Henna. Amla. Brahmi. Neem. These are just a few ingredients you may here tossed around natural hair boards by those who practice Ayurveda. Ayurveda is not a cult or religion, but rather the a belief of using traditional/alternative medicine to achieve health. Like Veganism it is simply a lifestyle choice. But just like you can decide to have a meat-less dairy-free lunch you can dabble in Ayurveda and incorporate whatever practices you find beneficial. In regards to hair care Ayurveda includes the use of natural herbs, oils and roots to promote hair health, wellness and cure common ailments such as dandruff, hair loss, thinning, etc.
Ayurveda originated in South Asia (India, China, & Nepal) so to find common products you need only take a trip to your local Indian or Asian Grocer. Patel Brothers is a national chain of Indian grocery stores and can be found in just about everywhere across the US. While the stores are sort of small they are are stacked with all sorts of health and beauty ‘vedic treatments.
- Henna used to strengthen the hair but is also a natural hair stain (red)
- Amla used to contol shedding and hair loss
- Brahmi used to treat dandruff or itchy scalp
- Neem used to control dryness or itchy scalp (also a natural bug repellent)
- Indigo used to strengthen or thicken the hair but is also a natural stain (black)
- Tulsi used to soothe and cure scalp disorders
- Kewra Water used to soothe and cleanse irritated scalp (similar to rose water)
You can buy the herbs in powder form mixing them with just plain water, oils, or even coconut milk to make a hair paste. You can also add them to conditioners, make a tea rinse or a hair spritz. There is a great post on Lola’s Green Hair and Natural Review concerning the use of ‘vedic treatments.
However, buyer beware because all things that glitter are not gold! There are also products carried in Patel Brothers that are sub-standard. So make sure you are careful to read the ingredients. If you see hair oil with mineral oil as the first ingredient I would avoid it. There are also imitation henna, indigo, and other powders so make sure you research how to tell the real from the fake.
I am simply a ‘vedic dabbler. I done a henna gloss to color and strengthen my hair, cassia paste to bring life back to my daughter’s hair. On this trip to Patel Brothers I picked up some Vatika oil which is a coconut based oil with a lot of neem in it. It is said to nourish the hair and scalp and also help with itching especially for those with locs. While I have yet to use it on my hair I did use it on my beagle to help repel bugs as he often has allergic reactions in the summer to bites and stings. It made his coat shiny and so far has not suffered any rashes so I say its working. I have rubbed a little on my arms and legs before going on an evening run and it has helped repel the insects.
So don’t be vexed by ‘vedic treatments, start simple and experiment. When you find something that works for you be sure to share it here with us.