We have been deluged with consultation requests this past month at Krya. Our consultations usually take us a while as we ask for extensive information on diet, lifestyle, current hair and skin regimen, etc. Our recommendations are sent on the basis of the information received and each one is tailor-made and unique. In the last month, I have sent out recommendations as varied as waking up at 5:30 am every day, to walking in the moonlight in the terrace on full moon day, and in one case, doing evening worship of their favourite deity (Ishta devata) every evening with a sesame oil based lamp.
All of our recommendations and insights come from the first principles followed in Ayurveda. While different Acharyas of the Brihat and Laghu trayi series of textbooks have varying nuances in their use of herbs to treat dosha aggravation, they concur on the symptoms of how dosha aggravation can affect skin and hair.
Sometimes the symptoms we see today are not described in the Ayurvedic texts. For example, excessive shampooing with alternative excessive sebaceous secretion and scalp dryness and flaking is a problem unique to the last 10 years in India. This can be further aggravated by over use of the air conditioner, poor diet, poor sleep and excessive travel in some cases to lead to a vata like dryness of hair and scalp.
Alternatively in a pitta dominated prakriti, excessive shampooing can set up an aggressive increase in sebum secretion – this usually necessitates further washing, may be accompanied with skin disorders like acne and in severe cases fungal dandruff.
To understand the effect on the body with these new age problems, we first understand the effects of the chemicals used in synthetic shampoos and their current, documented consequences. We then apply this into the Ayurvedic framework and understand how the doshas are pulled out of balance with our new habits and come back with a series of recommendations.
Our series on hair loss starts today with the first kind of hair loss we see at Krya, related to aggravated pitta dosha and how Ayurveda diagnoses the cause and treats it.
Pitta aggravated hair loss and damage – hair thinning, premature greying and male pattern baldness
The Ayurvedic texts state that Pitta dosha is what provides intelligence, focus, leadership traits and the ability to get things done. This dosha is dominated by Fire / Agni, and without adequate amounts of this dosha, you will have no appetite and digestion, the key to absorbing nutrients will not take place. Pitta dosha is also responsible for imparting colour, complexion to the body and is the key dosha behind blood production.
However, when in excess, unchecked Pitta dosha can burn vision, increase anger and sharpness, can push the focus from safe to dangerous levels, and most pertinently for this blog post, turn hair grey , cause hair thinning, and aggravate premature balding and androgenic pattern baldness.
Pitta can be aggravated due to 2 reasons: our nature and basic constitution is tending towards Pitta dosha, or we are constantly putting ourselves in situations or eating foods that are jacking up our natural pitta levels in the body.
Pitta nature: some clues
In cases of aggravated Pitta dosha, we look for a tendency towards decisiveness, a love for control, a need for getting things done completely, discomfort around ambiguity and many other signs that point to classic A type personalities. Pitta prakritis typically have reddish hues in their skin and hair. They are extremely uncomfortable in high heat, often sweating profusely, skin flushing quickly in the sun, and are prone to diarrhea, and other pitta related disorders.
These people will typically have noticeably warm skin – we often see instances where they leave a heat imprint on the chair they are sitting (t will feel hot or warm to touch if they have left the chair), are quick to anger and stress, and describe themselves as being “full of heat”.
Pitta prakritis also gravitate towards pitta aggravating food – they love sour, salty and spicy foods like curd, tamarind, mangoes, pickles, etc. Their tolerance of these foods is much higher than others – but as the dosha builds unchecked, they can also develop an abnormal sensitivity to these foods, while continuing to crave them.
Pitta prakritis tend to have fine hair with abundant oil production in their scalp and skin. The hair tends towards brown red tones and the strands are usually finer and not that thick. The skin has a noticeable amount of reddish tones – these are people who will have visible blushes and will burn easily in the sun.
Pitta aggravation usually results in premature greying, thinning of hair and male pattern baldness. As pitta prakriti hair is already fine and thinning, when the dosha is aggravated, the scalp becomes easily visible as the fineness of hair no longer covers the hair completely.
Situations / diets when Pitta dosha can get aggravated even if your basic nature does not have dominant Pitta prakriti
Eating a high dose of pitta aggravating foods, especially if this is your go-to comfort food can push pitta very quickly out of control. For example, over-eating certain South Indian preparations like vathakuzhambu, tamarind based rasams, curd rice, pickles, over dependence on fermented foods like idli, dosa, can all push pitta dosha out of balance.
In one instance we found that one of our consumers who was displaying pitta aggravated hairfall and greying had been eating a single item of breakfast every single day for a year out of convenience – either idli or dosa everyday – this would have definitely pushed her pitta dosha out of balance.
An increase in stress levels can also trigger your Pitta dosha – this is the dosha that helps you in the classic flight or fight situation – this is the dosha that will help you analyse the situation and decide your response. So if your stress levels are out of control, your pitta dosha will usually get aggravated.
An elevation at work, even if at a creative / satisfying job can mean greater levels of responsibility both for P&L and people – this usually demands that Pitta dosha comes to the party and give you necessary characteristics to cope with the situation. At stressful times, this can aggravate this dosha. This does not mean that you should expect to grey or go bald the minute you receive a promotion. It means that you should recognise the greater demands on your body with a promotion and take adequate care to provide your body with the right foundation to handle this increased stress.
Krya recommendations for Pitta aggravation:
Ayurveda teaches us that Pitta has 2 primary seats: the stomach and the head, so all Krya recommendations to bring aggravated Pitta under control concentrates on these 2 areas.
In order to harness the digestive Agni and ensure it is kept in balance, we advice the reduction of Pitta aggravating foods that can cause Agni to rage beyond control. We also add pitta reducing foods which are opposite in nature to Pitta to bring aggravated Pitta under balance: these include foods like coconut, bitters like bitter gourd, ghee which is tridoshic, Mung dal which is cooling and balancing in the stomach, and properly boiled milk which is cooling and nourishing to all dhatus.
Eating a steady quantity of food and on time is especially important in aggravated pitta – when Agni is very high and is not given food on time, it can rampage through the body and consume the dhatus leading to conditions like gastric ulcers. Therefore eating at the same time everyday nod eating a sufficient quantity of the right food is very important.
To physically cool the pitta generated by the activity of the eyes and the brain, we advise application of some of our Pitta balancing hair oils that have been formulated with classic pitta balancing herbs like Amla, Bhringaraj, etc.
We also advise a regular abhyanga to bring down Pitta throughout the body. This helps dislodge excess pitta through the body and removes it through Sweda (sweat) and secretions from the eyes. It is extremely important during this abhyanga to ensure you do not sleep in the afternoon. This halts the removal of Pitta through the eyes, and Pitta can severely increase in the eyes leading to vision impairment.
Application of Herb based Kajal / Anjana
Application of anjana, or herb based Kajal (collyrium) is also very useful in aggravated Pitta. The Ayurvedic texts advice that Anjana should made from important herbs like Daruharidra, oils like castor oil and ghee. Please avoid all lead and petroleum based synthetic eye liners / fake kajals as these are a colossal waste of your time.
The eyes are a specially designed organ system. Pitta dosha allows the vision to be focussed and helps the brain process the impulses seen and received by the eyes. But the entire organ itself is made up of fatty deposits which are important for the fine capillaries and other blood vessels that are present in the eyes.
Pitta cannot be allowed to increase unchecked in the eyes as it will consume these fat deposits and make the eye unstable and impair vision. This is why Ayurveda is so particular about eye care.
Pitta has to be continuously balanced in the brain and eye by using cooling oils on your scalp. The eye is to be washed frequently with cool water to remove excess pitta through the water. Anjana application helps both cool the eyes and also removes dirt that can build up in the fatty layer of the eye. This dirt is removed by use of herbs like Daruharidra which literally flushes dirt out through tear secretions from the eyes.
Harnessing pitta dosha through colours and clothing
Ayurveda also uses colour therapy and herbs to control aggravated doshas. Pitta dominant prakritis are asked to avoid wearing fire colours (red, orange) in general and use cooling pastel shades. At Krya, we advise wearing white dominated clothing in the evening when you have come back from work.
Similarly, if the linen in your home (curtains, upholstery) is in cool pastel shades, it helps balancing pitta aggravation. This is especially true in rooms where you rest and sleep in.
