If you’ve experienced huge clumpfuls of hair falling from your head, you know what I’m talking about. If this goes on for more than a few days, it’s very concerning. “Am I going bald?” Even if other people don’t notice, your hair is thinner than it once was, and it’s a major blow to your confidence.
In Chinese medicine, hair loss is classified as a symptom of “blood deficiency.” The idea is that your body has 4 major “essences”: Qi, Blood, Yin, and Yang. If your blood becomes relatively deficient (think of it like a gas tank), one thing that could happen is hair loss or premature greying.
Why does this happen?
- Childbirth – after birth your system is depleted of extra blood and qi. Also the cause of post-partum depression, pain, or constipation.
- Hormone Changes – at menopause, it’s very easy to have symptoms of yin and blood deficiency.
- Mineral or Vitamin Deficiencies – someone on a drastic cleanse or vegan diet lacking in iron, trace minerals, and B-vitamins can become deficient in blood and qi. Anorexics and bulemics can also easily become depleted in nutrients.
- Environmental Toxins – certain shampoos and hair treatments are extremely toxic and disrupt normal blood circulation to the scalp.
- Stress – in Chinese medicine, stress causes Qi stagnation, so then nutrients and blood are not circulating properly or absorbing properly
Practicing medicine is simple. You find out the cause, then you know the solutions! For hair loss, just remember, there is no such thing as a “Propecia Deficiency.” That is NOT the cause. That’s a bandaid.
To nourish your hair:
- Eat meat. I have won the wrath of many vegans (and some vegetarians), but it’s for a good cause. Humans are supposed to eat meat. Don’t get me wrong: VEGETARIAN AND VEGAN FOOD IS GOOD FOR YOU! But so is animal-based, organic, humanely-raised animal protein. Maybe you just have one serving of meat per month. Maybe you eat meat every meal. Maybe you eat meat only once per year. But you should probably consider eating more organic, humane, medication-free meat. Eggs are also good. At least eat an egg if you are 100% opposed to eating meat. If the chickens are happy, what’s the harm?
- Other foods to try if you haven’t already: yams, sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, quinoa, bell peppers, saurkraut, sprouts, celery, cucumbers, bitter greens like dinosaur kale or mustard greens. In other words, go through the produce aisle and pick a variety of what is in season. Or have a seasonal basket of vegetables delivered to your house via one of those lovely services we have in Austin that does so. Figure out how to cook with those new vegetables. Get creative. I just throw things together and am constantly amazed at how easy and delicious it is to cook healthy. Another plus: vegetables are inexpensive.
- Try using a different kind of oil. If you use the same types of oils, your hormones may become imbalanced. In fact, there are some genotypes that can’t digestion coconut or olive oil and some genotypes that can’t digest butter, others can’t digest wheat germ oil, etc. There’s a saliva test some doctors use to determine if you have one of these genetic anomalies. Different oils offer different balances of vitamins D, E and F. Try cooking with or supplementing with any of those types of oils. Other symptoms of oil intolerance include: gallbladder problems, skin problems, and PCOS. Switch it up and see what you feel better on:
- Coconut Oil
- Butter (from grass-fed cows) and Whole Milk (preferably unpasteurized, but good luck with that)
- Olive Oil
- Wheat Germ Oil (supplementing this helped grow back my hair after my 2nd baby)
- Flax Seed Oil
- Essential Oils (powerful and medical-grade if pure)
- Grapeseed Oil
- Get off the toxic hair products. I have been blessed with an extremely sensitive scalp. I used to regularly burn it with toxic chemicals to try to change the color of my hair. Most shampoos cause extreme dryness and itching on my scalp. I’ve tried just about every shampoo on the market: commercial hair products in my youth, stuff from the health food store as I got older, and still troubles! I tried fancy stuff from specialty stores. I tried Wen. All have the same problem. My scalp no likey. In its defense, I will admit, Wen was the least-offensive. I only didn’t like how much of the product you had to use at once.
Recently I ran across a brand called Morrocco Hair Method. The guy, Anthony Morrocco, a “hair shaman,” has a very interesting background. He worked for years in a top salon in NYC, then traveled the world learning different indigenous cultures’ hair cutting methods. He learned about treating the hair and scalp with herbs to prolong the beauty and health of the hair and scalp. He learned the ancient Brazilian method of hair cutting to strengthen, lengthen, or beautify your hair according to the phase of the moon. Anyway, he created this amazing shampoo, conditioner, product, and henna line.
Be forewarned: your scalp and hair will look great after using the products, but the application process is unlike any you’ve ever experienced. The shampoos are very DRY. There are no bubbles and it is not silky feeling. It’s literally like rubbing clay into your scalp. But, yes, don’t worry; your hair will get clean in the process. The shampoos – there are 5 total – are meant to be used in rotation. They all serve a different purpose: purifying, nourishing, or balancing.
Another thing I switched years ago is away from toxic dyes. I just use henna now. I can’t have “Heather Locklear” blonde anymore, but I’ve actually always wanted to be a redhead anyway. Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ oncologist said that her brain tumor was probably from the toxins including coal tar that were in her hair dye. Not for me; thanks.
How about you? What are the biggest challenges you face with your hair health?