According to Chinese Philosophy, the condition of our hair is a reflection of the health of our blood, Liver, and Kidneys. Healthy, thick and beautiful hair is possible when there is an abundant flow of what Chinese Medicine calls Jing, which comes from our Kidneys but also the Liver and blood. If Jing is low then our hair becomes brittle, unhealthy and lifeless. A severe deficiency can even cause premature thinning, hair loss and greying.
Chinese practitioners say that natural greying and thinning occurs only around the late 30s and 40s for men and women. Experiencing these things before this time may very well indicate a loss of Jing energy or deficiencies in the Kidney, Liver, and Blood.
Jing energy is lost naturally throughout life. You can learn more about Jing and how to rebuild it in this previous article. However, in the short, lifestyle factors that cause excessive stress or energy output often lead to a loss of Jing. This can mean overeating, poor diet, mental and emotional stress, over-exercising, undersleeping, and even excessive ejaculation.
The good news is that despite a loss of Jing it can be restored. Chinese Medicine can help replenish Jing both internally with the consumption of herbs and proper diet but also externally with acupuncture, tai chi and lowering lifestyle stress.
Herbs & Tips for Healthy, Thick Hair
As stated, beautiful hair happens from the inside out. The Liver and the Kidneys are the primary organs that build healthy blood. If these organs are strained then the quality of our blood suffers, which essentially starves the hair follicle of the nutrition it needs to grow. Therefore, herbal remedies and lifestyle practices that rejuvenate and tonfiy these organs are very useful for growing beautiful hair.
Here are some of China’s premier hair-tonic herbs:
- He Shou Wu – The number one herb for healthy hair is He Shou Wu, also known as Fo-Ti or its Latin name, Polygonum Multiflorum. This herb has demonstrated effectiveness for hundreds of years in restoring the health and color of the hair. It restores the hair by building healthy blood, reversing oxidative stress, tonifying the kidneys and even preventing the production of DHT.
Cordyceps – This medicinal, parasitical plant is one of the premier Jing building herbs. Healthy, strong Jing is a must for healthy hair. Cordyceps replenishes prenatal Jing, giving one more overall vitality, energy and endurance. It’s a powerful adaptogens that helps the body respond better to stress, which protects Kidney Jing from depleting in the first place.
Rehmannia – Here is another fantastic Jing building, blood building, tonic herb that greatly helps the hair grow in beautifully. Stress is a primary cause of hair fall and other problems of the hair. Rehmannia is perhaps one of the greatest herbs for rebuilding the adrenals and kidneys from stress and also protecting the body from the adverse effects of stress, thus benefitting the hair. When we are stressed our bodies are depleted of minerals that are necessary to hair growth. Keeping stress low and the adrenals strong will greatly help with the longevity and beauty of our hair.
Lycium – Goji berries are powerful Yin Kidney tonic herb that tonfiy the Liver, Kidney, and blood for healthy hair. Not just that, Goji berries are rich in amino acids and important trace minerals and antioxidants – all which are very helpful and important for the growth of healthy hair.
Reishi – The Queen of medicinal mushrooms is also one of the greatest Jing herbs on the planet. It is perhaps the most powerful and well-rounded tonic her there is. In this way, it promotes the health of the hair by promoting overall wellness. Specifically, it is known in Chinese Medicine for building kidney energy and clearing liver stagnation, which improves blood quality and flow, thus improving hair quality and promoting growth.
Schizandra – Also known as Wu Wei Zin, this medicinal berry is a well-known tonic used to for promoting the beauty of the skin and hair. It contains all five elements according to Chinese Medicine and its bitter qualities make it a potent liver detoxifier and blood builder for healthier hair.
- Stinging Nettle – This wild plant can help the hair in two ways. First, it is a natural DHT blocker, which is said to be the hormonal culprit for shrinking hair follicles. Secondly, it provides important minerals and nutrients to prevent hair loss and stimulate hair re-growth.
TCM is the holistic practice of healing and any protocol would be incomplete without taking a look at the causative factors of any imbalance. Here are a few primary causes for hair problems that if addressed can help improve the quality and health of the hair:
Stress weakens the kidneys and adrenals, which is a major problem for the hair. When we are stressed our bodies dump mineral reserves to regain balance. However, minerals are essential for healthy hair. Stress also impedes healthy blood circulation to the scalp and triggers the release of stress hormones and DHT, which can lead to damage to the hair follicles. Many of the tonic herbs mentioned above have adaptogenic qualities that help the body respond better to stress. However, it is also important to become aware of what causes you excess stress or pressure in your personal life then take actionable steps to dissolve that pressure one way or another.
A diet that is lacking in high-quality protein, essential fatty acids and minerals can lead to unhealthy hair. These are essential nutrients for strong, healthy hair and are highly deficient in the Standard American Diet. Adapting a diet that is rich in quality protein from a variety of healthy plant and animal sources such as wild-caught salmon, grass-fed organic animal meats, pastured eggs, and plant-proteins like hemp, broccoli, and other dark leafy greens is essential for reaching protein requirements for strong hair.
EFA’s from grass-fed meats, wild-caught fatty fish, hemp, chia or fermented spirulina can help balance omega-fatty acid ratios for healthy, glossy hair. Also, a diet that incorporates wild sea vegetables and other wild foods that are rich in minerals will greatly help nourish the hair. Many quality tonic herbs are rich in minerals that also help the hair grow.
Our environment can greatly affect the health of our bodies and even our hair. Because the hair is a basic extension of our major detoxification organs, the quality of it can diminish if we are overburdened with toxicity. Many modern living spaces often contain harsh cleaning supplies, poor air filtration, EMF stress from electronics and even things such as carpet and cabinets can contain hundreds of toxic chemicals. Do your best to detoxify your home-space to something more natural such as swapping cleaning supplies for natural alternatives made of vinegars and essential oils, replacing cabinets with open face wood cabinetry and upgrade your air filters and keep windows open when possible. There are many ways to detoxify your home, the main goal is to keep it as natural as possible.
While not as important as other internal factors, improper haircare can definitely lead to many hair problems. Toxic, chemical, commercial shampoos and conditions can damage the scalp and pH of the scalp leading to hair problems. Many of these modern products contain allergens too that irritate the scalp.
Typically, when the body is balanced, minimal hair care is necessary as the body cleanses and purifies itself. It’s recommend to keep haircare as simple and natural as possible – only washing 1 or 2 times a week with a natural solution like raw apple cider vinegar or other plant-based products.