With all the products out there promising us beautiful hair, how are we to choose? Better yet, how do we even know what to look for that is going to work AND is healthy for long term use?
We all want beautiful, full, shiny, and healthy hair right? I know I always have– and especially for me with curly hair I have always struggled with what to do with my hair. I come from generations of women who struggled with their curls. With very little resources or experience of how to love and enrich our curls, my mother and I both spent most of my life just doing what other people did with their hair, shampoo, condition, brush, style, dye, straighten, etc. We used products that promised us healthy, thick hair from TV commercials, never really being conscious of the idea that curly hair is different—and going the extra mile to learn what we were really applying to our hair. After having kids and experiencing first hand what my mom experienced with hair loss (so much hair loss), I decided it was time to end the cycle of bad hair days and discover the cause of thinning hair and the process of proper hair care!
After struggling with so much hair loss, I was in a place where I just accepted my hair would always be thin, brittle and dry.
My hair story continues...
My mom said she never cuts her hair because it never grows, so, I cut my hair…because I’m such a rebel😈. But you know what, she was right, 3 years after cutting my hair it hadn’t grown more than a couple of inches. I was done. Like my mom, I thought this was just my hair and I should just face it. I had decided I might as well have fun with it, so I dyed it all kinds of colors but of course, more and more hair would shed. I was probably going bald, so I stopped and realized I need to be rational and take better care of my hair.
I tried countless products ranging from commercial toxic filled ones to the cleanest homemade options. I have done the curly girl method and tested my hair porosity, I have given up brushing and embraced scrunching, and after hundreds of hair masks I was about ready to throw in the towel (the micro fiber hair towel of course)😅.
Until—my most recent pregnancy. My blood results came back from my pre-natal visit and I was shocked at the results. My hemoglobin has always been below “normal”, so that part wasn’t what shocked me, but the platelet count did. There were other numbers on my test results that, too, were extremely low. My blood needed attention and as a health coach I knew that this was the missing link to so many other issues I was facing, namely my hair.
Now, even though this is just my story, I have seen this happen with so many others from friends, family, and clients who experience the same symptoms. Yet, with myself, I didn’t even think to go to the source. As a society we have been taught to put a temporary fix on the matter and hope it heals us. For some people it does, for others, the issue is deeper. As for me and many others, the issue was much deeper, deep in the veins.
The root cause of thinning hair
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (ancient form of healing dating back 2,500 years with natural treatments), the health of our hair is a reflection of the health of our blood, kidneys, and liver—and in good flow of what TCM calls Jing. When the Jing is stagnant and doesn’t flow properly, it affects the health of the kidneys, liver, and blood causing all kinds of symptom, one being brittle, thinning hair. Therefore, to heal the hair we have to start from the inside!
With proper blood building vitamins, minerals, and herbs, I was able to build up my blood and eventually watch my hair grow full again! It’s a slow process of course, nothing happens overnight. But it’s very worth it. That is why I want to share this with everyone who has had to deal with thinning hair. Don’t settle. You deserve better, babygirl!
Update (March 2021): I also learned that when it comes to minerals, the ratio is more important than the amount for each mineral alone. Since out bodies work synergistically, each mineral and vitamin depend on each other to properly function. I made sure to add in a herbal, or seaweed I should say, mineral supplement which allows my body to readily recognize the minerals it needs and release what it doesn't. Check below for the brand I am using!
How to start healing
To begin, you want to make sure you aren’t drowning in toxins—inside and out. Therefore, take a break from all the products you currently use on your hair (unless you are already using homemade or organic, ewg.org approved products). Go down to the very basic hair routine, 2 products: wash with baking soda, condition with apple cider vinegar at least in the very beginning. That will help remove all the toxins on the outside, make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Then add more water. Add in more vegetables to each meal and include a lot of root vegetables like carrots, beets, and ginger. These vegetables are great for blood flow and gently detoxing while supporting the kidneys and liver. Of course, ideally, you are limiting processed foods, sugary foods, and eating a wholesome diet filled with vegetables, fruits, grains, and seeds.
Next, you want to begin incorporating some of those herbs and minerals to build your Jing like we talked about. These include: iron, iodine, B12, B5, He Shou Wu, Dong Quai, yellow dock root, stinging nettle, reishi mushroom, schizandra, Irish moss, and Rehmannia. I’m sure half of these most of you aren’t familiar with and may sound intimidating so let me break them down for you!
