THE hair in winter The structure of hair is like the scales on the skin of a fish that has overlapping scales around a central core called the cortical. Smoother overlapping more shiny and smooth the hair looks. This also leads to easy combing while a tangled or roughed-up structure makes the hair look rough and dull. Diet and lifestyle are two major factors that influence the health of the hair. Poor diet, illness and deficiencies of any particular vitamin and mineral affects the quality of hair and problems like dandruff, thinning hair, balding, premature graying etc. spoil the hair. In an individual the condition of the hair is a reflection of the complete constitution of him. If the person is not healthy then the health of the hair will be deplorable. Example: If a person has vata constitution, the hairs are dark, dry, coarse, wiry or frizzy and tend to tangle easily, are prone to dullness, split ends and dandruff. The constitution comprising of Pitta has hair that is light brown, blonde or red and tend to grow gray or thin prematurely and are fine and silky with a tendency to become oily. Hairs are thick, wavy and shiny if the composition is of kapha. Regularly cleaning and brushing the hair is very important. When the hairs are brushed, oil-producing glands in the scalp get stimulated. This natural oil makes the hair glossy and healthy. To give extra shine to the hair, after washing rinse the hair with some lemon juice mixed in a cup of warm water. Some common hair related problems are as follows: Dandruff Dry skin flaking off the scalp and itchiness is referred to as dandruff. The aggravation of Vata generally causes this dryness. Remedies Add 1 teaspoon of camphor to half a cup of coconut or neem oil. Store it in glass container. Dosage: Massage this oil into the scalp before bed. Mix 1 teaspoon of castor, mustard and coconut oil each and massage into the scalp. Mix one part of lemon juice with two parts of coconut oil. Massage into the roots of the hair regularly. Dosage: Wash with warm water after three to four hours or leave overnight. Hair loss when the amount of hair lost grows higher than the normal hair fall that takes place due to the change in environment, increasing age or growth of new hairs, it is referred to as hair loss problem that needs special care. Improper or poor diet, exposure to a lot of chemicals or cosmetics, hormonal imbalance, stress, anxiety and mental tension are some causes of hair loss. Remedies Massage the scalp gently with coconut or almond oil daily for 10 to 15 minutes. Boil neem leaves in water. Cool, strain and rinse hair with it. Increase green leafy vegetables, salads, milk, fruits and sprouts in the diet. Take more proteins, milk, buttermilk, yeast, wheat germ, soya beans, whole grains and nuts. Premature graying of hair Graying of hair is a natural process that happens with increasing age, but if the hair starts graying before the age of 35, it is termed as premature graying that occurs due to the aggravation of Pitta dosha. Excessive intake of tea, coffee, alcohol, meat, fried, oily, greasy, spicy, sour, and acidic foods increases pitta and leads to graying prematurely. Remedies Apply a paste made from 2-Tsp. henna powder, 1-tsp. curd, 1-tsp. fenugreek seed powder, 1 tbsp. coffee, 2-tbsp. mint juice and 2-tbsp. basil juice. Apply this paste to the hair for two hours. For a darker color, leave this paste in for 3 to 4 hours. Wash hair with any natural shampoo. Grate some fresh ginger. Mix with honey and place it in a jar. Eat 1 tea spoon everyday. Itchy scalp Aggravation of Pitta dosha, stress, allergic reaction to shampoo, air conditioning, pollution and central heating lead to an itchy and red scalp, with tiny pimples or sores, dull and dry hair. Remedies Add 1 teaspoon of camphor to half a cup of coconut oil and store it in glass container. Dosage: Massage this oil into the scalp before bed. Grind some jasmine roots with lime juice. Wash the hair and scalp with it. The causes for these hair conditions are as follows: Excess of Pitta dosha in the body is the chief cause of hair problems. Excessive intake of tea, coffee, alcohol, meats and excessive smoking. Eating too much fried, oily, greasy, spicy, sour and acidic foods. Intake of too many chemical medicines, low blood circulation, anemia, general weakness after disease, stress, anxiety and mental tension. Chronic diseases like typhoid fever, presence of dandruff or lice and hormonal imbalance. Treatment Use natural shampoo or soap to clean the hair. Use amla (embilica officinalis), Shikakai (Acacia concinna) for washing the hair. Enhance oiling and massaging of scalp. Use coconut oil or mustard oil at least three times in a week. Use medicated oils like 'Mahabhringraj oil', 'Amala oil' and 'Arnica oil'. Put oil on the scalp and massage gently in the roots of the hair. Maintain a regular bowel movement everyday. The diet should contain more green leafy vegetables, salads, milk, fruits and sprouts. Take more proteins, milk, buttermilk, yeast, wheat germ, soybean and vitamin A. Do regular physical exercise. A special Ayurvedic preparation made from Bhringraj (Eclipta elba), Amala, corals, iron and black sesame seeds is very useful and even stops the graying of hair. Rub the scalp vigorously after washing the hair. It increases the blood circulation, and activates the sebaceous glands. A mixture of lettuce and spinach juice is good to drink to induce hair growth. The juice of alfalfa mixed with that of carrot, and lettuce juice is also good to take. Daily application of coconut oil mixed with lime- juice on the hair is also beneficial. Applying juice of green coriander leaves on the head is also good. Washing the hair with a paste of cooked Urad dal (black beans) and fenugreek (methi) 2-3 times a week. A paste of licorice made by grinding it in milk can be applied in the bald patches. It induces hair growth. A paste of seeds of lemon and black pepper may also be applied on the bald patches.