In Chinese Medicine, there are foods which strengthen the digestive Qi, or Chi. These same foods are recommended for encouraging hair growth by many other health professionals who use other modalities of healing. Many of these same foods, used in Chinese medicine to enhance Chi and to promote hair growth, also appear in Ayurvedic medicinal texts, as being some of the best foods for hair growth. In Western medicine, we would term these foods as being alkaline, rather than acid-forming.
Photo by Merrilyn on Holly’s camera, 25th December, 2012.
Ayurvedic medicine attributes hair loss to over active Pitta: this causes an excess of heat in the body. Excess heat in the body causes stress, and this stress can make the hair fall out. Alkaline foods help to produce Qi, or Chi in Chinese Medicine. This is the vital life-giving force in the body, which helps the body stay strong and cope with stress. A body which is deficient in Qi will warn you with early tell tale signs: These signs are often the falling, or thinning of the hair, and brittle nails which break easily. This is the time you really need to improve your diet with all those foods which will help to nourish it back to health and strength.
Most of these foods listed below are classified as cooling, but it is best to get professional advice from your Ayurvedic practitioner on the best foods and herbs for your body type and condition: or seek advice from a practitioner of acupuncture, Traditional Tibetan Buddhist medicine, or naturopathy on what foods will best suit you.
Here is a list of some of the main foods which are high in vitamin content, and which are recommended for improving digestive function and for encouraging hair growth. In Ayurvedice medicine, most of these foods listed below are classified as cooling. In Chinese medicine, they are generally regarded as benefitting digestive qi and the nervous system. They are universally regarded as helpful for the growth of hair, teeth, bones and nails.
These foods are:
Apple: Apple contains potassium, phosphorous, iron, calcium, fructose, malic acid, tannic acid, pectin. It promotes digestive Qi , which helps the spleen and stomach, and helps all functions, including hair growth. Its high fiber content nourishes the digestive tract including the colon.
Apricots contain carotene, which is an excellent vitamin for the hair and the general health. It also contains vitamins B, C, and iron, calcium and phosphorous.
Avodaco is especially good for the hair. Avocado is high in essential fatty acids, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and folate, potassium, and fiber. It contains the Vitamins A, B6, C, D and E. and other minerals and vitamins which benefit hair growth, and also help to prevent cancer. Note: Avocado is not recommended for people who are on medication.
Banana: Banana contains potassium, phosphorous, iron, pectin, calcium, vitamins A, B, C, E. It is high in fiber, good for the intestines, and helps lower blood pressure.
Brazil Nuts, which come mainly fromBolivia, actually, are an extremely good source of silenium, magnesium and thiamine, and are rich in essential fatty oils. Silenium, especially is recommended for improving the hair growth, as deficiencies are common. Eating about four or five brazil nuts each day is supposed to provide you with enough silenium in the diet.
Comfrey – This is especially high in silica and is wonderful for the health and the hair. Eating a leaf a day cooked with spinach improves the hair, and the general health in combination with other therapies. Unfortunately, because comfrey is such a wonderful healer, it has made drug companies very jealous of the profit they are missing out on, and so it has been banned in most parts of the western world.
Evening Primrose Oil is good for hair growth – DO check with your health professional regarding dose before using evening primrose oil. Check also to see if it might affect other medications which may make it unsuitable for you.
Flaxseed, or Linseed – high in essential fatty acids and Vitamin E.
Grapes, especially red grapes – Grapes promote Qi in the body. They are high in iron, and are good for the blood.
Grapeseed Oil – essential fatty acids and Vitamin E.
Hazelnuts – these contain selenium, Vitamin E, calcium and essential fatty acids.
Linseed – or flaxseed, is high in essential fatty acids and Vitamin E.
Nettles – the sort which grow around chicken yards – are rich in minerals, includig silica, which is one of the best vitamins for hair growth. You can safely eat nettles by adding a handful or two to your silver beet or spinach. Cook them on their own with just a little water to make a silica-rich tonic to massage into the hair.
Oatmeal Porridge – High in silica which is needed for hair growth. It is best to eat your porridge without dairy milk, or even soy milk, which is highly processed. Use either a knob of butter, or some olive oil or grapeseed oil instead, with dates added for sweetening instead of sugar.
Olive Oil is good for hair growth and for the health of the skin. It is high in essential fatty acids ad Vitamin E.
Olives, preferably black olives, are very good for the hair.
Pears – These contain phosphorous, calcium, iron, and the vB1, B2, and A. They contain the complex sugars fructose, sucrose, glucose, and also malic acid, and pectin.
