I know, the woman pictured here has beautiful, thick hair. The envy of many females, including myself.
I’m here to tell you, there’s HOPE
So….why put a picture that might depress us, right?!
But yes, the truth is that thinning hair and hair loss is probably one of the most traumatic experiences a woman can experience. I know this for a fact from my days as a chemo nurse in D.C.
Beyond chemotherapy, which of course can cause hair loss, what other factors can cause thinning hair and hair loss?
If you are experiencing thinning hair, alopecia (hair loss), then read on…I will be sharing some of my findings and what you can begin doing from a Western and Ayurvedic perspective.
My goal in writing this blog is to introduce you to some powerful Ayurvedic herbs that can really help, without the nasty side effects that prescription medication can have (although sometimes necessary).
And just so you are aware, this blog is addressing female alopecia, not male alopecia, although the herbs I will be mentioning will work for everyone. So if you’re a male reading this blog….keep reading.
What can cause thinning hair or hair loss in the first place?
There can be many reasons…..
Hormones related to thyroid, menopause, pregnancy
Low in minerals and vitamins
Even hair styles and hair chemicals can cause hair loss
So where do you start?
First, rule out any pathogenesis by visiting your endocrinologist and getting blood work done….
As mentioned above, alopecia can be caused by thyroid issues, for example, which is an easy fix from an allopathic perspective – so get your blood work done and have a baseline.
I’m not going to mention Western methods of treating alopecia or thinning hair, as the options are few, but there is one promising treatment that I want to mention which has been undergoing studies and published in NIH (National Institute of Health). The treatment involves lasers and light therapy using monochromatic lights that utilize wavelengths between 600 to 1,400mm in the red/infrared spectrum. There is even a portable laser devise that can be used at home and so far it’s showing some promising results. Definitely something to discuss with your doctor!
From an Ayurvedic perspective, hair is the mala (waste product) of bone tissue. So when we’re looking at hair loss, we’re also looking at bone tissue and how to nourish and strengthen it.
In general, Ayurveda considers hair loss as a tridoshic problem
According to Acharya Sushruta, ‘Pitta and Vata doshas are involved in the root or hair follicle, causing hair fall out, then mucus builds up in the system caused by Kapha dosha which obstructs hair growth or regeneration of hair.’
Mental stress, anger, fear, and shock, also play a very big part in aggravating Pitta and Vata dosha affecting Rasa and Rakta, (plasma and blood) which in turn have a direct effect on the scalp and hair loss, and that’s what I see in my practice the majority of the time.
Once the root cause is determined, the usual line of treatment in Ayurveda is the following:
1. pachana and deepana
2. snehana and swedana
3. panchakarma (virechana and raktamokshana)
4. nasya (yastimadhu tail).
5. basti (panch tikta kshir)
These terms may seem foreign to anyone new to Ayurveda, but quite simply, the line of treatment is a deep detoxification treatment that carries the toxins out of the tissues, back into the digestive track and then eliminated out of the body.
Due to the involvement of pitta dosha, the traditional method also uses blood letting as another method to remove toxins accumulated in the blood (where pitta resides); we do not follow this protocol here in the West though.
In order to go through this detoxification treatment called Panchakarma, you must be under the care of an Ayurvedic practioner who can oversee your treatment.
In the meantime, there are a number of Ayurvedic herbs and remedies that can help to pacify the aggravated doshas and help your hair grow back, even without undergoing a full detox. The only issue when you do not do a full detox is that the problem may come back, so ultimately, detoxing is the the best course of action.
What I’ve done is put together a list of herbs that are known for strengthening bones and addressing hair loss, and included some suggestions on how to use these herbs….so here we go…
Jatamamsi, Bhringaraja , Brahmi, and Amalaki are all amazing herbs that help rejuvenate the body, increase iron, decrease inflammation, clear the blood of toxins, protect the liver, improve digestion, provide anti-oxidant properties, strengthen the nervous system, and most importantly prevent hair loss and greying hair, and promote hair growth!
My suggestion is to use these herbs together in a base oil of either coconut (for high pitta involvement) or sesame oil (for high vata involvement) and apply it as a hair mask several times per week (your Ayurvedic practioner can make this medicated oil for you).
Other herbs and suggestions –
Aloe Vera – 1 tbsp daily to cool down pitta dosha and nourish the circulatory system which in essence is behind the hair loss.
Hibiscus tea – contains minerals needed for hair growth, and cleanses the blood and liver. Making sure that we cleanse the liver and circulatory system daily is important when it comes to promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss. The blood is always involved with alopecia!
Manjishtha is another great blood cleanser and cooling herb that can be taken internally as a tea with Cumin, Coriander, and Fennel (the famous Ayurvedic tea called CCF tea).
Tea Tree Oil – add 10-15 drops to the amount of shampoo you use to wash your hair. Tea tree oil helps prevent chemical and dead skin build-up keeping the scalp and hair healthy, promoting hair growth.
Bakuchi is another Ayurvedic herb usually taken in tincture form that benefits alopecia.
And finally, you can rinse your hair out after your final wash with Triphala decoction to prevent hair loss and strengthen the hair follicles.
I just scratched the surface in how Ayurveda is used for treating hair loss, and the there are still plenty of other wonderful herbs used for hair loss that I need to mention….
Nettle, Gotu Kola, Guduchi, Gooseberry, Triphala guggulu, Vidarikand…..and many more
Ayurvedic medicine uses these herbs in various ways such as decoctions that you can take orally or apply topically; medicated oils that you apply topically or take in through the nose; herbal capsules to take orally, and medicated ghee to name but a few.
I hope this blog provided you with a taste of what Ayurveda has to offer when it comes to alopecia and as an alternative, safe healing medical system. Unfortunately, I could not go into more in-depth as it is beyond the scope of this blog. My goal as stated earlier, is to simply introduce you to the possibilities.