Home Ayurveda Shirodhara


by Pooja Saini

People who have never heard about this procedure, here is some interesting information about Shirodhara.

What Is Shirodhara?

Shirodhara is a classical and a well-established Ayurvedic treatment. The word Shirodhara means ‘Shira = head’ and ‘dhara = a steady flow’. It has been a common and age-old practice in India. It is the main service in ayurvedic wellness center.

The aim of Shirodhara is to induce a relaxed state of awareness, which results in a dynamic psycho-somatic balance. A complete feeling of overall well-being, mental clarity and awareness is experienced in this process.

In this procedure, the person is asked to rest on a comfortable bed. A medicated oil is slowly and steadily dripped on the forehead (the third eye) of the person. This oil is usually present in a copper vessel (kumbha) with a standard size hole in the bottom. In addition to ayurvedic medicinal oil, other liquids like milk, buttermilk or coconut water can also be used, depending on the need of the person. Hence, the use of such liquids is completely case-specific.

Benefits of Shirodhara

Shirodhara exerts a vast range of health benefits. This natural treatment is associated with no serious side-effects. Let’s have a detailed look at the health benefits of this 30-60 minutes procedure:

Helps You Sleep Better

Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by poor quality and quantity of sleep. Research has found that relaxation therapy like Shirodhara is equally good or even better than pharmacological treatments.

One study observed excellent results when Shirodhara was clubbed with drugs used to treat insomnia.

Another study suggests that Shirodhara with Brahmi oil improves the quality and duration of sleep. Such individuals had undisturbed sleep and they felt fresher after waking up.

An improvement in the sleep could be due to the relaxing atmosphere, which is created during the procedure.

Lying on the table with the eyes closed, music and the ambience reduce the release of stress hormones and induce a feeling of calmness and relaxation. Hence, Shirodhara helps in reorganizing the sleep structure.

Reduces Anxiety


These days generalized anxiety disorder has become very common in the society. Few studies have observed the anti-anxiety effect of Shirodhara.

When the sympathetic component of the autonomic nervous system is overly activated, there is an increase in the cardiac activity, dizziness, discomfort and hyperventilation.

Studies have found that Shirodhara procedure reduces the sympathetic tone, thereby decreasing the cardiac activity.

It was further found that Shirodhara increases the alpha activity pattern of the brain, which keeps the brain in a calm and relaxed state.

Maximum stress and anxiety effects of Shirodhara were observed when oil was used as a medium.

Blood Pressure Control

Blood Pressure

Hypertension and its complications are the leading cause of death in modern societies. An interesting study found that ‘takra dhara’, a form of Shirodhara, which involves a continuous flow of medicated buttermilk to the center of the forehead for one hour is an excellent therapy for individuals with high blood pressure.

This external treatment acts on the nervous system and alleviates high blood pressure. It ensures smooth blood flow throughout the body and helps the arteries and the blood vessels to relax.

It prevents the build-up of tension in the arterial walls and promotes vasodilation. All these effects appear due to its calming action on the nervous system and relaxing action on the mind. Hence, Shirodhara is an effective and completely safe technique for individuals with high blood pressure.

Management of Migraine and Headaches

Migraine is characterized by pain in the half side of the head. Treatment of migraine with Shirodhara reduces the intensity of pain, duration of headache, vomiting, photophobia and phonophobia.

Research-based studies have observed great results when medicated milk was used as a medium in Shirodhara to treat migraine. It acts as a sedative and has a soothing effect on the brain.

The medicated milk also stimulates blood circulation to the head part and brain, which helps to improve brain health. It further eliminates the factors that produce tension and stress.

Such a reduction in the mental stress levels helps in relieving migraine.

Stress Management

Shirodhara is an amazing external treatment for stress without any side-effects. Drugs used to manage or treat stress are addictive and they come with a lot of side-effects.

Shirodhara, where oil is used as a medium is beneficial and completely safe for the management of stress.

Studies have found that Shirodhara reduces symptoms of stress like anxiety, guilt feeling and tension. It regulates emotional as well as behavioral patterns.

Shirodhara reduces the secretion and activity of stress hormones and enhances the activity of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical, which uplifts mood and induces a feeling of happiness.

Furthermore, Shirodhara improves the blood circulation, thereby correcting the brain circulation, which is important in relieving stress, reports a study.

