Shirodhara is one of the oil treatments originating from Kerala Panchakarma. It has long been conducted to combat insomnia, headache, anxiety neurosis, depression, schizophrenia, motor-neuron disease, hypertension, and several kinds of psychosis. In Sanskrit, shiro means head and dhara means dripping; shirodhara is the process of dripping warm herbal oil on the forehead for 45 minutes. There are several kinds of dhara techniques, depending on the medium for dripping. For example, takra dhara uses takra that is prepared with the curd of cow’s milk. Kshira dhara uses cow’s milk mixed with some medicinal herbs such as Sida cordifolia or Asparagus rasemosus. Taila dhara uses medicated oil mixed with cow’s milk, water, herbs, and sesame oil.
Shirodhara is one of the characteristic healing techniques of Ayurveda, however, few reports on the physio-psychological changes during shirodhara have been reported, also, the psychological effects of shirodhara have not yet been referred to as altered states of consciousness. One of the critical problems in the study of physiotherapy of Oriental medicine is not being able to use the same reproducible stimulation, especially in Ayurvedic oil treatments. To address this problem, we developed a healing robot which conducts shirodhara in a computerised reproducible manner.
There have been many studies about the physio-psychological changes during taila dhara conducted by the healing robot. These studies estimated the psychological experiences during taila dhara by psychometric studies of anxiety and altered states of consciousness (ASC). Usually in Oriental medicine, the effects on practitioners as well as clients are included as important factors for the treatments. Therefore, we have also checked the physiological changes of the practitioners themselves in this study.
We undertook a number of different studies to assess the impact of Shirodhara on the client’s state of well being and to assess factors in the therapy that altered the client’s state.