Dosha and Hairfall: How to overcome the imbalance
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Aug 21, 2020
Some amount of hair fall is regarded as normal and most of us shed around 50 to 100 hairs a day. As normal as this may be, it can still be alarming to many of us. It’s even worse when you’re dealing with excess hair fall that results in visible thinning or balding of the scalp. Unfortunately, balding or alopecia is one of the most common problems, with androgenic alopecia being most pervasive. Although most prevalent in men and described as male pattern balding it can also affect women, causing thinning of the hair towards the top or crown of the head. Dealing with premature and excess hair fall can be incredibly hard to deal with because it hurts your self-esteem and it’s so hard to find treatments that really work. Fortunately, Ayurved may have some answers to help better understand and cope with the problem.
Hair Loss & Your Doshas
Most Ayurvedic literature and experts identify hair fall with the aggravation of pitta dosha. This is the energy that regulates metabolism and digestion, making it critical for various aspects of physical and mental health. Of course, as with many other conditions, to simply point to pitta aggravation would be an oversimplification as the other doshas also play a role. In most classical texts, alopecia can be recognized as Khalitya. The condition is said to develop in Bhrajaka Pitta (the type of pitta that governs the outermost skin layer including skin tone, texture, senses of touch, pain, and temperature) and roma kupa (hair follicles), allowing the entry of vitiated vata. This itself can trigger hair fall, but it can also lead to blockage of roma kupa or follicles with vitiated kapha. This effectively stops the growth of new hair shafts, resulting in accelerated thinning or balding.
Although pitta aggravation is the underlying factor, excess hair fall of this nature is regarded as tridoshaja vyadhi – involving all three doshas along with rakta dosha. This means that in addition to addressing the primary cause of aggravated pitta, it is also important to get a thorough diagnosis from an Ayurvedic physician so as to correct any other imbalances. In general however, it helps to identify the causes of pitta aggravation and to take steps to pacify the dosha.
Overcoming Hair Loss Caused by Pitta Aggravation
Hair loss caused by pitta aggravation can be linked to various dietary and lifestyle choices. These include:
Diet: Overindulging in hot and spicy foods, as well as those with pungent, bitter, and sour tastes is said to aggravate pitta. Sour and citric fruits, as well as certain fermented foods are also known to lead to pitta aggravation. Irregular eating habits and overeating when not hungry, regular consumption of mustard and sesame oil, and high intake of red meats or fish are other contributing factors.
Lifestyle: Behavioral choices and habits like smoking cigarettes and consuming sour wines is also associated with pitta aggravation. Spending excessive amount of time outdoors during the daylight hours can also increase pitta because of high exposure to heat and sunlight. For the same reason, working at certain crafts like baking or smelting may also increase the risk of pitta aggravation.
Psychology: Aggravation of pitta may also occur as a result of uncontrolled emotions such as anger and fear. High levels of stress and pressure or the development of clinical depression can also increase the likelihood of pitta aggravation.
You can take the following steps to pacify pitta and fight hair loss linked to pitta aggravation –
Diet: It is best to consume foods that have cooling and drying effects at room temperature, rather than hot, to pacify pitta. Foods with drying qualities are recommended as they can counter the excess oil and fluid buildup associated with pitta aggravation. Similarly, foods with sweet and bitter tastes are also helpful for pacifying pitta. Good food choices would include whole grains and legumes like rice, wheat, barley, split yellow mung, garbanzo beans, leafy greens like broccoli, cauliflower, and lettuce, bell peppers, crushed nuts like almond, fruits like apples, papayas, pineapples, pears, berries, and pomegranates, and coconuts, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Lifestyle: Your lifestyle is also important to maintaining the optimal balance of doshas and you should follow a disciplined daily routine with fixed timings for meals, sleep, and bowel movements. Accordingly, exercise and outdoor activities should also be timed in a manner that helps you avoid exposure to the strongest hours of sunlight. It is advisable to take up a yoga routine with slow and deliberate movements that focus on breathing and meditation. This can help to counter the heating and agitating effects of pitta aggravation, which can otherwise be triggered by aggression and hyperactivity.
Once hair fall sets in, it can be hard to manage solely with diet and lifestyle measures. This makes it necessary to also use Ayurvedic hair care products with therapeutic herbs and other remedies.
Ayurvedic Hair Care Treatments
While excess hair fall is a predominantly pitta dosha disorder, it can also be exacerbated by other factors. Constant exposure to harsh chemicals from cosmetic shampoos, conditioners, and treatments like perming or dyeing can also cause severe hair damage that leads to thinning and balding. It is advisable to switch to natural or ayurvedic hair care products that are free of any additives. Ayurvedic hair cleansers and shampoos are a good choice as ingredients like shikakai and reetha have a strong cleansing effect, but are also therapeutic.
Ayurvedic hair oils that contain ingredients like amla, bhringraj, and brahmi are also good choices, as all of these herbs have proven hair care benefits that include improved hair growth and regeneration time, helping combat thinning and balding. Amla also exhibits antimicrobial effects that can help treat common scalp diseases like dandruff that are associated with increased hair loss. Most of these herbs are also tridoshic, which means that they can help treat any kind of dosha vitiation. Additionally, herbs like brahmi and jatamansi have been found to be effective at lowering stress levels, promoting, relaxation, and inducing sleep.
- Panigrahi, Madhumita, et al. “Management Of Khalitya (Hair Fall): A Case Report.” International Journal of Research in Ayurved and Pharmacy, vol. 10, no. 4, 2019, pp. 65–67., doi:10.7897/2277-4343.100488
- Fromsdorf, Lisa, and Marie Opperman. The Ayur Veda Handbook: Find the Right Diet and Lifestyle for Your Dosha. Oshun Books, 2009.
- Roy, R. K., et al. “Hair Growth Promoting Activity of Eclipta Alba in Male Albino Rats.” Archives of Dermatological Research, vol. 300, no. 7, May 2008, pp. 357–364., doi:10.1007/s00403-008-0860-3
- Kumar, Naphatsorn et al. “5α-reductase inhibition and hair growth promotion of some Thai plants traditionally used for hair treatment.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 139,3 (2012): 765-71. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.12.010
- Semalty, M., et al. “In Vivo Hair Growth Activity of Herbal Formulations.” International Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 6, no. 1, 2010, pp. 53–57., doi:10.3923/ijp.2010.53.57