Our modern-day, busy, stressful lives can lead to a full-blown head of gray hair at a young age. One short-term remedy for gray hair is using dyes, but the chemicals involved may invite unwanted health hazards. Are there better ways to return gray hair to its original color? Shu Rong, a veteran traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner, provides three simple tricks that may help with restoring your hair’s natural color.
TCM says that hair is the manifestation of “deep-rooted” blood health. In Chinese medicine, blood is considered a fluid that nourishes the body. Qi also affects hair color. Qi is the energy that fuels the body and is derived from the food we eat and the air we breathe. Qi and blood are first supplied to other body organs, and the hair is the last place they reach. Therefore, if the circulation of qi and blood is insufficient, hair may fall out or thin, as well as turn gray.
Emotions and worries are also key factors affecting hair graying and loss. Ancient references have suggested that Wu Zixu (a grand warrior of ancient China) and Queen Mary (of France), both had their hair turn gray overnight—is there any wonder?
The thinking brain consumes a lot of energy. According to TCM, the kidneys govern the bone to produce marrow, and marrow produces the brain, thus, the brain needs a generous amount of kidney qi to help it function. When a large amount of the kidney qi is mobilized to replenish the energy absorbed by thinking, the body accommodates the loss of melanin by letting go of the hair.
When Does Gray Hair Appear?
“Suwen (Questions of fundamental nature),” one part of the Chinese medicine classic “Huangdi Neijing,” points out that it is normal for women to start to see gray hair at the age of 42 and men at 48. However, if they know how to better maintain their hair, or have sufficient kidney qi, they are less likely to have gray hair. There are three main reasons why modern-day people are more likely to grow gray hair:
- Genetics: Congenital deficiency of kidney essence, or blockage of kidney qi that leaves it unable to reach the top of the head.
- Unhealthy daily habits: Smoking, drinking, intemperate eating and overeating of greasy, sweet, and hot food, staying up late, excessive sex, and other habits that cause excessive fatigue, anxiety, and depression.
- Diseases: Kidney, liver, and spleen, in particular.
Location of Gray Hair–A Reflection of Viscera Health
The location of gray hair growth can reflect the health of internal organs and the overall health of the body. Therefore, Shu Rong believes that if the health of the body is optimized, there is a chance that color may return—or at least that the graying process will slow.
- Forehead: Spleen and stomach disorder—too much thinking (pondering or worrying), constipation and diarrhea, or an inability to concentrate on eating.
- Temples: Overheated liver and gallbladder—and the gallbladder, it is said, is in charge of decision-making. Those who have to think hard and make difficult decisions are prone to gray hair at the temples.
- Back of the head: Deficiency of bladder and kidney qi. Rong believes that the gray hair on the back of the head often indicates the presence of chronic disease and needs special attention.
3 Simple Tricks for the Return of Natural Hair Color
Certain foods may help turn gray hair to its original color.
Shu Rong recommends eating:
- Black sesame seeds: Sun Simiao’s (Tang dynasty around 652 AD) “The Essential Prescriptions for a Thousand Golds” referred to selecting high-quality black sesame seeds and preparing them by washing them nine times, steaming, sun-drying, then adding boiled honey or jujube paste then making them into 10g (0.4 ounces) pills. The recommended two pills daily may turn hair to its original color after two years.
- Raw ginger: To promote blood circulation, dispel stasis, disperse internal gas, improve localized blood circulation, and promote hair growth on the head. Apply where gray hair grows or starts to grow once a week but beware not to cover too large an area, or use it too frequently.
- Combing the hair: Head or hair combing can promote blood circulation in the head and is also effective in improving gray hair. The ancient (AD 610) Chinese literature “General Treatise on Causes and Manifestations of all Diseases” stated, “If you comb your hair a thousand times, your hair will not be white.” Shu Rong advises that combs should be made of materials such as horn, sandalwood, wood, and jade.
For hair maintenance, Shu Rong also provides some tips.
- Don’t pull out gray hair.
- Use natural hair dyes.
- Eat nutritional foods.
- Eat foods that regulate the liver and kidneys, such as black beans, black sesame seeds, walnuts, cashew nuts, and peanuts.
Once you succeed in taking good care of your body, your hair color may return.