What each supplement does
Let's start with food that you can incorporate more of in your daily diet:
Packed with B vitamins, Omega-3,6 & 9 fatty acids, fiber, and potassium, walnuts are a perfect super food for hair. The benefits of walnuts go beyond the hair, it helps the brain, heart, and being that it acts as an internal vacuum, it is excellent for digestion and cleansing the digestive system of parasites and fungus.
Like walnuts, avocados are big in the good fat department, making for shiny, lustrous hair. No wonder there are countless blog pages on avocado hair masks. Avocados, too, are great for all systems of the body. Excellent for hormones which also affect hair loss, great for the heart, brain, and again the digestive system. With an assortment of vitamins (A,C,D,E, &K), oleic & linoleic acid, potassium, and beta-carotene (which is great for the hair), I would go as far as suggesting you add an avocado a day to your diet! The great part is, it doesn't have to be organic, and if you don't like the taste, you can use avocado oil!
Papaya is one that really helps with my situation, blood building. It has folic acid which helps improve blood circulation especially to your scalp, promoting hair growth. Most people don't eat the seeds, but did you know they are amazing at detoxing your body of parasite and fungus? Thats why also using papaya seeds as a scalp treatment can fight and prevent dandruff!
(Side note-With papaya you don't have to buy organic since they are less likely to be sprayed with pesticides, however always make sure you are buying Non-GMO which means the sticker should start with the number 4 and never the number 3. Preferably, it will start with the number 9 which means organic.)
Now the Supplements:
Please consult with your (preferably holistic) practitioner before taking any of these supplements, especially if you are on medications. I do not have a medical degree, but more importantly I do not know your medical history. So, please always be cautious when adding new herbs and supplements into your diet.
As I mentioned in my update above, it is better to get a mineral complex that comes straight from nature. this helps your body to better recognize it and use what it can to replenish what you're deficient in, but also discard anything else. It's all about the ratios! One combination I love is from Wonlife Inc. Their Oceans Three blend covers the entire spectrum of minerals your body needs and all from Irish Sea Moss, Kelp, and Bladderwrack.
I would be very cautious of iron since iron is a mineral which is stored in our tissues. Sometimes when you are deficient on a blood panel, it doesn't tell the whole story. They are only checking for active iron that is in your blood. Not what is stored in your tissues. Make sure you are getting enough copper and zinc as well to balance our the iron. With that being said,as you all may know iron is a big component in blood building. I would of course prefer it if you ate more iron rich foods, though if you are anemic like I have always been, I feel it is important to go ahead and take a supplement. It is also important through, to find a supplement that is easy to absorb and won't leave you constipated. That is why I recommend Floradix Iron + Herbs. It comes with B-vitamins as well which also support the blood and organs as well as hair growth.
Yellow Dock Root
Now, to go with your Iron supplement, whether you choose Floradix (or another brand) or decide to eat more iron rich foods, I recommend taking yellow dock root since it assists in the absorption of iron. This root is a very powerful root in restoring jing. It aides in cleansing the blood as well as stimulating the liver which leads to a better flow in toxin removal. A little bonus with this root is that it will also help clear your skin! (Yes, mamas, this is safe while breastfeeding! Yay, win!)
He Shou Wu (Fo-ti)
The #1 herb for healthy hair, He Shou Wu is my favorite of all of these. This is the herb to go to if you just want to grow out your hair or if you have premature grays coming in. It is an incredible blood builder, kidney and liver supporter (which means healthy jing flow), and it is excellent for hair growth as well as preventing premature grays. This herb is also known for aiding in healthy menstrual flow and fertility. (Unfortunately, I would not recommend this herb for pregnant or breastfeeding moms, since there is no sufficient evidence on its side effects on developing bodies.)
This pricky little weed is surprisingly full of benefits, the main one here being its ability to promote hair growth. Stinging Nettle is a natural DHT (dihydrotestosterone) blocker (He Shou Wu as well), which means it blocks the hormone that shrinks hair follicles. This usually isn't a big issue for women since DHT is an androgen (male hormone), but since hormonal imbalance issues are at an all time high, just a slight tip of the scales can lead to production of DHT in women and therefore, hair loss. (Now, there is no known study done on effects of stinging nettle and breastfeeding, however, many have said it’s beneficial for milk production, so please consult your doctor before taking this if breastfeeding.)
