Indian Head MassageIndian Head Massage

    Indian Head Massage has been tried and tested over thousands of years in the laboratory of life. In earlier times it was sought after by maharajas and shahs, gurus and saints. Today it is as popular as it was then. It is part of everyday life in India, and it is precisely through its lack of pretension that it weaves its magic. The editorial team approached three different practitioners for an overall perspective of this treatment.

    Massage is a tangible expression of India, a place of magic and mystery. Practised in villages throughout the subcontinent, this treatment is somehow greater than its constituent parts. Although the technique is basically the same throughout India, each village puts its own stamp on the massage, which is handed down from mother to daughter, from father to son. It springs from this rich, family tradition across generations as an integral part of family life. Originally developed by Indian women, who are renowned for their long, luxuriant hair, the art can be either stimulating or relaxing.

    Although the early Ayurvedic texts refer to head massage, it is not confined to Ayurveda. It has been embraced by both the principal traditional healing systems in India, namely Ayurveda, the medicine of the Hindu people, and Unani, the ancient Greek medicine adopted by the Muslims. While it is called Indian Head Massage, it is not only practised in India. It is equally popular in other parts of Asia such as neighbouring Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal, and is becoming increasingly accepted in the UK, Europe, South Africa, the USA, Canada and Australia, where it has been streamlined and adapted to the fast-moving Western lifestyle.


    Dr Iqbal Badat, a registered homeopath and practitioner of Unani and Prophetic Medicine as well as Magnetotherapy, tells us more about traditional Indian Head Massage.

    The roots of traditional Indian Head Massage are hidden in the mists of time. Yet there is no doubt that it comes from a place of deep knowing when time was a slow-moving continuum. Indian Head Massage was developed by people uneducated in the ways of the modern world, but skilled in intuitive knowing, with minds uncluttered by what we now call knowledge. Their direct knowing is probably the reason why it is as appropriate now as it was then.

    Traditional Indian Head Massage stands on two legs: technique and therapeutic oils, some with exotic names such as Amla, Chameli, Mogra and Malis. ‘All the great scriptures of the world speak of the virtues of being anointed with oil,’ says Dr Badat. ‘The innocent touching alone makes people feel nurtured, centred and relaxed.’

    Indian Head Massage improves circulation in the head, enhances the five senses, improves memory, eases mental and emotional stress and promotes clear thinking. It is highly recommended for headaches, migraines, insomnia, tinnitus and vertigo, and depression.

    Its high success rate with stress-related disorders is resulting in more doctors taking an interest in the technique. A few professors of medicine have studied head massage with Dr Badat. It is also becoming increasingly popular among dentists wanting to ease the discomfort of conventional dental treatments. Big corporations are finding it a useful tool in the ongoing battle to improve productivity and absenteeism. In the workplace it is generally done as a dry-scalp technique.

    Perhaps one of the most significant modern applications is to address the harmful effects of cell phone radiation. Advanced practitioners study phrenology, an ancient science interpreting the shape of the skull and the bulges and dents on the head in much the same way as reflexologists and iridologists interpret the feet and eyes.


    Dr Anne Combrinck, an Ayurvedic Health Care Advisor and Remedial Yoga Teacher, had this to tell us.

    ‘When it is properly done, Indian Head Massage is in fact a massage of the entire body. As in foot reflexology, the body’s organs and glands are represented on the head, ears and face. There are many important acupressure points on the head. The entire nervous system is calmed when its centre, the head, is massaged.

    The application of nourishing oils to the head helps to both calm and strengthen the brain and nervous system. Oil massaged into the head is absorbed by the hair roots, which connect to the nerve fibres that lead to the brain. Oil strengthens the hair and removes dryness, which is responsible for brittle hair, premature balding, and many scalp disorders. Head massage during the first 6 to 9 months is excellent for an infant’s brain and eyesight. Indian Head Massage is very relaxing and usually includes the face, ears, neck and shoulders, as well as the scalp. It helps to relieve tension and associated headaches.'

    She currently teaches an Ayurvedic Head and Face massage as part of the AnandaPranaTM Technique (loosely translated as ‘Bliss Energy'). It is adapted to a person's unique constitution, and includes beautiful Ayurveda-suitable blended essential oils. For more ono this visit: AnandaPranaTM Techniques.


    Linzi Mons is an accredited tutor of ChampissageTM, a trademarked sequence of massage movements, and gives us her perspective.

    In our modern society, stress, poor eating habits, pollution, and lack of exercise and fresh air all contribute to a variety of ailments settling on the head and shoulders. Indian Head and Shoulder Massage is an exceptionally effective and accessible technique that can be practised anywhere. It is not necessary to use oils unless specifically requested or indicated. In or out of the workplace you can relax, allowing a therapist half an hour to iron out all the tension brought about by a fast-paced lifestyle.

    Four out of five people suffer from headaches, occasionally or on a daily basis. Apart from environmental factors such as artificial lighting and air-conditioning, headaches have multiple causes. Seasonal allergies, sinusitis, eye strain, poor posture and aching jaws from clenching or grinding teeth all contribute.

    Head and shoulder massage eases the nodules that accumulate in the neck and shoulders through long hours spent in front of a computer or driving. Massaging the scalp improves the circulation, increasing the flow of oxygen to the head and dissipating accumulated toxins that contribute to headaches. A relaxing facial massage assists in clearing the sinuses. The growth and lustre of the hair improves. One is left feeling refreshed, as if after a short nap.

    There are few contraindications. Degenerative spinal disorders such as osteoporosis and arthritic conditions would require gentle treatment. However, there is no age limit. It is advisable to moderate pressure to suit each individual. Recommended intervals between treatments should be between 5 and 10 days, to allow the body to rid itself of toxins liberated by the treatment.

    Editor's Letter: Another article that may be of interest is An Introduction to Tibb – a system of medicine with a rich history.


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