Natural Treatments for Hair Loss
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
The average person has more than 100,000 hair follicles in the head alone, each capable of producing at least twenty hair strands in a lifetime. Hair growth is affected by the hormonal system, in particular the androgenic (male) hormones, which include testosterone and a derivative of testosterone called DHT. Normally a person loses about 100 hairs each day, which are replaced within days. As we age, our hormone levels fluctuate and begin to decline, which reduces the stimulus to the hair follicles and results in hair loss.
Hair loss affects both men and women, though it is more pronounced in men. There are many types of hair loss, or alopecia, in addition to those related to age. A type of hair loss known as alopecia areata occurs in patches, primarily affecting the head. Less common are drug-induced (chemotherapy) hair loss and genetic hair loss. Fortunately, through acupuncture, herbal formulations, diet and lifestyle changes, hair loss can be reduced or eliminated, and in some cases reversed.
In Chinese medicine, hair loss is attributed primarily to the decline of the vital kidney essence as a result of overindulgence during youth. Stress, physical and emotional strain, an unhealthy lifestyle (including excessive sexual activity), and alcohol deplete the vital essence. This is often complicated by blood deficiency in the patient, as in cases of patchy hair loss resulting from pregnancy and giving birth, the mother being severely depleted of her vital essence and blood.
I’ve had the gratifying experience of helping many patients recover from hair loss, whether the result of chemotherapy, radiation treatment, stress, or menopause. One of my patients who had extensive radiation to her scalp for brain cancer was told by her radiologist that her hair follicles had been permanently damaged. I’m happy to report that she now has a full head of hair. She even wrote about her experience, and she included a photograph that we published in our Tao of Wellness newsletter.
My approach to hair loss is to help replenish the vital essence by administering Herbal Therapy and advising my patients on proper lifestyle, diet, and exercise. I also incorporate topical remedies and acupuncture to stimulate circulation and the hair follicles. In general, alopecia responds well to topical remedies and acupuncture.
DIET FOR HAIR LOSS
Diet must be focused on replenishing kidney essence and nourishing blood. In addition to organic vegetables, grains, and fruits, you should:
- Favor walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- Include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and mulberries.
- Eat apples, pears, and peaches.
- Eat black beans, and other beans and legumes.
- Add organic lamb, chicken, and deep-sea fish to your diet for quality protein.
- Eliminate bleached flour, sugars, soft drinks, and spicy, deep-fried, processed foods, and artificial additives.
HOME REMEDIES FOR HAIR LOSS
- Stand on your head: practice headstands, or shoulder-stands, leaning against a wall for 1 to 2 minutes every day. This will increase blood flow to your scalp.
- Massage the affected area on your scalp with fresh ginger juice. Wait 10 minutes, then tap the affected area with the bristles of a stiff toothbrush for 3 minutes, stimulating the scalp. Do this twice daily for 1 month. It promotes circulation and decreases oily deposits that block follicles.
- Apply aloe vera juice directly from the stem of the plant to the affected scalp area twice daily for 1 month.
HERBAL THERAPY FOR HAIR LOSS
Herbs can be found in health food or vitamin stores, online, and at the offices of Chinese medicine practitioners. Herbs should be used according to individual needs; consult with a licensed practitioner for a customized formulation.
- Hair Nurture contains natural Chinese herbs traditionally used to promote healthy hair growth. The formula contains: Rehmannia Root Tuber, Oriental Arborvitae Stems & Leaves, Eclipta Stems & Leaves, Dong Quai Root, Black Sesame Seeds, Chinese Cimicifuga Root, Fo-Ti Root, Fragrant Angelica Root, Lycium Bark, Anemone Rhizome, Japanese Elecampane Flower, Ginger Rhizome, Scabrous Gentian Root & Rhizome.
- Ginkgo biloba (120 milligrams daily) improves circulation to the scalp, green tea (300 milligrams polyphenol content) provides antioxidant benefits, and saw palmetto (320 milligrams) blocks DHT and prevents hair loss.
- Regenerating Scalp Serum contains Apple Stem Cells and Swetier Extract in a topical formulation used to stimulate and re-invigorate weakened hair and scalp to promote healthy hair growth while helping prevent further hair loss.
- Other traditional Chinese herbs used to prevent hair loss include Chinese arborvitae (flat fir leaves), eclipa, Chinese foxglove, black cohosh, vitex, ginger, and sesame.
ACUPRESSURE FOR HAIR LOSS
- Locate the acupoint Forceful Torrent (KID-3), between your right anklebone and right Achilles tendon. Pinch the point with your right thumb and index finger and hold for 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat on the left foot.
- Use a stiff toothbrush or the tips of your fingers to tap the balding area with moderate strength for 5 minutes twice a day to help invigorate blood circulation.
DAILY VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS FOR HAIR LOSS
- MSM (Methysulfonylmethane; 1,000 milligrams) is a building block of strong hair.
- Biotin (500 micrograms) and vitamin B complex are essential nutrients for hair growth.
- Vitamin E (800 IU) increases oxygen uptake and zinc may stimulate hair growth by enhancing hormonal function.
- Vitamin C (1,000 milligrams) together with bioflavonoids improves circulation to the scalp, while silica aids hair growth and strengthens hair.
- The amino acids L-methionine (500 milligrams), Lcysteine (500 milligrams), and glutathione (600 milligrams) improve the overall quality, texture, and growth of hair.
- Evening primrose (300 milligrams GI.A), flaxseed, and fish oils (1,000 milligrams omega-3) are good for preventing damage to the hair and hair follicles.
QI GONG MOVEMENTS FOR HAIR LOSS
Regular physical exercise is important for maintaining proper circulation to the scalp. Excessively strenuous exercise is not recommended, as it will deplete vital energy. Stress-reduction exercises and meditation can help regulate your energy and strengthen your essence.
I recommend a Dao In Qi Gong exercise called Gentle Rainfall Experience, which promotes blood circulation to the scalp and hair follicle, to all my hair-loss patients. Do the exercise twice a day for best results.
- Sit comfortably at the edge of a stiff chair, or cross-legged on a soft pillow.
- With the tips of every finger (including the thumbs) gently tap your head all over, stimulating the scalp for about 1 minute. Use light force at the beginning and gently increase to moderate strength.
- Massage the scalp with both hands, moving the scalp gently and then more vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Straighten the fingers of your right hand, and with the palm side of the fingers gently tap all over the scalp 36 times. Then do the same with your left hand another 36 times.
HAIR LOSS: WHAT TO AVOID
- Chemicals, food additives, and pesticides, as they may interfere with healthy hormonal functions, potentially injuring the hair follicles.
- Stress and exhaustion, which damage the vital essence and deplete the kidney energy.
- Certain medications for gout and arthritis, and antidepressants, as they can cause hair loss. Check with your physician for alternatives.
Read more about hair loss treatments
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- Benskey, D., and R. Barolet. Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas and Strategies. Seattle: Eastland, 2000.
- Blumenthal, M., ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative Medicine, 1998.
- Bunney, S., ed. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs: Their Medicinal and Culinary Uses. New York: Dorset, 1984.
- Cameron, M. Lifetime Encyclopedia of Natural Remedies. Paramus, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993.
- Gibney, M. J., H. H. Vorster, and J. K. Frans. Introduction to Human Nutrition. London: Blackwell Science, 2002.
- Maciocia, G. The Practice of Chinese Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2000.
- Ni, H. Attune Your Body with Dao In. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1989.
- Ni, M., and C. McNease. The Tao of Nutrition. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1987.
- Oschman, J. L. Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone, 2002.
- Rebora, A. 2004. Pathogenesis of androgenetic alopecia. J . Am. Acad. Dernatol. 50(5):777-79.
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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