasy hair problem. Also, Neem is a dry and light herb, which can balance the aggravated Kapha dosha as well. Its antifungal properties are helpful in treating the oily scalp with dandruff.

Other effective Ayurvedic herbs which can be used in Hair oils to combat oily scalp by pacifying aggravated Kapha-Pitta doshas are Kamala (Lotus), Karpoora (camphor), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), Raja Masha (Malaxis muscifera), Dhava (Anogeissus latifolia), etc.

Apart from natural herbal ingredients, ancient Ayurvedic scripts have also mentioned medical formulations or oils to maintain Kapha dosha in balance. These formulations can be used as hair oils to treat oily, itchy scalp, and dandruff issues:

  • Asanadi Thailam
  • Hayamaraka Thailam
  • Asana Eladi Thailam
  • Dhurdhurapatradi Thailam
  • Asana Manjishtadi Thailam
  • Manjishtadi Thailam
  • Gandhak Thailam
  • Doorvadi keram

Also, generic oils like olive oil, mustard oil and essential oils like tea tree oil, lavender oil, etc. helps you regulate the oil production on your scalp. Also, massaging your scalp with warm Ayurvedic hair oils increases blood circulation, which in turn controls the toxin build-up on the scalp.

3. Ayurvedic Herbal Shampoos

Besides dissolving excessive oil deposits, Ayurvedic herbal cleansers help you achieve your dosha equilibrium. Also, unlike chemical-based shampoos, these natural solutions do not over deplete the oils on your scalp, but maintain just the right balance.

A. Shikakai (Soap Nut)

Mix Shikakai powder with water and apply it thoroughly on your scalp and hair. Leave it for about half an hour before washing your scalp with lukewarm water.

B. Reetha (Soap Pod)

Boil the Reetha fruits in water and strain the decoction. Cool the Reetha decoction to room temperature and wash your scalp and hair with it. Reetha is one of the best hair cleansers which you can find in most of the herbal and Ayurvedic shampoos.

C. Kalonji (Onion seed/Black Jeera)

Kalonji is one of the most efficient Ayurvedic ingredients that pacifies Kapha dosha, and thus, oily scalp problems. Mix Kalonji powder with water and use it as a dry shampoo to cleanse all your excessive oil and chemical build-ups from your scalp.

D. Triphala

Triphala (Haritaki+Bibhitaki+Amalaki) is the Tridosha Hara herb which not only aids in resolving oily scalp but also other hair and scalp related issues caused by dosha imbalances in the body. You can mix Triphala powder with Reetha and Shikakai, and use it as a hair cleanser.

E. Methika (Fenugreek)

Methika acts as an efficient Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) blocker [7] and thus, can control your oily scalp condition. It contains natural saponins and you can use dry methi powder as an excellent natural shampoo for your hair.

Tips To Use Ayurvedic Herbal Shampoos

  • Ayurveda suggests shampooing your hair at least half an hour after the application of hair oils. For best results, you can massage your scalp and hair with oil a night before your hair wash.
  • Do not over-wash your scalp by shampooing almost every day. You can keep your hair wash routine for every 1 or 2 days, based on the oil production level on your scalp.
  • Use chemical-free shampoo to cleanse your hair.
  • Try using lukewarm water for the first rinse. It opens the cuticles on your scalp, where the Ayurvedic herbal medicines can soak into and do their action.
  • Avoid rough handling of your scalp and hair by applying greasy gels, styling products, etc. after your hair wash.

4. Balanced Diet

Your diet plays a critical role in keeping your dosha levels in balance. To understand what foods you can include in your diet and what you cannot for preventing an oily scalp, you need to first understand what is your imbalanced dosha that is responsible for your oily scalp condition.

Food

Kapha Prakriti

Pitta Prakriti

Fruits

 

  • Apple
  • Raisins
  • Berries
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
  • Mangos
  • Plums
  • Dried figs
Avoid: All other dry fruits. Do not eat fruits in the evening. You can have fruits an hour before or after your meal.

