Herb Thursdays at Krya – the ayurvedic properties & benefits of Shikakai (Acacia concinna)

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Shikakai: a herb that we all love to hate. A herb that reminds both of having our hair washed by our mother and grandmother, and of eyes stinging during the process. But also paradoxically, we associate Shikakai not just with painful childhood memories, but also having the hair of our childhood: thick, long, dark, and strong. A time when it was impossible to manage our hair because it was so voluminous and so long!

1. vintage shikakai

Shikakai is referred to as “the hair fruit” in India, and the Shikakai pod has been used as a biological surfactant to cleanse hair and skin for thousands of years in India. The Shikakai pod along with the Reetha pericarp, (Soapberry fruit) have together been the only cleansers India used to clean the laundry, dishes and our hair.

Because of the relatively low level of surfactants in both these soapy herbs, the skin and hair is always protected from excessive stripping of natural oils, breakage of hair and destruction of the acid mantle. Both these herbs also have a naturally mildly acidic pH which again makes them both ideal cleansers to used on human skin and hair.

2. hair fruit

 

Shikakai in Ayurveda:

Ayurvedic texts like the Raj Nighantu classify Acacia concinna as laghu (light), tikta (bitter) and kasaya (astringent). It cures vitiated kapha and pitta dosha, which is why it works so well across Krya’s anti dandruff products like the Krya anti dandruff hair wash and the Krya Anti dandruff hair mask. It also cures leprosy and other skin diseases so it is classified as a “Kushta” herb and also heals oedema due to wounds which is why it is classified as a vrana-sopha herb.

In folk medicine, Shikakai’s analgesic, anti bacterial, insect repellent and wound healing properties are very effectively utilised. For non specific pain in the leg, hips and joints, Shikakai is sprinkled on the affected area after a hot castor oil massage and then wiped away, providing great relief to the aching area.

Shikakai is also very well employed in traditional medicine as an oral rinse to help cure halitosis, dental caries, mouth ulcers and gum bleeding. Its kasaya (astringent) properties helps reduce oral inflammations, stops excessive bleeding and also helps flush out oral pathogens.

Shikakai is also very well used to fight any manner of skin infection. The Shikakai is used as a tincture / infusion to bathe and frequently wash stubborn skin infections which accumulate pus and clear exudates like psoriasis, skin rashes etc. Here the herb’s cleansing and inflammation reducing properties are used.

Shikakai in Krya:

Krya uses Shikakai across our range of hair cleansing products to help effectively clean dirt and grease from hair without altering its structure and damaging it. In fact, the use of Shikakai in our hair cleanser formulations helps us delver hair cleansing that is both effective yet gentle on hair. The consistent use of this herb also helps improve hair volume and texture.
3.shikakai in krya

Shikakai is also a key ingredient in Krya’s anti dandruff hair wash and hair mask. Our Anti dandruff products are able to work on even very long term and chronic cases of dandruff within a short period of time and this is due to the powerful herbs we use like Shikakai. Shikakai is used by Krya in the anti dandruff range for its unique ability to cleanse without irritating the scalp – this is extremely important when dealing with chronic dandruff because we always see small lesions and wounds on the scalp which have formed due to the inherent itchiness because of this condition.

4.shikakai in krya dandruff range

 

Krya also has a range of “Sensitive” skin products. These products are recommended for chronic skin issues like contact dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema, and requests for these products are constantly on the rise. Many of these skin conditions do not have an exact causative factor in allopathy and are usually managed with the use of topical steroids (both ingested and applied locally). Stopping these products even for a day triggers the condition and it is extremely difficult to live with.

Switching from a synthetic soap (even those recommended for these skin conditions) and using one of the Krya sensitive skin products along with the oil recommended, usually gives people an almost immediate relief from these conditions.

Shikakai helps these conditions through the action we explained above: Its kashaya (astringent) nature shrinks the thickened growth and brings down inflammation. Because of its tikta (bitter) nature, it is ideally suited to tackle both vitiated pitta and vitiated kapha, so it stops the redness and itching associated with pitta and the skin thickening and expanding nature of kapha vitiated skin diseases.

To sum up:

So there you have it: So there you have it: that’s a brief glimpse into the properties of Acacia concinna /  Shikakai which goes into Krya’s hair care products and certain specialised skin care products. As we have said before, Ayurvedic herbs are potent and strong, and must always be tailor made using the right anupana to suit your constitution. Do not attempt to self medicate. If you feel internal consumption of Shikakai could help you, please meet an Ayurvedic Vaidya who can diagnose your condition and prescribe Shikakai in the right dose and right format for you.

 

We do herb related posts at Krya to give you a glimpse into just how potent, powerful and good for us the plants used in Ayurveda are. We hope you found this post inspiring and useful. Do leave your thoughts and comments on this post below. If you would like us to write about a specific herb next Thursday, do leave that in your comments as well.

 

 

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Formulation Tuesdays at Krya – Krya Kids Hairwash

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Reading Time: 6 minutes

Just how bad / toxic are synthetic baby and kids products?  The short answer: very

The long answer: Do you have a lifetime to listen to our rants?

