Effects of Ayurvedic Oil-Dripping Treatment with Sesame Oil vs. with Warm Water on Sleep: A Randomized Single-Blinded Crossover Pilot Study.
J Altern Complement Med. 2016 Jan ;22(1):52-8. Epub 2015 Dec 15. PMID: 26669255
OBJECTIVES: Ayurvedic oil-dripping treatment (Shirodhara) is often used for treating sleep problems. However, few properly designed studies have been conducted, and the quantitative effect of Shirodhara is unclear. This study sought to quantitatively evaluate the effect of sesame oil Shirodhara (SOS) against warm water Shirodhara (WWS) on improving sleep quality and quality of life (QOL) among persons reporting sleep problems.
METHODS: This randomized, single-blinded, crossover study recruited 20 participants. Each participant received seven 30-minute sessions within 2 weeks with either liquid. The washout period was at least 2 months. The Shirodhara procedure was conducted by a robotic oil-drip system. The outcomes were assessed by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) for sleep quality, Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) for daytime sleepiness, World Health Organization Quality of Life 26 (WHO-QOL26) for QOL, and a sleep monitor instrument for objective sleep measures. Changes between baseline and follow-up periods were compared between the two types of Shirodhara. Analysis was performed with generalized estimating equations.
RESULTS: Of 20 participants, 15 completed the study. SOS improved sleep quality, as measured by PSQI. The SOS score was 1.83 points lower (95% confidence interval [CI], -3.37 to -0.30) at 2-week follow-up and 1.73 points lower (95% CI, -3.84 to 0.38) than WWS at 6-week follow-up. Although marginally significant, SOS also improved QOL by 0.22 points at 2-week follow-up and 0.19 points at 6-week follow-up compared with WWS. After SOS, no beneficial effects were observed on daytime sleepiness or objective sleep measures.
CONCLUSIONS: This pilot study demonstrated that SOS may be a safe potential treatment to improve sleep quality and QOL in persons with sleep problems.