Roughly translates into "return to order" in Chinese, this incredible plant is packed with essential nutrients for blood health. This herb is great for women's hormonal health and fertility, as it helps in regulating estrogen levels. It is also known for relieving menstrual cramps and benefits uterine health. That right there is enough for me (#amiright)! Not only that but it is also great for male fertility, too! So, gents, join on the dong quai bandwagon, because this one can help balding and fertility! (Though, no real data exists at the moment on the effects of dong quai while breastfeeding, I myself took the herb while feeding my daughter. I would advise, of course, you see your doctor before starting on this herb if you are breastfeeding or pregnant.)
Mushrooms are incredible in so many ways with countless benefits ranging from mental clarity to immune support to blood building, and thats exactly what reishi is highlighted here for. This excellent jing herb is great for improving blood quality and clearing liver stagnation. Hello, healthy hair!
(The best part is: it is absolutely safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding!)
A few other guys that didn't quite make the cut, but are definitely worth mentioning:
Schizandra: This berry is a great protector of the liver and kidneys, detoxifier, and it also protects the skin and improves mental function! (Not to be taken while pregnant since it induces uterine muscle contraction, but even though there seems to be no serious effects while breastfeeding, I would avoid as well.)
Rehmannia: Another great supporter of the liver and kidneys (which as we know is excellent for jing flow), this root is also great on the adrenals and can assist in blood sugar balance. (Unfortunately, this root is not suitable for pregnancy or breastfeeding.)
Irish Moss: This incredible, almost tasteless seaweed helps strengthen connective tissue, similar to those effects of collagen for hair, skin, and nails. Also, great for thyroid function! (Please avoid while pregnant or breastfeeding.)
Now, the products I love
Here are some amazing products from conscious brands I love and trust —from people who really "get it" when it comes to taking care of you and your hair
Organic Olivia's Mane Magic
Ok, can we just talk real quick about how amazing this girl is🙌? Well, if you don't know her yet, check her out on Instagram @organic_olivia ! You won't be disappointed, boo! She has created a formula for one of her tinctures which include quite a few of the herbs mentioned above -which is why I would go as far as saying BUY HER TINCTURE -especially if you planned on buying all the herbs above! This formula was made directly for hair health and is truly amazing, just see for yourself here!
Witch, I Love Your Hair - Magic Mist
Another beautiful soul dedicated to giving you gorgeous locks with her truly magical hair mist✨! Its made from essential oils (great aromatherapy), spring water, and—get this—quartz crystals. Thats right ladies, theres some soul healing up in this bizzottle!
Yes, its organic! These products, created by a mom/everything under the sun👏, are truly dedicated to healing your hair on the outside with amazing oils that work along side your natural oils. What's really great about this brand is that their products are not only super clean, they are also very personalized to your hair type —which is a major win for my curly-but-sometimes-not hair😂!
Love your hair
My journey to healthy hair was more than just about how pretty it looked, it was about deep healing and not just by building my blood, but also healing my relationship with my hair and what it meant to me. I realized I was very insecure when I was having a bad hair day, almost like my hair defined me. I released that feeling in this healing because I realized that it was truly a representation of what was happening on the inside. And with that realization, I knew that the more I took care of and respected my insides, the healthier my hair would feel.
Since I was pregnant and breastfeeding for the entirety of the healing phase, I only took Floradix Iron + Herbs, Yellow dock root, Dong Quai, and Stinging Nettle. I already eat an avocado a day, but I did add a lot more walnuts to my diet (about a handful every day) and incorporated some more papaya, too. With this I see a huge difference in my hair, but also in my energy, my hormones, and my lady cycle (which are all connected anyway)! They all seemed to be healing at once. After I stop breastfeeding, I will definitely be adding some He Shou Wu to my diet (which I am super excited about) and fingers crossed Organic Olivia will have stock on her Mane Magic tincture as well! I will give you guys an update with that, too😉
Make sure to share any insights about your experience with any of these products in the comments section! I love hearing your feedback!