 

 

  • Apple
  • Mangos
  • Avocados
  • Pomegranates
  • Coconuts
  • Plums
  • Figs
  • Pears
  • Melons
  • Oranges
Avoid: Dry fruits

 

Vegetables

 

  • Red beets
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Celery
  • Brinjal
  • Garlic
  • Parsley
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Radish
  • Sprouts

 

 

  • Asparagus
  • Cabbage
  • Cucumber
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Green beans
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Sprouts
  • Mushrooms

 

Grains

 

  • Barley
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Basmati rice (lower quantities)

 

 

  • Barley
  • Oats (cooked)
  • Basmati or white rice
  • Wheat

 

Animal Products

 

  • Scrambled eggs
  • Chicken
Avoid: Fried eggs

 

 

  • Eggs
Avoid: Other animal products

 

Legumes

 

  • All legumes.
Avoid: White beans and black lentils.

 

 

  • All legumes.
Avoid: Lentils.

 

Sweeteners

 

  • Organic honey
  • Jaggery

 

 

  • Brown sugar
  • Honey

 

Spices

 

  • All spices

 

 

  • Cilantro
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Cardamom
  • Fennel
  • Black pepper (low quantity)

 

Dairy

 

  • Soy milk
  • Reduced-fat milk (in lower quantities)
Avoid: Fatty cheese, Curd

 

 

  • Butter (unsalted)
  • Ghee
  • Goat milk
  • Cow milk
  • Pans
  • Cheese
  • Soy milk and tofu as a vegan substitute.

 

Oil

 

  • Corn oil
  • Walnut oil
(lower quantities)

 

 

  • Coconut oil
  • Soy oil
  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower oil

 

Healthy Dietary Habits To Control Oily Scalp:

  • Always include freshly prepared foods in your diet.
  • Make sure your food is light, dry and easily digestible while you serve it warm or hot.
  • Have your drinks only at room temperature or just have hot beverages. Avoid cold beverages.

Lifestyle Changes To Control Your Oily Scalp Condition

  • Include vigorous exercise routines in your day.
  • Try to stay in warm and dry environments.
  • Always have your hair wash after your workout.
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.

Risk Factors Of Neglecting Oily Scalp

If you do not deal with your oily scalp, while your lifestyle and food habits continue causing more imbalance in your Kapha-Pitta dosha levels, it may lead to severe scalp diseases as below:

  • Seborrheic hair loss (Oily scalp with hair loss)
  • Accelerated hair whitening
  • Foul-smelling scalp
  • Folliculitis (Painful scalp and inflammation)
  • Acne on your scalp and forehead
  • Seborrheic dermatitis [8] (intense itchy scalp with dandruff)
  • Pityriasis steatoides (Oily dandruff with yellowish flakes)

When Should You Seek A Doctors’ Help?

You may need a doctor’s guidance in case of severe skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or any auto-immune disorders resulting in excess oil production on the scalp. These chronic conditions may sometimes indicate severe underlying health issues.

Hence, you may need immediate diagnosis along with stronger fat-soluble topical solutions and instant medications to bring the situation under control. However, we also recommend you to consult your Ayurvedic doctor before implementing any of the Ayurvedic remedies mentioned above to determine if they are suitable for you.

The Last Word

You may have undesirable oily scalp when the Kapha-Pitta doshas aggravate, which leaves your hair greasy, dull, lifeless, and dirty. But, when maintained in balance, Kapha dominant hair type is the most preferred and healthy one of all hair types in Ayurveda with the right amounts of sebum production that nourishes and protects your scalp. Besides treating your scalp with Ayurvedic herbal ingredients, you must incorporate a balanced lifestyle and food habits to achieve such desirable scalp and hair.

At Vedix, we customize Ayurvedic and natural hair care regimen for you to treat your oily scalp by bringing back your aggravated doshas to a balanced state.

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