Chinese theory holds that healthy hair depends on an abundant flow of “qi” (energy) and blood to the scalp and hair roots. If this nourishing flow compromised, the hair will suffer.
Traditionally three factors are attributed to diminished nourishment. These include blood deficiency, constrained flow of qi and blood to the chest, neck, shoulders, face and head and the condition of the tiny blood vessels that carry nourishment to the hair.
Conventional treatments include drug therapy and hair transplants. Although these drugs are effective, many are wary of their unknown long term and potential side-effects. This has led to increased interest in herbal remedies.
Here is a look at a few:
- Ginkgo Biloba helps improve blood circulation to the brain and skin which results in more nutrients being delivered to the hair follicles promoting hair growth.
- Green Tea (Camellia Sinsesis) can reduce the risk of male pattern type baldness if your drink several cups of green tea or take a capsule daily.
- He shou Wu or Fo-Ti (Polygonum multiflorum) is a Chinese herb that has been used for centuries for baldness and is in fact one to the main ingredients found in many commercial remedies for the treatment of hair loss. According to a recent study published by the American Botanical Council, this herb shows promise as a hair and colour restorative and is capable or inducing terminal hair (mature hair) to grow instead of vellus hair (tiny non-pigmented hair).
- Pygeum (Pygeum africanum) is taken from the bark of the evergreen tree and works in a similar way to green tea.
- Saw Palmetto (Seranoa repens) encourage the hair to re-grow and slows down the loss of hair.
- Stinging Nettle (Urtica diocia) blocks the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the main cause of hair loss in men. It is said to be more effective when used in combination with saw palmetto or Pygeum.
- Dogn Quai (Chinese Angelica) contains phytoestrogens which reduce the formation of DHT and is used to stop hair loss and even re-grow hair.
- Panax Ginseng promotes vascular circulation and regulates cellular metabolism. Used in shampoos or hair tonics, Ginseng helps to nourish and strengthen hair. The function and effects of the herbs vary. Hence it is important for you to understand what goes into the product when considering which remedy is best for you.
By Dr. Aftab Saeed: The writer is Research Professor, HIASR, Faculty of Eastern Medicine Hamdard University Karachi.