Shirodhara For One and All

Shirodhara is not just for individuals who cannot fall asleep or those with anxiety disorders, but even healthy individuals can benefit from it.

Shirodhara boosts immunity, mental clarity and overall well-being. This deep relaxation technique fights fatigue and fills the body with energy. It can make you feel more active and fresher.

Shirodhara relieves stress and eliminates all the negative energies from the body. Thus, it enhances the immune system and balances the mind as well as the body.

Besides this, Shirodhara also improves the scalp health and prevents dryness of the head region. It strengthens the hair and fights hair fall too.

It boosts hair growth and prevents premature greying of the hair.

Types of Shirodhara

This amazing procedure comes in three different forms. Let’s have a look:

Sneha Dhara

In this procedure, the Ayurvedic practitioner uses different herbal oils as a medium. For example, Brahmi oil or sesame oil is used to control high blood pressure and relieve stress.

Ksheer Dhara

In this type of Shirodhara, milk is used as a medium to treat various disorders as well as to relieve stress, anxiety and depression. Milk is infused with herbs. Thus, it is also known as medicated milk.

Takra Dhara

In this type, buttermilk is poured on the forehead. Herbs are added to the buttermilk and this medicated buttermilk exerts plenty of health benefits.

Who Should Not Have Shirodhara:

All individuals can avail the health benefits of Shirodhara. Here are a few precautions and contraindications of shirodhara:

  1. Pregnant women in their second or third trimester who cannot lie on their back for 45-60 minutes should not opt for this procedure.
  2. Individuals with head and neck injury or those who have wounds on their scalp or forehead should avoid Shirodhara.
  3. Shirodhara is also not meant for those with fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, giddiness and weakness.

Duration of Shirodhara

  • This procedure is carried out for 45-60 minutes. It is usually done for 7 to 21 days or as recommended by the expert.
  • In chronic or severe cases, the duration or number of days can be increased.

Best Timings for Shirodhara

Shirodhara is usually done in the early morning hours, between 6 am to 10 am. For individuals with excess pitta dosha, Shirodhara can be done in the afternoon time too.

Points to Keep in Mind before and after Shirodhara

Shirodhara procedure may take only 45 to 60 minutes, but you may need additional rest even after the procedure. Therefore, book an appointment keeping your schedule in mind.

Even after the procedure, stay in a cool and calm environment. Avoid going to places, which are crowded, or which have loud music. Allow your mind and body to relax completely.

Eat a very light snack half an hour before Shirodhara. Avoid eating meals that are too heavy before the procedure.

Do not wash your hair immediately once the procedure is over. Leave the oil in your hair overnight or for a few hours following the treatment.

Eat light meals even after Shirodhara for that entire day. Heavy meals may add stress or pressure on the gut. Go easy with your meals.

Avoid caffeine intake for a few days. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which may interfere with relaxation. Opt for light vegetable soups or lentil soups.


  1. Dhuri, K. D., Bodhe, P. V., & Vaidya, A. B. (2013). Shirodhara: A psycho-physiological profile in healthy volunteers. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 4(1), 40–44. http://doi.org/10.4103/0975-9476.109550
  2. Vinjamury, S. P., Vinjamury, M., der Martirosian, C., & Miller, J. (2014). Ayurvedic Therapy (Shirodhara) for Insomnia: A Case Series. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 3(1), 75–80. http://doi.org/10.7453/gahmj.2012.086
  3. Pokharel, S., & Sharma, A. K. (2010). Evaluation of Insomrid Tablet and Shirodhara in the management of Anidra (Insomnia). Ayu, 31(1), 40–47. http://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.68209
  4. Rastogi, Sanjeev & Baiswar, Antriksha & Nischal, Anil & Swarup Srivastava, Prem & Nischal, Anuradha. (2016). Effects of shirodhara in generalized anxiety disorder. TANG [HUMANITAS MEDICINE]. 6. 27.1-27.4. 10.5667/tang.2016.0016.
  5. Saraswati Devi, Dr. Saraswati Kala, Role of Yoga-nidra and Shirodhara on Hypertensive Patients, International Journal of Yoga and Allied Sciences (ISSN: 2278 – 5159), Volume: 4, Issue: 1; Jan- June 2015
  6. Ranajan, Mridul & D Scholar, Ph. (2015). A Controlled Clinical Study on the Role of Nasya Karma and Shirodhara in the Management of Migraine. Scholars Journal of Applied Medical Sciences. 3. 153-158.

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