Shirodhara is an ancient system of medicine, which is considered to be the most useful in Ayurveda. It is one of the most effective and refreshing Ayurvedic healing techniques of Panchakarma. It is a very relaxing method, which removes physical and mental stress and fatigue very lightly.

Shirodhara is made up of two words “Shiro” meaning head and “Dhara” meaning flow or stream. Therefore Shirodhara is to leave a stream of liquid on the forehead for a certain period of time to get relief, refreshment, and healing. Which liquid will be used depends on the disease being treated. Mainly any oil (Teladhara), milk (Kshirdhara), buttermilk (Takradhara), coconut water, or ordinary water (Jaldhara) are used. Apart from this, special types of oils made from herbs are also used.

According to Ayurveda, due to the normal flow of fluid during Shirodhara, two very important points located in the part of the brain are stimulated – Ajna Marma and Maha Marma, due to which there is a feeling of mental consciousness and balance. Agya Marma is considered to be the door of consciousness and it is also called The Third Eye in Ayurveda.

Types of Shirodhara Therapy

Shirodhara is known by many different names in Ayurveda. According to Charaka and Sushruta Samhita, Shirodhara is known as Sirothara, Shiro Shek, Shiro Parishek, etc. On the basis of the liquid used in Shirodhara, many types of Shirodhara have been told. Below are some types of Shirodhara.

Taila Dhara (Thyla dhara)

In Sangdhera, oil and ghee with sticky properties are poured on the head. Medicated oils are mixed with different common oils to perform this process. Hot oils are generally used to correct imbalances of Vata and Kapha doshas and cold oils for Pitta doshas.

Dugadha Dhara (Ksheerdhara)

Ksheer means milk in Ayurveda. In Kshirdhara, a stream of milk is made on the patient’s head. Milk is used in combination with other herbs. Kshirdhara is very beneficial for Vata Pitta dosha. It is used for headaches, stress, insomnia, etc.

Takra Dhara (Thakradhara)

“Takra” means buttermilk. In Takradhara, a stream of buttermilk is done on the head. Due to this, Vata dosha located in the head is suppressed and there is relief in the Vata dosha such as anxiety, headache, restlessness, extra thoughts, etc.

Jala Dhara

Coconut water or water is generally used in case of excess heat in the body or pitta dosha.

How is Shirodhara done?

Shirodhara is a popular and well-known Ayurvedic rejuvenation procedure that has been used in India for centuries. A calm and comfortable environment is chosen for doing Shirodhara. This process goes something like this.

You are asked to lie down comfortably on a wooden table, also known as a Dhara table, with light soft music. The Dhara table is designed according to the shape of the human body.

To avoid the flow of oil in the eyes, a towel or cotton pad is placed over the eyes. This serene environment soothes your nerves as well as makes you feel at ease. This serene environment soothes your nerves as well as makes you feel at ease.

In a rhythmic manner at a specific temperature, from a certain height, torrents of herbal oils are dropped down the center of your forehead, accompanied by Abhyangam or full body massage. The lukewarm oil pacifies the aggravated Vata in the nervous system.

For this, a vessel is taken which has a hole in the bottom and this hole is closed with a wick, this vessel is hung above the person’s head, which is at least 4-6 inches above the forehead. Herbs liquid in the form of herbs oil or milk is filled in the vessel, and then this liquid is poured on the brain of a person lying on the Dhara table.

This process lasts for 30-35 minutes and is followed by an ayurvedic head massage. Therapists work on specific marma points to stabilize the functioning of the nerves, this includes keeping the mind calm, joyful, and clear.

You may also be asked to rest for an hour after the procedure is over.

How does shirodhara works?

As stated in Ayurveda, Shirodhara primarily acts on the Vata Nadi institution or the nervous system. Shirodhara has traditionally been used to stimulate areas of the brain, relax nerves, balance Vata, energize nerves, remove stagnant expressions, and purify the mind.

The warm temperature of the oils helps to relieve stress, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, depression, improves vision, and is responsible for activating vital points around the head. The combined effect of these helps in increasing blood circulation and also increases the flow of prana within the energy channels.

In Ayurvedic treatment, it is considered an important means of achieving a higher state of consciousness. Shirodhara is one of the best methods to get relief from migraine.

Shirodhara Liquids

Various types of substances are used in Shirodhara. It depends on the Ayurveda. Sesame oil is mainly used in Shirodhara as it mixes well with other oils. Some other special oils/substances may also be included in it such as:

Coconut oil
Ksheerbala oil
Mahanarayan oil
Coconut water
Pure water

This process basically stimulates the middle part of the cranium with the help of a steady stream of fluid. These special herbs are used only for the mitigation of doshas. Otherwise, no special herbs or oil are needed in Shirodhara. This can also be done with the help of pure water for mental benefits.

Benefits of Shirodhara

Shirodhara is a physically and mentally relaxing and soothing process. There are many benefits to be seen. Here are some of the benefits of Shirodhara.

Relieve stress

Shirodhara is a great Ayurvedic remedy to relax your mind if you are feeling stressed. The hot oil poured in a steady way helps reduce stress hormones. Gradually, your body experiences relief from stress and then enters complete relaxation mode

Improve sleep

Poor sleeping habits affect your physical and mental health. Here, stress is the major factor behind insufficient sleep. Many people depend on sleeping pills and other medicines for better sleep. But, this, in turn, affects your health.

Natural remedies like Shirodhara are extremely beneficial for improving sleep quality without compromising on health. Shirodhara reduces the brain waves that make it difficult to sleep or are responsible for sleep disorders. Hence, it improves the quality of your sleep.

Enhances Meditation

In Shirodhara, a steady stream of liquid is made in the center of our skull, which stimulates our Ajna Chakra. It is also called ‘The Third Eye’ in Ayurveda. This is the place where our pineal gland is present. Due to this, the production of hormones in our brain increases, and our mental performance also improves.

Balances Vata-pitta dosha

Shirodhara is mainly performed to quench the Vata-pitta dosha. These doshas accumulate in our brain and create many different diseases. By doing Shirodhara regularly, the Vata-Pitta doshas are balanced and one gets mental and physical peace.

Reduce anxiety

The steady flow of hot oil on your forehead activates Ajna Karma. It is an energy point whose activation helps reduce anxiety and instability.


During Shirodhara, a certain amount of pressure and vibration is created by the stream of oil falling on the head. The pressure exerted by ingesting the medicinal liquid continuously for a long period of time provides peace of mind and gives you the pleasure of natural sleep.


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The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional