Ayurvedic forehead oil casting: Shirodhara


The term Shirodhara is derived from the Sanskrit words “shiro” (the forehead) and “dhara” (the river). In this more than 5,000-year-old Ayurvedic treatment method, a continuous stream of herbs mixed with warmed-up heated oil (“thalia”) flows down the patient’s forehead.

Background: What is Shirodhara used for?

Shirodhara is a proven method against stress and overwork. The approximately 45-minute treatment soothes the nerves, cleanses the mind, relieves tension and allows the body and mind to relax deeply. In this way, fatigue, sleep disorders, nervousness or chronic headaches can be resolved.

From the Ayurvedic point of view, this particular effect of Shirodhara is that the treatment can bring the Doshas Vata and Pitta back into balance:

Some typical features of a Vata imbalance are fear, insecurity, worry and racing thoughts.

Some characteristics of a Pitta imbalance are anger, irritability, frustration or inclination to judgment.

Due to the nature of the treatment and the unique composition of the oil, the oiling of the forehead has a soothing, nourishing and pacifying effect. Through this, the doshas Vata and Pitta can regain their balance and alleviate or even eliminate the symptoms of imbalance.

Tip: Ask your Ayurveda expert about your personal oil combination for Shirodhara.

Studies prove the effect of Shirodhara

In recent years, numerous studies on Shirodhara and the effect of the treatment have been carried out. An example of this is the 2013 study “Shirodhara: A psychophysiological profile in healthy volunteers” (German: “Shirodhara: A psychophysiological profile of healthy subjects”).

For the implementation, 16 healthy subjects were selected. Modern medical diagnostic techniques (including ECG, EEG) were used to measure the effect of Shirodhara on the body and mind.

The participants of the study received first an “Abhyanga massage” (a full body oil massage) followed by a Shirodhara treatment.

The results of the study confirmed what the Ayurvedic tradition had long known.

The Shirodhara treatment has in the study participants:

  • The overall mood improves
  • The stress level lowered sharply
  • The respiratory rate is lowered
  • Reduces blood pressure and heart rate
  • The concluding conclusion of the study described that a state of attentive calm had returned to the participants. This was compared to the state of relaxation during meditation.

Shirodhara was credited with a clear “clinical benefit”. According to the results of the study, the treatment can alleviate anxiety neurosis, hypertension and high stress.

Conclusion: When should Shirodhara be used and what are the advantages of the treatment?

We have summarised below a small overview.

Shirodhara may have a soothing effect on the following symptoms:

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Insomnia
  • Psoriasis
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic headaches and migraines
  • Tinnitus and hearing loss

The effect of Shirodhara:

  • The stabilisation of the nervous system
  • Improvement of sleep disorders
  • Reduction of a migraine
  • Supports mental focus and concentration
  • Lowers the blood pressure
  • Reduces hair loss and fatigue
  • Reduces stress

So Shirodhara offers many benefits to our health. For an optimal result, it is particularly important that the treatment is performed by an experienced Ayurveda therapist. Only he can – taking into account the overall condition of the patient – select the right oils and the corresponding intensity and duration of treatment.

In a quiet environment and with complementary treatments (such as an Abhyanga massage), we can relax and recharge our batteries.

Contraindications: In which cases should Shirodhara not be used?

There are also a few cases where forehead oil pouring should not be used. This applies to:

  • Aversion to oils
  • Women who are in the last third of the pregnancy. Prolonged lying on the back can be a burden on the body in this phase.
  • Throughout the menstrual cycle.
  • Brain tumours, recent neck injuries, abrasions or cuts in the head region, fever and colds, acute illness, nausea, vomiting, severe weakness, fatigue, dizziness, fainting or spontaneous sweating.
  • Also: in case of rashes or sunburn on the forehead or the head.

A Shirodhara application can be enjoyed alone or in combination with an Abhyanga (full body oil massage). In addition, Shirodhara can also be integrated into Ayurvedic detox programs (Panchakarma) or in Ayurvedic wellness packages.

Athena Theel

Athena studies Chinese & Economics at the University of Cologne. Having spent many years in China and Japan, she has developed an interest in holistic medicine. Based on her interest, Athena joined Sri Sri Tattva as a content writer, social media manager and translator.
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