Herb spotlight: Shikakai (Acacia concinna)

Shikakai (Acacia concinna) is a climbing shrub or small tree native to central and southern India. It is sometimes called the “soap-pod tree”, as the seed pods, leaves and bark of the tree contain high levels of saponins which are completely natural cleansers that can produce an effective lather for cleaning the skin and hair (and for washing clothes too!). Consequently it has been used since ancient times as a natural soap and hair wash, and there is some evidence of its use going back to the Harappan civilization of ancient India, almost 5000 years ago!

According to Ayurvedic tradition, Shikakai is a kaphahara herb which reduces excess of the kapha dosha in the body, and has anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties. It is thus often prescribed for an itchy scalp, dandruff issues and bad-smelling hair, which are generally caused by a fungus on the scalp as it breaks down excess sebum (naturally occurring oils of the hair).

Traditional Ayurvedic Hair Care with Shikakai

Traditional use of Shikakai involves grinding of the dried seed pods and bark of the tree into a fine powder, which is then used alone or just as commonly mixed with two other Ayurvedic herbs for hair care: Reetha (Sapindus mukorossi) and Amla (Phyllanthus emblica). Reetha is also high in saponins, with Reetha being commonly called the “soapnut” or “soapberry tree”, and Amla has multiple synergistic properties for hair care as it is high in antioxidants and vitamin C.

The resultant hair powder is then mixed with warm water to form a paste with a gentle lather. It is first massaged into the hair and allowed to sit for 5 minutes before finally it is rinsed out.

As such, a Shikakai-based hair powder is a traditional, completely natural alternative to shampoo with a mild cleansing action and a gentle lather which is easy on the hair and scalp and will not strip the natural oils of the hair.

Modern Ayurvedic Hair Care with Shikakai

While the traditional Shikakai hair powder is still an effective hair care solution and can be recommended especially for those with sensitive hair, Shikakai is often now included in modern Ayurvedic shampoo and shampoo-bar formulations. This results in a more convenient product with a fuller lather than the traditional formula, while still retaining the beneficial herbal properties of Shikakai (such as its antifungal and dandruff control properties) and other herbal ingredients included in the formula to cleanse and protect the hair and scalp.

Auromere Products Formulated with Shikakai

The following Auromere Ayurvedic hair care products are formulated with Shikakai:

Auromere Neem Plus 5 Ayurvedic Shampoo: formulated for Pitta-Kapha body types (normal to oily hair) with a 6-herb formula including Shikakai together with Reetha, Amla, Neem, Henna and Methi, all prized for their natural cleansing, nourishing and rejuvenating properties.

Auromere Ayurvedic Shampoo Bar: an all-in-one cleansing bar which can be used not only as a shampoo bar, but also as a body soap. This Ayurvedic bar contains the same 6-herb formula as Auromere’s Neem Plus 5 liquid shampoo. The bar form adds extra convenience and is very helpful for the gym or when traveling or camping and comes in an eco-friendly, zero-waste, 100% biodegradable package.

***With all best wishes for your health and wellness from Auromere***

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