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Before there was shampoo, there was shikakai. An ancient hair growth-promoting cleanser, shikakai is an herbal powder made from the fruit pods of the Acacia Concinna tree. Acacia Concinna is a shrub-like tree that grows in the hot, arid plains of Southern India. Known for its hair rejuvenating properties, shikakai is used in its raw, powdered form and as an extract that's added to shampoos and other hair products. History The indigenous people of southern India discovered that the pod-like fruit of the trees that grew so readily in their jungles had foaming properties. They started powdering the fruit and used it to clean their hair. When they discovered that the herbal powder revived their hair and helped it grow long and thick, they named it shikakai--literally meaning fruit for the hair. Benefits The scalp is an intricate organ made out of hair follicles, sebaceous glands, pigments and thousands of sweat glands. Hair growth is a result of an optimal environment in the scalp and ample nourishment to its glands. Shikakai works well on both of these accounts. Astringent in nature and with a low pH, it creates a favorable pH-balanced environment in the scalp that fights dandruff and other infections. According to the Ayurvedic Talk blog, a resource center for all topics related to Ayurveda and yoga, shikakai is rich in vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin D and other micronutrients, and nourishes the hair follicles to promote hair growth. Additionally, being a mild cleanser, it doesn't strip the scalp of its natural oils.