The condition of our hair is a common issue presented in the clinic. To improve the health and condition of our hair is not only for beauty and looking good, but also for the overall health of our body. Many hair related issues are due to an internal organ disorder. Therefore, if you want to improve the condition of your hair, it is important to understand the relationship between the hair and the internal organs.
1. What is Unhealthy Hair?
Unhealthy hair is indicated when it is dry, brittle and easily broken, general hair loss, patchy hair loss, early greying of the hair (in general or in patches), oily hair or very slow hair growth.
2. How is the Hair Associated with our Internal Health?
i) Blood Nourishes the Hair for Healthy Growth
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers that the Blood is one aspect of the body that supports the hair to grow with healthy condition. Any reason causing a lack of Blood or iron deficiency will also lead to a lack of growth in the hair.
The following causes may contribute to the condition of the hair: post labour, after a big operation, long-term illness, iron deficiency, injury to the neck or shoulders (affects circulation to the head reducing blood supply) or lowered blood pressure.
These people commonly present with the following symptoms: lack of energy, pale face, shortness of breath, pale nails, scanty period, as well as unhealthy hair.
ii) Spleen Supplies Qi & Blood to the Hair
The Spleen is a major organ which dominates food digestion, transportation and absorption and produces Blood & Qi. If your Spleen is weak, this will affect the quality and amount of your blood, and cause unhealthy hair, such as thin, slow-growing and easily broken and hair loss. These people will also experience the following symptoms: lack of energy, stomach bloating or fullness especially after eating, sluggish bowel movement, cold hands and feet and puffiness in the arms and legs.
iii) Liver Circulates Blood to the Head & Neck
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers that the Liver stores Blood and circulates Blood to the body as well as the sides and top of the head. Any stress or pressure will affect the Liver function and consequently affect the hair condition. People with this condition may experience hair loss in patches or at the sides or top of the head. They may also experience the following symptoms: insomnia, many dreams or nightmares, migraine headaches, stiff neck and shoulders or pain and bloating at the sides of the abdomen. These people may also have the following conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, fatty liver, depression, irritable bowel syndrome or thyroid disorder.
iv) Kidney Contains the Vital Essence
The Kidneys dominate the growth and development of the body, including the hair. If someone has a strong Kidney Essence (Kidney Qi or energy), the hair is shiny, thick, strong and healthy and they will have fewer grey hairs when they are old. Thick hair at birth is an indication of strong Kidney Essence or Qi. If you have decreased Kidney function, this affects hair growth and colour and is associated with the following additional symptoms: tiredness, poor memory, frequent urination during the night, irregular periods, lower libido, impotence, early menopause, lower back pain, knee or heel pain.
v) Poor Circulation to Neck & Shoulders
In the clinic, we find that many people who are suffering from neck and shoulder pain due to lack of circulation also have issues with the health and condition of their hair. This is because the Blood is unable to flow freely to the head and nourish the hair. These people may also experience the following symptoms: headache, neck and shoulder pain, tension or stiffness.
Further contributing factors to unhealthy hair may include the following: unsuitable shampoo or condition, traveling or changing location of residence (ie. moving from one city to another), environmental factors, irregular lifestyle, chemicals, certain medications or poor nutrition and diet.
All of the issues mentioned above will affect the quality and growth of the hair.
3. What you can do to Improve Unhealthy Hair
i) First of all, you can consult your GP for a general health check.
ii) You can also consult your Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. When you come to us, we check your body’s health by Traditional Chinese diagnosis methods (pulse, tongue, signs & symptoms) and determine the cause of the unhealthy hair.
iii) We will set up a treatment principle which is suitable for your cause of unhealthy hair. This will improve your hair condition as well as your overall health and other symptoms mentioned above.
4. How to look after your hair
i) Washing your hair 2 times per week – washing the hair too much can deplete the hair of natural oils and minerals.
ii) Choosing a suitable shampoo and conditioner with appropriate moisturising is important.
iii) Consult a recommended hairdresser to find out your type of hair and the type of products it requires.
iv) Keep a balanced lifestyle. Do not work too hard or get stressed to often. Look after your happiness and sense of well-being. Have a good night’s sleep as regularly as possible.
v) Ensuring you have good circulation to the head, neck and shoulders is essential for healthy hair. If pain arises in these areas get natural treatment, such as massage and acupuncture and increase exercise.
vi) Care for the health of your internal organs, such as Kidney, Spleen and the Liver. Keep your Qi and Blood healthy.
vii) Diet – we recommend eating a certain amount of foods which will tonify the Qi and the Blood, such as Chinese red dates, goji berries, beef bone soup and chicken soup (for more details, please see my diet therapy articles).
viii) Traditional Chinese people use the following way to improve circulation to the head and quality of the hair: gently comb your scalp as well as your hair for five minutes about three times weekly; I suggest doing this after dinner or after your shower in the evening, 30 minutes before going to bed – this will improve circulation to the scalp and hair as well as helping to tranquilise the brain and improve sleep. Best results are seen from doing this regularly on a long-term basis.
Doing small things regularly can result in big improvements for our health!