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Shira means head and ‘basti’ means pooling of medicated oils and or medicated liquids on the head. Thus Shiro-basti means pooling the liquid medicines, especially herbal oils and or ghee in a chamber or compartment constructed over the head.
It is an effective therapy from Ayurveda for nervous system disorders. In this therapy, warm medicated oil is retained over the head for a certain amount of time. Head is an important organ of our body. The whole administrative setup is located within this head. All the activities of our living are governed from here. Everyone needs to keep the head strong and healthy for the entire system to be fit and healthy. By providing the lubrication to the roots of body, it enhances the life span of each and every cell, regulates metabolism, and keeps us fit healthy and immune.
Shiro Basti is one of the treatments of Ayurveda which serves both purposes i.e. curing the ailments and preventing the impending diseases.
Ayurveda considers the human body as an inverted tree wherein the roots are at the top and the branches pointing downwards. If the human body is considered to be a tree – The head of the human body will be considered to be the roots of this tree,
The central portion of the body made up of thorax and abdomen is said to be the trunk of this tree and The limbs (upper and lower) are considered to be the branches of this tree.
Just like the roots nurture and controls all the activities and well being of the tree, the head is the operational centre of the entire body. The head comprises of all the components and machinery to control the entire body mechanics and dynamics.
Head is an abode of the remote control of the entire body – ‘The Brain and nerves’ and all the components which keep us attached and attracted to this material world – ‘The Sense Organs’. For these reasons, the head is called as ‘Uttamanga’ – ‘The best organ of the lot in the body’.
The head is made up of brain and sense organs which manipulates the whole body and mind functions and keep us healthy when they are in a frame of well being. Head thus forms a control station for all our life activities. When we take care of the control station properly, the whole body factory will function smoothly.
On the other hand, to get rid of any body or mind related illness we need to go back to the control station (uttamanga) called head and address it with suitable treatments and medications.
This also gives us an impression that the most ancient science called Ayurveda very well knew that most of our diseases occur due to disturbed mind or exacerbated by a disturbed mind. Healing the body or mind alone is not a comprehensive medical approach. They should be handled as a single entity.
Siro-basti starts with the application of warm herbal oil all over the body. This nourishes the nerve endings and prepares the body for the main treatment. Then a cylindrical shaped leather cap of about ten inches height and both ends open is fitted around the patients head. Certain mixture of the lukewarm herbal oil which is prescribed by the Ayurveda Physician according to the individual body type is poured into it. Generally the oil is retained on the head for about 30 to 45 minutes. Timing and duration of the treatment varies according to the condition of the patient and type of disease. Usually, the doctor prescribes a 7 or 14 day treatment course.
Shiro-basti therapy is prescribed for prevention of many psychosomatic disorders as well to cure the disorders. It is useful in prevention and cure of the disorders especially of body, mind and sense organs.
1. Diseases of Vata origin, mainly degenerative diseases
2. Diseases of Pitta origin, mainly inflammatory diseases
3. Facial paralysis, Hemiplegia, paralysis
5. Sleeplessness, Tiredness, fatigue
6. Dryness of nostrils, mouth, throat and scalp
7. Different types of headaches and diseases pertaining to head
8. Burning sensation of head
9. Itching in the scalp etc.
10. Eye diseases
11. Diseases of cranial nerves
12. Hair fall, Premature greying of hairs, Dandruff
13. Helpful to improve memory and vision
14. Urinary disorders
15. Boils wounds or ulcers in the head
16. Low immunity
17. Cracks and fissures in the hands (palm) and foot (sole)
18. Laxity and loss of integrity of joints (fragile joints)
19. Heart diseases
20. Sluggish metabolism
21. Tastelessness / Anorexia
23. Loss of memory / Alzheimer’s disease
24. Diabetic neuropathy
26. Used to treat many diseases occurring due to damage to the head and its components either from exterior injuries or due to morbid Doshas from within.