My journey with Henna and Rekha Reeya Sharma began in September 2011. I had been suffering from severe hair fall and very unhealthy hair for the past year. I was already taking some supplements but still the hair fall did not abate and seemed to be getting worse. I mentioned this to my friend Rekha and this was the beginning of my voyage to a healthy scalp with beautiful luscious hair.
Rekha Reeya Sharma of Acton is an Ayurveda practitioner with a bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine degree and Surgery in India.
“Ayurveda” is from the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit, and literally means “knowledge of life,” a classical system of medicine founded 5,000 years ago.
Rekha’s aim is to provide guidance regarding food and lifestyle so that healthy people will remain hale and hearty and folks with health challenges can improve their vigor and wellbeing. Her recommendations are different for each person regarding which foods and which lifestyle change they should follow in order to be completely healthy. She observes, inquires, directly examines and uses her Ayurveda knowledge to guide you. She said to me “Both the mind and the body have to be in harmony.”
I am 44 years old. My hair loss had been steady over the past year and seemed to be accelerating at an alarming rate. I was coloring my gray hair with store bought expensive permanent color. I started coloring my hair in my mid 30s about every six to eight weeks. Years rolled by and the gray started to come in more rapidly. Simultaneously chemical dyeing of my hair began to accelerate and I was coloring my hair now every 3 weeks. Relentlessly the gray came in so fast I could see white hair roots within a week of coloring. All those punitive chemicals were likewise making my facial skin sallow and dull.
The skin around my eyes was taut and dry. I am a pharmacist by profession. I was already taking biotin supplements for more than a year, yet the hair fall was persistent. I was forced to cut eight inches of my waist length hair to just below my chin. My hair was dry, frizzy, lackluster and brittle. I had that severe caustic washed out look, which comes only from assaulting your hair with punishing chemicals.
Rekha patiently listened to my problem and persuaded me to stop dyeing my hair. She asked me to apply Henna paste in my hair. I bought Henna powder from a local Indian store and put the homemade Henna paste (after overnight soaking for 12 hours) to my hair. All my gray hair roots turned a faded yellow to light orange, but the hair did feel softer and tamed. I was happy with the way my hair felt to touch but the color was disastrous.
When Rekha saw my hair she decided to take on the responsibility of launching a very aggressive Henna treatment on my hair.
Henna has been used as a cosmetic hair dye for more than 6,000 years. Red henna is a flowering plant called Lawsonia Inermis. The leaves of henna have a red dye, orange naphthaquinone molecule “Lawsone.” It has protein-binding properties. Henna is essentially, nature’s conditioner for the hair. It will make your hair heavy, thick and silky. It is a natural colorant and gives a range of colors from beautiful warm auburn, chestnut brown to burgundy red. Natural red henna stains only a rich red brown. Black henna or neutral henna consists of other plants and may contain unlisted dyes and chemicals which can be dangerous for skin and hair.
Red henna contains tannins. Tannins have astringent properties which tighten the surface of the scalp and hair follicles, strengthening the follicles grasp on each hair. Henna penetrates each hair shaft, seals the hair cuticle thereby healing the hair shaft. This helps prevent breakage of hair and adds shine to hair. Therefore henna can be used for treating hair loss and promoting hair growth. It reverses the drying effect of hair blow dryers and prevents premature graying. Henna has antiseptic, antibacterial, astringent and antifungal properties. Therefore it eliminates lice, reduces hair dandruff and treats scaly scalp conditions. Regular use of red henna will make your hair beautiful, full-bodied and healthier.
I began to visit Rekha in September 2011 for henna herbal treatments religiously every three weeks. Rekha made a mixture of henna paste with different Ayurvedic herbs and oils and smeared it on my hair from root to tips. She covered my hair with a disposable plastic wrap to retain heat and moisture which helps the dye to activate. In addition I also covered it with a cotton wrap. When Rekha colored my hair with henna, my hair roots took a color beautiful copper to burgundy red. My natural black hair began to shine and after about four treatments I noticed a difference in my hair fall. After four months of treatment in January 2012, I felt my hair was falling minimally and was growing at a faster rate. My gray was steadily growing in but was blending in with my natural black taking on a beautiful auburn and burgundy colored red. I also noticed that fresh black hair was coming in with my gray roots. I was actually growing new hair and my hair was getting thicker day by day, week to week.
Rekha also advised me to treat myself inside out. I continue to take my biotin and healthy skin and hair vitamins. I regularly oil my hair with a homemade mixture of coconut oil, almond oil, vitamin E oil and castor oil. I run 10-15 miles a week. Running clears my thoughts and takes away my stress. It is equally vital to be in good physical shape. Today after eight months of henna treatments my hair loss is at an absolute minimum. My hair is healthy and is already below my shoulder blades. The burgundy colored gray is getting longer but is blending in beautifully with my natural black. It seems like I have added highlights in my hair. My hair is at last healthy, luscious, vibrant and long. Even my skin looks better. I think putting the chemical hair dyes in my hair was ruining my hair and skin around the eyes too. My facial skin glows with happiness and vigor. Hair and skin undoubtedly indicate your inner health.
Rekha’s role in my life has been simple, but at the same time varied. She has been a longtime family friend. She is very talented and shows consistent driving compassion for the needs of her friends and the world around her. She is a very gracious and kindhearted person who takes the time to listen to and respect the needs and concerns of her friends. Rekha’s philosophy of life is “Old is Gold.” Go back to your ancient roots of Ayurvedic Medicine; the practice of holistic system of medicine and healing from India. It is the Science of Life. Animals and plants live in harmony with nature and utilize the Laws of Nature to create health and balance within their life; we too, must follow this very simple system. Sustain your health by using the inherent principles of nature to bring yourself back into equilibrium with your true self.
Rashida Rangwala is a Westford resident.