Shirodhara: An Ancient Ayurvedic Therapy for Deep Relaxation and Healing

Shirodhara, a Sanskrit term meaning “flow on the head,” is a therapeutic treatment in Ayurveda, the traditional Indian system of medicine. It involves gently pouring a warm stream of oil or other liquids onto the forehead for a specific period. This practice has been used for centuries to promote relaxation, improve sleep, and alleviate various health conditions.


History and Origins

The origins of Shirodhara can be traced back to ancient India and are mentioned in various Ayurvedic texts like Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. These texts describe the procedure and its therapeutic benefits for various ailments. Over time, It has been practiced across different regions of India and has also gained popularity in the West in recent years.

How is Performed?

  1. Preparation: The patient is comfortably seated on a cushioned platform or massage table. The head and neck are supported with pillows to ensure proper alignment.
  2. Shirodhara oils: The practitioner selects an appropriate oil based on the patient’s individual needs and constitution. Commonly used oils include sesame oil, coconut oil, and medicated oils blended with herbs.
  3. Warmth: The chosen oil is warmed to a comfortable temperature, usually around 104°F to 113°F (40°C to 45°C).
  4. Equipment: A specially designed vessel called a dhara pot is used to pour the warm oil onto the forehead. This pot has a small spout that allows for a steady and controlled flow of oil.
  5. Application: The practitioner begins pouring the warm oil in a gentle stream onto the center of the forehead, just above the eyebrows. The oil flows down the forehead and onto the scalp, creating a rhythmic and soothing sensation.
  6. Shirodhara session: The duration of the treatment can vary depending on the patient’s condition and the desired effect. Generally, It is performed for 30 to 45 minutes, but it can be extended to 60 minutes in some cases.
  7. Post-treatment care: After the treatment, the patient is advised to rest for a while before gradually resuming their activities. It is recommended to avoid washing the hair for at least an hour after Shirodhara.


It is widely known for its calming and relaxing effect on the nervous system. It promotes deep relaxation, reduces stress and anxiety, and can be helpful in treating various conditions, such as:

  • Insomnia and sleep disorders
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Chronic pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Sinus congestion
  • Hair loss
  • Skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis

Scientific Evidence

Several studies have investigated the therapeutic effects . These studies suggest that Shirodhara can:

  • Reduce stress hormones like cortisol
  • Increase levels of neurotransmitters associated with relaxation and well-being
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Reduce pain perception
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Boost immune function

Precautions and Contraindications

While generally safe for most people, It can have certain contraindications. It is important to consult an Ayurvedic practitioner before undergoing this treatment if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Fever or acute infection: Avoid using this treatment if you have a fever or acute infection.
  • Skin problems or open wounds on the head: This treatment is not suitable if you have skin problems or open wounds on the head.
  • Severe headaches or migraines: This treatment may worsen severe headaches or migraines.
  • Recent head or neck surgery: Do not use this treatment after head or neck surgery.
  • Mental health conditions: Consult your doctor before using this treatment if you have any mental health conditions.
  • Pregnancy: It is best to avoid this treatment during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.
  • Mental health conditions: Consult your doctor before using this treatment if you have any mental health conditions.


It is a unique and powerful Ayurvedic therapy that offers a range of benefits for both physical and mental health. Its calming and relaxing effect on the nervous system can be helpful in managing various conditions and promoting overall well-being. With its growing popularity and increasing scientific evidence, It is becoming a valuable tool for achieving deep relaxation and optimal health.

Additional notes:

  • It is important to choose a qualified practitioner who has experience in performing Shirodhara.
  • If you are unsure about whether It is suitable for you, it is always best to consult your doctor before starting any new treatment.

1. Is Shirodhara safe for pregnant women?

It is not recommended for pregnant women. The warm oil can cause the uterus to contract, which could increase the risk of miscarriage.

2. What type of oil is used for Shirodhara?

The most common type of oil used for Shirodhara is sesame oil. Sesame oil is considered to be grounding and balancing, and it has a variety of health benefits

3. Can I get a Shirodhara treatment if I have high blood pressure?

It may be safe for people with high blood pressure, but it is important to talk to your doctor first


Please consult your doctor before undergoing any Ayurvedic treatment.

Scarlett Johansson

Hi there! I'm Scarlett, a passionate dietitian and nutrition enthusiast. Join me on a journey to discover the science of healthy eating and practical tips for a balanced lifestyle. Let's nourish our bodies, one bite at a time! 🍏🥑 #NutritionNerd #HealthyLiving

More Reading

Post navigation

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *