Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of medicine originating in India. Ayurvedic health and beauty treatment is based on balance, both within the body and with the natural environment. Ayurveda practitioners view hair as an outward expression of inner health, so ayurvedic tips for growing long, strong, luxuriant hair include topical hair and scalp treatments as well as diet and nutrition recommendations.
Massaging the scalp regularly with herb-infused oil is an ayurvedic key to luxuriant hair growth. Scalp massage increases blood flow and nourishment to hair follicles, according to Dr. Partap Chuahan, health director of Jiva, a nonprofit organization working to apply the Vedic scriptures to the fields of health, education and culture. Massaging with warm coconut oil infused with Amla, the Indian gooseberry, will enrich hair growth, advises Dr. Chuahan. Additional ayurvedic herbs that have been laboratory tested to demonstrate hair growth in topical applications include Hedychium spicatum, or Indian ginger; Hemidesmus indicus, or Indian sarsparilla; Nardostachys jatamaansi, or Indian spikenard; and Saussurea lappa, or Costus root, reports Sukh Dev of the B.R.A. Center for Biomedical Research of Delhi, India, in the October 1999 edition of the journal "Environmental Health Perspectives."
Following a balanced, nutritious diet is a core ayurvedic principle. Eating a mix of wholesome, natural foods promotes the growth and strength of health hair, advises Shreelata Suresh, a San Francisco-based yoga instructor and ayurvedic practitioner. Dark, leafy, green vegetables, fresh fruits and whole grains provide a range of nutrients that lead to a healthy scalp and hair follicles. Whole milk and yogurt are highly recommended for hair growth in ayurvedic practice. Eating fresh coconut and drinking coconut milk help to protect hair against breakage, encouraging long, strong hair growth. Indian gooseberry, also used in scalp massage, is one of the "keshya rasayanas" or ayurvedic herbs revered for hair health; it can be consumed as fresh fruit or taken in a powdered supplement to promote hair growth.
Stress and anxiety have a negative effect on hair health and growth, according to Dr. Partap Chuahan. Ayurveda emphasizes connections, and if you are angry or stressed out when preparing or eating a meal, your body will not realize the full benefit of its nutritional content -- your hair as well as the rest of your body will not be at its best health or appearance. Eat the heaviest foods of the day at lunchtime, recommends Shreelata Suresh, as ayurveda practices indicate that this is the time of day that digestive powers are at their highest. Be happy, relaxed and attentive to the smell, feel and taste of the foods you are consuming to ensure that your body and your hair get the most out of your meal. Ayurvedic practice advises that healthy hair will grow from a well-nourished, relaxed and healthy body.