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Can Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine help with unhealthy hair and hair loss?
By: Bill Reddy, L.Ac.
Q: Since the birth of my third child, my hair has been dull and lifeless. I am also losing A LOT of hair. Can traditional Chinese medicine help with unhealthy hair and hair loss?

A: Many women will lose hair after the birth of a child.  Estrogen levels fall during pregnancy, which causes the hair a woman would normally lose during that time to stay in place.  When her baby is born, all the hair she would've gradually lost over that time comes out at once.

Typically, the hormone levels correct over time and hair is restored to its normal condition. From a traditional Chinese medical (TCM) standpoint, you have suffered from a Qi and blood deficiency due to the birth of your child, as well as the loss of kidney "Jing" (essence). This has deprived your hair of the nourishment it needs, which is controlled by your kidneys.
Hair loss in women can also result from changes in birth control medication, as well as conditions such as:
  • Anemia

  • Anorexia or bulimia

  • Hepatic failure

  • Hypothyroidism

  • Thyroid disease

  • Liver disease

  • Renal failure

  • Viral, fungal, or protozoan infections.

Since hair is "dead," topically applied products such as conditioners do not actually "nourish" the hair. Rather, they coat it with oils, surfactants, lubricants, and moisturizers to improve its look and manageability.
Beautiful hair starts on the inside. A diet rich in essential fatty acids (fish/flaxseed oils), proteins (lecithin, wheat germ oil), and minerals and trace elements (like silica and zinc) that contain the basic building blocks of hair will produce significant results.
High stress levels, eating processed foods, and smoking cigarettes all contribute to hair loss. That's why getting a good night sleep, managing your stress levels, and exercising will go a long way toward keeping your hair healthy.
Acupuncture can assist in hair loss in a couple of ways:
  • By tonifying the kidneys with specific acupuncture points on the body

  • Through tapping your scalp with a 7-star or plum blossom needle (that consists of 1 mm needles arranged in a star shape at the end of a paddle) that stimulates blood flow to your scalp.

The 2004 issue of Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion describes a study performed on 110 people with alopecia (hair loss) using 7-star needle therapy plus external application of astragalus, resulting in a total effective rate of 99.1 percent and a cure rate of 83.6 percent.

Herbal medicine can also accelerate hair growth. Rehmannia root, fo-ti root, dong-quai root, quince fruit, and Gastrodia rhizome are common herbs used in decoctions to tonify kidney yin and nourish blood.

TCM is focused primarily on creating balance and harmony through a variety of approaches, including acupuncture, nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle changes. Your best bet is to seek a qualified practitioner of oriental medicine to assist you in your quest for beautiful hair by visiting and using the "Search Acupuncturists" search window or the "Find an Acupuncturist" link at the top.

About the Author:

Bill Reddy is a board-certified Licensed acupuncturist practicing in Annandale and Alexandria, Virginia. He is currently on the board of directors of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, lectures at a number of local universities, and is a practitioner of the Chen style of Tai Qi and Qi Gong.