Pitta prakritis also have a tendency to go overboard with stress and are unable to switch off. So at Krya, we advise adopting phone / laptop / work cut off time. We also advise taking up of a non work related hobby which channels that pitta dominant focus into another, unrelated pleasurable activity – vegetable gardening is something we have seen brings a lot of pleasure and helps balancing pitta dosha.
Silver, Milk, ghee and Moonlight are 4 naturally available cooling substances (and phenomena of nature) that are very useful for balancing pitta aggravation. So we advise sitting in moonlight on full moon nights to absorb the moon’s rays. Milk (when prepared properly) is very useful in cooling pitta and nourishing dhatus as is ghee.
Silver is a very good metal for Pitta aggravated prakritis – eating out of a small silver bowl / plate can help transfer the cooling properties of silver into your body and is a very strong traditional practice as well. Wearing silver, like traditionally silver anklets and toe rings were worn, helps transfer some of these cooling properties to your body. Please note that silver is traditionally worn only below the waist and gold is worn above the waist.
Our next few posts will describe the five other causes of hair fall as well. Through these, you should be able to gain an insight into your skin and hair as well, and help your body regain its balance and health.
4 critical practices that Krya recommends to keep pitta dosha in check:
- Daily Hair oiling – if your situation is very stressful or if your pitta is already out of control, daily hair oiling can keep you cool. Apply ¼ – ½ teaspoon of the Krya hair oil and massage well on scalp. Do not wash off. We have used this very successfully in the case of consumers whose job demands extreme travel in the sun, people in high stress, and pitta aggravation brought on by improper diet. The reduction in excess pitta is quite instant and dramatic.
- Addition of cow ghee to the diet: eat atleast 1 teaspoon of melted cow ghee per meal every day, especially in high stress times. Cow ghee is good in beneficial fats and especially helps you think and focus well in stressful times.
- Drastically cut down on sour and spicy food especially if your pitta is already aggravated- we recommend a total ban on sour foods like tamarind, tomatoes, curd, mangoes and amchur and completely eliminating red and green chillies and pickles from your diet. Commercial Chinese food is also a culprit in pitta aggravation – ajinomoto is both processed and commercial Chinese food uses a high amount of acidic foods. Cutting down these foods drastically helps slow down premature greying . You will notice a difference in body heat and hair strength within a month.
- Head to toe Abhyanga in the first hour of sunrise with warm oil . You will notice the greatest benefits if you combine Keshya abhyanga along with full body abhyanga . This abhyanga is best done as close to sunrise as possible as this gives the body the entire day to release excess pitta. Ensure that you do not strain digestive system on this day with heavy food as this can undo the benefits of the abhyanga.
Krya products recommended for Pitta aggravated hair fall like hair thinning, fineness, premature greying, and related hair loss:
- Krya Classic Hair system (consists of an oil, wash and hair mask) – the entire system is formulated using classic pitta balancing herbs like Amla, Bhringaraj, Methi, Hibiscus flower, etc.
- The Krya Classic hair oil noticeably brings down aggravated Pitta and has been rated by our consumers very highly to improve hair growth and hair strength.
- The Krya Classic hairwash gently cleanses without stripping hair of natural sebum.
- The Krya Classic hair mask is designed for use once a week – it uses pitta balancing and hair growth promoting herbs to help the health of your hair and scalp
- The Krya Abhyanga system for Men and Women (consists of the Krya Abhyanga oil and either a Women’s ubtan or a Men’s ubtan. ) The system is designed to balance aggravated vata and pitta dosha. Most urban dwellers additionally have aggravated vata dosha due to their long commutes, nature of work, uncertain eating timings, etc. This together pushes vata dosha along with pitta dosha out of balance
- The Krya Abhyanga skin oil with Vacha and Ashwagandha noticeably brings down aggravated vata and pitta. Users report seeing a reduction in vata related aches and pains and balancing of excess pitta through the body with regular use.
- The Krya Abhyanga bath powder for Women with Lotus Leaf and Lodhra – formulated to cleanse skin after an abhyanga. Helps remove excess oil, dead cells, debris for the skin without stripping it of moisture. Prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors as a natural soap substitute.
- The Krya Abhyanga bath powder for Men with Vetiver & Van Tulsi – formulated to cleanse skin after an abhyanga. Helps remove excess oil, dead cells, debris for the skin without stripping it of moisture.