Smorgasbord Health Column – Ancient Healing Therapies – Indian Head Massage

Indian Head Massage

Most of us enjoy having our hair brushed and our shoulders massaged and find that it relieves tension and stress. Some hairdressers even include a scalp massage with your shampoo, which is appropriate, as the original word for the Indian head massage was Champi and the English word for shampoo is derived from this.

There is evidence in Ayurvedic writings as early as 4000 years ago that this massage technique was an important part of daily life in India. Today it is a common sight to see practitioners offering their skills on every street corner across the continent.

Today, more than at any time in our history, we are subjected to extraordinary levels of stress and pollution. Our food choices and lack of exercise are another contributory factor that cause our bodies to be on the defensive most of the time leading to stress related illnesses.

Our heads and shoulders seem to be the two places where these illnesses surface with headaches and stiffness that make life even more uncomfortable. Indian head massage practised by a trained and expert therapist is a simple but effective way to relief this tension and restores flow to the rest of the body.

How does Indian Head Massage work?

Although called a head massage the entire upper back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck and face and ears are also worked with to relieve as much tension as possible.

If you were visiting a therapist you would be offered the choice of having the massage with or without oils depending on your circumstances. These oils might be neem (slightly antiseptic), sesame or coconut (enriching) depending on the particular need of the client. Going back to the office with a lovely glossy and oily hairdo may not be appropriate. You do not remove your clothes as these are used as a lubricant on your shoulders and lower back. You will sit on a chair to allow the therapist access to the upper body area.

The therapist will use a number of specific hand movements during the treatment in a combination of massage and gentle touch. Massage is an integral part of Ayurvedic medicine and as with other eastern therapies we have looked at, the Chakras or energy points of the body are balanced during the treatment. In this case the three upper Chakras. A skilled therapist will also use Shiatsu (which we will cover another time) and Acupressure points as added benefit.

The western terms for these hand movements are Effleurage, Pertrissage, Tapotement, Percussion and Friction.

Effleurage is where the palm is used of the hand in a wide stroking motion, which warms the muscles and prepares them for deeper massage. It is a very gentle and introductory touch to the massage and establishes a connection between the therapist and their client. This would be applied to the tops of the shoulders and down the arms.

Petrissage is applied to the shoulders and arms and is a form of kneading that stimulates the muscles.

Tapotement is used on the scalp and is a form of tapping that stimulates circulation.

Percussion has three movements called hacking, cupping and pummelling, which are designed to break down fatty deposits and revitalise the tissues. Across the shoulders and the upper back it will stimulate the release of any toxins and lactic acid that have accumulated and allow them to drain into the lymphatic system and out of the body. It is also designed to stimulate circulation to the scalp.

Friction slides the muscles back and forth under the skin, which also stimulates toxin release.

What are the overall benefits of Indian Head Massage?

  • There is a general release of tension from around the upper back, neck and head.
  • Stimulating the lymphatic system encourages toxins to be released from those areas and eliminated from the body relieving stress on the immune system.
  • Relief from chronic upper back and neck stiffness.
  • Increases levels of oxygen to the tissues and muscles.
  • Improves blood circulation and therefore oxygen to the upper body and head area including the brain.
  • Can help improve discomfort or disease of the ears, eyes, tinnitus, sinusitis, headaches and migraines.
  • Improves hair condition especially when applied with the use of oils including alopecia, dandruff and psoriasis.
  • Increases joint mobility all through the body but particularly in the shoulder area.
  • Relaxes the entire body.
  • Relaxes the mind helping to ease anxiety and depression.
  • Increases levels of concentration.
  • Balances the body boosting energy and leaving the client feeling refreshed and ready to tackle modern life again.

Are there times when it is not wise to undergo massage?

As with any alternative treatment you must respect both the therapy and your body. There are times when you should not stimulate any area of your body as this could lead to complications with your existing condition.

This is particularly important if you are suffering a fever, infectious disease such as cold or flu, skin conditions in the massage area such as eczema or broken blood vessels. In elderly clients one of the problems can be a swollen blood vessel close to the surface especially around the forehead area which must not be massaged.

Thanks for dropping in today and hope you have found the post interesting.. Sally

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998-2018

A little bit about me nutritionally.

A little about me from a nutritional perspective. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago. I qualified as a nutritional therapist and practiced in Ireland and the UK as well as being a consultant for radio. My first centre was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Here are my health books including a men’s health manual and my anti-aging book.

All available in Ebook from

And Amazon UK:

Comprehensive guide to the body, and the major organs and the nutrients needed to be healthy 360 pages, A4:

Thank you for dropping in and if you have any questions fire away.. If you would like to as a private question then my email is I am no longer in practice and only too pleased to help in any way I can. thanks Sally

14 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column – Ancient Healing Therapies – Indian Head Massage

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column – Ancient Healing Therapies – The Militant Negro™

  2. Reblogged this on Campbells World and commented:
    Here’s Sally with another fascinating and quite informative health column.
    If I ever get so I have money to spend on me, this is for sure going to be something I invest in.


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