We often blog about the myriad suspect chemicals, possible carcinogens and irritant ingredients that are knowingly or unknowingly a part of the personal care pantheon designed for kids. About  10, 100 ingredients now form the master list of ingredients that go into the stuff we use to bathe, shampoo, condition and cleanse ourselves and our kids.  90% of these ingredients have never been examined, tested or even evaluated by any manner of competent authority.0. blog post - kids products

It is a matter of surprise to most people when we decode their child’s synthetic shampoo for them. Somehow, mislead by all the advertising, everyone believes that a  baby shampoo or the special kids bodywash is milder and healthier for children. This is why when many adults are advised to change their shampoo to a mild shampoo (especially if they have developed dermatitis, or if they are pregnant), they choose a baby shampoo. And most often they find that their symptoms do not subside, leading them to conclude rightly that the baby shampoo is just another shampoo and is not very mild.

1. blog post baby shampoo (1)

But, the title of my post says Formulation Tuesday, so I am going to spend sometime talking about the Krya kids hairwash and not putting down a synthetic kids shampoo, atleast for now.

So when we say something is natural, how do you as a responsible parent believe what we say? This scepticism is important to have because it helps you cut through the lies, and really evaluate whether what you are putting on your child is really natural.

For starters, we ask you to read both our back of pack and the listing of ingredients on our website. We declare 100% of our ingredients (yes, you read that right, 100%), so you have a good chance to read every ingredient and do your own research or write to us to ask for information on why a certain ingredient is used, or if you have any concerns about it.

 

Ayurvedic points to note about children’s hair, scalp and brain and general growth

The texts state that the first 7 years of a child’s life is characterized by a very high degree of mental growth and the foundation for learning, memory and intelligence and application can be cemented through proper diet, the right regimen, and the right stimulation and through proper physical care of the child’s manasa and sharira (mind and body).

3. blog post - mental growth

 

The Ayurvedic diet for a child is designed to take into account this massive growth in the brain, and to help support the child’s body through a good combination of healthy, good fat filled diet with the right medhya (intelligence)promoting herbs, tonics and supplements.

4.ayurvedic diet

As the child grows and responds to the environment, Ayurveda says that it is important to ensure there is no vata disorder arising either from improper diet, or through improper mental stimulation. To ensure vata dosha is in balance, all Ayurvedic external products will always have warming and vata controlling herbs.

The Ayurvedic nursery is therefore also advised to be warm, sunny, with pleasant and cheerful toys and a great deal of care is taken to ensure a cosy, happy and positive atmosphere to drive away any anxiety or fear from the child.

5. ayurveda and warmth

The Ayurvedic hair care routine aims to support the child’s brain development. As the brain grows and is excited by stimulus, the pitta emanating from the scalp and eyes is constantly kept in check, and medhya and rasayana herbs are used in the child’s hair oils and hair care products to support the activity of the scalp.

 

Additional points Krya takes into account when formulating a child’s hair oil and hair wash:

Research also tells us that the sebaceous glands are not as fully formed as they are during puberty in children. This means that a child’s scalp can easily go dry, and easily develop contact allergies to the chemicals used. Research also tells us that a child’s blood barrier is easily breached as their microbiome is still forming and their immune systems are still not fully developed.

We keep both these important points in mid when we formulate children’s products. We limit the herbs we use to a small number of highly researched and commonly prescribed herbs for children.

To account for the under developed sebaceous glands of children, our formulation uses a much milder level of surfactants compared to our adult formulations. We make up for this by using a higher proportion of cleansing substances that cleanse by adsorption (cleansing through lifting off oil and grease, instead of working like soap).

6. cleansing herbs

 

The impact of season on Krya’s formulations:

We are beginning production of our newest batch of the Krya kid’s hairwash, and we expect to make some changes to the formulation this time. Our summer and non summer formulations are always different, because they need to be adjusted for humidity and heat levels as per the season.

Our summer formulations are adjusted to have a higher weightage of  cleansing and cooling herbs. In this way, we assist the scalp and skin’s natural thermoregulatory function to help sweat out the toxins and excess dirt better. The herbs also help release excess pitta so our summer formulations always leave you feeling cool and refreshed.

7. blog - pitta balancing herbs

As the weather transitions to autumn and winter, there is a drop in humidity levels across India. This means that the sebum production in the scalp also drops slightly, so your hair is generally less greasy and does not get as dirty as it does in summer.

For children whose sebum production is already slightly low compared to adults, this means that the scalp can get extra dry if not careful.

A drop in humidity and natural oil levels also means that the hair has less natural oils circulating through it. So children’s hair can get frizzy or extra dry, and combing can become a nightmare if your child has long hair.

So even if you haven’t been using hair oil through the year, this is a good time of the year to add good hair oil to your child’s hair routine. The Krya kids hair oil enriched with medhya and rasayana herbs like Brahmi and Amla, is a great choice to support the scalp and the hair.

To keep the frizz low in your child’s hair, we usually up our level of conditioning herbs in the Krya kids hairwash in this season. We use nutrient and mucilage rich natural herbs like fenugreek, hibiscus flower and liquorice for the Krya kids hairwash, which are soothing for the scalp and also help keep the cuticular structure in place reducing tangles.

8. hair herbs

To conclude:

So there you have it: that is the Krya Tuesday formulation update for this week. We have discussed how we work on the Krya kids hairwash, a product that has an extremely loyal set of parent consumers.

9. kids hairwash

Our ongoing Formulation Tuesday series is designed to give you a glimpse into how we think about, research and work on our product formulations. We believe that it is imperative for companies to be transparent both about their products and their manufacturing process. This, we believe, helps consumers make better choices for themselves and be more involved in what enters their home, is applied on themselves and is released into the soil and water.

 

Information helps us all make better choices. We hope you found this post both interesting and relevant to read.

The Krya baby and kids range of products can be explored here:

 

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