In Ayurveda, hair fall has been addressed by various names like Khalitya or Indralupta. This disease is classified under Shiro roga. This disease is caused by the biological fire, pitta. In common language, it is known as baldness. In medical science, it is addressed by term known as alopecia. Ayurvedic texts describe another disease, known as Palitya. It is addressed as Grey-hair.
Khalitya or Indralupta (baldness or alopecia)
Aetiology: Like other skin diseases, emotional disturbances are linked with the incidence of Alopecia. It is also associated with skin diseases like ringworm, dandruff, and liver diseases. Male type baldness is known as androgenic alopecia.
Signs and symptoms: In Alopecia, there is one or more patch on the scalp region. It can be seen in beard region also. The spots are pale and shining.
Hair loss is common both in males and females as they tend to lose hair-thickness with passage of age. Inherited (also known as pattern baldness) strikes men more as compared to women. About 25% of men develop baldness around the age of 30, and about 2/3 develop by the age of 60.
Male-pattern baldness is among most common reason for hair loss in men. Male-pattern baldness is an inherited trait. Men who show baldness at an early age tend to develop alopecia more extensively. In male-pattern baldness, hair-loss typically results in a receding hair line and baldness on the top of the head. Women are prone to develop female-pattern baldness. In this form of hair loss, the hair becomes thin over the entire scalp.
The pitta (bhrajaka pitta) situated in the scalp region gets vitiated. Pitta in the company of vitiated vata, leads to withering or dislodgement of the hair from the roots. Further to this, vitiated sleshma / kapha along with rakta will cover and causes obstruction in root-hairs, resulting in baldness in that place.
Types of alopecia as per modern science
- Hereditary thinning or baldness: This is also known as androgenetic alopecia. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss. It strikes men and women. It is estimated that 80 million people in America have androgenetic alopecia. When men develop androgenetic alopecia, they develop a receding hairline. Sometimes it is seen in patches, particularly on the top of the head. In comparison, women keep their hairline. Thinning of the hairs is the noticeable feature. The first sign of hair loss for many women is a widening parting. In exceptional cases, men may notice thinning of hair. Similarly, in some cases, women can develop bald-patches. The reasons largely remain unknown.
- Alopecia areata: It is believed to be auto-immune disease. In this case, the body attacks its own hair. This results in smooth, round patches of hair loss on the scalp and other areas of the body. Majority of people with this type have robust health. Most people see their hair re-grow.
- Cicatricial (scarring) alopecia: Cicatricial alopecia is a rare disease. Cicatricial alopecia destroys the hair-follicles. Scarred tissue formation occurs where the follicles once were present; as a result there is no hair re-growth.
Types of alopecia as per Ayurveda
Khalitya is considered to a Pitta predominant tridoshaja vyadhi (all three humours are vitiated in this disease). Depending on the predominance of the humour, khalitya is divided into three types.
- Vata Khalitya: In Vata Khalitya, scalp appears as if it has developed burns and it becomes black and red.
- Pitta Khalitya: In Vata Khalitya the colour of scalp appears as yellow, blue and green. The scalp is surrounded by network of veins. Profuse sweat all over the scalp is the characteristic feature.
- Kapha Khalitya: In Kapha Khalitya, the colour of the scalp is similar to the colour of the skin but they are thick and here it is Ghana and unctuous in appearance. The hair colour tends towards whitish.
- Sannipata or Tridoshaja Khalitya: In Sannipata or Tridoshaja Khalitya, characteristic of all the three humours are apparent.
Palitya (Grey hair)
Aetiology: The exact cause of the condition is not known. It is met in the age group of 35-60 years. Emotional disturbances, use of electric dyers and hair dyes are also linked with the incidence of grey hair. Grey hairs can be seen in patients having prolonged history of common cold or sinusitis.
Drugs that Can Cause Hairloss
- Anabolic steroids, for example, decadurabolin.
- Birth control pills.
- Blood thinners like clopidogrel.
- High-doses of retinols or vitamin A.
- Antiarthritic, antidepressants, uricosuric agents and antihypertensive.
- Bhringraja (Eclipta alba) is the drug of choice. One teaspoonful (5g) of the powdered drug, twice a day, is given with water. It is available with Ayurvedic vendors.
- Bhringraja taila (oil prepared by boiling fresh herbs in tila oil and then straining) is applied on the patches, twice a day for three months. A clinical study reported efficacy of different procedures of nasya with bhringaraja taila in khalitya.
- Oil prepared from Chameli or Jati, Kaner, Chitraka and Karanja is another remedy for alopecia.
- In grey-hair, the main aim of the treatment is to cure the underlying cause. Remedies mentioned under alopecia are helpful in grey hair. Protein rich diet like soybean, pulses, and cheese.
- Romasanjanana lepa is effective in regeneration of hair in alopecia. Apply it to scalp as per directions of expert Ayurvedic physician.
- Jayapal (Croton tiglium) is effective in early stages of alopecia.
Bhadlikar, Deodatta Sitaram, K.S. Kulkarni and G.S. Lavekar. Efficacy of romasanjanana lepa in regeneration of hair in `indralupta’ (alopecia). Sachitra Ayurved 1997; 49:10, 778-784.
Tankan, Rajani, Vasant Patil, Prasanna Aithal. Clinical study on different procedures of nasya with bhringaraja taila in khalitya (alopecia). Journal of Ayurveda and Holistic Medicine 2014; 2, 4, 1-11.
Agarwal, S. and S.S. Gupta. Effect of Croton tiglium in alopecia areata. Indian Journal of Pharmacology 1978;(Suppl.) 10, 43.
Agarwal, S., P.S. Deshpande, S. Shinde and S.S. Gupta. Clinical trial of Croton tiglium and its alkaloid in alopecia areata. Indian Journal of Pharmacology 1981;13, 62
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