Shirodhara at The Hale ClinicMay 11, 2012 Written by JP [Font too small?]
During my last trip to London, I had the pleasure of visiting The Hale Clinic – a 25 year old institution that offers a wide assortment of alternative and complementary therapies and resources. The primary objective of this world renowned center of healing is to integrate holistic principles into the conventional medical paradigm. In addition to providing access to holistic practitioners, Hale also has a natural pharmacy and reading room on premises.
One of the many treatments offered at The Hale Clinic is an Ayurvedic practice known as Shirodhara. In it, a patient lies face up on a table as a consistently slow stream of warm milk or oil is poured on the forehead. Dr. Ujwala Luthia, a graduate of the University of Mumbai and a registered member of the British Register of Complementary Practitioners, administers this soothing modality as part of a comprehensive approach to mind-body wellness.
In recent years, science has begun examining whether Shirodhara is more than just a relaxing activity advocated by traditional Indian healers. To the surprise of many, the results of several, peer reviewed clinical trials show that there is, in fact, a basis for it. To date, it’s been established that repeated Shirodhara treatments: 1) reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure; 2) improve reaction time and other symptoms associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD; 3) offer a viable adjunct and/or alternative to hormone replacement therapy for menopause; 4) support sleep quality in patients with insomnia; 5) positively affect balance and coordination in those living with progressive degenerative cerebellar ataxia, a neurological condition that affects muscle control; 6) bolster immune function by increasing natural killer cell activity and decrease anxiety by lowering noradrenaline levels.
There are a number of suspected modes of action that underlie the benefits attributable to Shirodhara. In some instances, essential oils or herbs are infused in the warm milk and oil applied to the forehead. The medicinal properties of these ingredients may very well be absorbed through hair follicles, skin and sweat glands. The warming effect of the liquids is also believed to induce circulatory benefits as a result of acute vasodilatation. However, perhaps most important is the noted activity of Shirodhara on the hypothalamus, a portion of the brain that influences everything from body temperature to stress response. According to a recent evaluation, this interaction likely results in “relief of most of the psychic and somatic disorders” seen in the current batch of studies.
The one downside of Shirodhara may be the price tag. At The Hale Clinic, a 60 minute session costs £110. In the United States, the famed Chopra Center charges over $200 for a 65 minute treatment. Multiple sessions are typically called for and sometimes require daily administration for the first few weeks, followed by less frequent maintenance therapy. Like many other alternative and complementary therapies, most health insurance providers do not currently cover the expense.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – The Role of Psychic Factors in Pathogenesis of Essential Hypertension … (link)
Study 2 – Ayurvedic Approach for Improving Reaction Time of Attention Deficit … (link)
Study 3 – An Assessment of Manasika Bhavas in Menopausal Syndrome and its … (link)
Study 4 – Evaluation of Insomrid Tablet and Shirodhara in the Management of … (link)
Study 5 – Improvement of Balance in Progressive Degenerative Cerebellar Ataxias … (link)
Study 6 – Psychoneuroimmunologic Effects of Ayurvedic Oil-Dripping Treatment … (link)
Study 7 – Pharmaco-Physio-Psychologic Effect of Ayurvedic Oil-Dripping … (link)
Two Weeks of Shirodhara Improves ADHD Symptoms
Source: Ayu. 2010 Jul-Sep; 31(3): 338–342. (link)
Tags: ADHD, Insomnia, Menopause
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Women's Health