Tips for Treating Post-COVID Hair Loss

More and more people in the world suffer from long COVID or post COVID vaccine syndromes, with common symptoms like brain fog, reduced physical strength, and loss of taste and smell.

Another common effect is hair loss.

Why does this coronavirus lead to hair loss? Dr. Shu Rong, a senior traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner based in the UK, explained the causes of hair loss from the perspectives of TCM and Western medicine, and shared ways to reverse this problem.

The University of Birmingham in the UK studied the impact of SARS-CoV-2 and 115 symptoms based on the health records of 2.4 million people. They found that 62 symptoms in place three months after suffering from COVID-19 were significantly related to COVID-19 infection, and many of these symptoms have not been classified as the symptoms of long COVID, including the relatively new symptom of hair loss. The study was published in Nature Medicine.

A study conducted by the Faculty of Medicine of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, which is published in Gut, an authoritative medical journal, showed that 76 percent of COVID patients still had symptoms of long COVID six months after infection, and 21 percent of them had hair loss.

Compared with those who had not been infected and those who recovered from the infection without sequelae, the study found that long COVID patients have an intestinal micro-ecological imbalance, with significantly less “good bacteria” and more “bad bacteria,” and that individual intestinal bacteria species are specifically associated with certain sequelae. The hair loss of “long COVID” patients is related to the reduction of the gut flora which produces butyrates, such as R. inulinivorans and F. prausnitzii.

Butyrate has been confirmed to be beneficial to brain function and plasticity, and the microbes that produce butyrate can also protect the host from many of the negative effects brought by stress, including hair loss and anxiety-like behaviors.

READ MORE : Have You Experienced Pandemic-Driven Hair Loss?

Widespread Hair Loss?

Dr. Shu also noticed that more people have the problem of hair loss recently. A hair loss patient in her 30s told her that many of her friends had suffered severe hair loss in the past one or two years. The patient did not think it was anxiety, and she wondered if it was the coronavirus in the air that caused their widespread hair loss.

Dr. Shu said that the key to growing long hair is the nutrients of the hair roots, and the possibility of hair loss caused by external exposure to an airborne virus touching the hair roots is extremely small. It is more likely that after COVID-19 infection or vaccination, the quality of blood is affected, which then leads to hair loss. The patient also confirmed that she had suffered severe hair loss after being infected with COVID-19, and that she could not stop sweating during the infection.

How Hair Loss Is Related to Organ Health

In TCM, qi, blood, essence, and body fluids are the essential substances for life activities, all originating from the internal organs and flowing constantly inside the body.

Ensuring these essential substances are sufficient and circulating throughout the body is very important for health and wellbeing. Illnesses or other conditions are caused by the stagnation or lack of these substances.

Shu explained that there is a concept that “blood and sweat share the same source” in TCM, and they are closely related. Sweat comes from body fluids, and body fluids exchange substances and energy with blood in blood vessels. If the amount of body fluids decreases, the amount of blood will also decrease.

In TCM, it’s also believed that “hair is the extension of blood.”

It means that hair depends on blood to provide nutrients, and hair is nourished only when there is excess blood. If there is not enough blood in the internal organs, the body will choose to lose the hair to protect the general functions of the internal organs. It will nourish and grow the hair again when there is sufficient blood.

Research in Western medicine has found that there are three reasons for hair loss caused by COVID-19 infection:

  1. Viral infection may have caused microthrombi: When there is condensate in the blood, the blood cannot transport nutrients to the hair root, so the hairs fall out.
  2. Virus remains in the body and continues to replicate: During the process of virus replication, qi (vital energy) and blood are consumed and compete for the nutrients from the body.
  3. Abnormal immune functions caused by infection: the body will consume a lot of energy and nutrition and produce more harmful substances, causing weak qi and blood , which leads to insufficient nutrients to hair roots.

TCM theory holds additional reasons for hair loss:

1. Poor internal organs function: Hair is affected when the internal organs cannot provide enough qi and blood. If we look at the hair follicle structure, both blood and sebaceous glands have the function of delivering nutrition to the hair roots. When there is insufficient qi and blood, the secretion of sebaceous glands will decrease, and one’s hair will look relatively dull.

2. Insufficient kidney essence: Essence and blood share the same source, and kidney essence can help produce more blood and nourish the hair roots.

3. Liver malfunction: Liver can store blood, and the blood stored will be transported to where it should go when necessary. When there is a problem with the regulatory function of the liver, blood cannot be transported as usual, and then hair loss takes place.

In TCM, emotions are directly linked to the health of our internal organs. Nervousness and anxiety have the greatest impact on the liver, thus affecting blood flow.

Many studies have also found that emotions have a great impact on the immune system, which is highly related to blood flow.

READ MORE : Study Links COVID-19 Infection to Excessive Hair Loss

3 Cases of Hair Loss and Regrowth

Can hair grow back after you lose it?

The state of your hair is a good representation of the state of the inner body, according to Shu. If the inner body is healthy and the supply of qi and blood is sufficient, the excess qi and blood will then transport nutrients to the hair roots automatically, and the health of your hair will improve.

There are many ways to improve qi and blood, including internally used and externally used traditional Chinese medicine to allow the hair roots to absorb more from nutrients, acupuncture, combing, and massage. These can all help with hair regrowth, to different extents depending on the individual’s condition.

Dr. Shu shared several such successful cases.

  • Case 1: hair loss due to aging and habits

Shu, herself, is one such example. After the age of 45, she noticed that she had less hair than before.

