BY HEALTH 1+1 MARCH 28, 2022
Dr. Kuo Ta-Wei, Director of Fu Yuan Chinese Medicine Clinic, told us a story that made us rethink whether our white hair is here to stay.
“In an integrated Chinese and Western therapy program during the acute treatment of stroke, there was a 75-year old woman who was paralyzed and motionless. We did the scalp acupuncture to stimulate the activation of acupoints,” Dr. Kuo said.
“During her hospitalization, the white hair surrounding the scalp acupuncture points completely turned black. After she recovered, she said she looked younger after the stroke,” he said. “Because head acupuncture treatment helps to vitalize the body, enhances the metabolism, and especially stimulates the hair follicles, her gray hair gradually turned into black.”
Not everyone can go get scalp acupuncture, but a good scalp massage with a comb or fingertips can similarly vitalize the scalp, Dr. Kuo said.
“Sun Simiao, the king of medicine in the Tang Dynasty, had ’13 rules to good health.’ The first rule was to comb your hair often, and to comb it from the front of the scalp to the back,” Dr. Kuo said. “Well, even if you don’t have a comb, you can rub your hands until they’re warm, and massage your scalp from the front to the back along the meridian. This is all to help activate qi (energy) and blood and stimulate the meridians.”
First, he said, rub your palms together 36 times, warming them up. Then comb your hands through the hair starting from the forehead back over the back of your head. Repeat this 10 times, every morning and evening.
“There are many important acupuncture points on the head. Doing this exercise often can improve eyesight and expel obstacles that cause stagnation of qi, prevent headaches, tinnitus, gray hair, and hair loss,” Dr. Kuo said.
Choosing a Good Comb
- Avoid dense teeth. Dense teeth combs easily generate static electricity, affecting the hair root while combing, pulling at the hair.
- Avoid plastic combs. It is better to use a soft rubber comb, or a comb made of wood or horn. The plastic comb is relatively hard, it is easy to hurt the scalp.
- Avoid sharp comb teeth. A sharp one can scratch and irritate the scalp.
Combing aside, Dr. Kuo gave us five tips of keeping a healthy head of hair.
Reduce Foods That Act As Irritants
A balanced diet leads to many good things.
“Replace fried meat with stewed, steamed, or roasted meat, and reduce the amount of spiciness in your meals,” Dr. Kuo said. “Spicy food stimulated the sympathetic nerve system to secrete adrenaline, which reduces the secretion of melanin, consequently resulting in white hair.”
“Get a good balance of proteins, zinc, the vitamin B group; this will reduce problems like oily scalps, hair loss, and gray hair,” Dr. Kuo said.
He also recommended eating walnuts, black sesames, mulberries, black beans, and black rice. Incidentally, many black foods are good for the kidneys, which in traditional Chinese medicine is responsible for nourishing the body in a way that results in healthy hair.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
“Adopt a healthy routine by avoiding staying up, smoking, drinking alcohol; and sleep well and exercise properly,” he said. “Oily scalp is related to diet and sleep, for the most part, though your genetics have to do with it as well.”
“Many patients concerned with hair loss also report an oily scalp,” Dr. Kuo said. “It can have to do with staying up too late, stress, exhaustion, thinking too much and anxiety, psychological trauma, and accidents.”
A healthy lifestyle includes mitigating stress, and Dr. Kuo has seen many of his patients suffer emotionally due to lockdowns, often losing sleep quality.
We have to regularly relieve stress and pressure in our lives, he added, and in some cases this alone solves someone’s hair loss problems.
Avoid Chemical Treatments
Frequent chemical processing, like dying and perms, increase not just likelihood of hair loss, but studies have even shown a link to bladder cancer risk.
“Even if you’re using natural products, it will slightly damage the scalp, and it’s bad for the hair follicles,” Dr. Kuo said. “Don’t use poor quality shampoo either.”
“Do not pull out your gray hairs. Pulling them damages and stimulates the surrounding hair follicles, causing hair to fall out faster,” he added.
Massage the Scalp
In addition to combing your hair, massage your scalp when you’re shampooing. Use your fingertips to press on the scalp while you’re washing your hair.
When shampooing, you can press down on the acupoint in the center of the forehead with both thumbs at once, and the acupoint at the center of the crown, and with two thumbs press the acupoint toward the center of the base of the skull to relieve pressure on the scalp, improve blood circulation, and make your hair healthier, Dr. Kuo said.