An 18 years old newly married girl once visited my OP department along with her parents. She complained of suffering from constant headache which prevented her from the smooth functioning of day to day activities. Her parents were very worried. After a few months of married life, her husband who was working abroad, left to re-join his job. According to her parents, their daughter got frequent headaches while staying with her in laws, and she had no problem while she was in her own house. After interrogating the situation in 3 or 4 sittings she finally confided that her husband’s younger brother who was then a XII grade student was persuading her to have sex with him. This annoyed her so much as she couldn’t discuss this with any of her family members and this resulted in her experiencing recurrent headache.
This is just one of the many clinical experiences of stress, anxiety, headache that I face daily. People from different classes have quite different reasons for these kind of stressful mental state. The business men are usually worried about their business, turn over etc; working class people are worried about their over burden, under payment and unachievable targets; student community are usually tensed and worried of exams, admissions etc; house-wives who are not comfortable due to their hectic work end up in stress, insomnia, depression and headache. According to a recent survey, 90% cases of headache are due to different mental problems. Apart from these, physical stress due to inadequate sleep and rest, improper food habits, frequent travelling, extreme climatic conditions, air and water pollution, over use of electronic gadgets all add up to the problems.
As per Ayurveda, all these sum up to the causative factors for most diseases. The treatment strategy is based on the removal of these etiological factors whichever possible and the management of the disease. The treatment perspectives mainly indicate different therapeutic procedures which cures the condition along with some internal medications. This is the major difference between Western medicine and Ayurveda. As far as western medicine is considered, the main treatment modality consists of prescribing anxiolytics, beta-blockers, analgesics and sedatives for treating various stress conditions and headache. Many a time these provide only a temporary relief. The patients also find it difficult to take these medicines regularly and for a longer duration.
Here lies the beauty of Ayurveda. With the use of very few internal medicines, such conditions are very well managed by external application of medicines on head and scalp. Ayurveda has described four different types of medication on head – siro abhyanga, siropichu, sirovasthi and sirodhara. Siro abhyanga is the application of medicine on scalp. This is actually a regular practice done by most Keralites before bath. Usually some kind of oil is applied on scalp. This promotes softness of hair, prevents itching, hairfall and removes desquamation, dandruff etc. Siropichu is the process where, a cloth or cotton pad soaked in medicine (usually oil/ghee based preparations) is retained on the scalp for a prescribed time. Sirovasthy is the procedure in which a cap is fixed around the head tightly and the oil/medicine is retained there for a time period of 30 minutes to 1 hour.
In Sirodhara, the patient is made to lie down comfortably in a supine position on a table (droni) and a special dhara pot is fixed on the head end. The medicine is filled in the pot and is continuously poured in a stream onto the forehead. The medicine is usually luke warm while doing Sirodhara. This may continue upto 1 hour according to the condition of the patient as well as the disease.
Sirodhara is refreshing and it cools the head, body as well as mind. It gives good sleep and acts as a tension reliever. It also plays a vital role in stimulating the brain and pacifying the diseased conditions of brain. The conditions such as cerebral atrophy, cerebral palsy also respond well to Sirodhara. Cerebellar ataxia, vertigo, dementia, parkinsonism and psychiatric cases like schizophrenia, depression, OCD etc are also well managed with this treatment modality. It also has proven result in controlling haemorrhage in ophthalmic conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, vitreous haemorrhage etc. I have treated several cases of insomnia and mental stress only by administering Sirodhara for a continuous period of 7 or 14 days. The travelers suffering from jetlag can also undergo a course of sirodhara to control the stress and rejuvenate the mind and body.
Different types of medicines are used for Sirodhara like medicated oils (Tailadhara), medicated milk (Ksheeradhara), medicines prepared in buttermilk (Takradhara), medicines boiled in water (Kashayadhara) etc. Different medicines are used according to the condition of the patient and the type of ailment.
Among the Ayurveda treatment procedures, Sirodhara is well accepted and well tolerated by all type of people. It can be well executed in all age groups , ie, even in a small child dhara can be performed without any difficulty. The result of Sirodhara in most conditions are highly rewarding and it plays a good role among the rejuvenating and revitalizing therapies in the diseased as well as healthy persons.
Dr. JEENA.N.J., MD(Ay)
Associate Professor & HOD
Vaidyaratnam P.S.Varier Ayurveda College