According to TCM, after the age of 40, the kidney qi is halved, and the kidney essence, blood, and qi are insufficient. In addition, she realized that she was only sleeping three to four hours a day, and often went to bed after midnight. It was obvious that her sleeping pattern worsened the problem of hair loss.

She then used TCM supplement treatments to gain the nutrients she lost, and later her hair gradually grew back.

Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Shu used the treatment of TCM for external use to supplement nutrition. Later, it was obvious that the amount of her hair has increased. (Health 1+1)
  • Case 2: Hair loss due to illness

An 84-year-old female patient had many ailments including heart failure, angina pectoris, shortness of breath, pulmonary edema, and lower extremity edema. She was extremely weak with poor blood circulation and hair loss.

She had been admitted to the hospital many times, but her condition had not been stabilized. After taking TCM, the patient’s heart function improved gradually, the symptoms such as pulmonary edema and hydropsy disappeared, the amount of her hair increased, and her hair became shiny.

Epoch Times Photo
After taking TCM, the heart function of an 84-year-old female patient gradually recovered. The amount of her hair also increased, and the hair became shiny. (Health 1+1)
  • Case 3: Hereditary hair loss

A German man in his 40s had hereditary hair loss and had lost all his hair 10 years prior. He was treated with plum blossom needles and external application of TCM prescriptions, which was applied to the scalp at least half an hour before hair washing. Three months later, fine hair started to grow; and one year later, healthy hair grew.

Epoch Times Photo
A German man in his 40s experienced hereditary hair loss. (Health 1+1)

Dr. Shu said that the above cases showed that regulating the body and restoring health is the first priority in tackling hair loss.

In addition, she also provided TCM prescription for external application, tips to pay attention when hair washing and massaging.

2 Types of TCM Prescription for External Application

1. Blood Nourishing Hair Lotion

This is for: People with weak of qi and blood, dry scalp and dry hair

Ingredients:

  • 10 grams red ginseng slices
  • 10 grams angelica
  • 10 grams rehmannia glutinosa
  • 10 grams Chuanxiong Rhizoma
  • 10 grams allium macrostemon Bunge
  • 10 grams  shouwu
  • 10 grams licorice roots
  • 10 grams lucid ganoderma
  • 10 grams Malaytea scurfpea fruit
  • 10 grams clove
  • 10 grams sandalwood
  • 10 grams frost mulberry leaves

Angelica is both blood enriching and activating. Research found that phthalides compounds in angelica can adjust and increase blood function of transmitting oxygen.

Directions: 

  • Mash the ingredients into powder.
  • Pour water and mix into a runny paste, and then apply on the scalp.
    Or
  • Pour 500 ml of water and cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat
  • Let it soak it for two hours, filter it, and collect the liquid medicine.
  • Then add 500ml water into the dregs, cook for 5 minutes and soak for an hour. Filter and collect the liquid medicine.
  • Mix the two liquid medicines together and boil them again. Turn off and let cool.
  • After cooling down, keep them in an ice cube tray and freeze them.
  • The volume of each cube is around 15ml. For each application, take one cube out and leave it at room temperature and melt for application. Use one cube for each application.

2. Dampness-Removing Hair Lotion

This is for: People with dampness, oily scalp and hair

Ingredients:

  • 10 grams leaves of platycladus orientalis
  • 10g mulberry leaves
  • 10 grams wild chrysanthemum
  • 10 grams atractylodes atractylodes
  • 10 grams duckweed
  • 10 grams mulberry bark
  • 10 grams densefruit pittany root-bark
  • 10 grams tuckahoe bark
  • 10 grams parsnip
  • 10 grams ligusticum
  • 10 grams rhubarb
  • 10 grams licorice roots
  • 10 grams magnolia
  • 10 grams cloves

The Leaves of platycladus orientalis can restrain and stop blood bleeding. Medical research found that the quercitrin in the leaves of platycladus orientalis has the function of resisting brittleness of capillaries and stopping blood bleeding. While the cedrol in the leaves of Platycladus orientalis can promote hair growth.

Directions: 

  • Mash the ingredients into powder.
  • Pour water and mix into a runny paste, and then apply on the scalp.
    Or
  • Pour 500 ml of water and cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat
  • Let it soak it for two hours, filter it, and collect the liquid medicine.

The herbs mentioned above are available at the shops below:

Avoid Chemical Hair Dyes and Shampoos

Shu said that even if the chemical hair dye does not dye the hair roots, the vapors are penetrating, which damages the hair and causes a lot of hair to fall out. In addition, the chemical ingredients in the shampoo will form a protective film on the scalp, making the scalp unable to breathe, slowing down blood circulation, damaging the hair roots gradually, and causing hair loss. She recommended using natural hair dyes and natural soaps to wash hair.

Epoch Times Photo
(Health 1+1)

Shu said that people should massage the scalp and repeatedly comb it before hair washing, as this can promote blood circulation.

But avoid excessive combing on wet hair: the water makes hair fragile and prone to breakage.

Combs made of jade, horn, and sandalwood are good for the scalp.

Epoch Times Photo
Dr. Shu said that massaging the scalp and combing repeatedly before washing, which can promote blood circulation. (Health 1+1)

Epoch Health articles are for informational purposes and are not a substitute for individualized medical advice. Please consult a trusted professional for personal medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. Have a question? Email us at HealthReporter@epochtimes.nyc

Amber Yang worked as a marketing manager for natural skin care products for years and as a health and beauty reporter and editor for ten years. She is also the host and producer of the YouTube programs "Amber Running Green" and "Amber Health Interview."
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