In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), inadequate nutrition or prolonged, severe stress could lead to kidney deficiency, which can manifest in premature grey or thinning hair.
When people first experience hair health issues, they normally look at their hormone levels as the culprit. Although such imbalances could certainly be a factor in hair loss, through the lens of Chinese Medicine, kidney deficiency is a pattern that is most commonly found. Premature grey or thinning hair, among other symptoms, can be a sign of kidney deficiency.
Perhaps you have heard of yin and yang? An acupuncturist might say that premature greying and thinning hair is due to a yang deficiency in the kidney. Yin and yang are two fundamental concepts to TCM that help describe how and when a person’s whole body health is out of balance. While outside of the scope of this article, a simple way of looking at ‘yang’ is a certain quality of power, stamina, warmth, or drive.
If one is experiencing premature greying hair and hair loss, what can we do about it?
The internet is full of resources, some more valid than others. It’s best to consult with an acupuncturist. Think of this article and other things you might read online as ideas to inspire curiosity, rather than using it for self-prescription.
That said, here are some foods that have been known to strengthen the kidney: dark-colored foods such as blueberries, blackberries and black fungus. Black sesame seeds are one of the most popular remedies for restoring hair health. Check out these recipes for black sesame seeds:
Sesame walnut porridge: 50g black sesame seed, 100g walnuts, and brown rice rice. Grind them all together with a mortar and pestle, add enough water to cook until softened.
Sesame fungus tea: 30g raw black sesame, 15g toasted black sesame, and 30g dried black fungus. Grind them into a powder, and use 5g of the powder any time you want to make a tea.
Sesame honey: 15g honey, 5g black sesame seed oil, a little warm boiled water to make concoction a little thinner and allow the oil to blend better. Blend them well and eat a couple of teaspoons breakfast.
As for herbal medicine, the formula Liu Wei Di Huang Wan strengthens the flow of kidney energy, as do He Shou Wu (Foti), lycium and cuscuta seed. Parsley water (and staying hydrated in general!) can be a very simple remedy to help ensure kidney flow.
Acupuncture is incredibly effective at helping to readjust physiological imbalances in the internal organs and the meridian systems, and should be one of the first places to look when treating the symptoms like exhaustion, stress and fatigue that are associated with hair health.
Another term in TCM you may have heard about is foot reflexology. The foot is a micro-cosm of the macro-cosm – the health of your entire body can be accessed through points and meridians (channels of energy) on your feet. Every time you walk, climb or jump, there are meridians on the bottom of the foot that can stimulate the kidney. Walking on the beach, on uneven stones or in shallow water stimulates the kidney and has beneficial effects, both physically and emotionally. Tai Chi, yoga and Qi Gong are especially useful in strengthening the kidney and energizing its corresponding bladder meridians.
So if you have any type of hair health issues, look to strengthen the energetic kidney first. Talk to your acupuncturist at Root. You just might be surprised at how big of a difference it can make.
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