Shikakai, known by the vernacular names Shika in Tamil, Seekaaya in Telugu and Soap pod in English is a potent ayurvedic remedy for healthy, long hair.
This traditional herb which goes by the scientific name Acacia concinna is a climbing shrub with oblong-shaped pods of dark brown colour, bipinnate leaves and pink flowers. It is mostly found in the tropical forests of the Indian subcontinent.
Commonly termed as the ‘hair-fruit’, it promotes hair growth, reduces hair fall, controls dandruff and relieves skin ailments. From the ancient time, these soap pods being natural surfactant are being used for cleansing the scalp, strengthening the hair from roots, providing relief from scaling and also removing itching, dryness, greasiness and scaling of the scalp.
Apart from being a magical remedy for hair, ayurveda vouches for its usefulness in treating a host of ailments including swelling. Abdominal distension, jaundice, fever, skin problems, piles, ascites, herpes, intestinal worm infestation etc.
Traditional Benefits Of Shikakai For Hair
Imparts Shine and Softness To Hair:
The essential nutrients and natural ingredients present in Shikakai is extremely beneficial in improving the texture of hair in winter. Being a natural surfactant, it cleanses the hair follicles, removes greasiness and makes the hair softer and shinier.
Boil 2-3 tbsp of shikakai powder in 2 cups of water, to make a semi-liquid paste. Add some more water and honey. Apply this paste and rinse your hair with water. Try this remedy twice a week to flaunt gorgeous shiny hair.
Removes Hair Lice and Dandruff:
Much to our respite, the potent antifungal and anti-microbial property of Shikakai play a key role in removing dandruff and lice from the scalp and hair respectively. It effectively removes dandruff but does not strip away the essential oils from the scalp, hence preventing dry scalp problems which ultimately causes flaking and dandruff. So, bid goodbye to the stubborn white flakes on your scalp and shoulders and also get relief from the constant itching and clumsiness due to hair lice.
Boil shikakai pods in water. Filter and squeeze half a lemon in it. Wash your hair regularly with this water to get relief from dandruff and lice.
Provides Stronger and Thicker Hair:
All of us wish to have a healthy, lustrous and strong mane. The active ingredients of shikakai provide the essential oils and vitamins necessary for hair growth. It holds high significance in regaining the lustre and length of hair. It strengthens the hair from roots, prevents split ends, breakage and hair fall.
Make a paste of shikakai powder with fresh yoghurt and apply to your hair and scalp. Allow it to remain for 20-30 minutes and rinse with cold water. Regular usage provides stronger and thicker mane.
Shikakai has a calming and soothing effect due to its potent medicinal properties. Unlike chemical shampoos, which may cause irritation on the inflamed or sensitive scalp, Shikakai provides a cooling effect and subdues the pain.
Apply a paste of slightly air-roasted Shikakai powder, neem leaves and turmeric on cuts, wounds, scratches or throbbing headache to get relief from inflammation and pain.
Slows Down Greying:
Grey hairs are quite depressing as it gives away your age and these days, many youngsters are suffering from premature greying. Shikakai not only prevents premature greying but also retains the natural youthfulness of black hair.
Apply a hair pack containing shikakai, amla powder and soap nut on your hair once a week to get marked results.
Additional Benefits Of Using Shikakai
Paired with potent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, shikakai provides a soothing and calming solution for the inflamed infected scalp. By maintaining the optimum pH level of the scalp, it restores the health of the hair and provides an infection-free scalp for proper hair growth.
Restrains Hair Loss
Quite often, just like plugged skin pores, the pores in the scalp also get blocked due to deposition of grime, oil and dust particles. This restricts smooth blood circulation in the scalp which makes the hair weak and causes it to fall off. Shikakai is the absolute solution for hair lovers to curb hair fall. By preventing infections, lice, dandruff, follicle clogging, and itching, Shikakai restores the scalp health and boosts hair growth.
Nourishes Hair Follicles
The abundance of antioxidants and Vitamin C in the humble soap nut powder boosts collagen production in the scalp. It also prevents free radical damage thus preventing greying of hair and enhancing effective growth of hair.
Cleanses Hair And Scalp
Being a natural cleanser, Shikakai or soap nut cleanses the scalp and hair without stripping away the natural oils. The conditioning property not only keeps the hair soft and silky but also removes unwanted soggy smell from hair.
Medicinal Remedies Of Shikakai:
The suppository and purgative nature of the Shikakai pods are extremely beneficial in treating constipation and relieving from indigestion, abdominal cramps and flatulence. It improves the assimilation of food and facilitates the movement of faeces through the body.
Deseed the Shikakai pod. Immerse it in water, filter and drink regularly to get relief from constipation.
Cures Gum Infections:
The anti-bacterial nature of Shikakai holds high significance in preventing tooth and gum infections. It also prevents tooth decay and plaque build-up and cures gum problems like gingivitis.
Prepare a mouth wash by boiling 3 tbsp of Shikakai in water. Gargle regularly with this solution to get relief from tooth and gum inflammation.
Ayurveda vouches by the effectiveness of this potent herb in treating jaundice. It acts as a liver stimulant and normalises bile secretion.
Wash and clean few shikakai leaves. Make a chutney by grinding 6-7 shikakai leaves with 3 tbsp black pepper and 1 tbsp tamarind pulp and salt as per taste. Eat this pickle twice a day to alleviate jaundice.
Being a potent anti-bacterial, shikakai is quite effective in treating various skin infections like scabies and also reduces signs of ageing like wrinkles and fine lines.
Mix 1-2 tbsp shikakai powder with 1 tbsp each of cream, almond powder, honey and turmeric. Scrub your face using this mixture every alternate day to get a glowing younger-looking skin.
Shikakai Effect On Doshas:
The hard brown Shikakai fruits, commonly called soap pods, portray an intrinsically Tikta Rasa i.e. bitter taste and Katu Vipaka i.e. pungent flavour upon digestion. For this reason, ayurvedic experts advise ingesting minute amounts of Shikakai powder along with honey or jaggery diluted in warm water, for the purpose of treating stomach infections, jaundice and oral health problems.
Shikakai possesses remarkable cooling traits i.e. Sheeta Virya and is hence rather valuable in resolving hair and scalp issues. Being light and easy to digest i.e. Laghu Guna, Shikakai holds Vatala capabilities, meaning the potential to balance Vata dosha in the body and restore tridoshic harmony of Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
When applied on hair and skin regularly, Shikakai does not usually trigger any noticeable health repercussions. However, for individual prone to allergies and having sensitive skin on the scalp and face, it is recommended to seek the advice of a dermatologist prior to topical application of Shikakai powders and products.
Ingesting Shikakai powder in small doses as instructed by the doctor generally does not induce any harmful side effects. If consumed in very high doses, Shikakai powder prompts nausea, loose stools and ulcers, irritation in the walls of the stomach and intestines. It is hence advised to always consult with a certified ayurvedic practitioner before using Shikakai for internal consumption purposes.
A traditional remedy to all your hair woes, this potent herb is not only beneficial for your hair and skin but also holds high significance in treating a host of ailments including indigestion, gum infection, jaundice etc.