Hair Loss – How Chinese Medicine can help

Jill Blakeway, M.S. L. Ac.

“It started with a few extra strands on my hair brush and before I knew it there were patches so thin you could see my scalp” Diana is a beautiful woman in her mid-thirties who was understandably devastated when her hair began to fall out. She had tried a variety of medicines before coming to see us at the YinOva Center on the advice of a friend who had used Chinese medicine successfully to treat alopecia.

More and more women are suffering from hair loss according to the American Academy of Dermatology who estimate that at any given time 30 million women in the USA are affected by alopecia. Certainly at the YinOva Center we are seeing an increasing number of women who are struggling with this issue and seek our help. Chinese medicine has a long history of treating hair loss in both sexes and can often be very helpful both for stopping further hair loss and for supporting regrowth.

In Chinese medicine healthy hair relies on a good flow of qi and blood to nourish the scalp. This flow and be interrupted by either a deficiency of qi and blood or a stagnation of qi and blood either of which can mean that insufficient nourishment reaches the scalp. Blood and qi deficiency are often caused by either poor diet or poor assimilation of nutrients where as qi and blood stagnation is often caused by stress or a hormone imbalance.

Acupuncture can improve the flow of qi and blood in the scalp and can help hair to regrow and Chinese herbs can nourish qi and blood to stop more hair from falling out. At the YinOva Center we usually use both acupuncture and herbs together along with nutritional suggestions and lifestyle changes to help our patients who are suffering from hair loss.

Here is the advice we give our YinOva patients who are suffering from hair loss

  • Regular acupuncture can stimulate hair regrowth by encouraging the flow of qi and blood to the scalp.
  • Chinese herbs have been used for hundreds of years to stop hair loss. One herb in particular is known for it’s ability to treat alopecia. He shou wu (Polygonium Multiflorum) is included in almost all the formulas we write for women who are losing hair. It is a blood tonic in Chinese medicine. In several studies over 60% of people who had hair loss experienced hair regrowth within 3 months after taking He Shou Wu.
  • Make sure you have a broad diet and are not missing out on important nutrients. Omega 3 fatty acids are particularly important for a healthy scalp and can be found in salmon, walnuts, flax seeds or taken as a supplement. Iron deficiency can often contribute to hair loss. At the YinOva Center we are particularly impressed by the iron supplement Floradix which comes in an easy to absorb liquid form. Vitamin B12 is essential to healthy hair and is found in eggs, poultry and meat. If you are a vegetarian it may be helpful to take B12 as a supplement. Biotin is another B vitamin that helps hair to regrow. It’s hard to get enough of it from food so here at the YinOva Center we usually suggest people take it as a supplement.
  • A daily scalp massage can help stimulate the scalp to aid with hair regrowth. We usually suggest rubbing the scalp gently for 5 minutes morning and night.
  • In 1999 a team of researchers at Aberdeen university discovered that an essential oil blend applied to the scalp can help with hair regrowth.  86 patients were divided into two groups and over a seven-month period one group massaged an essential oil blend onto their scalps daily for two minutes while another group did the same thing with only the carrier oils jojoba and grapeseed. At the end of the study, 19 of the 43 patients in the active group demonstrated significantly improved hair growth while only six of the 41 patients in the control group showed improvement. One man in the active group grew a full head of hair after being completely bald. The recipe used in the study is as follows.
    • atlas cedarwood essential oil – 2 drops
    • thyme essential oil – 2 drops
    • rosemary essential oil – 3 drops
    • lavender essential oil – 3 drops
    • jojoba carrier oil – ½ teaspoon
    • grapeseed carrier oil – 4 teaspoons
  • Using a small glass jar mix the jojoba and grapeseed oils together first. Then add the essential oils one at a time and place the lid on the jar. Shake the oils together to mix them together.

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