Healthy hair relies on a good flow of qi and blood to nourish the scalp. This flow and be interrupted by either a deficiency of qi and blood or stagnation of qi and blood either of which can mean that insufficient nourishment reaches the scalp. Blood and qi deficiency are often caused by either poor diet or poor assimilation of nutrients whereas qi and blood stagnation are often caused by stress or a hormone imbalance.
The kidneys, according to TCM, not only rid the body of toxins, but also store essence, or “jing”, which is responsible for maintaining bright, shiny and healthy hair, among other things. This essence is depleted as we age. Combined with slower blood and ‘qi’ circulation, also caused by advancing age, it can lead to the loss of hair color, and is also the reason why grey hair appears brittle and falls easily.
In addition to greying prematurely, a person deficient in kidney essence will usually have memory problems, backaches and weakness in the knees.
The growth and vitality of hair is also reliant on the health of the liver, which is responsible for storing nutrients from the blood and for ‘qi’ circulation. Where the kidneys are weakened by the depletion of “jing”, the liver is weakened by strong emotions – especially anger, stress and depression – which can cause ‘qi’ and blood circulation to become sluggish, and the condition and colour of the hair to deteriorate.
The preservation of vital essence is key in anti-aging in TCM, as it is your mojo. You are born with a certain amount and it is very hard to replace when lost. Pregnancies, illness, trauma can all drain jing. You can only replace little drops of jing by the excess of food, sleep, and building yin and yang. Draining jing can turn you [gray] overnight.
Taking care of your digestive energy can help you in many ways, but helping to support your kidneys might help you slow down graying hair too.
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