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J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Dec;14(10):1189-98. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0273.

Psychoneuroimmunologic effects of Ayurvedic oil-dripping treatment.

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Department of Presymptomatic Health Promotion, Institute of Natural Medicine, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan.



This study assessed the psychoneuroimmunologic changes achieved by Shirodhara, an Ayurvedic treatment, characterized by dripping oil on the forehead, in a randomized, controlled protocol involving a novel approach using a robotic system.


In the first experiment for the determination of the most appropriate conditions of Shirodhara, 16 healthy females (33 +/- 9 years old) underwent a 30-minute treatment. In the second study, another 16 healthy females (39 +/- 9 years old) were assigned to either the Shirodhara treatment or control supine position for 30 minutes, with monitoring of physiologic, biochemical, immunologic, and psychometric parameters including anxiety and altered states of consciousness (ASC).


The subjects receiving Shirodhara treatment showed lowered levels of state anxiety and higher levels of ASC than those in the control position. Plasma noradrenaline and urinary serotonin excretion decreased significantly more after Shirodhara treatment than in the control. Plasma levels of thyrotropin-releasing hormone, dopamine, and natural killer (NK) cell activity were different between control and Shirodhara treatment. The correlation between anxiolysis and the depth of ASC was significant in the Shirodhara treatment group (r = 0.52, p < 0.05, N = 16), while in the control no correlation was obtained (r = 0.13, p = 0.64, N = 16). The increase in foot skin temperature after Shirodhara showed a significant correlation with anxiolysis and the depth of Trance of ASC (r = 0.58, p < 0.01, r = 0.43, p < 0.01, respectively). NK cell activity after Shirodhara treatment showed a significant correlation with anxiolysis and the depth of Trance of ASC (r = 0.33, p < 0.05, r = 0.56, p < 0.01, respectively).


These results indicate that Shirodhara has anxiolytic and ASC-inducing effects, and it promotes a decrease of noradrenaline and exhibits a sympatholytic effect, resulting in the activation of peripheral foot skin circulation and immunopotentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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