Rice short grain
Sesame Seeds – These are rich in calcium – 1200mg per heaped tablespoon They also contain 60% fatty acids, including the unsaturated fats oleic acid, linoleic acid and arachidic acid. These compounds benefit the eyes, brain, and production of hair teeth and nails. Sesame seeds benefit the kidneys, the liver and are strengthening to the Qi.
Sunflower Seeds – These also have calcium and essential fatty acids, and Vitamin E.
Sweet Potatoes (Kumara)
Watermelon: Watermelon helps the heart, stomach and kidney and bladder functions. Good kidneys usually mean a good head of hair. It contains potassium, phosphorous, fiber, and vitamins A, B, and C. It is high in glucose, fructose and sucrose – complex sugars. (not for diabetics). It contains the proteins citrulline, alanine, glutamic acid and arginine. Watermelon is a very cooling food, and is thus good for treating acne.
Acid-forming Foods: It is best to avoid the heating foods, or acid producing foods. These are, generally speaking, the red meats, wheat products, especially bread, dairy foods, and polyunsaturated fats.
Eat healthy fats such as olive oil, canola oil, and grapeseed oil, which are monounsaturated fats. Butter is still a good fat to use, and it does not spoil as readily as oils do when it is heated. Many people who have food sensitivity to dairy products can eat butter and ghee to the benefit of their health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are great for hair growth and are essential for good health and brain function. To get your daily requirement of this important compound, you can get a supplement with omega-3 fatty acids, or
- You can eat linseed daily. Eat a tablespoon of ground linseed daily. It is great blended into drinks, or added to your oatmeal porridge in the morning.
- You can take a tablespoon of canola oil daily. This is high in omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin E, which also nourishes hair.
- Fish, especially the oily types of fish such as sardines and salmon, are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as silver beet, spinach, and broccoli and the brassicas, also contain some of the omega-3 fatty acids.
- Avodado is especially high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Vitamin Supplements could include extra calcium, taken in the form of Dolomite powder, or bone broth, or sardines eaten daily, or merrilyn’s special home made calcium/magnesium tonic. (see post for recipe) A generous tablespoonful of sesame seeds will give you 1200mg of extra calcium and magnesium- eat some every day. The oil from sesame seeds is also nourishing for the hair.
Zinc is also necessary for good, healthy hair, bones, teeth and nails. Zinc is found in most foods, but is especially high in onions, leeks and garlic. Alfalfa sprouts and pumpkin seeds are also good sources of zinc. Shell fish are a good souce of zinc and other minerals: Oysters are especially high in zinc. Shellfish, though, are heating foods, rather than cooling, to the Pitta condition.
Iodine is another necessity in strengthening the hair growth. Again, shell fish are a good source. Any sea food is rich in iodine, and that includes the sea weeds such as kelp. If you are vegetarian, or you have an aversion to eating fish and shell fish, then you could take some kelp powder every day. Two teaspoonsful taken every day should give you your daily requirement of iodine, and other trace minerals which are needed for the hair and for good health.
Iodine Applied to the Scalp This is another alternative for taking iodine into the system. By painting iodine straight onto the scalp, you are giving the hair roots an immediate boost of this vital mineral. By painting it on the scalp, say three or four dabs twice a week, then you are ensuring that your whole body gets the benefit, as iodine is absorbed through the scalp tissues. Iodine on the scalp will enter the blood vessels and thus be carried around the entire body.
Essential Oils for Hair Growth – Either Pimiento, Horseradish, or Clary sage essences or oils can be added to coconut oil, or grapeseed or soya oil to use as a massage hair treatment.
A good combination for head massage is to use 4 teaspoons of oil, one teaspoon of rum, 6 drops of horseradish and 5 drops of clary sage essential oil. Massage into the hair and leave on overnight.
Homeopathy for Hair Loss: It is best to get professional homeopathic advice before assessing your own needs, but some homeopathic remedies for the hair might be: (generally, only one remedy is to be taken at a time. A practicing homeopath might combine remedies, but this is not recommended without expert advice)
Homeopathic Fluoric ac.: Use 6c every 12 hours for a month if hair is brittle and falls when brushing. Another good remedy is Calc. fluoride, which comes in a homeopathic cell salt.
Homeopathic Lycopodium : Use 6c every 12 hours for a month to help restore hair after childbirth, for premature balness and greying.
Homeopathic Selenium: Use 6c every 12 hours for a month if the scalp is sore and sensitive.
Homeopathic Sepia: Use 6c every 12 hours for a month if hormonal changes are a factor in your hair loss. This is a good ‘woman’s remedy’, as it is often useful to restore hormonal function after childbirth, or during or after menopause, especially if the subject is inclined to be depressed or disinterested in life.