What Is A Shirodhara?

What Is A Shirodhara

Ayurveda, the ancient and holistic science of well-being and longevity, is a unique heritage of India that has been with us for thousands of years. Ayurvedic medicine has a long history of helping people feel better in body, mind, and spirit, as attested to in various Vedic texts. A complicated system of healing, based on the use of different combinations of herbs, spices, oils, and other natural components, is at the heart of these practices, which aim to help people overcome a wide range of health problems.

Ayurveda includes several holistic practices, and Shirodhara is one of them.

What Is A Shirodhara?

Shirodhara is an ancient Ayurvedic medicinal practice that balances the mind, body, and spirit. This therapy, which has been heralded as one of the most purifying and revitalizing treatments, is created in such a way that it eliminates the toxic AMA poisons from the body and treats stress, mental tiredness, and a variety of illnesses.

Shirodhara is derived from two Sanskrit words: ‘Shiro,’ meaning ‘head,’ and ‘dhara,’ meaning ‘pouring or sprinkling something,’ and refers to the practice of pouring warm herbal ayurvedic oils over the forehead in a steady stream for a set amount of time. The oil then seeps into the scalp and, eventually, the hair. 

In contrast to other massage treatments, Shirodhara relieves stress and discomfort on numerous levels within the body. Be it exfoliating dead skin cells, transferring lymphatic fluids, alleviating stress, expunging muscular tension, harmonizing doshic elements, or obliterating toxins, this holy procedure does it all. In addition to improving CNS function, treating conditions like anxiety, depression, and mental tiredness, and providing a refreshing new perspective, it also offers a novel sensory experience.

How It Works

Using Shirodhara, you can increase blood flow to your brain by stimulating acupressure sites on your head. By massaging the head, the oil can penetrate deeper into the scalp, where it can have a calming effect on the nerves that run down the forehead’s inner edge.

In addition to the massage itself, the therapy’s use of heated herbal oil produces dilatation of the blood vessels, which in turn increases blood flow and reduces blood pressure.

The hypothalamus, which controls the pituitary gland, can relax with Shirodhara. Stress chemicals such as noradrenaline, adrenaline, and serotonin are lowered. This is why it is so helpful for combating insomnia.

Shirodhara is also effective in treating psychosomatic conditions like stress, depression, and anxiety.


Shirodhara therapy is typically performed first thing in the morning or last thing at night. This technique goes by several names, including Tailadhara, Takradhara, Kashayadhara, and Jalandhar, depending on the ‘Dravya’ (medicated or unmedicated liquids) used. In addition to the other Murdhataila, Shirodhara is also considered a part of it (four special procedures in Ayurveda for the head).

  • Abhyangam is the first step of the Shirodhara massage (Ayurvedic body massage).
  • You’re instructed to shut your eyes while lying face down on the massage table.
  • Shirodhara, a steady stream of lukewarm oil (about 2 liters), is poured over the forehead in an alternating pattern.
  • Depending on the individual patient’s health, a Shirodhara session might last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Oil should not get into the eyes or ears, so it’s best to have a professional therapist do it.
  • Before or after receiving Shirodhara, you could also receive a little head massage. Buttermilk, decoctions, or even water might be poured over the head during a Shirodhara session.

Types Of Shirodhara

You must choose the correct therapy to get the most out of your Shirodhara treatment. We have compiled a list of suggestions for you below.

  • Ayurvedic practitioners recommend using herbal oils in Tailadhara, and these oils are typically a combination of several herbal extracts and essential oils. The Vata dosha in the body can be stabilized by doing this.
  • Buttermilk steeped in medicinal herbs is utilized in Takradhara, also known as Takra Dhara. It’s good for keeping homeostasis, the body’s ability to stay in a steady state despite environmental fluctuations, and for calming Pitta dosha.
  • Ksheer Dhara is a milk drink made with medicinal plants. If you suffer from Vata or Pitta-related symptoms like frequent headaches, tension, or anxiety, try pouring some therapeutic milk over your head.
  • Kwathdhara makes use of decoctions of various herbs. It is beneficial for restoring health to Vata and Kapha dosha, among other things.
  • Jala Dhara uses either regular water or coconut water. It is commonly recommended for conditions associated with internal body heat.

Oils Used

Shirodhara is typically performed with a mixture of Bala herb paste, sesame oil, and cow’s milk, known as Ksheer bala tailam. Additionally, there are Karpasasthyadi tailam, Narayana tailam, and Dhanwantharam tailam. 

Use sesame oil instead of the aforementioned herbal oils if you can’t find them before giving yourself a Shirodhara massage. This oil controls serotonin levels since it contains antioxidants and active compounds like sesamin, sesamol, and sesamol. It does more than relax the mind and help you fall asleep; it also helps alleviate stress and other issues that prevent you from getting quality rest. Oils used for Shirodhara massage infused with nervine herbs effectively treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Why Is The Oil Mainly Used On The Forehead?

Since the head is the only region of the body with many sensitive nerve endings or important spots directly related to the brain, oils soaked with various herbs or herbal components are typically sprinkled on the forehead and head. Several spiritual works of literature identify the forehead’s center as the ‘third eye,’ connected to the pineal gland through a network of veins and arteries.

This is known as the “Agnya Chakra” in Yogic teachings. Meditation with closed eyelids and attention on the Agnya chakra produces a state of psychosomatic balance. Dripping oil on the agnya chakra induces a meditative state, which triggers an adaptive reaction to baseline stress, much like one experiences during meditation. Oil rubbed into the scalp and forehead penetrates the skull and reaches the brain and spinal cord. The complete process facilitates a deep state of relaxation for both the mind and body, analogous to immediately after meditation.


The heavenly Shirodhara treatment is the ultimate in relaxation and generates a state of tranquility in mind. Not only are the doshas calmed, nourished, and pacified by the treatment’s many herbal oils, but those oils are also widely employed to cure various psychological and physiological disorders. Contact Zen Dermatology about scheduling an appointment if you want to try out this experience or other of our aesthetic services

RAJA SIVAMANI-Dermatology-CA-Zen Dermatology



I am a native of the San Francisco Bay Area and a board certified Dermatologist. My expertise centers on general dermatology including medical, surgical, and cosmetic services. With training in bioengineering, Allopathic and Ayurvedic medicine, I merge modern research and science with a personalized approach to each patient. My training in Ayurvedic medicine lets me bring in a more humanistic approach to my patient care, science, and research.

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