Chinese Medicine for hair loss: How does it work?

As the saying goes “our mood depends on how good our hair looks”. Having healthy hair not only makes us feel great, it also gives us confidence in our daily lives and social interactions.

But what happens when our hair begins to fall out and our luscious locks are not what they used to be anymore?

Hair loss is a natural process and every person will lose about 50-100 hairs per day. However, when hair loss is accelerated and/or hair growth declines, this can lead to thinning hair or even balding.

Causes of Hair Loss

In Western Medicine, hair loss is known as Alopecia. It can occur gradually or suddenly and present itself in many different forms. The most common type of hair loss is Androgenetic Alopecia, also known as male-pattern hair loss or female-pattern hair loss. This type of hair loss is normally due to genetics and hormonal changes.

Other causes of hair loss include: medication/drug-induced hair loss, trauma on hair follicles, medical conditions, infection, emotional trauma and unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Hair loss from a TCM point of view

In TCM, we believe that hair health is closely linked to blood. This is because our blood contains the nutrients required to nourish our hair. 

Blood in turn is closely linked to 2 organs, namely the liver and the spleen. Our spleen is responsible for digestion and nutrient absorption, while the liver is responsible for storing and circulating blood. 

A compromised liver and/or spleen system often results in blood deficiency or blood stagnation. This affects the nutrient supply to our hair and can eventually result in hair loss.

Another organ that is related to hair health is our Kidneys. Our kidneys store a special substance known as 精 jing which is required for hair growth as well as hair colour. As such, individuals with a compromised kidney system or 精 jing deficiency may observe slower hair growth, brittle hair or an increase in number of white hairs. 

Apart from circulating blood, the liver also plays an important role in regulating our Qi energy. This Qi energy is the driving force for blood, which is crucial for healthy hair. Excessive or prolonged stress, anxiety, anger and emotional trauma can all lead to Liver Qi stagnation, which can affect our hair in the long run.

In hot and humid countries like Singapore, excessive damp heat is a body type that is fairly common especially amongst younger adults. Made worse by our love for spicy foods and cold drinks, damp heat causes excessive oil secretion, leading to clogged pores and hair loss.

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a skin condition that is caused by an overproduction of sebum (an oily secretion) by the sebaceous gland. It normally affects the scalp and can cause the skin there to become red, flaky, itchy and oily.

Individuals with this condition tend to scratch their scalp a lot more, which results in damaged hair follicles. They are also more prone to Malassezia, a type of fungus that makes it more difficult for hair to grow.

Tips to deal with hair loss

Treating hair loss the TCM way

Apart from the tips listed above, TCM treatments can also be used to fight hair loss.

Diet plays an important role and we can use TCM food therapy to help manage the condition. Consume blood nourishing foods like red dates and longan, as well as kidney nourishing foods like black sesame, black beans and black fungus.

You can also try our specially formulated hair tonic, which comprises of natural TCM herbs like Zingiber officinale (干姜 gan jiang) to combat scalp itchiness and Fallopia multiflora (何首乌 he shou wu) to revitalise hair follicles and promote growth. Get yours at any PULSE TCM Clinic!

For individuals with chronic or more severe hair loss, you can try out acupuncture and herbal medication as well. Regular acupuncture improves Qi and blood circulation to the scalp, while herbal medication helps to address imbalances in an individual’s body constitution, speeding up the hair growth process.

Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.

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